06 May 2008

From Terns to Technology...

Sat for a while out by the lake and listened to Caspian terns as they soared over me, back and forth between Belmont Harbor and Lake Michigan. For such a beautiful bird, they make a pretty awful sound; that's not too unusual, though. Great blue herons, also great beauties, don't sound too pretty, either.

Which brings me to a poem by Charles Reznikoff, which all this puts in my mind, and which I would never be able to put my hand on so quickly were it not for the wonders of Google. This is a poem that an old teacher of mine copied out for me ages ago (and his 20-odd-year-old letter is doubtless at the bottom of a box somewhere) in response to my guilty confession that I wasn't very productive. Here's the snippet, from Reznikoff's "Jerusalem the Golden":

You tell me that you write only a little now.
I wrote this a year or two ago
about a girl whose stories I had read
and wished to meet:

The traveller
whom a bird's notes surprise--
his eyes
search the trees

And when I met her she was plain enough.
So is the nightingale, they say--
And I am glad that you do not belong
To those whose beauty is all song

How did I find this obscure poem without going into the other room and poring through the several volumes of Reznikoff sitting on my bookshelf? Simply typing "beauty is all song" and "nightingale" into the search box brought up not simply the proper book, but the page.

Google. What did we ever do without it?

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