Monday, October 26, 2009

To The Harbormaster

I mentioned in a earlier post that I don't "get" poetry very well. Maybe it's because I am a "silent reader" and don't "hear" in my head the words that I read -- they go straight to meaning without "sound," and it may be that in poetry the sounds of the words carry much of the meaning, or hearing them gives time to digest the meaning.

I also don't hear song lyrics. I get distracted by the music, the sounds, the licks and riffs and bass lines the rhythm, and have no idea what the song is about. I recently asked my wife what the Michael Jackson song "Billie Jean" was about. When she told me, I was surprised -- I had it in my head that it was somehow either about Marilyn Monroe ("Norma Jean) , or Billie Jean King, that tennis player. It makes it tough for me to sing a song.

That said, I recently came across a Frank O'Hara poem that floored me.

To the Harbormaster

I wanted to be sure to reach you
though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings. I am always tying up
and then deciding to depart. In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand the forms of my vanity
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder
in my hand and the sun sinking. To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

1 comment:

  1. First you talk about how you like classical chamber music, and now you're quoting poetry. If you ever venture to Prineville, LaPine, Madras or certain parts of Redmond you'd better go incognito.


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