“Trees by their yield are known…”

It must have been a busy two weeks because it took me nearly as long to finish Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins as it did to finish Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems. I’ve just finished the 86 pages entitled “Unfinished Poems Fragments, Light Verse Etc (1864-1889)” and “Translations Latin and Welsh Poems Etc,” though I feel obliged to admit that despite my courses in high school Latin the Latin and Greek translations were certainly “Greek to me.”

Unfortunately, I also remembered one of the reasons I’m generally opposed to publishing poems that left incomplete by the author — too often they sound incomplete and very likely do the author an injustice. If the author thought the poems were done, they wouldn’t have left them in draft form. There were few poems here that moved me, though this one:

Trees by their yield
Are known; but I —
My sap is sealed,
My root is dry.

If life within
I none can shew
(Except for sin),
Nor fruit above,–
It must be so —
I do not love.

Will no one show
I argued ill?
Because, although
Self-sentenced, still
I keep my trust.
If he would prove
And search me through
Would he not find
(What yet there must
Be hid behind
. . . . .

had a certain appeal to it. Perhaps it appealed to me because of the way I’m feeling about my political blogging. (See today’s earlier entry.) Perhaps it suggests the end of winter, more specifically the end of what’s been a long, wet week here in the Northwest, a week where I haven’t managed to get in a single long walk.

Still, I imagine that most of us who are getting older have experienced this feeling more than once. What has our life yielded? At least when I look back I have children and grandchildren who love me. I wonder if a priest who has devoted his life to the church and has no descendents who love him would feel this even more sharply than the rest of us?

I think in the end of our lives, even more than in the beginning, we want to feel that our lives have had meaning, that we have borne some fruit in the world, whether that be children or students who have gone into the world a little more prepared because of what we have taught them. Too often, though, it is difficult to see that we really have made a difference.

We can only pray that our love for the world and for others has borne some fruit that we are unawares of.

My Political Mea Culpa

For those few who might have noticed, I haven’t been posting to Open Source Politics, lately and, while it’s felt good not to have a deadline staring me in the face every Thursday, I’ve also felt guilty about not contributing my share to the site.

The problem began with my relatively recent trip to Santa Rosa when I was forced to skip a week. Although I submitted an article before my trip, my “editor” never got back to me and the article actually sat around two or three weeks before it got posted, long enough that I thought it lost some of its timeliness, even though I seldom write articles that are newsworthy in that sense. In the process, I lost contact with my editor because she got overloaded at work and didn’t have time to maintain her own site, much less keep up with Open Source Politics. Of course, the article sitting waiting to be published and the lack of contact gave me the perfect excuse not to write more articles. So, I didn’t. After it was finally published, I had trouble getting started again.

A more serious problem is simply that after writing 16 rather extensive articles on environmental issues and the Bush administration, I have little or nothing new to say. Now, regular readers of this blog may laugh when I say this, but, as a result of having taught for thirty years, I have a strong aversion to repetition. Simply put, the Bush administration is an environmental disaster. Clearly they have sold out to the business interests that fund them and have little concern for anything beyond those business interests. How many times can you say that and still be effective?

My sense of guilt, though, drove me to start looking today at other political sites that were part of OSP. My radically revised list of contributors to Open Source Politics reveals the awful truth: I’m not the only blogger that’s been unable to sustain the earlier pace. Nearly half of the contributors to Open Source Politics are no longer updating even their own site, much less contributing to OSP.

Instead of writing, I’ve been taking the easy way out and contributing more money to organizations opposed to the Bush administration, particularly environmental organization like Environmental Defense, legal organizations like the ACLU, and political organizations like The Democratic National Committee. I’m sure that I’ll end up giving money directly to the Kerry campaign, and I’ll finally get around to giving money to MoveOn. Unfortunately, contributing money still seems like the easy way out.

I’ve promised myself, though, that despite having bought two more books on Flash, a new book on Dreamweaver, a long-awaited volume of Canadian poets, and several new books of poetry, not to mention my new Canon Digital Rebel camera, I will get back to writing political articles on a regular basis.

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