March 2, 2010

Max’s Musings

maxBy Max Molleston

I am very hopeful we will all become refreshed next month. What it will hold for any of us will unfold just as Spring does, and the season change makes old things new and new things exciting.

There is a lot to think about in the month of March. If we are lucky (we have not had much luck dodging Winter) we can look forward to Spring. It includes some of those new varieties of blooms and other plants to decorate your place. Some of the Snowbirds have come north hoping for the pleasure of an erupting rather than the air-conditioned
tempered lifestyle of the south. However, this winter, as has been noted, brought snow and irritating cold to all but Hawaii.

In the rural midwest, March has had lots of meaning. Moving time for the old tenant farmer system. Seemed all kind of merchants took to the soggy roads, offering potions and lightning rods in the same breath, pulling cash from the farm families with promises, and sometimes cheating by fleeing forever, or until next Spring, sporting a new crop of hucksters.

We still have folks like that around, constantly now, with TV and radio blurbs, and sometimes full page newspaper ads, trying our patience at belief. Some of the same stuff goes on in parts of the world of literature. As recent as last month an author of a novel talked about “a speeding train,” revealing he wrote each chapter to roar into the next. It was a well constructed television ad featuring the author delivering his own

Two professors at the University of Oregon put together a great
teaching tool titled “The Poem, an Anthology” forty-two years in the past. First thing is an eight page list, “The Glossary of Critical Terms.” It indicates that over centuries, and more recently, leaders in poetry
conjured up what it should mean and what a meaning says. Our authors, Stanley Greenfield and Kingsley Weatherhead gathered terms and fosterd a language with words and definitions.

In the earliest of “modern” English, where spelling and meaning are much the same as today, we can better understand the poetry we learned starting in Junior High and on past that, if we took more learning.

At the birthdate of President Lincoln I reminisced on the Whitman offering, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed. Whitman divided the poem into sixteen parts. You may know that Walt Whitman was in the nation’s capital and for a time tended the sick Union soldiers. He is one of the clearest and brightest in language of remorse in the assination. Here are the lines I happen to enjoy for flow and imagery. They are in verse XIII, the first l ines.

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your
Chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines
Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song with voice of uttermost woe.

Through these lines, the first part of the “stanza” I tended to see our nation, but also the funeral train as it coursed its route, with stops and funeral services in some places, moving to the Springfield, Illinois
destination. It would be Walt Whitman, though not alone, to determine that nature, too, could tell the story of this Martyr.

Another person, or another poet, may exclaim other reasoning from these lines. That is what poetry holds. One has to have dipped heavily into Whitman’s continually revised Leaves of Grass to appreciate his
interpretation of events around him.

We all interpret what we are about as we are upon it and many times if quiet prevails for a time, we reflect about the meaning, if there is one, and our participation in it. The Super Bowl can get our attention for a time and so can the meal we had with friends. Lots of time when we spend time thinking about this kind of happening, we place some kind of value on it. We savor it or discard it.

I am very hopeful we will all become refreshed next month. What it will hold for any of us will unfold just as Spring does, and the season change makes old things new and new things exciting. Please join me on these pages in April.