Long, Long Ago

I remember summer nights at home and winter days walking miles to school, convincing myself my mind was there to be disciplined by repeating over in the theatre of my head lines and lines of Yeats. The pompous, vaulting prose of the early man and the washed out fatalism of the later old goat soared in me, lifted me up. It's funny how tonight I remember how clever the perception of a cold and rook delighting heaven made me feel, and how for some reason I remember waving leicestershire corn and a big red sun all at once when I do. That, I suppose, is the cultural language in which a person raised on travel programmes in the nineteen seventies sometimes thinks.

I'm feeling a little melancholy reader. There was a hole in my shoe down chancery lane, and I've been writing and lecturing all day for what, thanks to her majesty's revenue and customs, seems very little reward, and I'm really very tired. And now my mind has turned to another comment on Yeats, that I never really used to understand. He asked, it was once said, to understand the mind and soul of women, and no man should really know....

So, I've found a song I like by Emmy Lou Harris, who reminds me of a very lovely woman I knew from San Francisco once. I've been lucky to know women too. Most of all, though, the song makes me think of a friend who seems a little lost, a woman of Bologna whom I knew in Paris and Oxford very very long ago. I hope she is alright, and wonder what she dreams of, since I thought of her quicksilver mind and a heart pulsing like the beat of the Universe the other night. I have lost so many people but sometimes just the thought of their smiles keep me going on.

Here's a song, then, from the album Red Dirt Girl. The picture above is Tompkins Harrison Matteson's 1847 Last of the Race, which I think is currently on display at the Met or the Smithsonian. I love America's fields, but I only ever seem to think of the trails of tears and the vanished past when I'm there.
Anglos, stop tutting. I have Irish blood and an Italian American girlfriend ; If I want to wallow, I'll wallow. If you don't play along, it's Roy Orbison next.


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