The Year of Living Deeply 24: Go to poet?

I think

I will write you a letter,
June day. Dear June Fifth,
you’re all green, so
many kinds and all one
green, tree shadows on
grass blades and grass
blade shadows. The air
fills up with motor
mower sound. The cat
walks up the drive
a dead baby rabbit
in her maw. The sun
is hot, the breeze
is cool. And suddenly
in all the green
the lilacs bloom,
massive and exquisite
in color and shape
and scent. The roses
are more full of
buds than ever. No
flowers. But soon.
June day, you have
your own perfection:
so green to say
goodbye to. Green,
stick around
a while.

James Schuyler, from Hymn to Life , Collected Poems

Reading some old Morning Pages the other day I came across a reference dating back to something I saw on Twitter a year ago about James Schuyler. I had come across a tweet celebrating what its author argued was James Schuyler Day, June 5th, via the poem above. I have to confess, this was new to me: I had always thought of James Schuyler Day as June 30th.

I am glad I jotted it down (so there is value in my morning rambles after all). I had completely forgotten both the experience and the poem (so what else is new…) Digging back through my Collected this morning I read poem after poem of rueful wit and invention played out at the limit of a concentrated domestic attention that nevertheless seems to encompass the entire universe.

There is so much to enjoy here, but this took my breath away:

many kinds and all one
green, tree shadows on
grass blades and grass
blade shadows.

I have been reading that all day and still not worked out how he did it. But really, that is my consistent experience with Schuyler all over. There I am having a nice quiet read of a poem about some early June day, the weather blah and the grass blah oh a cat and suddenly my eyes are tearing up all over the place and it is only 7.19 I haven’t even made the coffee yet. This is what Schuyler does to me. Did to me all morning in fact, in between emails about none of your business and the usual phone calls and life. A kind of resting place, as in the bosom of a psalm or old folk song that you know exactly where it will end, but no. You don’t know.

And this is why I think Schuyler might be (probably has been for a long while now) my go-to poet. Not just out of the Famous Four, but perhaps of all of the mighty dead we hope one day to emulate a tiny little of. I can read him any time, in whatever mood. (Said who about who? Whom?) I think. I think. No, I



  1. Those are the words that stood out and caught my attention too. I was pretty well skimming along filling in subconscious ‘blah blahs’ until those images sang out and made me thankful somehow. I can’t articulate why. Simply beautiful reassurance that the real world is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for leading me to Shuyler – during an online search I came across the Payne Whitney Poems, and have ordered his Uncollected and Selected on the strength of the words I have read so far – a revelation – thanks again. Maggie.

    Liked by 1 person

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