Another EquinoxI like this one, though it’s self-indulgent. Crowding Dylan Thomas (line 6), Job 1:21 (the penultimate line), and Nabokov into a scant dozen lines. If you’re wondering about Nabokov, he’s the Master quoted in line 12; the quotation is from final paragraph of the eternal émigré’s luminous and underrated novel Transparent Things. That slender book begins with the narrator hailing his main character, unsuccessfully: “Here’s the person I want. Hullo, person! Doesn’t hear me.” The character, whose name is Hugh Person and whose adventures are the novel’s excuse for being, passes on at the end, in a fire. (This sounds like a spoiler, but trust me, it isn’t.) Here’s how the Master describes Person’s demise:
Spring snow: why mention it?
Spring wind: same old, same old.
Tulips poking out blunt red tongues.
Gossiping birds on the wet porch rail.
Of course, sappiness floods my veins—
“force that through the green fuse” and all.
I love getting caught up in the tale’s plot;
but the denouement darkens its theme:
The planet giveth and taketh away.
So I hail the season sotto voce,
minding the Master’s voice:
“ Easy, you know, does it, son….”
Now the flames were mounting the stairs, in pairs, in trios, in redskin file, hand in hand, tongue after tongue, conversing and humming happily. It was not, though, the heat of their flicker, but the acrid dark smoke that caused Person to retreat back into the room; excuse me, said a polite flamelet holding open the door he was vainly trying to close. The window banged with such force that its panes broke into a torrent of rubies, and he realized before choking to death that a storm outside was aiding the inside fire. At last, suffocation made him try to get out by climbing out and down, but there were no ledges or balconies on that side of the roaring house. As he reached the window a long lavender-tipped flame danced up to stop him with a graceful gesture of its gloved hand. Crumbling partitions of plaster and wood allowed human cries to reach him, and one of his last wrong ideas was that those were the shouts of people anxious to help him, and not the howls of fellow men. Rings of blurred colors circled around him, reminding him briefly of a childhood picture in a frightening book about triumphant vegetables whirling faster and faster around a nightshirted boy trying desperately to awake from the iridescent dizziness of dream life. Its ultimate vision was the incandescence of a book or a box grown completely transparent and hollow. This is, I believe, it: not the crude anguish of physical death but the incomparable pangs of the mysterious mental maneuver needed to pass from one state of being to another.Better you should spend time with the writings alluded to in the poem instead of the poem itself (whatever that is)!Easy, you know, does it, son.