Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The beautiful and the ugly

This is growing down by the stream, and I have seen it in other places 
along watercourses here. It looks awfully like the yellow flag or yellow water iris
 that is notoriously invasive; if given any chance, it will ruin wetlands. 
Yet it is still widely available in the nursery trade, and widely used in water gardens. 
This whole "invasive species" problem probably won't be solved 
until there are just two or three kinds of anything left. 
At least these yellow beauties stay put. If you want to read a worse horror story,
 just search "Burmese python" and Everglades." 
I am engaged in a losing battle with Knapweed, 
or Russian Thistle, which is forming a monoculture 
in my meadow in northern Michigan and driving out the grass and wildflowers. 
It puts a chemical into the soil that discourages 
any but its own seeds from germinating. . . .(sound of sobbing.)

At the Cafe at Night

All this uproar under the stars
Only art makes sense of. The houses
Pay no heed to the passing night,
The moon is an object--it takes art
To get to the bottom of it. Men
Hate one another. The uproar
Of consent tingles the pulse. This
Disbelieved, ask the next
Person. The noise assails the stars.

Let us refer to those two at the cafe
Sitting outside in the night, the electric
Bulb bare, the street past the chairs
Empty, they tolerate one another
Only because of Van Gogh's paint.

Ralph Gustafson  (1909-1995)

15 Canadian Poets x 3, Oxford University Press, Canada,
 Fourth Edition, 2001, page 34.

There is a lot going on here; the poem is not precisely syllabic,
but the syllable line-counts are close.
The Capital Letter at the beginning of each line
gives it a museum sort of formality, I think.
This is another example of ekphrastic poetry.  Take a close look at the painting.


  1. I hope the iris posted pictures from a recent ocean trip aren't the invasive type, but I'm certainly no expert on that.