A maple, bare now but which all summer bent heavily over its leafy shadow, can scarcely hold itself back from human happiness under the least touch of the breeze.
A dozen sparrows burst from a bush by the road, like somebody’s name remembered after fifty years.
The voice of Mr. Kaltenborn in the City of Man says, “They come with joyous song,” but the truth is there is very little joyous song in the Fair grounds. There is a great deal of electrically transmitted joy, but very little spontaneous joy. Tomorrow’s music, I noticed, came mostly from Yesterday’s singer....
A seacoast farm, such as this, extends far beyond the boundaries mentioned in the deed. My domain is arable many miles offshore, in the restless fields of protein. Cultivation begins close to the house with a rhubarb patch, but it ends down the bay beyond the outer islands, hand-lining for cod and haddock, with gulls like gnats around your eyes, and the threat of fog always in the pit of your stomach.
People who depend on good weather for a good life – farmers, their families, and field hands – in country where the sky has pressed the dirt flat and pushed the great forests back under the grass, show us how much the weather weighs. Bent-backed under the leaden skies of winter, round-shouldered under the steel blue skies of summer, in their old age shrunken in height and walking with canes, they show us. And their buildings, put up like props to hold up their part of the sky, show it as well. The barns lean to one side and collapse, the porch roofs hang from the eaves and fall, the outbuildings crumple and drop out of sight in the brush at the edge of the ironed-out fields.
I spend lots of winter days with books. I probably have the largest private library in Seward County, thousands of books. I can’t resist them. ... If I were to read two of three books every week, I couldn’t live long enough to read through the ones I buy....
Occasionally, when suddenly agitated by some mysterious force, he would fly for a short distance, awkwardly whirring down the air of a room, to smack head-on into a wall on the other side. When the house was quiet, there would be a little click. The leaf-footed bug would fall to the floor, slowly to gather itself as if brushing off its coat, and slowly move on. I was reminded of Harold Stassen, campaigning for president again and again. It was encoded behavior, I suspect, deeply imprinted in his genes, a complete disregard for failure.
...(I sound as if I were contemptuous of poets; the fact is, I am jealous of them. I would rather be one than anything.)
There are many types of poetical obscurity. There is the obscurity which results from the poet’s being mad. This is rare. Madness in poets is as uncommon as madness in dogs. A discouraging number of reputable poets are sane beyond recall. There is also the obscurity which is the result of the poet’s wishing to appear mad, even if only a little mad. This is rather common and rather dreadful. I know of nothing more distasteful than the work of a poet who has taken leave of his reason deliberately, as a commuter might of his wife.