Monday, January 28, 2013

Moon over Jamaica, farewell to Louis Simpson

Took this last night trying out an iPhone app. You can barely see the clouds. . .
but without the app, they wouldn't show at all.

Today I finally finished The King My Father's Wreck by Louis Simpson.
And I am putting all the Simpson books away for now, while I finish
Thornton Wilder and two on Wordsworth (I think I'll have the strength!)

Here is the last part of the poem that ends the book,
a memoir of a late-in-life trip to Jamaica, where
he was born and grew up, and learned to loathe colonialism.

From 'Working Late' pages 188-189

All the arguing in the world
will not stay the moon.
She has come all the way from Russia
to gaze for a while in a mango tree
and light the wall of a veranda,

before resuming her interrupted journey
beyond the harbor and the lighthouse
at Port Royal, turning away
from land to the open sea.

Yet, nothing in nature changes, from that day to this,
she is still the mother of us all.
I can see the drifting offshore lights,
black posts where the pelicans brood.

And the lights that used to shine
at night in my father's study
now shines as late in mine.

Louis Simpson  1923-2012

The universality of the moon is joined here by other common tropes: 
I have seen pelicans brooding on back posts and 
the offshore lights on the Monterey Bay! 

And I love thinking about the moon over Russia and over
Jamaica--while Simpson was there he visited his old home, now
a derelict house in a dangerous slum. Each room in the house is
occupied by a different family. The room he and his brother slept
in was locked up and he could not see it. He describes his despair
about Jamaica, so little space for so many people!

Good night, moon, and people and pelicans! Tomorrow is coming.
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