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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Stray Thoughts on the Difference Between Yeats and Stevens

Yeats once wrote in an essay, "...but all that is personal soon rots; it must be packed in ice or salt." That line takes me back to my childhood where gallon bottles of salt herring in their brine sat on the shelves in the cold pantry, and salt cod hung from the ceiling, both bought from the fishman on his final round of the fall. If he were being paid by check, he'd say, "Alvin Gallant. Eh ell vee eye en."

Alvin came round every week or so through the summer, in a pickup truck with its bed full of fish and shellfish packed in ice. "I got fresh herring, fresh mackerel, fresh cod. I got quahogs, clams, bar clams, scallops. Nice firm fish, good prices. Anything special for next week, I'll look for it."

Or late in the year he might say, "Done next week for the season. Need salt fish? Git ya through the winter, nothing like it. Good salt herring, good salt cod. Some left here, I can bring more next week. And canned mackerel, no bones. Good price."

I don't know that Alvin ever heard of Yeats, or Stevens. I don't know that he didn't. But I'm thinking tonight that he knew the difference between ice and salt; that he'd feel the chill of Stevens' poetry and know it'd be fine for the summer, but he'd bring Yeats to get you through the winter.

update: edited to fix a couple of things

1 comment:

MackJohnny said...

"...but all that is personal soon rots; it must be packed in ice or salt."

Finally an explanation for my bitter cold heart.

On a different note: Funny that althought the majority of your posts have been about art and literature the Ads by Goooogle on your sidebar are all for steroids.

Totally unrelated here's a link to a painting a day blog you might enjoy
dylan | Email | 01.21.05 - 9:48 pm | #

Yeah, Dyl, I guess the damn google spider hasn't been around since just after that baseball post.

Thanks for the link. It showed me how badly I need a bigger monitor. His page is too wide for me to see most of the paintings. I like the Red Forelle a lot, though.
MackJohnny | Email | Homepage | 01.22.05 - 12:17 am | #

I don't know about getting you through the winter, but I do know that I certainly prefer Yeats in my old age.

I'm still crazy about Crazy Jane.
Loren | Email | Homepage ( )| 01.22.05 - 2:28 am | #

Old age is winter in a sense. Ain't it, Loren?

I was thinking about Crazy Jane and the Bishop as I wrote the post.
MackJohnny | Email | Homepage | 01.22.05 - 3:54 am | #

note: replaced comments after uninstalling haloscan