Wandering back into the Garden

In his Introduction to SWEENEY ASTRAY Seamus Heaney says that his “fundamental” connection to the Medieval poem is “topographical.” The poem is about the rage for autonomy — of the artist perhaps but more generally of the human self — but his own deepest connection he says is “topographical.”

Then it hit me: my first imaginings took shape in the deserts and mountains of California. Then I wandered in the midwest and eastern parts of the country for forty years. Now I’m back on the West coast.

During the wandering I connected in a visceral way with the Ch’an poets of ancient China and the classic haiku poets of Japan, who themselves were shaped by the Chinese poets. In terms made familiar by David Hinton, the two traditions, flowing into one great river of poetry, were the rivers-and-mountain tradition and the garden tradition. I have returned to the garden tradition in Portland OR. The Cascades influence our daily breath by contributing breezes that mix with the air from the Pacific ocean. The climate encourages gardeners.

Topography, yes.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Portland OR and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. His blogs include poemswithoutborders.com He can be reached at tom.develyn@comcast.net. D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at http://tdevelyn.com and other sites.

One thought on “Wandering back into the Garden”

  1. Topography – yes. It can have complete influence over us.

    jenifer

    Jenifer Endicott Emley

    Coordinator

    Center for Environment & Society

    C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

    Custom House

    101 South Water Street

    Chestertown, Maryland

    410.810-7161 direct line

    ________________________________

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s