Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MAINE WRITER

Yesterday, I wrote about winter weather and included information about a new book I’ve written entitled THE MAINE EVENT. I spent some time during the day reflecting on the icy winter I sojourned in the Far North during the 50’s. I also received a comment on my blog from a reader in Aroostook County who thanked me for giving Aroostook County “honorary mention,” even if I did complain about the winter we spent there. During my winter in Maine, I wished that I had possessed the wherewithal to travel farther south to visit the home of Sarah Orne Jewett, one of my favorite writers who lived near South Berwick, Maine, a seacoast town on the border of New Hampshire.  She captured the scenery and the rural people of Maine in a book entitled THE COUNTRY OF THE POINTED FIRS, which is a novella that doesn’t have much of a plot; however, it speaks to my memories of the landscape and people in Maine during a particularly bitter winter.

Another facet of Sarah Jewett’s life that fascinated me was her conversion to the Anglican religion in 1871 and which led to some forays into the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who believed that God “was present in innumerable, joined forms…” (whatever that means to those who aren’t theologians). Jewett had a deep interest in nature, and though she had rheumatoid arthritis, she was a great walker, tramping throughout the Maine countryside, observing the flora and fauna , much of which appeared in descriptions of THE COUNTRY OF THE POINTED FIRS. The vignettes in this little book are refreshing and capture the speech of locals in a way that disposed literary critics to pronounce that she had a “good ear,” much like writer Eudora Welty of Mississippi fame, who was a master at dialogue.

Jewett’s verse wasn’t as outstanding as her novels, short stories, and children’s books, but some of the passages in THE COUNTRY OF POINTED FIRS read like prose poems; e.g., the following passage from the conclusion of this book: “The small outer islands of the bay were covered among the ledges with turf that looked as fresh as the early grass, there had been some days of rain the week before, and the darker green of the sweet fern was scattered on all the pasture heights…”

The following poem is one of my own, written during this tamer winter here in Louisiana, and one of several poems on which I’m working that will appear in a new book of poetry with a working title of WINTER POEMS :

MID-WINTER

Winter, a gray belief
between full throttle light
and a stairwell of darkness,
the wind running away with you
longing for sunlight on the dining table
in a lonesome house with broken window
overlooking the chilly dark,
quilt folded as the foot of the iron bed.
In the attic, bats fold up
for the long silence of winter,
a gray belief,
this grainy movie following full supper…
an old man sleeping in a frozen stream.
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