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Poetry, memory, worldview - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Poetry, memory, worldview [Mar. 24th, 2008|10:46 pm]
Arvind Narayanan

The city has streets—
    But the country has roads.
In the country one meets
     Blue carts with their loads
Of sweet-smelling hay,
     And mangolds, and grain:
Oh, take me away
     To the country again!"
-- Eleanor Farjeon.

I had that in 5th grade English. There's a couple more paragraphs (hit the link), but that's the one I remembered. Mostly because of the word mangolds, I guess. What an odd word!

But the reason I probably have any memory at all of this otherwise pedestrian poem is that I disagreed with it strongly, as I still do. It's not so much that I hated the countryside where there's nothing to do but watch cows chew hay all day. It's the author's tone I couldn't digest -- the oozing cynicism of one life and the mindless idolatry of another.

From time to time I've tried googling words from this poem, but I never found it. Surely, there must be anthologies of this stuff online, considering that it is old and out of copyright? It must be a seriously unremarkable poem! The words would keep popping into my head once in a while, so I'd keep trying every few months. Today I succeeded. Ah, nostalgia.

The poem Leisure, on the other hand, is something I have quite different feelings about.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows."
Well, you'd have to be pretty retarded to stare as long as sheep or cows, but we can all agree that a life with no time to stand and stare is a poor one. It's a principle I try to live by -- I'm addicted to the hectic lifestyle, but I try to give myself time for healthy doses of staring, metaphorically speaking.

Strangely, though, I always thought that that poem was by Robert Frost, when in fact it's W. H. Davies. Memory, she's a cruel mistress.

In meta-news, I appear to be transitioning to blogging because I want to, instead of blogging because I need to (In the past, my blogging has been correlated with real life being less than fulfilling.) Let's see how this plays out.