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Thursday 24 March 2011

Philip Whalen: April Showers Bring Rain?


Cherry blossoms in rain: photo by Steve Gravrock, 6 March 2011

Lots of
wind and rain
the most fragile
cherry blossoms
the thinnest
rhododendron petals
not even wrinkled

Rain on rhododendron: photo by Robert Lz, 30 April 2005

Rhododendrons in rain: photo by ironacres, 17 May 2010

The sandpiper
all alone, usually
runs with a cloud
alone today, eating
sea-bugs -- where does he
live at? Where are his books?

Western Sandpiper, Cattle Point, Uplands, near Victoria, B.C.: photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2007

Philip Whalen: April Showers Bring Rain? 7:iv:65 (excerpts)


Anonymous said...

This is exquisite in every way and can't be dissected. The last several days here in southeastern Pennsylvania have been all cold rain, wind and, overnight, snow. The beautiful cherry blossoms at Jane's school are getting ready to appear just in time for spring vacation this year. I hope we don't simply miss them. We won't be away long, but they don't last long either.

TC said...


The spring blossoms hereabouts have been badly battered by a series of monsoon-like storms featuring heavy winds and hail (in fact that's what's happening today), and in consequence the tender young petals and buds, along with the green leaf shoots, are scattered about the pavement.

But these photos reminded me that there will be more blossoms and gentler rains, and that the feeding may be good for the unbookish sandpipers at the beach.

Anonymous said...

Reluctance to dissect notwithstanding, in the poem I particularly liked the unbookish sandpipers. I mean, who wouldn't?

Anonymous said...

I like the whole lot.

Is this rain you've been having since before Christmas confined to Berkeley or is it all over the Bay Area? I think it's jolly peculiar. I'm sure you & Someone do too.

Ed Baker said...

just on the weather channel about those 70 mile an hour winds and torrents of rain in Ca..

that, my friend, is a cat 1 hurricane

wonder what those April Showers will bring?

TC said...

Curtis, these are edited bits from a longish poem which has several margins and idiosyncratic page-spacing of a sort which identifies it as a product of the Typewriter Epoch, and which (were one to attempt to "stage" it as such) would be guaranteed to make the heads of the Blogger gods spin like that of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

The sandpiper bit is my favourite also, it captures Phil's wonderful oblique, slightly grumpy, self-deprecating sense of humour. That sandpiper reflects something of a self-presentation. He was himself bookish indeed, a sort of wandering scholar/poet after the manner of the Asian mountain hermit sages, and his work has that kind of universal/cosmic scope, but also a tough realistic wit that grounds it and gives it its true distinctiveness.

Artur and Ed, on the weather front, it has been jolly peculiar for sure and certain. A train of storm fronts from the Sea of Japan has been roaring in without respite for weeks; today was the twelfth consecutive day of rain; wild and woolly, with thunder, hail, high winds, the works as they used to say.

The house is cold and draughty, the hillside unstable, the foundations underlain by a creek, and the roof o'ertowered by large trees that in such weather are tossed about to all sorts of problematic effect. So we really experience the weather intimately, and having to get about on foot definitely enhances that experience; in my case, to the extent, in this extremely peculiar season, of breaking a leg.

Of course it seems self indulgent in the extreme to complain of any of this, when the NHK tv images show old folks like us, in Japan, in far worse straits, in weather at least as bad; it's been particularly affecting to watch the elders shuddering with cold in the shelters, deprived of their blood pressure meds; that detail strikes close to the quick, as, for my part, eight hours without the bp meds would be a risky prospect in and of itself, without the added nuances of tsunami, homelessness and irradiation.

And then again... there's Norway.

In short, Oy, what a winter.

TC said...

