I’ll have to admit that I find it difficult to identify with much of Nemerov’s rather dark vision in his early poems, at least those before 1960. Even the title Salt Garden suggests a bareness I’ve seldom felt in my life.
Even though I don’t share his vision, I can identify with poems like this one:
THE SNOW GLOBE
A long time ago, when I was a child,
They left my light on while I went to sleep,
As though they would have wanted me beguiled
By brightness if at all; dark was too deep.
And they left me one toy, a village white
With the fresh snow and silently in glass
Frozen forever. But if you shook it,
The snow would rise up in the rounded space
And from the limits of the universe
Snow itself down again. 0 world of white,
First home of dreams! Now that I have my dead,
I want so cold an emblem to rehearse
How many of them have gone from the world’s light,
As I have gone, too, from my snowy bed.
I’m old enough to have been fascinated with snow globes as a child, probably because I identify them with Christmas and because my family never owned one, a deficiency I’ve more than remedied in the last few years.
Unfortunately, like Nemerov, I’ve never recaptured the innocent joy they used to bring, and I keep them around more in hopes that they will inspire similar hopes in my grandchildren than any hope they will rekindle my own.
Though I fear it’s not true, I’d like to believe this is a universal feeling, that all children share this ability to dream bright dreams. I’m sure my happy childhood has helped me to get through some rough times and made it possible to believe that there is always hope for better times ahead.