Posts Tagged ‘bear’

Earlier this week, my friend Wendy and I went to watch a movie at the Ogden 6 Theater. Right beside the theater is a bargain bookstore. They have a sale going: buy the four books, get the fifth one free. This was just too thrilling for words.

I picked up a Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, the selected letters of the poet John Keats, a collection of poems by Louise Erdrich, another collection of poems by Mark Doty, and an anthology of haiku, with contributions from Basho, Busan, and Issa, edited by Robert Haas.

I’ve been reading, in a sort of slow, meditative way, a book on memoir writing by Dan Allender called To Be Told and the collection of haibun called Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan. I thought it would be good to read King’s perspectives on memoir since I knew he would have a different sort of kick to his advice.

I’ve always enjoyed Stephen King’s prose style. It’s journalistic, Hemingway-esque. His content is always reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe. There can be little doubt that Stephen King is Poe’s modern counterpart, his literary descendant, the inheritor of his gift. Some of King’s books I’ve never wanted to read, but Firestarter and The Dark Tower were two I enjoyed.

King, as I learned from reading his life story, is married to a poet. In his book, he includes an early poem she wrote called “A Gradual Canticle for Augustine.” I wanted to include it here because it’s beautiful:

The thinnest bear is awakened in the winter
by the sleep-laughter of locusts,
by the dream-blustering of bees,
by the honeyed scent of desert sands
that the wind carries in her womb
into the distant hills, into the houses of Cedar.

The bear has heard a sure promise.
Certain words are edible; they nourish
more than snow heaped upon silver plates
or I is overflowing golden bowls. Chips of ice
from the mouth of a lover are not always better,
nor a desert dreaming always a mirage.
The rising bear sings a gradual canticle
woven of sand that conquers cities
by a slow cycle. His praise seduces
a passing wind, traveling to the sea
wherein a fish, caught in a careful net,
here is a bear’s song in the cool-scented snow.

Tabitha King (1969)
in Stephen King’s On Writing (2000)

Stephen King’s Commentary: The poet “knew exactly what she had meant to say, and has said most of it. St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430) she knew both as a Catholic and as a history major. Augustine’s mother (a saint herself) was a Christian, his father a pagan. Before his conversion, Augustine pursued both money and women. Following it he continued to struggle with his sexual impulses, and is known for the Libertine’s Prayer, which goes: “Oh Lord, make me chaste … but not yet.” In his writing he focused on man’s struggle to give up belief in the self in favor of belief in God. And he sometimes likened himself to a bear …

The canticle is gradual perhaps because the bear’s awakening is gradual. The bear is powerful and sensual, although thin because he is out of his time. In a way, Tabby said when called upon to explicate, the bear can be seen as a symbol of mankind’s troubling and wonderful habit of dreaming the right dreams at the wrong time. Such dreams are difficult because they’re inappropriate, but wonderful in their promise. The poem also suggests that dreams are powerful — the bear’s is strong enough to seduce the wind into bringing his song to a fish caught in a net.” (p.65)

p.s. Poetry is everywhere.

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