From Clay Hill, high,
next to the old pitched cultivation
of the settlers' graveyard, I watch you,
eastward of the mountain there
rising, your glowing fervent bronze, so full
though with one edge blurred
as if in sympathy with the settlers lying
half in the blurred
receding shadow of April's snow.
I watch you, along and lonely,
both of us lonely, full of this late
fire. Then I descend once more
to the cove, to deepening snow and the house
that stands by the loud brook in freshet
under the hemlock bank, finding
my loves there, companionate and always
careful of me. And you
are hidden by banked black boughs,
as I am hidden by love.
when the night has gone to frost
again, a reversion to winter,
I walk out onto the crusted snow
and there you are, high
in the winter sky again, so clear,
like a free flake in the stream
of stars. I have found you.
I lean to you in the depths
of cold and darkness, you always there
and yet often hidden, as I too
am where I am always, hidden.
from From Snow and Rock, From Chaos (1973)
Republished in 2012:
Last Poems, Hayden Carruth
One of my favorite of Hayden Carruth's many books of poetry is From Snow and Rock, From Chaos (1973). A subtle and tidy size book published from New Directions. I met Hayden around this time so the poems seem to come to me with memories and time. Susan and I had come to pay Hayden and his wife Rose Marie a visit during our honeymoon (the next night we stayed with Lois and David Budbill) and I well remember standing on the road by Hayden's small house in what seemed to be a ravine along the brook (the brook of many poems) with a field up high on the edge of the road across from the house. That may have been Marshall's field; Marshall of many of Hayden's poems. Local farmer. Local wise man.
Decades later we went to find that house and site and ravine and moment, and couldn't.
The photograph above I took when Hayden came here for his 65th birthday. A party was dealt by his then girlfriend and a friend of ours. He's steady-eddie with his gaze here, but he was smiling at the party, many close friends turned up for HC.
This new book draws the last poems from each of Hayden's books of poems. A lovely idea. It sort of plays as a segue to showcase his very last poems as well, but some of those aren't very good. The last poems from each book remain quite sound and often brilliant. There are two essays by author friends — Stephen Dobyns maybe being the better of the two — though I'm prejudice, missing a Vermont author (Budbill, Geoff Hewitt, Kinnell?) who may have shone a light on the earlier years in the region where I believe Hayden wrote his strongest poems. There is nothing like the hallow of the early Vermont poems, nor the verbose and rhythm of the more physical and active later Vermont poems, when HC was in his prime, mostso shown in Brothers, I Loved You All (1978) and in the long poem sequence Paragraphs.
After Hayden left Vermont he seemed to let loose with himself and his poetry. There's also something very good about that.
photo © bob arnold