Sunday Poem, January 13, 2013
Okay I’m going to try to get this thing going again, starting with another Sunday poem. I’m missing Iowa pretty hard at the mo, so how about a poem from the guy who went to my high school. I think this might be one of his Valentine’s Day poems—every year, he sends original poems for Valentine’s Day to a small group of women across America. And yeah, as you might expect from that, it’s cheesy, but see above, missing Iowa.
Plus, for all its sentimentality, there’s something Miltonic about this poem, the vast and abrupt swings in scale, from large to small, high to low, celestial to human. In fact, the astronomer is a pretty solid analogue to the belated peasant (which makes it interesting that he’s placed inside—and therefore outside, distinct from—the figure of the poet). Besides, have you ever read Lycidas? Boss could be cheesy as fuck when it suited him. Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth. As we say in Iowa, yup.
Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer’s retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.
—Ted Kooser, from Solo: A Journal of Poetry (Spring 1996)