Robert Frost, in his poem October, beginning the hours of this day slowly, making the morning last, as Poet Paul Simon says on our show’s signature song, to Frost’s “make the day to us less brief,” his slow! Slow! savoring this October morning—it’s still mild October morning in Hawaii, on the Maui gardens where W.S. Merwin is restoring rare and endangered palms of the original rainforest, and so we are thinking of Merwin, preparing to leave for Washington, D.C. for his inaugural reading tomorrow as Poet Laureate of the Library of Congress, and I’ll be there for us to cheer wildly and greenly mildly and s-l-o-w-l-y and will give your greetings from the Poetry Slow Down, we hear you Mr. Frost, I’m Professor Barbara Mossberg, for KRXA 540AM, and you, you are this remarkable national poetry community, this gathering of Yes, of Up-ness, of conscience and civility and passion, I love your emails to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can still write me greetings to Mr. Merwin to deliver tomorrow, and I’m going to deliver an invitation for him to speak to Restore Hetch Hetchy, since he’s going inch by inch, row by grow, making his garden grow, restoring earth, resurrection work, what I call redemption engineering, and you can hear about poetry and gardens and Mr. Merwin in our past shows on our podcast, by Sara Hughes, just go to BarbaraMossberg.com. And here we go . . .
When I consider how my light is spent, John Milton, On His Blindness—probably dictated, and possibly to Andrew Marvell, whose rejoinder, Had we but world enough, and time, ends, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run. Then another fan of Milton, who wrote in London, 1802, Milton, get your sorry self back here, England needs your spirit! From Wordsworth’s sonnet, The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Epigraphs from John Milton and Andrew Marvell and William Wordsworth, for a Poetry Slow Down series in which we consider lifesaving, life-thriving poetic philosophies of life, considering how our time is spent, and the question of how to be: poets weighing in on essential stance and perspectives forming an honor company of companions—an honor poetry guard– to W.S. Merwin our new Poet Laureate–think Thoreau (he invented attitude), Emerson (he grandfathered it), Joseph Conrad, Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, Nikki Giovanni, Horace, Wallace Stegner, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, Ric Masten, Dylan Thomas. For genius of how to live, we will consider the narrative perspectives of a dog (Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain), a Yogi Bear, a spider (E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web), a pest (four-year old Beverly Cleary’s Ramona) channeled through the poet; and how the birds and bees do it, the flowers and trees, in the metaphor of life as a garden (and the role of weeds and wilderness), with Gerard Manley Hopkins, Theodore Roethke, Stanley Kunitz, T.S. Eliot, Wordsworth, and more, on The Poetry Slow Down, with me, Professor Barbara Mossberg, for KRXA 540AM, and our production team, Hal Ginsberg, and Sara Hughes, who also brings you our podcast and website, at BarbaraMossberg.com. Listen to the poets: you know you move too fast; consider how our time is spent! And on this theme of spending wisely, how do we spend not only our time but our monies? So we begin the series today, honoring the inaugural reading tomorrow of our newest Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C., at the Thomas Jefferson Building—because it was Jefferson who began it all, donating his own library to Congress as the foundation for our nation’s library, because how can we be a smart, good, surviving country without books?—and because in two days we go to the polls, and in my new hometown, Pacific Grove, with its Poet in Residence in The Poet’s Perch of 1892, a city that puts poetry in its civic mission, the day after the Poet Laureate Inaugural Reading, there’s a vote on a tax to keep our library going—Measure Q—a yes vote keeps it going–so my inaugural lecture as Poet in Residence last week was for the library, at the library, about what’s at stake in keeping a library open. Therefore on this Frostian mild October day I will reprise with you some of this talk, called, “The Power of the Butterfly: How Books Can Change the World One Nobody At A Time,” and Poetry Slow Down, I won’t lie to you, the hero of this story is poetry. And my mother right here, she nods. So it’s dedicated to you, mommy—who brought me up in the library and made of our home a library—she nods. So on the nod of yes, here’s how the talk started, and she won’t be surprised, and neither will you . . . (think, “yes”)