In 1983, W.S. Merwin wrote a poem called “Late Wonders.” It’s a poem I return to, especially when given to wonder myself, about why poetry matters.
Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude as an undergrad was the joy of the deep end of the pool. Ghosts, mysterious ascensions into heaven, ageless gypsies selling wonders to drive one mad, generations of family traits and vices that vine and tangle about us until we’re all firmly in the grasp of immanence. Into these strange and profound waters we were thrown and told to swim, and nobody was an expert, all of us floundered, tried to touch the bottom and failed, got worn out and doggy-paddled to the side for a break. It felt dangerous and new; it felt fun.
Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Mechanic and machinist Arthur Pirre spent 20 years restoring his 1937 “Baby Duesenberg” Cord. He worked on details with files and wrenches and hex keys. He measured and drilled to make precisely fitting parts. Then he broadened his imagination to more abstract uses: choosing fabric and colors, sanding, painting, polishing, until the sleek curves and inventive features were remastered to their original beauty.
I worked a number of positions in television news, and the only aspect of it I really enjoyed was the news writing. The experience taught me a great deal about the kind of writer I wanted to be. And until recently, I’d forgotten I’d wanted to be the kind of writer whose stories are read aloud. There’s a power in telling stories for all to hear.
Read Part I
Great trees, outspreading and upright,
apostles of the living light.
Patient as stars they build in air
tier after tier a timbered choir . . .
—Wendell Berry, “The Timbered Choir”
Writers and artists often use windows as a source of inspiration. Georgia O’Keeffe has a series of brilliant paintings that offer unique views of New York City from her perch in the Shelton building, where she lived with Alfred Stieglitz for twelve years in the 1920s and 1930s.