Farewell to the bushy clump close to the river And the flags where the butter-bump hides in for ever; Farewell to the weedy nook, hemmed in by waters; Farewell to the miller's brook and his three bonny daughters; Farewell to them all while in prison I lie— In the prison a thrall sees nought but the sky. Shut out are the green fields and birds in the bushes; In the prison yard nothing builds, blackbirds or thrushes. Farewell to the old mill and dash of the waters, To the miller and, dearer still, to his three bonny daughters. In the nook, the large burdock grows near the green willow; In the flood, round the moorcock dashes under the billow; To the old mill farewell, to the lock, pens, and waters, To the miller himsel', and his three bonny daughters.
cold nights on the farm, a sock-shod stove-warmed flatiron slid under the covers, mornings a damascene- sealed bizarrerie of fernwork decades ago now waking in northwest London, tea brought up steaming, a Peak Frean biscuit alongside to be nibbled as blue gas leaps up singing decades ago now damp sheets in Dorset, fog-hung habitat of bronchitis, of long hot soaks in the bathtub, of nothing quite drying out till next summer: delicious to think of hassocks pulled in close, toasting- forks held to coal-glow, strong-minded small boys and big eager sheepdogs muscling in on bookish profundities now quite forgotten the farmhouse long sold, old friends dead or lost track of, what's salvaged is this vivid diminuendo, unfogged by mere affect, the perishing residue of pure sensation
In color photographs, my childhood house looks fresh as an uncut sheet cake— pale yellow buttercream, ribbons of white trim squeezed from the grooved tip of a pastry tube. Whose dream was this confection? This suburb of identical, pillow-mint homes? The sky, too, is pastel. Children roller skate down the new sidewalk. Fathers stake young trees. Mothers plan baby showers and Tupperware parties. The Avon Lady treks door to door. Six or seven years old, I stand on the front porch, hand on the decorative cast-iron trellis that frames it, squinting in California sunlight, striped short-sleeved shirt buttoned at the neck. I sit in the backyard (this picture's black-and-white), my Flintstones playset spread out on the grass. I arrange each plastic character, each dinosaur, each palm tree and round "granite" house. Half a century later, I barely recognize it when I search the address on Google Maps and, via "Street view," find myself face to face— foliage overgrown, facade remodeled and painted a drab brown. I click to zoom: light hits one of the windows. I can almost see what's inside.
If I were to live my life in catfish forms in scaffolds of skin and whiskers at the bottom of a pond and you were to come by one evening when the moon was shining down into my dark home and stand there at the edge of my affection and think, "It's beautiful here by this pond. I wish somebody loved me," I'd love you and be your catfish friend and drive such lonely thoughts from your mind and suddenly you would be at peace, and ask yourself, "I wonder if there are any catfish in this pond? It seems like a perfect place for them."
I can imagine, years from now, your coming back
to this high, old, white house. "Home" I shouldn't say
because we can't predict who'll live here with a different
How tall the birches will be then. Will you look up
from the road past the ash for light in the study windows
upstairs and down? Go climb the black maple as first
in new sneakers you walked forty feet in air
and saw the life to come. Don't forget the cats.
Because you grow away from a house, no matter how much you
if the people you love are elsewhere, or if the reason is,
nostalgia, don't worry about small changes or lost names.
Sit down for a minute under the tallest birch. Look up
at the clouds reflected in the red barn's twisted window.
Lean on the wall. Hear our voices as at first
they shook the plaster, laughed, then burned in the dry air
like a wooden house. I imagine you won't forget the cats.
Friend I need your hand every morning but anger and beauty and hope these roses make one rose. Friend I need a hand every evening but anger and hope and beauty are three roses that make one rose. Let's fix our bed it's in splinters and I want to stay all year. Let's fix our bed it's in splinters and I want to stay all year. Did you hear what that woman on Grafton Street was saying? You won't be killed today. We don't even know we're born.
Every city in America is approached through a work of art, usually a bridge but sometimes a road that curves underneath or drops down from the sky. Pittsburgh has a tunnel— you don't know it—that takes you through the rivers and under the burning hills. I went there to cry in the woods or carry my heavy bicycle through fire and flood. Some have little parks— San Francisco has a park. Albuquerque is beautiful from a distance; it is purple at five in the evening. New York is Egyptian, especially from the little rise on the hill at 14-C; it has twelve entrances like the body of Jesus, and Easton, where I lived, has two small floating bridges in front of it that brought me in and out. I said good-bye to them both when I was 57. I'm reading Joseph Wood Krutch again—the second time. I love how he lived in the desert. I'm looking at the skull of Georgia O'Keeffe. I'm kissing Stieglitz good-bye. He was a city, Stieglitz was truly a city in every sense of the word; he wore a library across his chest; he had a church on his knees. I'm kissing him good-bye; he was, for me, the last true city; after him there were only overpasses and shopping centers, little enclaves here and there, a skyscraper with nothing near it, maybe a meaningless turf where whores couldn't even walk, where nobody sits, where nobody either lies or runs; either that or some pure desert: a lizard under a boojum, a flower sucking the water out of a rock. What is the life of sadness worth, the bookstores lost, the drugstores buried, a man with a stick turning the bricks up, numbering the shards, dream twenty-one, dream twenty-two. I left with a glass of tears, a little artistic vial. I put it in my leather pockets next to my flask of Scotch, my golden knife and my keys, my joyful poems and my T-shirts. Stieglitz is there beside his famous number; there is smoke and fire above his head; some bowlegged painter is whispering in his ear; some lady-in-waiting is taking down his words. I'm kissing Stieglitz goodbye, my arms are wrapped around him, his photos are making me cry; we're walking down Fifth Avenue; we're looking for a pencil; there is a girl standing against the wall—I'm shaking now when I think of her; there are two buildings, one is in blackness, there is a dying poplar; there is a light on the meadow; there is a man on a sagging porch. I would have believed in everything.
The tires on my bike are flat. The sky is grouchy gray. At least it sure feels like that Since Hanna moved away. Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes. December's come to stay. They've taken back the Mays and Junes Since Hanna moved away. Flowers smell like halibut. Velvet feels like hay. Every handsome dog's a mutt Since Hanna moved away. Nothing's fun to laugh about. Nothing's fun to play. They call me, but I won't come out Since Hanna moved away.
This is the spot:—how mildly does the sun Shine in between the fading leaves! the air In the habitual silence of this wood Is more than silent: and this bed of heath, Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place? Come!—let me see thee sink into a dream Of quiet thoughts,—protracted till thine eye Be calm as water when the winds are gone And no one can tell whither.—my sweet friend! We two have had such happy hours together That my heart melts in me to think of it.
I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna or on any river for that matter to be perfectly honest. Not in July or any month have I had the pleasure--if it is a pleasure-- of fishing on the Susquehanna. I am more likely to be found in a quiet room like this one-- a painting of a woman on the wall, a bowl of tangerines on the table-- trying to manufacture the sensation of fishing on the Susquehanna. There is little doubt that others have been fishing on the Susquehanna, rowing upstream in a wooden boat, sliding the oars under the water then raising them to drip in the light. But the nearest I have ever come to fishing on the Susquehanna was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia when I balanced a little egg of time in front of a painting in which that river curled around a bend under a blue cloud-ruffled sky, dense trees along the banks, and a fellow with a red bandanna sitting in a small, green flat-bottom boat holding the thin whip of a pole. That is something I am unlikely ever to do, I remember saying to myself and the person next to me. Then I blinked and moved on to other American scenes of haystacks, water whitening over rocks, even one of a brown hare who seemed so wired with alertness I imagined him springing right out of the frame.