Thursday, February 12, 2009
Bad news is just relentless, right? Driving around today, any good feelings that I might happen to have (for a change) are insistently knocked down by what I hear on the radio or read on the front of the paper. I'm tempted to go on a news blackout but then I'd also have to stop opening my mail and paying bills. My head felt almost dizzy tonight when I was cooking dinner, dizzy with information.
I picked a lemon tonight, off of my Meyer lemon tree. When I sliced a piece off, the juice sprayed out and onto my hand, and hours later it still smells. Clean and flowery. I love lemons. And I love this poem by the Italian poet Eugenio Montale.
The Lemon Trees
Listen; the poets laureate
walk only among plants
of unfamiliar name: boxwood, acanthus;
I, for my part, prefer the streets that fade
to grassy ditches where a boy
hunting the half-dried puddles
sometimes scoops up a meagre eel;
the little paths that wind along the slopes,
plunge down among the cane-tufts,
and break into the orchards, among trunks
of the lemon-trees.
Better if the jubilee of birds
is quenched, swallowed entirely in the blue:
more clear to the listener murmur of friendly
in air that scarcely moves,
that fills the senses with this odor
inseparable from earth,
and rains an unquiet sweetness in the breast.
Here by a miracle is hushed
the war of the diverted passions,
here even to us poor falls our share of riches,
and it is the scent of the lemon-trees.
See, in these silences
in which things yield and seem about to betray their ultimate secret,
sometimes one half expects
to discover a mistake of Nature,
the dead point of the world, the link which
will not hold,
the thread to disentangle which might set us
in the midst of a truth.
The eyes cast round,
the mind seeks harmonizes disunites
in the perfume that expands
when day most languishes.
Silences in which one sees
in each departing human shadow
some dislodged Divinity.
But the illusion wanes and time returns us
to our clamorous cities where the blue
only in patches, high up, among the gables.
Then rain falls wearying the earth,
the winter tedium weighs on the roofs,
the light grows miserly, bitter the soul.
When one day through a half-shut gate,
among the leafage of a court
the yellows of the lemon blaze
and the heart's ice melts
pour into the breast
from golden trumpets of solarity.