Sunday, November 29, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

"God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not wreck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights of the black west went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
Worlds brood with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Opening paragraph from: "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George

I am on my mountain in a tree home that people have passed without ever knowing that I am here. The house is a hemlock tree six feet in diameter, and must be as old as the mountain itself. I came upon it last summer and dug and burned it out until I made a snug cave in the tree that I now call home.

Final paragraph from: "Goodbye, My Brother" by John Cheever

Oh, what can you do with a man like that? What can you do? How can you dissuade his eye in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand; how can you teach him to respond to the inestimable greatness of the race, the harsh surface beauty of life; how can you put his finger for him on the obdurate truths before which fear and horror are powerless? The sea that morning was iridescent and dark. My wife and my sister were swimming--Diana and Helen--and I saw their covered heads, black and gold in the dark water. I saw them come out and I saw that they were naked, unshy, beautiful, and full of grace, and I watched them walk out of the sea.

1. In a word, or in a few words, or even in very many words, describe the emotion (the vibe) of this ending?

2. How is this vibe achieved?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Excerpt from: "Lucky Break" by Roald Dahl

"Here are some of the qualities you should possess or try to acquire if you wish to become a fiction writer:

1. You should have a lively imagination.

2. You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader's mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift, and you either have it or you don't.

3. You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month.

4. You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.

5. You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to fire you if you don't turn up for work, or to tick you off is you start slacking.

6. It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humor. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it's vital.

7. You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvelous is heading for trouble."

Monday, November 16, 2009

A classified ad (and the story goes that it received thousands of responses)

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in event of success."

--Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922 -- British merchant naval officer and explorer. On his expedition to the Antarctic in 1907-09, he sledged to within 97 miles of the South Pole. When, on his second expedition, his ship Endurance was crushed by ice in the Weddell Sea, he made an 800-mile voyage in an open boat to South Georgia, then made the first crossing of that island, with two others, to save the rest of his men.)

See the following post:

Journal entry of Sir Ernest Shackleton (from the Oxford Book of Exploration)

At 1:30 p.m. we climbed round a final ridge and saw a little steamer, a whaling boat, entering the bay 2,500 feet below. A few moments later, as we hurried forward, the masts of a sailing ship lying at a wharf came in sight. Minute figures moving to and fro about the boats caught our gaze, and then we saw the sheds and factory of Stromness whaling station. We paused and shook hands, a form of mutual congratulation that had seemed necessary on four other occasions in the course of the expedition. The first time was when we landed on Elephant Island, the second when we reached South Georgia, and the third when we reached the ridge and saw the snow slope stretching below on the first day of the overland journey—then when we saw Husvik rocks.

Cautiously we started down the slope that led to warmth and comfort. The last lap of the journey proved extraordinarily difficult. Vainly we searched for a safe, or a reasonably safe, way down from the steep ice-clad mountainside. The sole possible pathway seemed to be a channel cut by water running from the upland. Down through icy water we followed the course of this stream. We were wet to the waist, shivering, cold, and tired. Presently our ears detected an unwelcome sound that might have been musical under other conditions. It was the splashing of a waterfall, and we were at the wrong end. When we reached the top of this fall we peered over cautiously and discovered that there was a drop of twenty-five or thirty feet, with impassable ice cliffs on both sides. To go up again was scarcely thinkable in our utterly wearied condition. The way down was through the waterfall itself. We made fast one end of our rope to a boulder with some difficulty, due to the fact that the rocks had been worn smooth by the running water. Then Worsley and I lowered Crean, who was the heaviest man. He disappeared altogether in the falling water and came out gasping at the bottom. I went next, sliding down the rope, and Worsley, who was the lightest and most nimble member of the party, came last. At the bottom of the fall we were able to stand again on dry land. The rope could not be recovered. We had flung down the adze from the top of the fall and also the logbook and the cooker wrapped in one of our blouses. That was all, except our wet clothes, that we brought out of the Antarctic, which we had entered a year and a half before with well-found ship, full equipment, and high hopes. That was all of tangible things, but in memories we were rich. We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had “suffered, starved, and triumphed, grovelled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole.” We had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of men.

