To Be Small and Clear and Free
Darlings, it’s the end of the enormous summer, and we have had our ambitions:
“This was our ambition: to be small and clear and free.
Alas, the summer’s energy wanes quickly,
A moment and it is gone. And no longer
May we make the necessary arrangements, simple as they are.”
– John Ashbery
I hope you achieved some of your summer ambitions. I hope you can take some time and sit at a window such as the one in the Dylan Thomas poem:
That Sanity Be Kept
by Dylan Thomas
That sanity be kept I sit at open windows,
Regard the sky, make unobtrusive comment on the moon,
Sit at open windows in my shirt,
And let the traffic pass, the signals shine,
The engines run, the brass bands keep in tune,
For sanity must be preserved
Thinking of death, I sit and watch the park
Where children play in all their innocence,
And matrons on the littered grass
Absorb the daily sun.
The sweet suburban music from a hundred lawns
Comes softly to my ears. The English mowers mow and mow.
I mark the couples walking arm in arm,
Observe their smiles,
Sweet invitations and inventions,
See them lend love illustration
By gesture and grimace,
I watch them curiously, detect beneath the laughs
What stands for grief, a vague bewilderment
At things not turning right.
I sit at open windows in my shirt,
Observe, like some Jehova of the west
What passes by, that sanity be kept.
“O Stay where you are! Here
in the uncertain hour of a late afternoon
looking outward and looking in
I see this beauty
all I see is beauty.
Something that convinces, asks to be seen,
though it does nothing, just stays where it is,
and merely by existing wins me over.”
– Patrizia Cavalli
Look at those things that ask to be seen. Of course the hours are uncertain. Of course they are. Look, and see beauty, too. Another poem I’m fond of reading at the beginning of September:
“We're all going to hell in a while.
So come on now, to the couch!
The couch! The couch!”
Also by Patrizia Cavalli.
Our daughter has been reading Tove Jansson’s Summer book, and it’s reminded me to reread that and her Winter book, too. A quotation by Jansson:
“I love borders. August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know. Twilight is the border between day and night, and the shore is the border between sea and land. The border is longing: when both have fallen in love but still haven't said anything. The border is to be on the way. It is the way that is the most important thing.”
So here’s to borders, to that place between summer and autumn. Here’s to heading to the couch, to the window, here’s to keeping your sanity, here’s to being small and clear and free, here’s to looking outward looking inward, seeing beauty, everywhere everywhere.