Wednesday, December 24, 2014

`A Gentle Figure From a Simpler Age'

John Muir, writer, explorer, naturalist and crank, died one hundred years ago on this date, Dec. 24, in 1914, at the age of seventy-six. Here is “On Rereading a Passage from John Muir” by Yvor Winters: 

“Seeking in vain to find the heroic brow,
The subject fitting for a native ode,
I turn from thinking, for there haunts me now
A wrinkled figure on a dusty road:
Climbing from path to path, from path to rock,
From rock to live oak, thence to mountain bay,
Through unmoved twilight, where the rifle’s shock
Was half absorbed by leaves and drawn away,
Through mountain lilac, where the brown deer lay. 

“This was my childhood’s revery: to be
Not one who seeks in nature his release,
But one forever by the dripping tree,
Paradisaic in his pristine peace.
I might have been this man: a knowing eye
Moving on leaf and bark, a quiet gauge
Of growing timber and of climbing fly,
A quiet hand to fix them on the page—
A gentle figure from a simpler age.” 

[ed. R.L. Barth, The Selected Poems of Yvor Winters, Ohio University Press, 1999.]

1 comment:

Subbuteo said...

A peaceful and peace-giving poem.