(On the other hand, for that particular sandpiper, literally up to its ankles in enormous, succulent tidal-pool slugs, it would appear to be a season of unwonted bonanza. As in, which one shall I eat first?)

manik sharma said...

i have to in a sisterly way second curtis's opinion...the sandpipers are the best part of the with the a lone cloud...would the cloud write another poem ....has japan been unbookishly stupid too ?? to build open terraces where the rain never stops...and stand on one leg where the ground slants like the UN's backbone...
the sandpipers make it a beautiful picture nonetheless..a little unexpected as you say....but we have to come to expect that of the earth...has it of us...i'm not sure....

Anonymous said...

Tom, I enjoyed reading your comments to Curtis. I don't know much about poetry (but I enjoy learning).

Anonymous said...

Norway's in the slippery season, the sun melts the snow which then freezes over again during the night. It's very precarious for pedestrians and yesterday I saw two accidents. In one, a car had ended its skid a long way up from the road, perched on top of an embankment of ploughed snow. I wouldn't be surprised to see one in a tree.

I do hope you're leg's getting better.

Anonymous said...

Since you mentioned the Typewriter Epoch, I thought I would mention that we just purchased a typewriter for Jane on eBay, an old Underwood manual. She surprised us by asking for one, which impressed me. Her 13-year old friends absolutely don't get it. It arrived two days ago and is quite beautiful and sort of looks like the Queen Mary. I'm going to purchase for myself a new (old) electric typewriter like the one I owned in college because I've never gotten the hang of computer envelope printing.

Ed Baker said...

curtis...good for you ...

there is noh-thing like the clickity-clack

clickity-clack .......... DING !

quite like my Underwood 5 going

got a little book-ms just done:

My Typewriter is Erotic

stuff on my web-site done on that typewriter...

Julia said...

Rain has to end soon. There's a saying in Spanish "siempre que llovió paró" it's an encouraging saying, meaning that every bad time has its ending. Even though that your long season of rain has given us very interesting blogging material, but I hope that Spring appears "pronto" around your house. I love the seapiper too. He has exactly the face of someone who's trying to remember where he put his books, I think he does not know, either.

Julia said...

sorry, "sandpiper"



Just getting in here "20 hours" after your posting it, what beautiful pink-blossoms-in-the-rain (things here, pink white Belle of Portugal rose blossoms for instance, smashed and soggy -- but new ones still arriving! And that sandpiper running with a cloud (without his/her books, ah!). Two and five-eighths inches in the "rain gauge" (euphemism) yesterday afternoon, less than twenty-four hours collection, followed by more last night -- but the moon is out now. . . .


light coming into cloud against shadowed
ridge, white half of moon above branches
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

get from this as that which
led to, by different

system of reference, motion
of bodies, this view

grey rain cloud against canyon of ridge,
white of gull flapping across toward it

Anonymous said...

Hello..this is wonderful...I would like to ask your permission to use the pic Rhododendron in rain....thanks!

TC said...

" is sliding down the hill!" calls out someone in a voice of alarm. (Someone else's house; storm reports on telly.)

Sandra, if you do use the photo, be sure to give the photographer credit (ironacres). (All photos here are in public domain or, as in this case, used by courtesy of the photographer.)

Manik, "..and stand on one leg where the ground slants like the UN's backbone..." will do for the Fable of the Week.

Artur, that "black ice" phenomenon can certainly be nasty. It is one form of disaster we are mostly spared, here. (But I am sorely familiar with the phenomenon, having once been a passenger in a vehicle sent hurtling down a steep rocky embankment into the swirling waters of Boulder Creek, Colorado, after hitting a patch of invisible ice.)

Julia, we all envy you your weather.

I have mixed memories of both the Queen Mary and manual typewriters.

Curtis, for me a week aboard the QM in bad winter weather was an introduction to the understanding that life on land has its advantages; though at the same time, the Cunard hands, who came from generations of men who'd spent most of their lives aboard ships, showed no particular reaction to the worst of North Atlantic Storms.

And even as that is said, a steely new fleet of cloud-caravels masses over on the other side of the bridge.

They are probably moving ashore above Steve's back yard right now.



Yes indeed, or did last again last night -- ridge still disappeared in clouds (a lull before the next front?). . . .