Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The T as Sea

Poem of the Day:
"Agreement with Sir Charles Sedley" by Richard Howard
The Wesleyan Tradition: Four Decades of American Poetry

Howard tells a dated tale of forbidden love, between man and betrothed woman. Although the sincerity of the subject's (Sir Charles Sedley) gestures is unclear, he is merely "[A]ccommodating love with 'something still/Of the sea,'" (lines 1-2), Howard displays an adeptness for the mental tangle when he enmeshes love-making and the sea. He writes, "In truth love had a semblance of the sea,/Showing less among the fair/Ripples of Corinna's hair" (lines 21-23).

The poetic maritime world must be far-reaching; I swore that Howard's oceanic analogies followed me onto the T today. Returning from Philadelphia (at the crack of dawn might I add) I promptly boarded the T on a return voyage to my house in Cambridge. I sat down, bracing myself for the several stops until Harvard Square. From my view as seated passenger I began to take note of a woman walking up and down the subway car, her feet pacing as if troubled though on her face she wore a strange smile (contentment or drugs, I was unsure).

At first I thought her an early riser; she was eager to prepare herself for an exit at the next stop. But, she remained in the subway car throughout my ride

I pondered her actions for the entirety of my travel. In pacing she never reached to steady herself on a seat or a bar above her head; it was as if she enjoyed the challenge of trying to stay afloat on a moving subway car. Her body took on that of a man's at sea. She swayed with each movement, giving herself up entirely to the force of each wave (turn of the tracks).

Other than a maritime analogy, I am unsure where the subway pacer and Howard's poem converge most fully. In comparing love and the sea Howard acknowledges the tumultuous nature of both; perhaps then my subway car pacer was all too aware of the clamorous nature of the T and therefore she saw fit to give herself up to it entirely.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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