Stand outside In your backyard on a night of a new moon. Preferably a cloudy night too, No stars, pitch black, dark
If artificial light disturbs the darkness go to your basement. Decide on which place is the darkest and stand there for a while taking in the blankness of its attributes.
How does it feel? Absorb the feeling. Is it one of peace or fear? What is it? Why is it? Which have you defaulted to?
Tor House is the name Robinson and Una Jeffers gave the house they built in Carmel, California. Tor comes from the rocky points they saw when visiting Dartmoor, England. The home was important to his poetry. My house is important to my writing. There our similarities end.
He built his house. I live in mine. They built theirs with stone carved from the boulders of the coastline in Carmel. Someone built ours a long time ago and then more recently someone else put aluminum siding on it. I don’t even have to paint it and yet I feel ownership. Just by being present.
Robinson did all that work on his home and still had time to write. Very little of my home competes for my writing time. I think, “advantage Bob.” An advantage I have yet to capitalize on. Maybe I should build a shed or something.
In “On Art”, an essay by Edward O. Wilson in the anthology Biopoetics, Wilson writes, “I emphasize the expansive role of poetry to argue that whereas art and science are basically different in execution, they are convergent in what they might eventually disclose about human nature.”
How does that happen? Does it happen? What do they disclose about human nature?
Robinson Jeffers built a stone tower as part of his home in Carmel, California. Dr. Peter Quigley quotes scholar Theodore Ziolkowski as having said, “the tower was not the realization of an image long present in Jeffers’s poetry, just the opposite.”
The tower worked to produce the poetry.
Whatever our means of making poetry, how great it would be if all our homes “worked to produce” it. The home we have lived in for twenty years has done that for me. Most of that work was in my unconscious and is only now commuting to my conscious being. All of it has been a joy.
I once was taught that the mindset of following one’s dream is a good way to go broke. I know many close to me who would ask ( and not necessarily complimentary) when have I not followed my dream.
There is truth in this, but I kind of did it half heartedly. I think I looked for ways to have fun, but anything deeper was not a requirement. I dared not to dream. Not really.
I am fascinated with people who as part of their dream fought for a cause. My latest fascination continues to be Robinson Jeffers.
Dr. Peter Quigley in his book Housing the Environmental Imagination writes, “Five years after moving to Carmel, California in 1919, Jeffers bought 16 lots for $200 apiece, eventually owning 36 lots, none with a purchase price any higher than $3,000.” This over a ten year span.
Jeffers’s son Donnan reported that in 1977 these lots had a value of $200,000. We can only imagine what Jeffers’s dream is worth today. “Dreams, a good way to go broke.” Can I blame it on my mother?
This old tree has become part of me. We, twenty years living here, have enjoyed having it by our side.
We saw it survive winds and ice, enjoy heat and humidity, but now to save it requires major pruning. It might not be enough. Eighty years old we figure. It has seen so much, a youngster in the 1930’s.
Born years before us, it is time. I hope it does not hurt. I hope it understands. Trees falling apart are dangerous. They don’t mean to be.
“Where do I begin…on the heels of Rimbaud moving like a dancing bullet thru the secret streets of a hot New Jersey night filled with venom and wonder.” Bob Dylan, liner notes to Desire (1976)
High overhead on poles,
Illuminated a young lady
As she presented
A single tap
To a golf ball
Into forward motion.
By the beauty’s energy
The dimply sphere sparkled
In the same rays of light
Squadrons of bugs overhead.
I stood transfixed
Hoping for words
Beyond my imaginings
The New Jersey night
Into more permanent bliss.
© Copyright 2014 Robert B. Ritchie