Thursday, December 21, 2006

Poetry Break: "Feral Child"

Gazing Upon the Highest Heaven
From Gustave Doré's Illustrations to the Divine Comedy
Trailing clouds of glory to their source...
(Image from Wikipedia)

Some of my recent posts, especially "Pearl of Memory," have touched upon the unusual way in which my old friend Margaret and I have reestablished contact.

Up until about a decade ago, we had sporadic contact because she and her husband, Mark, had lived near Texas A&M University since their marriage in late 1978, so I always knew where they were during my worldly travels.

In fact, I had sent them a poem of mine in 1998, but that was the last of our sporadic contacts, for I moved quickly several times -- to Israel, to Australia, to South Korea -- following postdocs and jobs, and they moved away from Texas.

Oddly, for I'm usually careful with such things, I misplaced my own copy of the poem that I'd sent and worried that it was lost forever ... but Margaret's recent, serendipitous discovery of Gypsy Scholar opened a way to recover this fragment of my scattered past along with a whole host of memories.

So I reminded Margaret:
By the way, I emailed a poem of mine about miscarriage to Mark way back in the previous century (1998 or 1999). I've since misplaced that poem. He wouldn't happen to still have a copy, would he? I'd appreciate having a copy again.
She replied with a remark about something that resonates -- if perhaps only weakly -- with the synchronicity of recent events:
Mark will dig deep into the lost archives for that poem. Ironically he was reading another poem by a friend regarding a miscarriage and was thinking of your poem today, and how well written he remembered it to be.
Several days later, the poem arrived:
Feral Child

Perhaps I held you in my hands,
For you were hot as blood, and red,
And trailing clots of gory strands,
You clung like life, and like it bled,
But did not choose your world of kin.
I wonder who you would have been.
I guess that the subject matter explains itself. When it was lost, I sometimes tried to piece it back together, but as I told Margaret:
Oddly, I couldn't recall my words in this one. Rather, I could recall the words and even individual phrases, clauses, and sentences, but I couldn't reconstruct the totality in my mind, unlike with many of my other poems, despite this one being relatively recent.
I wonder if there was some deeper significance in my inability to put it back together...

Anyway, along with the recovered poem, Margaret added a note:
Mark spent most of the weekend going through boxes in the basement, and yesterday came across the box that held your poem. When he was working at Texas A&M University, he would print out all of his email correspondence and bind them by year. It was 1998 when you sent him this poem. He transcribed it for me to take to work today, and Sarah read it. She noticed the Wordsworth connection -- trailing clouds of glory, and said good writer, who is it?
Good question, that. Who am I?

I think that the answer to this ontological query is best to be found trailing its own clouds of glory here, in Supertramp's "Logical Song."


At 11:14 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Very touching poem. The fact that I didn't get the Wordsworth reference made me regret that I'm not studying English Lit.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

HR, I recall reading Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality" back in the 8th grade.

What do they teach in the schools these days?!

I'm pleased that you appreciated the poem anyway.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:32 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

In 8th grade, I was in Costa Rica, and you could say the English class I took was more grammatical than literary. Not that I wasn't supposed to read the poem in another class at some point in my education. I didn't start appreciating literature until about halfway through college.
The only books I remember genuinely enjoying from my English classes in high school were Siddhartha, and Heart of Darkness. I was a little bit different in high school than I am now.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ah ... the mystery of HR deepens.

I take it that you also know Spanish?

And in college, what were you majoring in if not literature?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:17 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Poli Sci. I can read Spanish, but no speaking or or writing. Which is good, because Borges would be hard to read without some Spanish.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I think you get a lot of hits from your site. I can't imagine there's many regulars to mine..In the last hour, I've had 12 hits, 1 of which from Kazakhstan.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

And another refered to my blog from a gay porn site. I won't post the url.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

So, HR, you're lost in the Borgesean labyrinth, tracking down variant books in the Library of Babel.

Long ago, I had an Italian girlfriend named "Ivana" (and known as "Ivana the Terrible") who read Borges.

Once, in a bookstore, she purchased a copy of Borges. The Marxist clerk who worked there wrote on the inside cover (an atrocity, but what's private property to a Marxist?) "Marxists read Marx; bourgeiosie read Borges."

Political Science, eh? Definitely a bourgeois enterprise ... unless you understand about the Hegelian-Marxist totality.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't get so many hits, some weeks an average of 200 a day. That's rather low in the hierarchy of blog creatures -- not that I know much hyperspheric zoology.

Nor do I know much about gay porn sites (nor even much about sad porn sites) ... though I think that I've also had such visitors. That they're surfing over to my blog must mean that they're really hard up...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:34 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

So you might have read the post I put up about the book I was reading about Walter Benjamin on my blog. I read the first chapter out of something like 8, and realized there was no way I would make it through all of them. It was pure Marxist dialectic about one of my favorite lit critters, but ignoring all the lit crit and concentrating on his Marxist ideas which have basically been proved completely erroneous by the last 50 years of history to everyone but..I don't know what you would call people who label themselves Marxists these days. Any suggestions?

I returned the book.

How did I get to Marxism? Oh yes, Borges. I can see why these ideologists of literature wouldn't like Borges, considering he supported right-wing dictators in South America. I myself don't much like this aspect of him, but when I read him, at least in the English translations, I'm hypnotized. After I'm done, I feel like a freshman in highschool who's just had his shirt pulled over his head, or whatever they do to the new kids in high school these days. Maybe they smack the back of his head or his neck (his "nape"). Anyway, I end up thinking to myself, "What just happened? Was that for real?"

I feel sorry for Marxists, as well as for anyone who can only appreciate art that pats them on their own ideological backs..

I hope everything's going well with the job search,

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I first read Borges 30 years ago.

I recall it well. I was lying in my cold, cold bedroom in the Ozarks, so cold that I could only stay warm by balancing the heavy anthology with my fingers scarcely protruding from under the blankets as I read, mostly without comprehension but fascinated by what I failed to understand as I struggled through "The Library of Babel."

Years later -- after philosophy, history, literature -- I re-read and understood.

Borges is great.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:15 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Very intriguing, and it would be interesting to know the background to the poem.

Who are we all? Who are we indeed... we're all still finding ourselves.

At 2:28 AM, Blogger A.H. said...

They do teach Wordworth these days...perhaps, that is a good thing. Do have a fine Christmas break. All the best for 2007.

At 5:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"[I]nteresting to know the background to the poem"?

Maybe, Saur, but maybe not. I will say that it's based on a real experience ... and leave it at that.

Who am I? Why, I'm Jeffery Hodges.

Or maybe I'm Gypsy Scholar.

But some people call me "Horace" ... so that must be part of me, too, though I usually try to discourage folks from using that name.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:27 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"They do teach Wordworth these days..."

I always confuse that guy with Wordsworth.

Thanks for the holiday wishes. The same to you. Sir Gawain is now imminently approaching his fateful meeting with the Green Knight, so let's keep him in mind, too.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I did finally read all your online poems. And I am glad I did.

And I'm glad I got to know you a bit from the stories you tell, your humor, your knowledge, and your writing skill.

"Feral Child" is maybe my favorite.


At 5:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You read all of them?! I'm sorry to have put you through that . . . but thanks for your kind words.

Jeffery Hodges

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