Friday, April 23, 2010

`To a Praiseful Eye'

Wednesday morning my student suffered a seizure and stayed home. She came to school Thursday but was pale, trembling and unable to stay awake, so before lunch we sent her home. Even the nurse, who’s seen it all, shook her head and didn’t apply her customary smile. Another girl had a petit mal seizure in her wheelchair, her fourth of the day. Her body went rigid, her eyes rolled and she came back to us in about two minutes. In the hall, a teacher showed me the purple bump on the side of her jaw where a student had punched her earlier in the week.

The day shared the rhythm of the weather. It drizzled first thing and I wore my coat after leaving it home the day before. Into the afternoon, fog lingered among the cedars. The sky was low and cluttered, pale masses of higher clouds obscured by lower ones of charcoal-gray. Crows worked the lawn but no birds sang.

By the time I got home after 2:30, sun rays had cut through the thinning clouds. A wind started up and a pink flurry fell under the cherry tree in the backyard. The big-leaf maple, hung with red buds and green leaves, looks decorated for Christmas. I thought of Spenser’s sonnet beginning “Happy ye leaves!” In the nest dark-eyed juncos built in the shrub beside the driveway I found two eggs, pale gray and marbled with reddish-brown, and Spenser, the eggs and sun-lit leaves prompted thoughts of a modern Spenserian sonnet, Richard Wilbur’s “Praise in Summer”:

“Obscurely yet most surely called to praise,
As sometimes summer calls us all, I said
The hills are heavens full of branching ways
Where star-nosed moles fly overhead the dead;
I said the trees are mines in air, I said
See how the sparrow burrows in the sky!
And then I wondered why this mad instead
Perverts our praise to uncreation, why
Such savor's in this wrenching things awry.
Does sense so stale that it must needs derange
The world to know it? To a praiseful eye
Should it not be enough of fresh and strange
That trees grow green, and moles can course in clay,
And sparrows sweep the ceiling of our day?”


Ian Wolcott said...

A wonderful poem.

Reed Sanders said...

And very nice juxtaposition as well.