Shivering with cold, yet with hearts light and happy, we set off toward the whaling station, now not more than a mile and a half distant. The difficulties of the journey lay behind us. We tried to straighten ourselves up a bit, for the thought that there might be women at the station made us painfully conscious of our uncivilized appearance. Our beards were long and our hair was matted. We were unwashed and the garments that we had worn for nearly a year without a change were tattered and stained. Three more unpleasant-looking ruffians could hardly have been imagined. Worsley produced several safety pins from some corner of his garments and effected some temporary repairs that really emphasized his general disrepair. Down we hurried, and when quite close to the station we met two small boys ten or twelve years of age. I asked these lads where the manager’s house was situated. They did not answer. They gave us one look—a comprehensive look that did not need to be repeated. Then they ran from us as fast as their legs would carry them. We reached the outskirts of the station and passed through the “digesting house,” which was dark inside. Emerging at the other end, we met an old man who started as if he had seen the devil himself and gave us no time to ask any question. He hurried away. This greeting was not friendly. Then we came to the wharf, where the man in charge stuck to his station. I asked him if Mr. Sorlle (the manager) was in the house.

“Yes,” he said as he stared at us.

“We would like to see him,” said I.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“We have lost our ship and come over the island,” I replied.

“You have come over the island?” he said in a tone of entire disbelief.

The man went toward the manager’s house and we followed him. I learned afterward that he said to Mr. Sorlle, “There are three funny-looking men outside who say they have come over the island and they know you. I have left them outside.” A very necessary precaution from his point of view.

Mr. Sorlle came out to the door and said, “Well?”

“Don’t you know me?” I said.

“I know your voice,” he replied doubtfully. “You’re the mate of theDaisy.”

“My name is Shackleton,” I said.

Immediately, he put out his hand and said, “Come in. Come in.”

“Tell me, when was the war over?” I asked.

“The war is not over.” he answered, “Millions are being killed. Europe is mad. The world is mad.”

--Sir Ernest Shackleton

Excerpt from a 71 page poem: "What the Ice Gets" by Melinda Mueller

(poetic interpretation of a scene from Shakleton's journal entry)

At the third pass
they straddle an axe-blade ridge and survey
what lies below--a sweep of ice and snow,
almost perpendicular. It's nearing dusk.
Fog rises again behind them, banners
of it streaming through the pass. The way back
is blotted out, as though it had never
existed. There is no going but go
forward. Shackleton has McNeish's adze;
he hacks steps and the others follow--too
slow. If night overtakes them at this height
they'll freeze. Shackleton stops, considers, looks
at his companions. "We'll have to slide."
The slope below is lost in murky twilight.
It may be torn with rocks, it may empty
over the cliff; they can't tell. "Our chance is
a very small one indeed, but it is
up to us to take it." It has become
their creed: Dare to do what's laid before them
and trust Providence to turn the worst to
best. They coil the rope, sit toboggan-style
on the coils and push off.

Speed slams their hearts
shut, yanks their breath out by its roots and howls
a maelstrom past their ears. They are weightless,
plunging out of the world forever, time
unspooling wildly from its reel...

The world
catches hold, slows, eases to a halt in
a bank of snow. They get up, grope for breath,
pound snow off their shredded clothes and shake hands.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Job 30:26-31 (New International Version)

Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
when I looked for light, then came darkness.

The churning inside me never stops;
days of suffering confront me.

I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.

I have become a brother of jackals,
a companion of owls.

My skin grows black and peels;
my body burns with fever.

My harp is tuned to mourning,
and my flute to the sound of wailing.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Excerpt from: "On Becoming a Novelist" by John Gardner

In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Index of first sentences from the short story collection: "Hugh and Cry" by James Alan McPherson

(Question: What makes a good first sentence?)

