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Friday, January 04, 2013

Poetry Friday--Connections

David Ferry won the National Book Award in 2012 for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations [811.54 FER]. I ordered the book for our collection, and it is now available.

I'm not familiar with David Ferry and so I looked him up on Wikipedia for an overview. I found this in the article:
Before moving to his current home in Brookline MA, Ferry lived across the Charles River in Cambridge, in the house where 19th century journalist and women's rights advocate Margaret Fuller lived before she joined the Brook Farm community.

The reason it caught my eye is that I read a short novel about Fuller not too long ago, Miss Fuller by April Bernard [F BER], and, I've always been intrigued by Margaret Fuller and her role as a women of great intelligence and spirit during the period before the American Civil War.

In Bewilderment, Ferry has a poem that mentions Emerson. Emerson, the great New England writer, was also connected to Margaret Fuller. He gave her the job of editor of The Dial, an influential transcendentalist journal, and became her close friend.
by David Ferry

The mind's whispering to itself is its necessity
To be itself and not to be any other,
If only for the moment as it passes.
It eats what it needs from the world around itself.
Slowly it makes its way floating through temperatures,
Degrees and other degrees of light and dark.
It moves through all things by virtue of its own
Characteristics. Mainly it is silent.
But when it utters a sound it is a sound
That others find hard to interpret, and that's known,
It supposes, only to another creature
It dreams of, so similar to itself as not
To have an entirely separate identity.
Somewhere there may be such a creature.
Emerson said: "They may be real; perhaps they are."
Yet it also thinks it's the only one, and is lonely.
It can be silent and unknown except
To itself or not even known to itself for long
Periods of time in sleepless reverie.
It is never asleep during the long nights of sleep.
I suppose Fuller could be considered a creature whose voice was one "that others find hard to interpret." I think she was a woman, who after a tragic death, was quickly dismissed because she had been so liberated in her thinking. She is certainly a woman whose life is worth exploring!

There is more, also, to learn about David Ferry's work. One way to do so is through viewing this hour-long video of a reading that took place at Boston University in 2010.

There are many connections to be made through poetry--some will connect you emotionally, and some may lead you down the road to research.

Travel over to Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme where Matt is Rounding-Up scads of poetry this week.


  1. Thanks for the information on David Ferry. Fascinating poem -- the idea that we would like to believe both that our minds are similar to other people's minds and that we are wholly unique and individual. A human conundrum.

  2. Conundrum, indeed! And what a great word "conundrum" is!