Friday, April 06, 2007

Failing and Flying

Older readers, if any, will know Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Campanion,” to which I have listened for many years. More recently Keillor has added a daily broadcast to his repertoire, “The Writer’s Almanac,” which airs on public radio (the Washington outlet is AU’s WAMU) a little before 7AM. Each broadcast concludes with a poem (the program is sponsored by The Poetry Foundation) The Foundation is succeeding in its goal with this program, at least with me – it has raised my consciousness about poetry.

This morning’s offering was “Failing and Flying,” from a volume by National Book Award winning poet, Jack Gilbert, ‘Refusing Heaven.’ As Keillor read, the poem’s message evoked thoughts of my own failed and failing relationships – and then, as it was intended to do, of the good moments.

Nothing is forever.

Endings are inevitable and need not tarnish the reality of the good moments, unless one chooses to have that be so.

Here is Gilbert’s poem, quoted from ‘The Writer’s Almanac’ website,

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.

It's the same when love comes to an end,

or the marriage fails and people say

they knew it was a mistake, that everybody said it would never work. That she was 
old enough to know better.
But anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Like being there by that summer ocean on the other side of the island while love was fading out of her, the stars burning so extravagantly those nights that anyone could tell you they would never last.

Every morning she was asleep in my bed like a visitation, the gentleness in her like antelope standing in the dawn mist.

Each afternoon I watched her coming back through the hot stony field after swimming, the sea light behind her and the huge sky 

on the other side of that.
Listened to her while we ate lunch.
How can they say the marriage failed?
Like the people who came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy. 

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, 
but just coming to the end of triumph.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Thanks so much for the link to Writers I was able to find a poem I heard read the morning of April 3, as Lynn and I were driving to DC from Richmond. We're back in Scotland now. Sorry we missed you on our recent visit

I think your blog is a wonderful idea.

Best regards,

Don Bunis

6:45 AM  

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