1. A Matter of Vocabulary -- "Thomas Brown stopped going to church at twelve after one Sunday morning when he had been caught playing behind the minister's pulpit by several deacons who had come up into the room early to count the money they had collected from the other children in the Sunday school downstairs."

2. On Trains -- "The waiters say she got on the train in Chicago, after transferring from Dearborn Station."

3. A Solo Song: For Doc -- " 'So you want to know this business, young-blood? So you want to be a Waiter's Waiter?' "

4. Gold Coast -- "That Spring, when I had a great deal of potential and no money at all, I took a job as a janitor."

5. Of Cabbages and Kings -- "Claude Sheets had been in the Brotherhood all his life and then he had tried to get out."

6. All the Lonely People -- " 'Why do they always fail me, Dennis?' "

7. An act of prostitution -- "When he saw the woman, the lawyer put down his pencil and legal pad and took out his pipe."

8. Private Domain -- "Rodney finished his beer in slow, deliberate swallows, peering over the rim of his mug at the other black who, having polished off three previous mugs of draft, now sat watching Rodney expectantly, being quite obvious with his eyes that he held no doubt that more beer was forthcoming."

9. A New Place -- "At first all we had growing was a potted plant that Ellen had brought over and put in the window."

10. Hue and Cry -- " 'But what if that is all there is, what is left of life and why we are alive?' "

1. Which one is the best and why?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

"Donner Party" by Melinda Mueller

First we ate each other, then we ate
the West. Scythes of rain slice up the street

and clash on the windows. Don't go out there.
Man is wolf to man. Shotguns, rifles, all the paraphernalia,

my grandfather priming his own shells in the basement,
me plucking pheasants on the back stoop. Carved

stocks. Blue-black steel. Oily slide of the rag
and ramrod. First we taught the dogs to hunt, to point,

to have a soft mouth for retrieving. Then we moved away
and sold them, Frosty and the rest. The long needles

of ponderosa pines orchestrate the wind. The child
climbs into their pitchy branches, or the child disappears

without a trace, the boxes of cookies she was selling
found in a driveway. The child plays

with his father's gun. The respirator measures out
his air, lengths of colorless ribbon. Lengths

of rope. This is my body, which shall
be given up for you. Then the West ate us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Opening lines from: "Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents" by A.A. Milne"

Eeyore, the old grey Donkey, stood by the side of the stream, and looked at himself in the water.

"Pathetic," he said. "That's what this is. Pathetic."

He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back to the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again.

"As I thought," he said. "No better from this side. But nobody minds. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that's what it is."

Excerpt from: "Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole" by A.A. Milne

Christopher Robin was sitting outside his door, putting on his Big Boots. As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.

"Good morning, Christopher Robin," he called out.

"Hallo, Pooh Bear. I can't get this boot on."

"That's bad," said Pooh.

"Do you think you could very kindly lean against me, 'cos I keep pulling so hard that I fall over backwards."

Pooh sat down and dug his feet into the ground, and pushed hard against Christopher Robin's back, and Christopher Robin pushed hard against his, and pulled and pulled at his boot until he got it on.

"And that's that," said Pooh. "What do we do next?"

"We are going on an Expedition," said Christopher Robin, as he stood up and brushed himself. "Thank you, Pooh."

"Going on an Expotition?" said Pooh, eagerly. "I don't think I've ever been on one of those. Where are we going on this Expotition?"

"Expedition, silly old bear. It's got an 'x' in it."

"Oh!" said Pooh. "I know." But he didn't really.

"We are going to discover the North Pole."

"Oh!" said Pooh again. "What is the North Pole?" he asked.

"It's just a thing you discover," said Christopher Robin carelessly, not being quite sure himself.

"Oh! I see," said Pooh. "Are bears any good at discovering it?"

"Of course the are. And Rabbit and Kanga and all of you. It's an expedition. That's what an Expedition means. A long line of everybody. You'd better tell the others to get ready, while I see if my gun's all right. And we must bring Provisions."

