mississippi river road path, north/south
19 degrees/feels like 19 degrees
feels like: this snow is here to stay forever, the white is too bright, a strange dream, slick, soft, sibilant
layers: (too much) green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, black vest, buff, hood, visor, 2 pairs of tights, 1 pair of socks. gloves. 2 miles in, the gloves came off.
Not much sun but the snow was very bright. So white. White path, white walls, white sky. No snow on the river though. Walking, right before I started running, I heard the birds. Determined to make spring come soon. They started chirping a few weeks ago. The run was fun. I like running on snow, even if it is uneven in spots. Encountered a few other runners, the Daily Walker!, the man in black (the one I mentioned yesterday)–we greeted each other and he seems very nice so I’m not freaked out by how tall he is now, 2 fat tires, a few dogs. Thought about the marathon again as I neared the franklin bridge. Also thought about a poem I read this morning: Robert Duncan’s “Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow.” I was trying to think about the made place in my mind that I return to. I struggled to hold onto any thought about the poem or places I imagine. I kept thinking about my breathing and not slipping on a slick spot or twisting my ankle on an ice chunk.
Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,
that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein
that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.
Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.
She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.
It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun’s going down
whose secret we see in a children’s game
of ring a round of roses told.
Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,
that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.
This poem is the first poem in Duncan’s 1960 book, The Opening of the Field. He was part of the Black Mountain Poets. Charles Olson was another member of the Black Mountain Poets. In doing some research on Duncan and this poem, I encountered Olson’s idea of projective verse: poetry shaped by rhythms of poet’s breath. So cool–I want to explore this more, thinking about breathing when I run vs. walk vs. sit.
Olson argues that the breath should be a poet’s central concern, rather than rhyme, meter, and sense. To listen closely to the breath, Olson states, “is to engage speech where it is least careless—and least logical.” The syllable and the line are the two units led by, respectively, the ear and the breath:
“the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLEpoetry foundation introduction to “Projective Verse”
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE”