April 30, 2010KR BlogKR

I’m So Sad I Could Spring, or A Few Things I Meant To Tell You

Pastor Jon: Whoever doesn’t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth. (Halld??r Laxness, from Under the Glacier)

Here it is, the near-end of National Poetry Month and the season of Fire and Ice. (See also: Fire and Ice.) It’s the day after Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day, with Poem-Forgotten-in-Your-Jeans-and-Rediscovered-Folding-Laundry Day soon to follow.

An Icelandic friend told me that the way you say “I am so full I could burst” in Icelandic sounds a lot like saying in Icelandic, “I’m so sad I could spring.” And then she laughed. Which of course seemed right — the translation of Icelandic jokes into English equals lyric beauty. There were a few things I meant to tell you before too much time had passed, and then too much time passed. I’m so sad I could spring.

* * *

One of those things — eruptions and disruptions. Sometimes resulting in immediate (surprising) halts (who knew volcanic ash could potentially form glass on airplane blades?). While others loom historically like a man-of-war on the horizon.

Reminding me of a connection friend and artist Gretchen Bennett recently made while she was investigating natural phenomenon in her own work.

She recounted that the Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, causing “the year without a summer” which followed in Europe and North America. That same summer, a group of writers vacationing by Switzerland’s Lake Geneva were forced indoors by the strange, dark weather, where their thoughts and writing turned to haunted and haunting tales. Among those gathered there that “volcanic winter” were Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley; the story Mary began to write was Frankenstein.

Black Mountain - Eyjafjallaj??kull Eruption ?2010 ??rvar Atli ??orgeirsson
Black Mountain – Eyjafjallaj??kull Eruption ?2010 ??rvar Atli ??orgeirsson

* * *

It’s hard to know how something will affect you. What will be your volcano. Personally, culturally. How one summer’s weather could shape our idea of monsters for centuries. Yet we are also able to endure astounding disruptions and tragedies, and end up able, for the most part, to be OK.

Pastor Jon: Some years ago, a horse was swept over the falls to Godafoss. He was washed ashore, alive, onto the rocks below. The beast stood there motionless, hanging his head, for more than twenty-four hours below this awful cascade of water that had swept him down. Perhaps he was trying to remember what life was called. Or he was wondering why the world had been created. He showed no signs of ever wanting to graze again. In the end, however, he heaved himself onto the riverbank and started to nibble. (Halld??r Laxness, from Under the Glacier)

Halld??r Laxness
Halld??r Laxness

Who doesn’t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.