"Bring what?"

"Things to eat."

"Oh!" said Poof happily. "I thought you said Provisions. I'll go tell them." And he stumped off.

The first person he met was Rabbit.

"Hallo, Rabbit," he said, "is that you?"

"Let's pretend it isn't," said Rabbit, "and see what happens."

"I've got a message for you."

"I'll give it to him."

"We're going on an Expotition with Christopher Robin!"

"What is it when we're on it?"

"A sort of boat, I think," said Pooh.

"Oh! That sort."

"Yes. And we're going to discover a Pole or something. Or was it a mole? Anyhow we're going to discover it."

"We are, are we?"

"Yes. And we're going to bring Po--things to eat with us. In case we want to eat them. Now I'm going down to Piglet's. Tell Kanga, will you?"

1. What does Milne do to steer clear of being gratuitously cute? What grounds his writing in reality, in real human feelings, rather than sappy greeting card emotions?

2. "The first person he met was Rabbit." Comment on this line.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 (NIV)

1 Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
"I find no pleasure in them"--

2 before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;

3 when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;

4 when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when men rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;

5 when men are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags himself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then man goes to his eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.

6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
or the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the well,

7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chapter VII from: "The Short Stories" by Ernest Hemingway

"While the bombardment was knocking the trench to pieces at Fossalta, he lay very flat and sweated and prayed oh jesus christ get me out of here. Dear jesus please get me out. Christ please please please christ. If you’ll only keep me from getting killed I’ll do anything you say. I believe in you and I’ll tell every one in the world that you are the only one that matters. Please please dear jesus. The shelling moved further up the line. We went to work on the trench and in the morning the sun came up and the day was hot and muggy and cheerful and quiet. The next night back at Mestre he did not tell the girl he went upstairs with at the Villa Rossa about Jesus. And he never told anybody."

"Aubade" by Richard Kenney

Cold snap. Five o'clock.
Outside, a heavy frost - dark
footprints in the brittle
grass; a cat's. Quick coffee,
jacket, watch-cap, keys.
Stars blaze across the black
gap between the horizons;
pickup somehow strikes
its own dim spark - an arc -
starts. Inside, familiar
metal cab, an icebox
full of lightless air,
limns green with dash-light. Vinyl
seat-cracks, cold and brittle;
horn ring gleams, and chrome
cuts hard across the wrist
where the sleeve falls off the glove
as moon-track curves its cool tiara
somewhere underneath your sleep
this very moment, love

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Blind Date" by Cody Walker

I'm sorry but I just
can't see you anymore.

"The Mould of a Dog Corpse" by Cody Walker

a l'Antiquarium di Boscoreale, Pompeii

It's not a promising title.
And his legs straight in the air: they give pause.
But I will swear this dog is laughing.
Mouth open, ears back,
doubled over
like a drunk watching late-night television,
he is hysterical,
he is funnier than a volcano.

he's a visionary:
he sees me, immortal at 32,
and cannot, cannot stop laughing.

Opening paragraphs from: "Observatory Mansions" by Edward Carey

I wore white gloves. I lived with my mother and father. I was not a child. I was thirty-seven years old. My bottom lip was swollen. I wore white gloves though I was not a servant. I did not play in a brass band. I was not a waiter. I was not a magician. I was the attendant of a museum. A museum of significant objects. I wore white gloves so that I would not damage any of the nine-hundred and eighty-six objects in the museum. I wore white gloves so that I would not have to touch anything with my bare hands. I wore white gloves so that I would not have to look at my own hands.

I lived in a city, as many people do, a small city, an unspectacular city, a not very famous city. I lived in a large building but had access only to a small part of it. Other people lived around me. I hardly knew them.

