Friday, August 14, 2015


It's time to post an earlier post.  Sunday, December 28, 2008




My grandfather lived in a tent with his collie dog next to a river.
Except for some raccoons, there were few intruders into his pine-treed paradise.
It was quiet and solitary until summers arrived.
Although my grandfather was able to take apart any clock or watch---and then able to put the clock or watch back together---I don’t remember ever seeing him wearing a watch, or watching a clock.
But he did have a sundial.
He didn’t pay much attention to this sundial or what time it might “say”.
He had become much like those wise “savages” who knew time by the location of the sun.
What time is it?
Look for the sun.
Is the sun Low or High in the sky?
Then you knew what time it was.
My favorite poetic lines about time are T.S. Eliot’s:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
[From Burnt Norton
No. 1 of Four Quartets]

And these lines from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"

Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair---

I’ve never liked the words “kill time”.
When I’m about ready to say them, I refrain, and say “wound time”.
(Thank you Maurice Maeterlinck)
It’s that time of year again to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new one.
As anyone who is past forty knows, the pages of time…
The hours…
The days…
And the years!
Go by much faster as we get older.
I find myself saying quite often, “It seems like yesterday” that this or that happened.
But it isn’t the clocks which have gotten faster.
It’s only our minds and bodies which are moving along on the winged feet of time.
Time seems to pass through us more than we do through it.
I don’t use chalk anymore in my classroom, but I did many years ago.
I was always blowing chalk dust off of my wristwatch.
Finally, one of my students asked me (and she always prefaced every question that she asked with “Can I ask you a question?”):
“Why do you blow on your watch so much?”
What a wonderful question, I thought, and then after an abbreviated chuckle, I said to her:
“I’m just getting the chalk dust off of my watch.”
And she said, “Oh, I thought maybe you needed to blow on it to make it run…you know…with air.”
Another favorite anecdote is when I was tramping about and slept one night in a house with other strangers and stragglers.
I wrote about this timely experience in one of my poems.
Here it is:


I didn't sleep
I didn't snore
A house replete
With many feet
Spread out across
The living room floor.
I stayed inside the
Bathroom that was as
Yellow as the sun
And wrote poems ‘til
I thought I was done.
When the sleepy supine sleepers all awoke
Here is what to Jim the Space Cowboy I spoke:
"Jim", I said, "What time is it?"
He waved his hand
And asked me to follow him.
Jim the Space Cowboy took me to
The fridge and opened its white door;
Then he opened the freezer door
And took out an alarm clock that
He held in his hand.
Jim said:
“There is no time.
Time is frozen.”

I went to the New Yorker magazine and read this poem. It strikes a similar chord on the theme of time:


by Richard Wilbur

January 5, 2009

Out of the snowdrift
Which covered it, this pillared
Sundial starts to lift,
Able now at last
To let its frozen hours
Melt into the past

In bright, ticking drops.
Time so often hastens by,
Time so often stops—

Still, it strains belief
How an instant can dilate,
Or long years be brief.

Dreams, which interweave
All our times and tenses, are
What we can believe:

Dark they are, yet plain,
Coming to us now as if
Through a cobwebbed pane

Where, before our eyes,
All the living and the dead
Meet without surprise.


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