Saturday, March 30, 2019

W. S. Merwin and Weird Tales; an unlikely combination

It is spring here, at least until the election, when the winter of my discontent will I suspect, begin rather than, being made glorious summer by this son of pork. Moving on, my cataract surgery went very well and I am looking forward to taking some photos at the cabin this summer. I recently got some pulp magazines on dvd and thought I would share this illustration by Virgil Finlay for "The Red God Laughed". Which appeared in Weird Tales, for April 1939. The story in brief, concerns the visit to Earth by Thvall the Seeker, a kind of squishy, soft bodied alien who is visiting 21st Century Nu Yok. But while the incredible city, with four thousand foot high towers still stands, it seems Asia and America have unleashed poison gas rockets, yes they started it, and destroyed almost all life on earth, except deep sea fishes, worms and plants. So Thrall, who is looking for a world with water for his dying planet, wiggles around casting aspersions on the likelihood of a race with rigid skeletons developing intelligence. Until that is he fiddles with an unexploded canister and well, Merwin's poem sort of sums it up.

"Merwin’s great single-line poem—not the greatest short poem, but perhaps the shortest great poem, ever written—is about the converse problem, that of outliving. This is the poem in its entirety:"
"Who would I show it to"

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Patron Saint of Undisturbed Reading Time

"and somebody would come and knock 
on this air long 
after I have gone 
and there in front of me a life 
would open"

from A Door
by W.S. Merwin

I think our trip to Venice was the greatest vacation we ever took, the Galapagos may be close. But for visual memory, the Venice trip is still fresh enough, that the photos that can be found on the Venezia blog brings it all back.

As a man with an absurd number of books the photo below struck a real chord.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

W. S. Merwin, Poen and Conservationist, September 30, 1927-March 16, 2019

We lost another poet, W.S. Merwin, Friday. 
I think it is safe to say he was a favourite of mine. 
I hope he has passed through the gate 
and found his friends waiting there.

For the Anniversary of My Death
W.S. Merwin

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day   
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

"I turned
uphill to come to the top gate and the last barn 
the sun still in the day and my shadow going on 
out into the upland and I saw they were milking 
it was that hour and it seemed all my friends were there 
we greeted each other and we walked back out to the gate 
talking and saw the last light and our shadows gesturing 
far out along the ridge until the darkness gathered them 
and we went on standing here believing there were other words 
we stood here talking about our lives in the autumn. " 

                                      From his poem Gate

A lovely discussion of the poem Gate can be found here at The Globe and Mail's,  How Poems Work;

Links to tributes can be found here

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Bobcats in Calgary

My friend Doug sent me the following photos of a bobcat walking on the fence in his backyard yesterday. Click on the photo for a larger version. This is the second time Doug and Karine have seen a bobcat in their yard, but the first time he was able to get such nice photos, from inside the house I might add. Reports of bobcats in Calgary have made the local news more and more over the last few years. I have included a links to a CBC article on Calgary bobcats and and some information from Alberta Environment.  (These photos are reproduced here with permission, further reproduction is prohibited and the rights to the photos remains with Doug.) 

Thanks for sharing these lovely photos Doug.

As followers of my blog know I like to include some poetry with my posts. I have quoted these lines before but they immediately sprung to mind when I though of these photos.

"Cocked in that land tactile as leaves
wild things wait crouched in those valleys
west of your city outside your lives
in the ultimate wind, the whole land's wave. 
Come west and see; touch these leaves." 

from Midwest
by William Stafford

For more on Willian Stafford, probably my favourite poet and the quote below see;

" Frederick Garber says of Stafford's first book of poems, West of Your City, "West is both Midwest and far West but it is always west of where we are. It is the place of nature and especially of nature's secrecy, that Otherness which we can touch at times." 

What to do if a bobcat family sets up in your backyard

Government of Alberta

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Winter Prairie #10

"Bell rings and they go and the voice draws their pencil
like a sled across snow; when its runners are frozen
rope snaps and the voice then is pulling no burden
but runs like a dog on the winter of paper."

from The Stenographers
by P.K. Page

Anansi, 1974

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Winter Prairie #9 (Vision now fine)

This is when the accomplished Mr. Murple
Splendid on skates comes forth to spin the night
Upon his arms outstretched and whirling eyeballs.

 from Ice at Last
George Johnson

Toronto Oxford University Press 1959

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Winter Prairie #8

"Yes, it has its head in the clouds, clouds
on its mind, indifferently
contemplates the weather by day, 
at night the blue toil of stars, 
reminding us of someone cleaning 
a house or writing a poem"

from Cloud Gate
by Kathleen Wall & Veronica Reminder

University of Calgary Press, 2018

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Winter Prairie #7

to establish distance
between our houses.

It seems
I welcome you in."

from Moving
by Phyllis Webb

Selected Poems 1954-1965
Phyllis Webb, Tallon Books, 1971

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Winter Prairie #6

"With the noise of a thousand typewriters
We shall gallop over the roofs of town.
We are the the Sun's animals.
We stand by him in the West
And ready to obey
His most auburn wish
For Rain, Wind and Storm"

from The Sundogs
by James Reaney

McClelland & Stewart, 1949

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Now is this Winter of our Discontent (some prophetic words from Howard)

"I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons — the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown." 

from Nyarlathotep" by H.P. Lovecraft

Cataract Surgery has gone well.
Calgary, March 2, 2029 7:44 a.m. temp. -32C/-25.6F - WC -40C/-40F

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Winter Prairie #5 (Left eye done 20/20)

" he wanders, wonders
                                      through the play within the play

                                              knowing not
                                                     which is the right

                                                                 the light

the star in the cold, staring sky,

       or the star reflected in a human eye. " 

from Double Entendre
by Phyllis Webb

McClelland & Stewart, 1956