The building we lived in was a huge, four-storey cube in the neo-classical design called Observatory Mansions. Observatory Mansions was dirty. Black stains like large unhealing scabs fouled the exterior, and sprayed on its grey walls in red and yellow car paint were various messages delivered at night by some anonymous vandal. The most immediately noticeable being: And even you can find love. The building's only notable features, save for it's plainness and size, were the four simple columns that supported the entrance portico. The columns were badly scratched and dented, one in particular was inclined to slouch. The building's only other irregularity was the dome on the slate roof, directly above the entrance hall. In this dome, once upon a time, was an observatory. An observatory now lacking telescopes, now an unproclaimed sanctuary for pigeons, their shit, their young, their dying, their dead.

Observatory Mansions sat in the countryside, surrounded by outhouses and stable buildings, parkland and fields. In time the city crept up to it, covering with each new year more fields, until it reached the parkland, which it smothered in asphalt, and the outhouses, which it knocked down. Only the house itself, that large grey cube, remained. They built a circular wall, ten foot high, around the house, a barricade, a statement that this was as far as the city would get. But the city carried on, way beyond our home, building more roads and houses. And as the city continued, the roads that neighbored Observatory Mansions became ever wider and more frequented, a river growing in confidence, until an ox-bow lake was formed and Observatory Mansions became an island. A roundabout, a traffic island, surrounded by the city but forgotten by its quickly flowing business.

I often thought of our home as a solid, hairless and ancient man. This man, sitting with his flabby arms hugging his round knees, stares hopelessly down at the traffic, at the smaller, modern, neighboring buildings, at the countless people rushing by. He sighs heavily; he's not sure why he's still here. The old man is not well, the old man is dying. He suffers from countless ailments, his skin is discoloured, his internal organs are haemorrhaging.

This was our home and we were even tolerably happy living there, until a new resident came.

"He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" by W.B. Yeats

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From Oxford's 100 Years of Poetry for Children: untitled, by Mick Gower

If I can get from here to the pillar box

If I can get from here to the lamp-post

If I can get from here to the front gate

Before a car comes round the corner…

Carolyn Murray will come to tea

Carolyn Murray will love me too

Carolyn Murray will marry me

But only if I get from here to there

Before a car comes round the corner…

First paragraph from: "The Silver Bullet" by James Alan McPherson

When Willis Davis tried to join up with the Henry Street guys, they told him that first he had to knock over Slick's Bar and Grill to show them what kind of stuff he had. Actually, they needed the money for the stocking of new equipment in a pending reprisal against the Conchos over on the West Side. News of a Concho spring offensive was in the wind. But they did not tell Willis this. They told him they had heard he had no stuff. Willis protested, saying that he was ready to prove himself in any way but this one. He said that everyone knew Slick was in the rackets and that was why his bar had never been hit. As a matter of fact, he did not know this for certain, but he did not really want to do the job. Also, no one could remember having seen Slick around the neighborhood for the past three years.

"Coda" by James Tate

Love is not worth so much;

I regret everything.

Now on our backs

in Fayetteville, Arkansas,

the stars are falling

into our cracked eyes.

With my good arm

I reach for the sky,

and let the air out of the moon.

It goes whizzing off

to shrivel and sink

in the ocean.

You cannot weep;

I cannot do anything

that once held an ounce

of meaning for us.

I cover you

with pine needles.

When the morning comes,

I will build a cathedral

around our bodies.

And the crickets,

who sing with their knees,

will come there

in the night to be sad,

when they can sing no more.

"Man With Wooden Leg Escapes Prison" by James Tate

Man with wooden leg escapes prison. He’s caught.

They take his wooden leg away from him. Each day
he must cross a large hill and swim a wide river
to get to the field where he must work all day on
one leg. This goes on for a year. At the Christmas
Party they give him back his leg. Now he doesn’t
want it. His escape is all planned. It requires
only one leg.

"A Poet's Advice" by e.e. cummings

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words.

This may sound easy. It isn't.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel—but that's thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling—not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you're a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn't a poet can possible imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time—and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you've written one line of one poem, you'll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world—unless you're not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn't.

It's the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.