What (Poem) Am I Thinking Of
May 23, 2014 9:34 AM   Subscribe

So vague. Sorry. Sometime between 1996-2000, I read a poem that I think was Wordsworth (although I may be way off), the upshot of which was that the narrator was in some sort of splendid, gorgeous, natural, sublime setting and wanted to be reveling in it but was instead thinking about how they would remember the moment -- rather than actually "experiencing" the moment, the writer was instead meta-experiencing the experience of the moment and how they might describe it later. It was part of a class assignment in an Honors English class in California public schools, but as far as I can tell the teachers had quite a lot of leeway, curriculum-wise. Any ideas?

Potential issues: I guess I may have actually written something like this in response to some other poem (although I really don't think so); there's every possibility my understanding of the poem is actually high school-level inference of Themes and Symbolism and Whatnot rather than, like, explicit in the poem itself.
posted by davidjmcgee to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Tintern Abbey?
posted by Melismata at 9:39 AM on May 23, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, hell yes. Got it in one. Thanks!
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:42 AM on May 23, 2014

Response by poster: Although, you know, five whole minutes? Maybe we can all step up our game going forward? :)

Thanks, Melismata. So happy to have reread that.
posted by davidjmcgee at 9:44 AM on May 23, 2014

ROTFL, internet connection at work slow. :) One of my favorite poems.
posted by Melismata at 9:45 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might also like this passage from Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," which is what I first thought when reading the question:
This is it, I think, this is it, right now, the present, this empty gas station, here, this western wind, this tang of coffee on the tongue, and I am petting the puppy, I am watching the mountain. And the second I verbalize this awareness in my brain, I cease to see the mountain or feel the puppy. I am opaque, so much black asphalt. But at the same second, the second I know I've lost it, I also realize that the puppy is still squirming on his back under my hand. Nothing has changed for him. He draws his legs down to stretch the skin taut so he feels every fingertip's stroke along his furred and arching side, his flank, his flung-back throat.

I sip my coffee. I look at the mountain, which is still doing its tricks, as you look at a still-beautiful face belonging to a person who was once your lover in another country years ago: with fond nostalgia, and recognition, but no real feeling save a secret astonishment that you are now strangers. Thanks. For the memories. It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator -- our very self-consciousness -- is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution, cutting us off at both ends. I get in the car and drive home.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:34 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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