Water


This was one of the books I read on my vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park and beside a lake in the woods of northern Minnesota.  Rocky Mountain National Park, with its great heights and views, is a park full of waterfalls, streams, glaciers, lakes. The mountains are the sights. Water is all around. In Minnesota the familiar sparkling of a beloved lake is the family home to my boys. Nate’s room at MIT looks out over the Charles River. Kirsten, worried about her second son at college, said, Well, if he’s worried he can look out and see the river.  That’s a water faith. Here are some water words I’ve come across recently.

A poem by Hart Crane, a troubled and difficult water poet. He died on the sea off the coast of Florida.

Repose of Rivers

The willows carried a slow sound,
A sarabande the wind mowed on the mead.
I could never remember
That seething, steady leveling of the marshes
Till age had brought me to the sea.

Flags, weeds. And remembrance of steep alcoves
Where cypresses shared the noon’s
Tyranny; they drew me into hades almost.
And mammoth turtles climbing sulphur dreams
Yielded, while sun-silt rippled them
Asunder …

How much I would have bartered! the black gorge
And all the singular nestings in the hills
Where beavers learn stitch and tooth.
The pond I entered once and quickly fled—
I remember now its singing willow rim.

And finally, in that memory all things nurse;
After the city that I finally passed
With scalding unguents spread and smoking darts
The monsoon cut across the delta
At gulf gates … There, beyond the dykes

I heard wind flaking sapphire, like this summer,
And willows could not hold more steady sound.

A passage from Chapter 1 of Moby Dick which I am rereading on my Kindle before I go to bed.
Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries–stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water…Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy …it is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life, and this is the key to it all.    Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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