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Shimmering In The Poet's Mind - Poem by gershon hepner

Poems crystallize the thoughts of people of all ages,
allowing those matured by time to seem more young
than those who haven’t managed yet to fill the empty pages
of life with lyrics that are waiting to be sung.

Shimmering in the poet’s mind just like four Vivaldi seasons,
thoughts that have precipitated call for an analysis
that may defy interpretation since a writer’s reasons
for the use of symbols like cigars may not be phalluses.


Michiko Kakutani, reviewing John Updike’s “My Father’s Tears and Other Stories” in “Memory Arpeggios in Updike’s Sunset” (NYT, May 26,2009) writes:
Fairchild, the hero of one of these fine, elegiac stories by John Updike, who died in January, is an elderly gent, who is mugged and slightly injured while traveling in Spain. He finds the hubbub of the whole experience oddly invigorating. Why is this unlucky event so pleasing to him? “It was, he supposed, the element of contact. In his universe of accelerating expansion, he enjoyed less and less contact. Retired, he had lost contact with his old associates, full of sociable promises though their partings had been.” His children were grown up and far-flung, and his grandchildren had only “polite interest” in the treats he could offer. His old poker group had difficulty mustering five players, and his old golf foursome “had been dispersed to infirmity and Florida if not to the grave.” Indeed, Fairchild realizes that he has been “islanded”: “If a heart attack or a catastrophic downturn in the market were to overtake him, he would be left clutching the telephone while shimmering streams of Vivaldi or, even more insultingly, soupy instrumental arrangements of old Beatles standards filled the interminable wait for the next available service representative.” The same might be said of all the protagonists in these stories: precariously balanced on the precipice of old age, facing the nearing prospect of death and grappling daily with the growing isolation that comes with the centrifugal forces of time flinging family members apart and casting an already dwindling number of friends out of reach…
Back in the early 1980s, Mr. Updike said in an interview that “there’s a crystallization that goes on in a poem, which the young man can bring off, but which the middle-aged man can’t, ” that he wrote fewer poems than he used to and that he no longer wrote short stories with “the same ease — that sense of just being like a piece of ice on a stove.” These two volumes demonstrate, however, that his skills in these two genres remained undiminished to the end. That, in pouring his life “into words, ” he not only preserved “the thing consumed, ” but also offered a lasting “toast to the visible world, ” which he commemorated with such ardor and precision.


5/26/09


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Poems About Golf

  1. 1. Shimmering In The Poet's Mind , gershon hepner
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