A Winter Idyl
It’s Sunday in February and the snow is coming down, the town plow has not come through, there’s no going anywhere so I grab from the shelf my big red anthology called American Poetry published in 1965 and assigned for a poetry class I took in college in 1979, flip it open to John Greenleaf Whittier and spend the afternoon reading—why not?—his once-famous long poem titled “Snow-Bound” which he wrote in 1865, I’ve read it once before probably in that poetry class but remember nothing except it had something to do with being snowed in which is what I am being today a long ways from 1865, the poem has a curious pair of epigraphs, one from Emerson the other from Cornelius Agrippa—Agrippa?—anyway last evening an unexpected drive down the mountain, I hate driving in the dark anymore and especially on steep roads with rude recreationists dashing home after a long day on the slopes to the bright lights of the strip malls and true mauls of Walmarts Staples Hannafords Space-for-Lease QuickChek GanderMountain another Space-for-Lease and another after that (“Save our mall!”), make a turn and a railroad crossing to halt at an interminable red light which I finally run it’s dark and nobody’s looking and hey we (the collie and I) are on our way to the Animal Emergency Clinic where once inside the whole building starts shaking and rattling because a long train of oil-bomb cars is rumbling past right behind the place but the ill-feeling collie gets heaps of praise and attention from the staff finally to be given a diagnosis of acute colitis (“Stress from his female friend being in heat”) and upon me paying his enormous bill we’re sent on our way back whence we came along with a prescription of bland diet (for the collie) and a couple vials of pills (also for the collie) and a beer or two (for me), okay to hurry this along now, today he’s looking good as new and there’s this snowstorm blowing outside and thus the Whittier as I’ve already explained but I’m still trying to figure out why Agrippa? have you ever read anything by him? in my library is the very book from which Whittier took his epigraph it’s called Occult Philosophy, don’t ask, a book about magick and other stuff, I open it to the section “To the Reader” where he says: “But you that come without prejudice to read it, if you have so much discretion of prudence, as Bees have in gathering honey, read securely, and believe that you shall receive no little profit, and much pleasure; but if you shall find any things that may not please you, let them alone and make no use of them” that works for me, and the point of his long book is that “everything is hitched to everything else” but those are not Agrippa’s words they’re from John Muir who I’m pretty sure never read Agrippa but he sure did read and know Ralph Waldo Emerson who maybe read Agrippa, so yeah there you go, it all ties together and look! the town plow is finally coming through. Nothing happens in Whittier’s stupid poem either.