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February 24, 1957 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily, 1957-02-24
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Page Ten

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

.. Sunday, February 24, 1957

Sunday, February 24, 1957

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday. February 24 19 -----J

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

MODERN

POETRY

PARACHUTING

Two New Books by Veteran Moore and Novice Booth

Fear, Nausea and Nervous Anticipation Are Among the SE

"LIKE A BULWARK" by Mari-
anne Moore; New York, Vik-
ing Press; 32 pages; $2.50.
By R. C. GREGORY
ELEVEN short poems are not
many from which to make a
book for almost any living poet ex-
cept Marianne Moore. Fewer than
eighty poems constitute her Col-
lected Poems of 1952, so her new
book Like A Bulwark may be ac-
counted a real event in a literary
career now in its fourth decade.
Praise is harder to render than
damnation: no loud huzzas are
called for, but one wishes for a
small, elegant, and quite perfect
paragraph that would do Miss
Moore just homage.
Miss Moore's poetry has won
many awards, even the approval
of T S Eliot, but this says little.
She is a difficult poet because she
is a good one and because she dis-
likes the poesy of poetry and scru-
pulously, even ruthlessly, avoids
it. There is none of the familiar
anxious poetic landscape in her
work. Her poems are descriptive
but not of life-incidents, ideas,
qrt or anything specific, her fan-
tastic use of detail notwithstand-
ing.
Reading her book, with the dis-
trust of merits she prescribes, it
is hard to say the poems are about
anything or that they say any-
thing. It is plain that if Miss
Moore has not read everything inI
sight, she will have before she
writes her next poem. Her prodi-
gious reading is a refining pro-
cess; the quotations won from it
have meaning at all only as she
places them in new settings. Her
poetry is an elegantly formalized,
carefully made process, -"a way
of happening"-which is always
happening in the reader.
ELLIOT would call this process
the achievement of objective
correlatives, Joyce Eepiphanies,
Miss Moore ". . . imaginary gar-
dens with real toads in them."
Whatever named, poetic process is

there, blessedly present in such
a poem as "Rosemary," which con-
cludes:
Springing from stones beside
the sea,
the height of Christ when
thirty-three-
not higher-it feeds on dew and
to the bee
"hath a dumb language"; is in
reality
a kind of Christmas-tree.
"Apparition o f Splendor" i s
"about" a porcupine, oppression
and resistance, and Duerer, too,
and the combination, should it
seem a little preposterous, becomes
absolutely right:
Maine should be pleased that
its animal
is not a waverer, and rather
than fight, lets the primed quill
fall.
Shallow oppressor, intruder,
insister, you have found a
resistor.
"It is a privilege to see so much
confusion."
T HE final poem, "Blessed is the
Man," the Phi Beta Kappa
poem at Columbia, 1956, is the
best in the book and one of the
finest things Miss Moore has writ-
ten, not technically, perhaps, butl
certainly in spirit and wit. Miss
Moore's poetry usually is con-
versational in diction and syntax,
and overheard or thought-aloud in
tone; this poem is direct address,
remonstrance.
If one were not didactic when
reading scholars what they com-
missioned for their ceremony and
delectation, one could never be.
There are many ways of being di-
dactic: one can pray, deliver lec-
tures, lay down homilies, make
gestures, remain silent, or in some
other way hide. To be absolutely,
nakedly direct requires wisdom
and wit, both of which many oc-
cupants of solemn chairs not only
lack but cannot appreciate in oth-
ers; Miss Moore says:
Blessed is the Man
who does not sit in the seat of
the scoffer-
- ~ ~ ~ - -

the man who does not denigrate,
depreciate, -
denunciate .
A "citadel of learning" is not
necessarily a tower of wisdom and
some
having lost all power of com-
parison,
thinking license emancipates
one ...
are the quasi-modish counter-
feit,
Mitin-proofing conscience
against character.
They, with "illumined eyes," nev-
er see "the shaft that gilds the
sultan's tower." And those who
do? Miss Moore says, " ... Blessed,
the unaccommodating man." Who
said Amen for such poetry? "Be-
cause the heart is in it all is well."
"LETTER FROM A DISTANT
LAND," by Philip Booth;
New York, The Viking Press,
1957; 87 pages; $3.00.
AN ACCOMPLISHED poet has
announced himself in a first
book of poems: ahyone who cares
about new poetry will want to
read Philip Booth's Letter From
A Distant Land. In an age fed on
superlatives, there are no fresh
ones to describe the sensations of
high discovery. Let it simply be
said that Mr. Booth has achieved
real poetry, his own poetry.
Perhaps the most striking qual-
ity of Mr. Booth's poems consider-
ed entire is the unassuming but
profound sense of confidence in
human life. Poets have been say-
ing for quite a while that ours is
the age of anxiety, that perhaps
nothing important to man is like-
ly to survive the "Something-or-
Other" right around the corner.
Mr. Booth conveys no sense of ig-
noring this pet-influenced zeit-
geist, but rather one of spiritu'al
regeneration that concludes on
other than mocking, self pitying
despair: this may not be Eden,
but "the world is green to plow":
...man
might seen unable, here, to clear
a long view from the tangled
shadows.
Yet who will homestead here,
shall count
his generation by the dense-

