Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweet Questionings

Methinks this blog has gone too long without a definitive, imaginative, evocative name. I don't know what to do about it. Every time I come over to post something, I get distracted by the title dilemma. My apologies to Juliet, but a rose by any other name is not as sweet.

You might have seen us trying on "Sweet Questionings" for size. I like it, and I don't. Do you? Does it make you think immediately of Wallace Stevens' "Sunday Morning"? Because it should:
She says, "I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?
I don't want something so melancholy as "Sunday Morning." I love Stevens. I love this poem. It strikes some deep chord in me, but without fail, it makes me weep myself into a puddle every time I read it. I don't want that to happen to you when you read my blog. I want to consider the questions of human experience. But I also want to help keep hope warm in each of us. Our Father who sees when the sparrow falls certainly knows each of our frailties and loves us still.
Hope was but a timid friend.
Hope is thing with feathers.
Yet Robin sings thro’ Winter’s rest,
When bushes put their berries on;

While they their ruddy jewels don,

He sings out of a ruddy breast;

The hips and haws and ruddy breast

Make one spot warm where snowflakes lie,

They break and cheer the unlovely rest

Of Winter’s pause—and why not I?*
*Lines borrowed from E. Bronte, E. Dickinson, & C. Rossetti

7 comments:

chantell said...

I like "Sweet Questionings" yet I do understand your dilemma. Though melancholy and doubt and pain is in the air, you want hope to have the last word.

I kept thinking of titles based on scripture. "Day Dawn" from 2 Peter 1:19 and "In the Morning" from Psalm 30:5. I don't know why I associate your writing and your spirit with the sunrise.

Ali said...

Oh, I read this the other day with some delight, but failed to comment. Unfortunately I wasn't familiar enough with Stevens to join the dots, but I do like "Sweet Questionings"!

Rebecca said...

Thanks, Chantell. It's probably the influence of G.M. Hopkins' poem, "God's Grandeur" that's coming through. I love his metaphor for the Holy Ghost: "Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—/Because the Holy Ghost over the bent/World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings." I think Hopkins experience of the world as weary and downtrodden is definitely eclipsed by his vision of the Divine presence in creation: as a sunrise in the shape of a brightly plumed, warm-breasted bird.

Rebecca said...

Hi Ali, I don't pretend to "get" Stevens' meaning entirely. I like him as a poet and because he was an insurance lawyer for a company I represent at my day job. ;-) It impresses me that the daily grind did not keep him from writing wonderful poems.

I don't know how many dots I included in this post for you to connect. The theme running through "Sunday Morning" seems to be that of a pessimistic modernist's take on the significance of Calvary and the promise of eternal life. (Whether it is indicative of Stevens' own stance, I couldn't say.) If reality is so exquisite with its "sunny oranges" and "birds' sweet questionings" why the need for the "ancient catastrophe?"

In using the title "sweet questionings" I don't want to give the impression that my perspective of Calvary is anywhere close to that of the poem's "She." In my lowest moments I may feel this way, but I hold the hope that the Incarnation has unveiled a deeper beauty of the created world than "she" in her pessimism can fully appreciate.

But I like "Sweet Questionings" for itself, apart from "Sunday Morning." You see, for my title, I would rather reference a line from Hopkins or Rossetti, who understood mortal beauty to reflect divine grace. But nothing seems to fit.

Actually, if you hadn't taken "Something this foggy day" for your blog title, I think I'd probably have used it long ago! I love fog as a metaphor, and I love that poem. And I love that when I google it, your blog is first on the list! You never fail to give me something interesting to think about.

Ali said...

Hi Rebecca, I think you are giving me credit for a little too much insight here. :)

However, I too am impressed that Stevens could outlet such creative despite his day job - no excuses for me then. (I started to respond to this, then had to run off to a free 15 min massage, which to me is one of the few benefits of my corporate life).

I have merely glanced at Sunday Morning, as have been out every night this week so far, and am starting to get antsy at the lack of "time". I've also been on a crochet mission lately and feel the need to add in some more poetry! But I shall read it anew after your comments.

Apologies too for stealing your title. I too love the "fog". I shall have to see if I can call up any other suitable Rossetti lines - or perhaps something Lewisian. I was once in a volleyball team we called The Dawntreaders!

But I do think you could use Sweet Questionings without having ascribed to you a whole theology, though perhaps I am in ignorance of how the minds of others make associations.

Candice Lea said...

I'll join the trend and say I like "Sweet Questionings." Is it not the birds who are questioning? Indeed, all of creation has been touched by the fall, but I would like to think that the song birds are on "our side." :-)

I do understand your dilemma though! Perhaps you could include an entry explaining your stance on the poem? Hmm...happy title hunting!

Ali said...

Say, I posted a George Herbert this morning (Love III), and notice it contains "sweetly questioning".