poetry or the news

Eileen Update

Yesterday, Eileen and I got up earlier than usual for Eileen’s 8 AM appointment with Michigan Pain Consultants. I was asked to wait outside the clinic but be around if needed. I sat in my car until around 10:40 or so. Eileen came out groggy. They gave her an injection of Miazolam, to help with a further injection of Fentanyl Citrate Soin which seems to be a steriod to treat her pain.

Finally, we have some direction on relieving her incessant pain. The injection can take up to five days to provide relief. She has the follow up appointment on April 30th.  Unfortunately, the doctor could not rule out eventual surgery. I think the process is for Eileen to continue physical therapy and massage and exercise in hopes that her condition improves.

She has been putting an ice pack directly on the spot she received the injection since it is painful.  She reports relief this morning, but now has a new pain in her knee which she thinks is related to the pinched nerve condition. Oy!

Poetry Talk

Lying on my kitchen floor, babbling to my beautiful daughter, Elizabeth, this morning, I recalled a discussion from my early teens I had with Mr. Griffith. Mr. Griffith was an English teacher at Carman High School. I never had him for a course, but I had many conversations with him and other students after school, usually about poetry.

Mr. Griffith proclaimed to his students that poetry needed to be read much more than the news. It was more important. It would shape our lives and give pleasure and beauty.

I’m sixty-seven years old and this has been mostly true for me all my life. Thank you, Mr. Griffith!

These ruminations were brought on by listening to Harold Bloom’s September 7, 2006 Yale lecture on the “Art of Reading a Poem: The Poems of Our Climate” by Wallace Stevens on YouTube (audio only).

Stevens has always been a difficult poet for me. Bloom’s lecture inspires me to return to Stevens and do some reading, if only the title poem of the lecture.

On Monday, I was also reminded of Mr. Griffith’s maxim when Garrison Keeler chose the beautiful poem,  The Only News I Know, by Emily Dicikson for his daily Writers Almanac show. 

827 The Only News I know
by Emily Dickinson

The Only News I know
Is Bulletins all Day
From Immortality.

The Only Shows I see—
Tomorrow and Today—
Perchance Eternity—

The Only One I meet
Is God-The Only Street—
Existence—This traversed

If Other News there be—
Or Admirabler Show—
I’ll tell it You—

Dickinson is much on my mind as I continue to plow through Lyndall Gordon’s masterful, Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Fueds.

Gordon has helpfully cross indexed her work to two of extant collections of Dickinson’s poems including one that I own. I like looking up every poem she quotes and reading it slowly. Gordon bases a lot of her story on the poems themselves, just as she did in her book on Eliot (which I admire greatly and have read).



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