Wild Rose, Neponset River, Quincy, MA

It’s June, and James Russell Lowell’s prelude to The Vision of Sir Launfal comes to mind:

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers; . . .

And that is as far as my memorization as a young person went.  I did not know this June as a young person, but I thought I did.  When I came to the clod I pictured the freshly plowed orchard beside my house, ignoring the fact that the plowing happened long before June.  June where I grew up could be hot, uncomfortably so.

This passage celebrates June in New England.  I know that now, because I visit Maine in June.  The fact that the description didn’t fit my experience was no concern to me as a young person.  Without realizing it – until I thought back much later – I put the world of books and words in a separate compartment from the world I lived in.  It did not occur to me that those New England writers which formed so much of my education were trying to convey real experience.  From where I stood, on the west coast, it might as well all be imaginary.

What is your experience in finding the relation between literature and life?

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