Sunday, July 18, 2010

Those Are Some Complicated Feelings.

Poem of the Day:
Carl Sandburg's "How Much?"
The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg

Tonight I went with a friend to the movie theater. We saw The Kids Are All Right; Julianne Moore and Annette Bening have aged well.

The film follows (don't worry, I won't spoil anything) a lesbian couple and their two children as the kids contact and begin a relationship with their biological father. Things get messy, and as their 'father' is inserted into the nook of their lives, that which has been kept beneath the surface begins to boil up.

The movie is brutally honest, and thereby darkly humorous, about the trials of marriage and family. And too is Sandburg. His poem is short. Here it is:

How much do you love me, a million bushels?
Oh, a lot more than that, Oh, a lot more.

And tomorrow maybe only half a bushel?
Tomorrow maybe not even a half a bushel.

And is this your heart arithmetic?
This is the way the wind measures the weather.

His speaker directs his questions towards another, presumably a lover, who measures his/her love in bushels, a unit of measure defined by as "a unit of dry measure containing 4 pecks, equivalent in the U.S. (and formerly in England) to 2150.42 cubic inches or 35.24 liters (Winchester bushel), and in Great Britain to 2219.36 cubic inches or 36.38 liters (Imperial bushel)." How's that for precise.

Clearly, the speaker is aware of the ridiculousness of his partner, but he is also aware of the tidal quality of love and that it is not simple nor easy to maintain a relationship. The heart is in flux with the mind, and constantly. It is often unreadable. Hence, Sandburg's last line of the poem and its complete absurdity.

And is this your heart arithmetic?
This is the way the wind measures the weather.

How can one measure the weather (or love, for that matter)? And how can the wind measure the weather -- is not the wind part of the weather? How can we, as humans, measure love? It is a billowing world of which we are a part. It is our weather. And perhaps, if not for this fact alone, it is beyond our control.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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