I was reading the September 13, 2020 issue of Pacific NW from The Seattle Times. When I came upstairs for breakfast at 6:45 I found the slim magazine open to page 12. The article was entitled The Power of Poetry and featured Raul Sanchez, the poet laureate of Redmond, Washington. Outside his home, Sanchez has a Poetry Pole, kind of like the small lending libraries. Visitors can stop by and take away a few sheets of paper with poems on them and even perhaps leave one or two behind to share.
I think I first really enjoyed poetry by reading science fiction. My parents owned La Casa Motel in Ponders Corner. We purchased it and moved in the summer before I went to Hudtloff Junior High. When I was left alone at the motel while my parents went shopping or to a meeting, I would visit the little grocery store in Ponders a couple hundred yards away and purchase something to eat (I loved the tins of beef stroganoff) and a paperback book. One of my purchases was the Ray Bradbury book of short stories, The Golden Apples of the Sun. The title is derived from the W.B. Yeats poem, The Song of Wandering Aengus with it’s last three lines:
“And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.”
As I scanned the article about Raul Sanchez I recited those three lines by memory. Not bad for reaching back over sixty years.
The funny thing about poetry and science fiction is that you just never know where they will lead you. The first thing I did was to look up the entire Yeats poem. William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature.
The Song of Wandering Aengus
W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
I knew I no longer had the Ray Bradbury paperback, so I got to thinking . . . “I wonder if the book is available on Youtube.” It was. The audio book runs for six hours and twenty minutes. I didn’t have time to listen to the whole book, but I did listen to the first story: The Fog Horn. I was immediately returned to the joy and wonderment of language. The words and phrases of Bradbury whisked me away to a light house and the sea monster that answers the lonely call of The Fog Horn from twenty miles down and half-way across the oceans. I could see the monster. I could hear the monster. I could feel the loneliness and despair. You just never know where poetry, science fiction, and monsters will lead you, but it’s worth the dreaming and listening.