Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Marianne Szlyk writes

Facing East at Sunset

After a photograph by Northscapes Photography, Presque Isle, ME

The photographer turns away from blaze
of orange light and burnt clouds
to the side that could be
dawn, not the beginning of night.

Filters stain this sky and pond
sapphire in the blue hour, not
quite night but evening. It’s November,
just past four on a Sunday
out on Chapman Road in Maine.

The photographer thinks of Frost’s pony
jingling through woods south of here.
These woods are silent; no cars
lumber by, flashing lights at him.
The dead trees harbor no birds.

The trees stand like the ruins
of a house never finished, burnt
in the west’s fire. Bleached grass
piles up like ashes, heaped beside
the pond. The north wind blows
through, rattling empty milkweed. 

Yet the photographer stays, waiting
for stars to appear like rain
that quenches fire. He waits to
take their picture.

1 comment:

  1. British Loyalists, who had remained loyal to king George III during the American Revolution, settled northern Maine, which was then disputed territory between the US and the UK. New Brunswick gave them patents on live there but not claim ownership or sell land. Eventually, in the 1820s, Massachusetts offered land grants. Dennis Fairbanks then founded Fairbanks in 1828. A decade later the undeclared Aroostook War broke out between the US and the UK, and the border issue was finally resolved in 1842. Maine, which had acquired statehood in 1820, named the area Presque Isle in 1859 (from "presqu'île," French for peninsula).

    Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village, though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound's the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

    --Robert Frost

    The 86-year-old poet was invited to recite a poem at the inauguration of the 43-year-old president John Kennedy. Frost responded with a telegram, beginning, "If you can bear at your age the honor of being made president of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration." For the occasion he composed "Dedication," a 42-line poem, but realized he had no time to memorize it. The weather conditions at the ceremony made it impossible to read it (the sun's glare on the snow was too bright), so he quoted from memory the shorter "The Gift Outright":

    The land was ours before we were the land’s
    She was our land more than a hundred years
    Before we were her people. She was ours
    In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
    But we were England’s, still colonials,
    Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
    Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
    Something we were withholding made us weak
    Until we found out that it was ourselves
    We were withholding from our land of living,
    And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
    Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
    (The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
    To the land vaguely realizing westward,
    But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
    Such as she was, such as she will become.

    When Kennedy was assassinated in Texas in 1963 his body was taken back to the capitol. Sid Davis reported the casket's arrival at the White House and concluded with "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" but was overcome with emotion as he signed off. (Frost had died earlier in the year.)


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