Ridiculous Enterprise, A Brief Admission about Poetry

One hot summer afternoon when I was maybe six years old, I lay in a ditch filled with dry leaves because it offered a world for me. The ditch was in the woods. The place was quiet. It was one of those summer days when everything was silent. I fell asleep in my Rip Van Winkle nest. When I woke I heard a crinkling in the leaves and I felt a toad timidly placing his feet on my outstretched arm. He walked along my wrist and disappeared into the further recesses of the ditch. I was sorry he was gone. Funny how I can remember that. At six I felt the departure of a toad as a personal loss. Ridiculous!

All emotional responses to the things of this world are laughable. If you’re lucky you grow sufficiently to know it.

When I think about the poems I like, I generally find there’s a commonality to them–not a sameness, not a generalized theme or subject–but a discordance or disconnect between primary emotion and whatever we may call something wiser. By this I mean sensibility. And also a hint of the absurd that must come with strong emotion. Here are lines by Yeats that I’ve always admired:

I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.