Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Frost And Sandburg Treasures Of Americana And American Values

I am not a big fan of poetry. I find it hard to decipher, especially the older versions for example Milton’s whose lines seem to run into each other-I can’t pick up the rhythm and cadence. Much modern poetry seems to me to run to the obscure and no doubt it is a reflection on my lack of intellectual depth, I find much of what the poets are trying to express to deeply hidden behind metaphor, allegory and symbolism.

On the other hand I find the direct, often flowery, and filled with allusions to mythological beings, poetry like that of Keats, inestimably boring.

Being an incurable romantic though there is one field of poetry I love deeply and that is the poetry of Americana. I also love the paintings of American life which reflect this same main street, rural, stable , conservative imagery for example the art of Winslow Homer, and

For me the poetry of Americana is best illustrated by two simple, direct, utterly charming and evocative poems; “Gathering Leaves’ by Robert Frost (whom I love deeply) and "Fog" by Carl Sandburg. Anyone whose formative years were in any New England state where the fall brought the bonanza of color (upstate New York for me) needs no explanatory introduction to “Gathering Leaves” which will instantly bring ones childhood memories to the fore.

Sandburg's work is evocative of the industrial revolution in America with all its massive expansion and wealth creation “Chicago, meat packer to the world" as well as the social dislocation such rapid growth brought. The lines “the fog crept in on little cats feet” are so beautiful that it ranks in my mind with the great paintings of the masters.

I am honoured to be able to share these small but immortal treasures, and if anyone is reading them for the first time I envy them deeply.

Robert Frost

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight;
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who’s to say where
The Harvest shall stop?

Carl Sandburg


The fog creeps in on little cat feet.
It sit on silent haunches,
Looking over harbor and city,
And then moves on


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