November 4, 2010

Max’s Musings

maxBy Max Molleston

The business of writing seeks more polish from those of us doing it as prose or poetry for the public. We need to search for memorable or clever lines. Words to enhance meaning in ideas we try to make known. Tried and true for poetry, at least, is to record, paper or tape, the phrase liable to escape memory if left unattended by middle of the night sleep, or a busy schedule.

I am one, a poet and sometimes a writer (as in this column) on trial for language that will crank up thought or emotion for the reader. I don’t recall the date, but it was some overnight when this phrase came to me, “to seek affection and yield to its comfort.” Isn’t that what a normal life encounters? The phrase suggests a shot at some romantic aim. The order of the day for me, or for days and weeks ahead is to form other language to compliment and enhance “seeking affection” and “yielding to its comfort.” One of the best approaches is to limit the range of the statement. Can it be infatuation and closer proximity?

Almost to a person, we desire affection. It has to employ a live animal on the other side of the equation. Human or four-legged, as I see it. Some of you may not recall the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow titled “The Arrow and the Song.” I used it in a column in recent years. It is, for all we can feel of it, about seeking and finding. Words that sidle up to our theme “to seek affection and yield to its comfort.”

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of a song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found an arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Longfellow’s poem, a short one, stands the test of time. So have many others, marked over his active career. He was lots of things as a productive human, including a professor. There Was a Little Girl, a delightful picture in six lines. The Children’s Hour, in seven stanzas, as well as the super efforts, a two-pager, The Jewish Cemetery at Newport, The Village Blacksmith, and the super lengthy The Courtship of Miles Standish, Evangeline, and the Song of Hiawatha. Get to your library and seek out volumes that feature Longfellow. Review will be rewarding to you, kindling memories of earlier exposure to the poet, even though he was born two-hundred plus years ago.

Have I abandoned my motivation this month? Most of us are born with the urge to survive, physically at least. We find, with all that accomplished the next level is seeking affection. Happens all the time with two-legged and four-legged animals. My twin grandaughters, now a year old, get their parents’, brother’s and grandparents’ affection whether or not they are seeking it. Love and affection takes some time.

One straight forward statement was made by Union soldier from Iowa, George W. Reichley. Reichley survived the Civil War and settled as a farmer in Muscatine County, outside Letts, Iowa. In one letter to his wife, penned near Bear Creek, Mississippi, he wrote, “Dear wife, I take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines of love and affection.” These letters, preserved in a trunk I imagine, were gifted to me, to create a poem from them by Dennis and Sue Runyon from copies of the letters, locked in a bank vault. The memories are now in their second version by my pen.

I hope your upcoming holiday is a great gathering. I will be sampling an intravenous feeding or maybe some morsels, on Thanksgiving, a new right hip in place. Maybe it is a good way to avoid the gatherings and all the great meals. Back in December. Join me here.