November 12, 2003

An old friend encountered ...

When I was about 9 or 10, this poem seemed to me like the ultimate in literary achievement...(by Don Blanding, 1929)

When I have a house . . . as I sometime may . . .
I'll suit my fancy in every way.
I'll fill it with things that have caught my eye
In drifting from Iceland to Molokai.
It won't be correct, or in period style
But . . . oh, I've thought for a long long while
Of all the corners and all the nooks,
Of all the bookshelves and all the books,
The great big table, the deep soft chairs,
And the Chinese rug at the foot of the stairs,
(it's an old, old rug from far Chow Wan
that a Chinese princess once walked on)....
It's a long poem, listing all the exotic treasures the vagabond has found in "ruined temples in Peru," etc.� I won't bore you with all of it. (You can read it here.) But just a bit more...
The beams of my house will be fragrant wood
that once in a teeming jungle stood
As a proud tall tree where the leopards couched
and the parrot screamed and the black men crouched.
The roof must have a rakish dip
To shadowing caves where the rain can drip
In a damp persistent tuneful way;
It's a cheerful sound on a gloomy day.
And I want a shingle loose somewhere
To wail like a banshee in despair
When the wind is high and the storm gods race
And I am snug by my fireplace....
I could rarely bring myself to read the ending of the poem, where the vagabond, having, in his imagination, built his wondrous house, also imagines himself caught once again by the wanderlust, abandoning his house to the mice and spiders, "...While I follow the sun, while I drift and roam To the ends of the earth like a chip on the stream..."

Posted by John Weidner at November 12, 2003 7:51 PM
Weblog by John Weidner