THE SENSUAL WORLD
By Louise Glück
I call to you across a monstrous river or chasm
to caution you, to prepare you.
Earth will seduce you, slowly, imperceptibly,
subtly, not to say with connivance.
I was not prepared: I stood in my grandmother’s kitchen,
holding out my glass. Stewed plums, stewed apricots–
the juice poured off into the glass of ice.
And the water added, patiently, in small increments,
the various cousins discriminating, tasting
with each addition–
aroma of summer fruit, intensity of concentration:
the colored liquid turning gradually lighter, more radiant,
more light passing through it.
Delight, then solace. My grandmother waiting,
to see if more was wanted. Solace, then deep immersion.
I loved nothing more: deep privacy of the sensual life,
the self disappearing into it or inseparable from it,
somehow suspended, floating, its needs
fully exposed, awakened, fully alive–
Deep immersion, and with it
mysterious safety. Far away, the fruit glowing it its glass bowls.
Outside the kitchen, the sun setting.
I was not prepared: sunset, end of summer. Demonstrations
of time as a continuum, as something coming to an end,
not a suspension: the senses wouldn’t protect me.
I caution you as I was never cautioned:
you will never let go, you will never be satiated.
You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.
Your body will age, you will continue to need.
You will want the earth, then more of the earth–
Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond.
It is encompassing, it will not minister.
Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you,
it will not keep you alive.
From: "The Seven Ages" by Louise Gluck
We were in Nashville last week visiting family and I didn't go online once. Yawn...it's August, y'all, and it's lazy, rainy, humid days here in the swamp. I planted my tomatoes late this year and I've got three huge plants loaded with green tomatoes. I'm patiently (& eagerly) waiting them out. Usually by this time of year, the fresh tomatoes are all gone---I did read some, though, and bought some great new poetry books, of course!
So, you're probably asking, "What about her book title?" I'll admit I had a vague recollection of reading parts of this in Shakespeare many moons ago, but I just had to find the poem to relate it to the book. Here's the Bard himself, to entertain you:
The Seven Ages of Man
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
5 His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
10 Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
15 Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20 Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
25 And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
The cutest coffee 'shop' ever at McKay's in Nashville, The Trailer Perk:
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"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." ~Sam Keen