Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Two poets, different centuries, different continents, heads bowed, rambling the back roads. I saw a poster while in Grasmere, home of my most beloved William Wordsworth.It said:"Wordsworth and Basho, the walking poets-a symposium."How I wished I could have been there in January.
Basho, the Japanese drifter who would sit by his humble hut by a river and then when the urge came, take a foot journey and observe. Basho is actually the Japanese name for a plantain tree and he had one growing in his spare yard that took off in growth to become the king of his garden.But the tree had no use;the fruit was inedible, it was not beautiful, it dropped spiny leaves and the lumber was too soft.He took it's name because he felt himself to be like it in it's uselessness.And yet, he walked and wrote.As useless as a sunset or a butterfly.
Wordsworth was a great sojourner.Long walks in the morning and evening trailed by his adoring sister who wrote down his thoughts, his verse.She, Dorothy, was devoted in the extreme to William and I read something about her that touched me deeply.When she was a child, she was taken to the ocean.She was helpless to stop tears of joy.When in old age, sick and confined to bed, her desire to see her garden was so strong that when finally able, she again was overcome.Such a tender heart to respond that way to the green heaven in which we wander.
If I were a poet, where would I walk? I85, Tara Road, any street in my county ?Do we have a dearth of poetry because we have no way to kiss and engage our world. How long did Basho spend at this pond on his journey before he wrote:"The old pond..frog jumps in, sound of water."That poem, simple as it is, came from moments of being attentive, without distraction to a pond.When the poor shabby poet sauntered away, he took with him those moments and that place became sacred as my running path becomes.
Thoreau was a great wanderer.An American icon, in love with the natural world.I went to his grave in Concord several years ago and took a small stone from it to put in my treasure box.I noticed something curious.He and his three other siblings have similar headstones. Just their first names. It is the Thoreau family plot so their last names seemed to be unnecessary.These are old stones, grey and weathered from the 19th century except for one spot.The top of Henry's stone.It is white and while I stood, I realized why.It is from the many hands stroking over the years.Touching, connecting with a wandering writer. On his grave was a small pumpkin left by someone who knew they were on sacred soil.
"As my eyes search the prairie
I feel the summer in the spring."Anonymous, Chippewa Indian
There is a place of great green beauty out there, waiting for a poet to come by.