Monday, July 2, 2012

Fern Hill

(... under the apple boughs)

My life has become too much of one thing.  I make crass jokes to avoid the other.  It is tiring, for me most of all.  Today I will have some time to divert, to read beautiful writing, and to hope that it brings some small change to my life. 

Also, today I will bring my computer in to get it fixed.  I will visit the place that I used to work.  Having been a technician at The Apple Corporation I am always amazed at the marketing feat they have pulled off in the last 5-7 years.  They have convinced the public that their computers are actually worth much more than other companies' computers.  Yes, the Apple Operating System is preferable, but the hardware, other than being a nicer design, is comprised of the same useless pieces of crap they use in other computers, mostly.

Apple computers used to be hailed as the computers of choice for design firms.  Anybody in the "creative" fields were told that Apple computers were the only option.  Well, the world wanted it that way, now they've got it.  Except that a lot of people are starting to notice that the computers still cost 3-4 times as much as other computers but aren't delivering that type of performance and longevity.  People marvel at the concept and service of the "Genius Bar", never stopping to ask why it is so necessary.  

I am just mad because I'm having to bring my $2500 desktop computer in for yet another repair.  A major component, the LCD, has failed, again.  Once the extended warranty that I purchased for the device expires the solution will be simple: they will tell me that it is time to buy another $2500 computer.  It's absurd and very few people even seem to notice.  The Orbitz corporation was caught selling higher priced tickets and hotels to their customers that were accessing the site using Macs.  Hilarious.  Can you blame them?  When you've got a captive sucker market then why not exploit it.  

Ok, enough.  I really should decided what I want to write about before I sit down to do so each morning.  It is becoming a problem, ranting and vulgarity being all that I seem capable of lately.

Speaking of,

Cato, the kid who ambushes me with questions on any recent subject that takes his interest, was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.  They needed to remove a gerbil from his rectum, I believe.  He was in the hospital for a few days while they performed their rodent removal procedures.  A young friend of his, a very sweet girl, brought him a book of poems to read by Dylan Thomas.  Cato was quite mad that I had not told him about the great poet yet. I explained that it was not possible for me to transfer 35 years of reading over to him in a single summer, that those things take time, and he must have a reading appetite to match mine, and to do so for decades before he could reasonably catch up.  He harangued me anyway.  I told him to read the poem "Fern Hill" from the collection.  

He said that he wanted to become more familiar with Thomas' themes before jumping into his most notable poems.  

I told him to do as he wished, but that the trained professionals at the hospital might be able to remove the gerbil faster than he supposes, and once he was back on the outside who knows what foul and godless pursuits might keep him from reading it then.  He relented and read the poem.  He was unsurprisingly impressed.  I encouraged him to memorize the poem.  It is a reasonably difficult one to commit to in that way. The rhythms of the poem make it very easy to accidentally jump from one verse to another, disrupting the structure of the whole.

It was a poem that I memorized years ago, in part at one time, then through to completion at another.  I tried to recite it from memory the other day after breaking off communication with the gerbil killer.  I made a few mistakes but had the main of the verses adequately memorized.  It is one that is well worth keeping within.  

I once remember reading an interview with Dylan Thomas and he was asked how he created a poem in which its rhythm feels and reads so effortlessly.  He said it was easy, all he had to do was re-write it about a hundred and fifty times.  

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
     About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
       The night above the dingle starry,
         Time let me hail and climb
       Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
     And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
     And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
         Trail with daisies and barley
       Down the rivers of the windfall light.

     And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
     About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
       In the sun that is young once only,
         Time let me play and be
       Golden in the mercy of his means,
     And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
     Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
         And the sabbath rang slowly
       In the pebbles of the holy streams.

     All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
     Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
       And playing, lovely and watery
         And fire green as grass.
       And nightly under the simple stars
     As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
     All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
       Flying with the ricks, and the horses
         Flashing into the dark.

     And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
     With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
       Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
         The sky gathered again
       And the sun grew round that very day.
     So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
     In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
       Out of the whinnying green stable
         On to the fields of praise.

     And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
     Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
       In the sun born over and over,
         I ran my heedless ways,
       My wishes raced through the house high hay
     And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
     In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
       Before the children green and golden
         Follow him out of grace.

     Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
     Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
       In the moon that is always rising,
         Nor that riding to sleep
       I should hear him fly with the high fields
     And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
     Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
         Time held me green and dying
       Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

-Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill