Naked Enterprise

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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. It was quiet. 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!

When I think about poems I like I generally find there’s a commonality to them–not a sameness, not a theme or subject–but a discordance or disconnect between primary emotion and whatever is wiser. By this I mean sensibility. And also a hint of the illogical that must accompany strong emotion. Here are lines by Yeats 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.

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