Saturday, February 01, 2014

Light, darkness, old friends and a dream

Today there was a remembrance service for Jack Haeger, who used to work with S in the English Department at San Jose State, and chaired the department for many years. It was moving and varied, since his many friends had been part of so many different things in his life. He played bridge, chess, could make or fix anything, and seemed to make a society quickly wherever he went. His children and siblings also spoke. On the way back we stopped in Los Gatos for an expensive snack, below this fingernail moon.

Yes, that's it, the tiny white smirch in the blackness near the center of the picture! No time for a better shot as the others were hurrying toward the restaurant with the two-hour wait. (We wound up changing to another place, where we ate in the bar. Bright Lights! Big City!  sort of . . .)

When we came out, that's when I saw the skinny-legged mannequins wearing what looks like used boy clothing. (Above.) I couldn't resist the way they were lit from above. Photography is all about light anyway.

Tonight I am thinking back on the years we have spent here, with this crowd of literature teachers, many of whom came, now silver-headed, to this event. I took not a single picture, even of the small dog, which erupted in delightful short fusillades of barking, now and again.

I have been reading All Roads Lead to France, an excellent biography of the British poet, Edward Thomas, who was killed in World War I. He had been a prose writer, but over two short years just before his death, he wrote his poems, good ones.

Here is a short one from the free Kindle Book Last Poems by Edward Thomas.


       Over known fields with an old friend in dream
I walked, but came sudden to a strange stream.
Its dark waters were bursting out most bright
From a great mountain's heart into the light.
They ran a short course under the sun, then back
Into a pit they plunged, once more as black
As at their birth; and I stood thinking there
How white, had the day shone on them, they were,
Heaving and coiling. So by the roar and hiss
And by the mighty motion of the abyss
I was bemused, that I forgot my friend
And neither saw nor sought him till the end,
When I awoke from waters unto men
Saying, "I shall be here again."

Thomas seems to have had a difficult time managing what sounds pretty much like what we might call clinical depression, and was pretty tough on others as well as on himself. I'll probably be talking more about him later, when I have finished the biography and read the poems. He had a very deep friendship with Robert Frost, who had moved to England at that time and published his first book, A Boy's Will, there.

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