Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy anniversary

I've been hoping to post something new--on Luke's gospel, on faith, on the movie States of Grace, or on that topic I keep promising to get back to, Groundhog Day and the ring of Gyges (I will! I will!)--but have been very, very busy.

It occurred to me that this might be the perfect occasion to wish my wife a happy anniversary--or almost perfect, since it was our 22nd anniversary yesterday (and we did celebrate, going to our favorite restaurant, Bombay House). We've grown together in many wonderful ways over those 22 years, and my appreciation and love for Margaret have deepened and continue to deepen. Besides our anniversary, we'll soon be celebrating Margaret's birthday (in June--but she'll be at a film festival in California). And of course we just celebrated Mother's Day.

So to honor Margaret Blair Young, I offer the following poem, written some years ago (May 1998 to be exact), but still very much an expression of how I see her:

For Margaret

"A mind as lithe as a leopard; a bright sword;
"A garden--gardens within gardens"--so
Jack wrote of Joy, and prophesied of you.
My wonder, my beloved--whatever word
Or words I choose, or borrow, pale before
Your real and complete otherness. This view
Of you so near and yet so distant, so
"Mine own, yet not mine own," is illusions' cure.

But you are more: a fount of love and life,
Fertile source of words, ideas, health
Of heart, deep questions and deep harmonies;
Holding many selves in one eternal self--
Writer, teacher, gardener, mother, wife,
Besides the queen and goddess yet to be.

Two notes: (1) As the poem suggests, any person is really unfathomable, and that's certainly true of Margaret. But if you want to get to know her better, you can read her blog essay (see the link below) or, for that matter, any number of other things she's written, including her six novels. Or better yet, hang out with her for a while--22 years or more if possible. (2) If you have responses to the poem or questions about it (like "who the heck are Jack and Joy?), please feel free to post comments.


Margaret Young said...

How generous of you to post something so beautiful and idealistic instead of a sonnet about living with a menopausal woman. I think the subject lends itself to a sonnet.

bruce young said...

While I'm working on the menopausal sonnet, a few questions on the one I've posted (these are to get people thinking):
(1) What kind of poem is this? (OK, Margaret already noted, or implied, that it's a sonnet.)
(2) What kind of sonnet?
(3) What are the sources of the quotations?
(4) Who are Jack and Joy?
(5) Are there any other specific allusions?
Come on guys! This is fun! It's literary analysis!

Dramatic Soprano said...

1) What kind of poem is this?
A good one. Sonnet

(2) What kind of sonnet?

Octave/sestet--Italian or Petrarchan

(3) What are the sources of the quotations?

Song of Songs, meaning that the writer expected to get something that night.

(4) Who are Jack and Joy?
Members of an English nursery rhyme who fell down a hill

(5) Are there any other specific allusions?

There are references to Tanzania, paying tribute to the subject who helped her son write a report on it. Also, "mine own yet not mine own" refers simultaneously to Levinas and to Shakespeare--and also to the Song of Songs, meaning there is a hidden agenda.

Many selves refers to the fact that she's a Gemini and can be a total witch when she's mad (like now, when Michael took forever to clean up his room), but she can also be a nice person. Maybe by next Thursday.

bruce young said...

OK, let's sift the wheat from the tares and see if we can get a few more answers.
(1) Right--it's a good poem and a sonnet (or more briefly, a "good sonnet").
(2) Right--it's an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet. The rhyme scheme is the real giveaway: abb'a' a''b'ba''' cded'ce' (the apostrophes after some of the letters mean that these are "off rhymes"--meaning not very exact at all--so this is a "modernish" poem; the rhyme scheme in an Italian or Petrarchan sonnet is supposed to be abba abba followed by six lines with some combination of two or three rhymes, e.g., cddcee, cdecde, cdcdcd, etc.)
(3) Quotations: Nothing from the Song of Songs except maybe "gardens" (indirectly). The first two lines are from a book published in 1964, I think. "Mine own, yet not mine own" is Shakespearean (which play?) with, yes, admittedly, some Levinasian overtones. More on Levinas later.
(4) Jack and Joy--no, not from a nursery rhyme.
(5) Other allusions--some more Levinas, etc., to be explained later. No Tanzanian connections I can find (except that English is one of the languages of Tanzania, along with Kiswahili).
"Many selves"--probably refers to the seven nouns in the last two lines. (That's more than gemini.)

So any takers on the missing pieces (questions 3 and 4 especially)?

Former student said...

I know the answers to EVERYTHING, but I'm not going to give them unless you change my grade from 1984.

concerned observer said...

Gee, you'd think the poem would have been compensation enough! But if not--how about hot chocolate every morning?