January 12, 2015

Stroud's Directions

I was in a bookstore last week, and picked up Keillor's Good Poems (available without going to a bookstore here).  Huh, is this good I thought, and opened it randomly to the following poem by Joseph Stroud:
Take a plane to London.
From King's Cross take the direct train to York.
Rent a car and drive across the vale to Ripon,
then into the dales toward the valley of the Nidd,
a narrow road with high stone walls on each side,
and soon you'll be on the moors. There's a pub,
The Drovers, where it's warm inside, a tiny room,
you can stand at the counter and drink a pint of Old Peculier.
For a moment everything will be all right. You're back
at a beginning. Soon you'll walk into Yorkshire country,
into dells, farms, into blackberry and cloud country.
You'll walk for hours. You'll walk the freshness
back into your life. This is true. You can do this.
Even now, sitting at your desk, worrying, troubled,
you can gaze across Middlesmoor to Ramsgill,
the copses, the abbeys of slanting light, the fells,
you can look down on that figure walking toward Scar House,
cheeks flushed, curlews rising in front of him, walking,
making his way, working his life, step by step, into grace.

Well that's fine, I thought, and bought the book.

Driving in the car Sunday we were listening to Prairie Home Companion's San Francisco show.  It turns out Stroud is a Bay Area guy, and he read this poem and some others.

Still a long way from Ramsgill, but it made me feel better.


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