Friday, May 05, 2006

Studies in Nostalgia

Off to New York this weekend, so may not be blogging much. Some excerpts from recent reading, though:

Don't mistake what I'm talking about. It's not that I'm trying to put across any of that poetry of childhood stuff. I know that's all baloney. Old Porteous (a friend of mine, a retired schoolmaster, I'll tell you about him later) is great on the poetry of childhood. Sometimes he reads me stuff about it out of books. Wordsworth Lucy Gray. There was a time when meadow, grove, and all that. Needless to say he's got no kids of his own. The truth is that kids aren't in any way poetic, they're merely savage little animals, except that no animal is a quarter as selfish. A boy isn't interested in meadows, groves, and so forth. He never looks at a landscape, doesn't give a damn for flowers, and unless they affect him in some way, such as being good to eat, he doesn't know one plant from another. Killing things--that's about as near to poetry as a boy gets. And yet all the while there's that peculiar
intensity, the power of longing for things as you can't long when you're grown up, and the feeling that time stretches out and out in front of you and that whatever you're doing you could go on for ever.

George Orwell, Coming up for Air

Brilliant. So much for Wordsworth. Oh, and:

I am sorry for having let a broad river pass through my fingers
without drinking a single drop.
Now I'm sinking into the stone.
A small pine-tree in the red soil
is all the company I have.
Whatever I loved vanished with the houses
that were new last summer
and collapsed in the autumn wind

George Seferis, 'Mythistorema' (trans. by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)