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By Charles Bane, Jr.
Editor's Note: Read the second installment in this series of letters between poets Donald Hall and Charles Bane, Jr. here.
June 21, 2012
A late June night in Florida is like every other month of the year, except that the Poinciana trees are in bloom for these weeks only and the ground below them is red and bright yellow. If our residents want season change, he or she must imagine them and imagine that the Royal Palm trees are oak or maple in the season they are remembering. The year here isn’t of seasons, but tide. At low tide on the Waterway, alligators sleep near fishermen who walk onto the mud to catch supper, or go shrimping with net and lantern.
It’s fine to write poetry, but it’s fine also not to, to have a finished manuscript in the hands of a book designer and not be lost in the physics of verse. It is better than writing poems to leave the windows open at bedtime and hear mockingbirds throughout the night and to be piped by birds to a café to read and watch the sun like a starfish. Better still to be with my son without distractions and to have breakfast and talk.
“The One Day” was more than a day’s work, so perhaps season is illusory. If you read Hemingway, it is always Fall or early Spring and Melville makes snow on waves. Tonight, poems have their oars raised to the sky and time is slowed and prized.
July 22, 2012
Isn’t it strange to become older and feel as I do, more aware of life every day? To watch the curtains at the open window raise their flags? We’re “moved on noiseless paths” *, time is fanned away. We rise, work in fractions of words and sometimes yield a living, finite world. It’s a miracle. When I write well, the poem is a discovery I happened near. I think the Greeks devised gods at the moment they “bore their syllables across the sea “ *, with the sun at their backs. Now they materialize on computer screens.
Shakespeare was lucky: he could use words like “beteemed”. We are modern and the religion of words is brittle. But the sea is still a chest of anemones and the clouds are Shakespeare’s and woven wings.
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