Friday, July 25, 2014

Poor Witless Elf

The topography of literature, the fact in fiction, is one of my pleasures -- I mean, where the living road enters the pages of a book, and you are able to stroll along both the real and imagined road.
~Paul Theroux

Have you visited the Poetry Atlas? They are mapping the world in poetry. I believe you can even submit your own poems of place.

Mist Clearing On Suilven, Inverkirkaig, Scotland
photo by Andrew

I'm sharing a poem by John Keats from the Poetry Atlas today. Something written in Scottish mountain mists, where Heaven and Hell are hidden from view, and all he can know is what is under his feet:

Written on Top of Ben Nevis
by John Keats

Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud
Upon the top of Nevis, blind in mist!
I look into the chasms, and a shroud
Vapurous doth hide them - just so much I wist
Mankind do know of hell; I look o'erhead,
And there is sullen mist, - even so much
Mankind can tell of heaven; mist is spread
Before the earth, beneath me, - even such,
Even so vague is man's sight of himself!
Here are the craggy stones beneath my feet, -
Thus much I know that, a poor witless elf,
I tread on them, - that all my eye doth meet
Is mist and crag, not only on this height,
But in the world of thought and mental might!


Poetry for Children has the Poetry Friday round-up today.


Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I didn't know about the Poetry Atlas, but I do now. Very cool! This is the third or fourth poem I've read this morning that is zen-like in quality. Perhaps someone is trying to tell me something! (John Keats can tell me anything he wants.)

BJ Lee said...

I've never read this particular sonnet before. Lovely. Thanks for sharing. I didn't know about the Poetry Atlas either. Very interesting!

Linda said...

I'm going to go check out the Poetry Atlas. Thank you for telling us about it. I've never read this Keat's poem so I appreciate you sharing it today!

Bridget Magee said...

Being not very well traveled, the Poetry Atlas seems like a beautiful way to "see" the world. Thanks for sharing Keat's poem. I hope to someday view Ben Nevis in person, too. = )

Anonymous said...

I had to check out the poem nearest to me on the Poetry Atlas. It's "By Hudson's Tide" by Henry Abbey, about the Hudson River. I love the idea of the Poety Atlas project.

Donna Smith said...

A poetry atlas! What a great ideal. I have to go check that out next. Love the misty mood of this craggy places. Thanks for sharing it!

Liz Steinglass said...

I love the idea of a poetry atlas and this poem is quite transporting. I'm not entirely sure I want to get any closer to Ben Nevis than this.

Keri said...

You constantly bring us the most amazing treats. I could get lost in the Poetry Atlas. I will confess, though, that I'm a mountain snob -- when I saw Ben Nevis I was not terribly impressed. Now, the Colorado Rockies and their purple mountain majesty . . .

Janet Wong said...

The Poetry Atlas project is super-neat--thank you for sharing it with us! I just sent them an email about Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Texas, Out Driving" from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (page 95)--a reminder to slow down and appreciate the places we find ourselves in (and zooming past)!

Catherine said...

A Poetry Atlas is a terrific idea! This Keats poem is new to me and quite thought-provoking. I can relate to the world of thought being full of "mist and crag."
Thanks for sharing!

Mary Lee said...

I think our two poems from this week kind of talk to each other. Remind us to stay in the NOW.

Love the poetry atlas. Another place to submit! I'll see if I can get Colorado on the map. Or Ohio.

jan godown annino said...

We experience the magic of mist a lot here, so I am especially drawn to this one, new to me, by Keats.

And I expect to send the Poetry Atlas folks, (who are they?) the collection title by Emanuel di Pasquale, CARTWHEELS to the MOON, My Sicilian Childhood, for consideration. It's a neat tip, this online, geographic poetry map.