Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Great Lover

Ellen emailed me and offered to send me a tiny book she made. "I know you scrapbook, and I thought you'd be interested," she wrote.

(You know Ellen, she's one half of the dynamic Monica Ferris and Ellen duo, those intrepid travelers who visited Thailand.)

Of course, I was interested. In fact, I was delighted and honored she thought of me. A few days later, I opened a padded mailing envelope. My jaw dropped. "Wow," I said, over and over. "Look at this," I shared the lovely tiny item with my son and a female friend of his.

They said, "Wow." (You know, teenagers are hard to impress. But Ellen's work did exactly that.)

I carried the little book lovingly downstairs to my office. I held it, turned it over, enjoyed both sides, and stared. The gorgeous miniature piece gives me a giant case of scrapper's block. What ever could I put inside it to be worthy? There are 16 pages, which yields 32 surfaces. What could I put on these to do justice to the workmanship?

I've mulled it over. There's only one subject worthy of this lovely, handmade piece: I'll scrapbook my favorite things.

I'll use my favorite poem as a springboard:


The Great Lover

by Rupert Brooke

These I have loved:

White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,

Ringed with blue lines; and feather faery dust;

Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust

Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;

Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;

And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;

And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours;

Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;

The, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon

Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss

Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is

Shining and Free; blue massing clouds; the keen

Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

The benison of hot water; furs to touch

The good smell of old clothes; and other such--

The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,

Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers

About dead leaves and last year's ferns. . .

Dear names,

And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;

Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;

Holes in the ground; and voice that do sing;

Voices in laughter, too; and bodies' pain.

Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;

Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam

That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home...

All these have been my loves.


Tell you love this poem as much as I do? I'm eager to hear your reaction.


Camille Minichino said...

Here's my favorite:

the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

I think of lasers and spectrographs I have known!

I'm also the lucky recipient of a lovely book by Ellen and have had the same problem coming up with something worthy of it.

Ellen -- if you're listening ... there's a token thank you on the way to you.

One wonderful thing about this blog spot -- the sharing of talent, both virtual and material.

Kathryn Lilley said...

Beautiful poem, Joanna! I've never been a great reader of poetry, but in college I took a course with Robert Pinsky, who managed to open my ears to the music of language despite my (then) tin-eared resistance! Best, Kathryn

Ellen said...

Poetry is as good a thing as any to do with a scrapbook, but I prefer to do chapbooks. Monica and I have a friend named Ann, a poet and storyteller, and I did a chapbook of her poems, called Songs and Enchantments.

Camille - in the neighborhood of techno-beauty, I am particularly fond of a Stern-Gerlach magnet I used in my master's thesis.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

What amazes me about this blog is how high the level of discourse is. Lasers and spectrographs? Robert Pinksy? Stern-Gerlach magnet? I'm sent scuttling through the Internet to know more. What a treasure all of you are. Ellen, I bet that chapbook was lovely. Maybe sometime you will share it with us.

Monica Ferris said...

What a lovely poem! Some of the things listed are on my list of favorites, too. The smell of last year's leaves, for example. I also love the thin lace that early winter makes around the edges of puddles. And the feel of a cat's purr in my arms. And the smell of anything baking in the oven. That poem wakened me anew to those pleasures. Thank you for putting it up.

Ellen said...

As we are discussing it, here is my favorite Poem of Physics:

Cosmic Gall
John Updike

Neutrinos they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And, scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed – you call
It wonderful; I call it crass.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oh, Ellen, that's terrific. I really like that. Especially those dustmaidens down a drafty hall.

Camille Minichino said...

Ellen ... great poem. Except of course now we think neutrinos do have mass and may even have something to do with dark matter.

I wrote an ode to a neutrino when I was in college ... "Massless thou and stable
of charge thou hast no part ...

well, you get the drift.
also wrong now!

See what you've started Joanna!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Yahoo. I love starting "things." I'm glad we all had a chance to share...

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Joanna Campbell Slan said...


I'm so pleased so many of you liked this poem. Originally, my high school principal shared it with me. He and I had a discussion where I told him that if I were ever rich, I'd have fresh sheets on my bed everyday. (Fresh from hanging out on the laundry line, that is.)

I re-discovered the poem while cleaning files.

Glad I could share it.

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