Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Avian Dactyls

This story begins in the forest outside Tübingen. Sunday afternoon, overcast, late spring. The odor of fermenting leaf mold. Snails leave faint traces of themselves on the wet path. Hegel and Hölderlin and Schelling walked this path as students. 

I recite lines from a classical German elegy, Schiller's "Der Spaziergang" (The Walk):

Sei mir gegrüßt, mein Berg mit dem rötlich strahlenden Gipfel, 

Sei mir Sonne gegrüßt, die ihn so lieblich bescheint . . .

The distichs feature 6 poetic feet, dactyls mostly, followed by 6  more, the second line broken by a caesura:

/-/--/ /--/--/

I match my stride to the waltzing rhythm of the poem. 

Flashes of light from along the path catch my eye. The trees are planted in rows! I mock my eighteenth-century enthusiasms.

The story continued this morning. Blue and I were out walking, just after the sun rose. He sniffed at the scents left from night passages and I listened to and watched the raucous scrub jays and magpies and flickers arguing in the sky.

Scrub jays and magpies and flickers, I chanted. Magpies and scrub jays and flickers. Flickers and magpies and scrub jays. Dactyls whichever way I said it. I matched my steps to the waltzing rhythms of the bird names.

And then there was an explosion from above us, just a few feet above us, a boom of sudden flight, a burst of disturbed air, a cluck cluck cluck as what felt like a massive bird skimmed our heads and glided across the ravine. A Pheasant!

Scrub jays and magpies and flickers and (what could have continued the dactyls but surprised us as a caesura) PheaSant!

/--/--/--/ /


* said...

this reminds me so much of school it's not true. except yours is more fun.

Scott Abbott said...

like school because of memorized poetry and dactyls?

* said...

yes. exactly that. speaking in dactyls.


pheasants can be shockers, whether you are about to step on them and they explode out of the grass, and evidently when coming in for a landing.

udderwise,i sense a strange transmigraton of souls!
x m.r