Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tree Trunk, Emily Carr, 1931, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Sonnet in a Knothole

We idled at our doings, heart and I.
We watched the puddle lose its glaze of frost,
measure the April in a pale March sky
And saw the birch tree root all newly mossed.
Filling our fingernails with spring, we raked
And burned and swept, and breathed, and chopped some
And even in that easiness, heart ached
To keep this noon forever, if we could

But no one guessed (we made no outward stopping)
The sudden woodsman stroke that we incurred
When down through fiber, grain, and knotted wit
The oak of language shivered, cleanly split
By the flashed ax blade of the perfect word.

We tightened steel to helve, and went on chopping.

Christopher Morley, The Ballad of New York, New York,
and Other Poems, 1930-1950

I found this little vintage volume of Morley's poems last
month in that marvelous second hand bookstore with
the creaky hardwood floors and scent of wood and
old books.


  1. That little bookstore sure has some treasures! I could spend all day in a place like that...You know, this piece really reminds me of a Georgia O'Keefe...Wonderful painting!

  2. I adore this painting!

    Your description of the bookstore made that poem all the more special.

  3. Very cool. That is an excellent painting. Reminds me a little of Georgia O'Keeffe?

    I just stumbled upon an old book by Robert Bly a couple weeks back, myself. :)

  4. Dave, I love Robert Bly!! I should post one of his poems soon.

  5. I love the painting and the poem very much, and the compliment each other very well. Great post, Willow!

  6. That is beautiful! It looks like draping fabric. Such a neat poem,'ll have to post more entries from it! ...or go to the bookstore and post pictures so we can live vicariously! :)

  7. The last time I visited my favorite bookstore, I had intended to bring along my camera, but forgot it. Next time for sure!

  8. I LOVE the fluidity - is there such a word? if not there should be just for this ... sort of Dali-esque as well, no?

    I love the word bummershoot, Willow ... I am going to have to find a way to work it into conversation today ..


  9. Wonderful painting and accompanying poem. I'm a huge poetry fan...

  10. Your description of the vintage bookstore immediately made me long to be standing among the stacks of old volumes looking for treasures myself. Lucky you!

  11. Oh my Willow...I, like Rebecca think this little bookstore is heaven sent. I love the painting and the Morley poem ....I do so like your taste in art and poetry.As always...a lovely post.

  12. The poem and the painting are well suited to each other. All the senses are addressed, and evoked. A very nice pairing!

  13. Very nice addition to your painting posts. That's what I envision poetry being, not some senseless mish/mash of words.

  14. You would like "The Strand" in NYC, Willow. It is a bookstore with 18 miles of new, used, rare and out of print books. When my daughter was an undergrad in NYU we would meet there and browse. I must visit again soon!

    Lovely poem! My favorite line was:

    "Filling our fingernails with spring, we raked"

    I love the feel of garden soil in my bare hands.

    Thanks so much for your sweet birthday best wishes!


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)