My morning dreams were of my mother. She looked great and was using a computer, typing quickly, and it turned out her new home is right under where the helicopter takes off, so what she typed showed a view of her home as the helicopter rose, and, then, the surrroundings. She is living in a beautiful place. We went out to eat and checked everything out. She was like she was in the past, only even more animated. It was a lovely way to wake.
I also had the image this morning of cancer treatment as like being in one of those car washes where you put your car in neutral and are towed along. Then, you are unhooked, and, have to start your engine and choose a direction. I think I have been a bit overwhelmed at my lovely array of choices. I feel rested and well-chosen today.
I love this comment by Verlyn on Donald Hall.
Donald Hall, Poet Laureate
The question, What is poetry for? has a corollary: What is everything that is not poetry for? That's what I found myself wondering as I reread Donald Hall's poem "The One Day" after hearing the good news that he will be the next poet laureate of the United States. The question has a circular, elliptical answer. In the life of a poet, what is not poetry is for the making of poems. It is the raw stuff, like "a bad patch of middle-life," as Mr. Hall puts it in his note on "The One Day." It took 17 years to make that 60-page poem, and 17 years for a poem of that magnitude is a decent rate of exchange.
In this country there is no job description for the poet laureate. And yet the title, which carries a stipend and a travel grant, is not entirely honorific. It's assumed that the laureate will try to advance the cause of poetry — especially the public awareness of poetry — in a manner somehow separate from the writing of poems. To speak on behalf of poetry sounds like a natural task for a poet, and for some poets it certainly is. I don't know whether Donald Hall will turn out to be that kind of laureate, and, in a way, I hope he doesn't. So much of his poetry has emerged from the rigor of his privacy — from what appears in his verse to be a deep, unsettling sense of what's possible in one's life. There's always the temptation for the laureate to find some anodyne ground to stand on. But these are not anodyne times.
To many readers, Donald Hall has lived what appears to be an eminently poetical life — in an ancient farmhouse in New Hampshire. The setting is pastoral, and yet there is a ferocity in Mr. Hall's voice that undoes the pastoral, which is always waiting to be undone. As Mr. Hall once wrote in an essay about the withering of the National Endowment for the Arts, "the mathematics of poetry's formal resolution does not preclude moral thought, or satisfaction in honest naming, or the consolation of shared feeling." I'm looking forward to the mathematics and the morality of this new laureate. After all, it doesn't matter where you watch life from if your gaze takes in the whole world.