From Michael Ondaatje to Dennis Lee I love Canadian Poetry. As Canadian culture becomes less outwardly driven, and continues to fall prey to the assaults of mindless consumerism and inward selfindulgence from the south, I fear we are losing crucial features of what it is to be Canadian. As the poem to deflower myself on this blog I wanted to share Daryl Hine's "Northwest Passages". The reason I chose this poem is that it reminded me of what it used to be like to be Canadian; of those long road trips through the Rockies and the distinct smell of dried pine needles and camp fires; of leaving the mountains only under the strict compromise that you would soon return. As our beautiful landscape becomes less sacred and more a marketable commodity, I fear the nature my children know will be distinctly different from the one that had me addicted at a young age. Not only the physical landscape but also the way we perceive nature. I have never felt like the mountains, or nature in general, was an escape from home, rather I've always seen them as a return to it. I hope my children, when the unlucky little guys arrive sharing the same bald head and dazed look as their father, will feel the same way I do about nature but also fear that instilling that in them may be more of a battle than it was for my father many years ago.
Northwest Passages (Daryl Hine)
Here low tide and morning coincide
When oceans underside, as if a veil
Were twitched aside, denuded by the tide,
Emerges flat, unprofitable, stale.
Here pubescent forests fail to hide
The five-o'clock shadow on the mountainside
Close shaven to make news print and junk mail.
Here civilization, predominantly male,
Perpetrates unnatural matricide.
Snooty, aloof, polluted mountaintops,
Stuck-up their heads forever in the clouds
While they cold-shoulder low-brow tourist traps
Strike forbidding, lofty altitudes
Against a breathless sky, sublimely iced.
How isolated and exclusive are
the uninhabitable altitudes
Domesticated by the calendar,
The picturesque prohibitively priced.
Stark on the covers of slick magazines
Where landscapes look too beautiful for words.
The wilderness excels at making scenes.
Its present rate of defloration means
That travel nowadays is for the birds.
The home of mobile homes away from home,
Once the haunt of cormorants and cranes,
Of eagle and of seagull, has become
The realm of Burger Kings and Dairy Queens.
Thoughts. Oh and thanks for letting me post on this blog everyone and I look forward to a more serious discourse as is often the case over in the fruit basket.