A FEW WORDS ON ESCAPING GRACEFULLY
I think I meant this poem to be as simple as a country song. God bless the Dixie Chicks or whatever they now call themselves.
But there’s something deeper and more troubling going on here.
The poem reflects what we all now well know: there is a deep, radical divide between urban and rural America.
I would appear
to be completely on one side of the divide. I was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, a small city but with national pretentions. I feel very comfortable there, although I’m also very comfortable in New York City, where I spent time while my brother was working there as a lawyer. I’m probably most comfortable in Dublin, which is a long story. I’m good in Madrid. Rome is a little bit of a challenge, but it’s the center of my Catholic world.
So, I appear to be a thorough-going urban, coastal, international elite (yeah, I have several academic degrees).
My grandmother was born in rural Powhatan County, Virginia, and some of that still tugs at my soul.
The poet W.H. Auden used to divide the world into two camps: the Arcadians, who would like to dream our way back to the Garden of Eden, and the Utopians, who believe that you have to push on until society progresses to a state of perfection.
It’s not quite the same as the urban/rural divide but it’s close.
I would appear to be a utopian: I’ve already told you my grandmother raised me to be an FDR progressive Democrat.
I actually made my position clear with the use of the third person possessive “our’ in the statement “our way back to the garden.”
Like Auden and T.S. Eliot, I write poetry, which puts me on the side of the Arcadians, even though, like Auden, I realize that both Arcadians and Utopians are delusional.
Still, I miss the connection to the land that I’ve probably never really experienced.
It’s not as simple as a county song.