ringed stumps; as his seeds
reach down to bear,
he will in his first yield kneel
down,
rooted where his praises mount.
These lines, which conclude the
first poem, "This Land," reveal
the mood and attitude, maintain-
ed to an appropriate degree
throughout the collection.
MR. BOOTH'S poems are, in dif-
ferent ways, all love poems.
The things he cares about and
the themes he explores are note
uncommon-the changing seasons,
romantic love, fishing, children,
poetry, landscapes. What is un-
common is his capacity for seeing
old themes with a frank, lively in-
terest and an arbitrarily personal
discrimination that leaves all
other poetry out of count for thef
duration of a given poem, com-
bined with a zest central first to
the writing of the poem and
thereafter to the life of the poem
among its readers.
Thoreau wrote once: "I am al-
ways struck by the centrality of
the observer's position. He always
stands fronting the middle of the
arch, and does not suspect at first
that a thousand hills behold the
sunset sky from equally favorable
positions." This lack of suspicion
is, perhaps, what gives any poet
his peculiar angle of vision. Like-
wise, it gives the poet his absclute
authority to compose his poem In
such way as invites his reader not
only to accept it but, more sig-
nificantly, to think that had the
reader written the poem, he could
have done it no other way.
Delight, then, comes from a
reciprocal agreement b e t w e e n
poet and reader, with the poem as
the expression of consent. Con-
senting to another poem on Spring
is not easier for the season's long
literary history. Mr. Booth makes
S p r i n g reckless, breathless, -
which has been done before-a
season not -to be lost,-which
often has been advised-but this
is still a fresh contribution; it
concludes:
When time is a troutlily yellow
as sun, what wildflowers weather
the high noon tomorrow?
Now jack-in-the-pulpits wither

for shade and there's maiden
hair fern
to gather.
Now blossom is bloodroot is sap-
run
is Spring, and true as arbutus
we're new. Words are a ruin
no animals heed, so kiss
me to silence; this wood
is for you.
AND with Mr. Booth giving "In-
struction in the Art," fishing
seems much less quaint a pas-
time. The point at which he
means more than a trout is,
the giant beauty that you
cast for . . .," so fuses in its ex-
pression and thought that one un-
derstands why
men file
barbs not toward food
or trophies, but for luck
they cannot keep.
But lest this is assumed an easy,
unimportant thing, Venator con-
cludes with the hardest part of
the lesson:
I pray you patience
for that tug and rise,
the risen image
thatnoutleaps the rapids
in one illimitable
arc: to praise,
but not to prize.
Many of the poems make some
implicit comment about poetry
itself; poetry, excepting life, might
be called Mr. Booth's prime pre-
occupation. For him poetry seems
to be a wide variety of conditions
and locations, not at all ^on-
sistent except as made so by the
poet's mind expressing itself. In
"Chart 1203-Penobscot Bay and
Approaches," he says of sailing
what can be said of writing poetry:
Who ever works a storm to
windward, sails
in rain, or navigates in island
fog,
must reckon from the swung
lead, from squalls
on cheek; must bear by com-
pass, chart, and log.
These things a sailor must do and
still be sensitive of dangers only
intuition reveals, the kind of rev-
elations scarcely less important to
poet than to sailor. Charts and
logs and leads do not account for
ghostships or sudden headlands
,,, where rocks wander, he
steers down the channel that
his courage
dredges. He knows the chart is
not the sea.
THE TITLE POEM, last inthe
book, is a long, close com-
mentary on contemporary life
that possesses a special tone be-
cause it is less the acutely oblique
social-commentary, less the care-
fully drawn observation with
scarcely implied judgements, less
a bombastic refusal to mourn,
than most poetry these last years.
"Letter From A Distant Land"
is quite nakedly concerned with
being-not with Maybe, but with
Is. It fulfills what it intends, ac-
cording to its epigraph from
Thoreau:
I, on my side, require of every
writer, first or last, a simple
and sincere account of his own
life . .. some such account as
be would send to his kindred
from a distant land; for if he
has lived sincerely, it must
have been in a distant land to
me.
The poet tells Thoreau where he
lives:- "halfway/halfway between
an airfield and your pond,/half-
way within the house I moved to
buy/by borrowing," which implies
a great deal about how he lives.
Not much Thoreau w a n t e d
changed has been altered, Mr.
Booth says, in the century elapsed
since Thoreau went to the pond

to drive life intoea corner, but if
"jets outrace their double sha
See TWO, Page 11

By RICHARD HALLORAN
Daily Staff Writer
"SHUFFLE DOWN and stand in
the door."
The hoarse command from the
jumpmaster further tightens al-'
ready tense nerves of waiting par-
atroopers. The deafening roar of
the aircraft remains unheard as
all eyes focus on the open door,
then on the green and yellow earth,
1,000 feet below.
As the line of jumpers moves
jerkily to the rear of the plane,
the leading trooper stomps one
foot, pivots, and swings into the
door, his other foot landing slight-
ly over the edge of the sill. Crouch-
ed in the ready position, arms
outstretched and hands pressed
hard against the outside of the
fuselage, he quickly glances first
at the pair of red and green lights
just inside the door, then at the
horizon, down at the drop zone,
and back to the lights. One shows
red, the other nothing. The signal
to exit from the aircraft will be
red light off, green light on.
THE FEELING experienced at
this moment is one of slight
nausea, taut anticipation, and
an almost overwhelming fear. An
aphorism among airborne soldiers
goes "show me a man who says
he's not afraid to jump and I'll
show you a liar."
The fear is not that the chute
won't open, though this is always
in the back of the mind. Nor is
what is feared the unknown. In-
deed, the experienced trooper,
knowing what to expect, is more
afraid than the recruit who often
doesn't know enough to be greatly
scared. Fear arises from the un-
naturalness of the whole thing.
Man just wasn't made to step out
into space 1,000 feet above the
ground.
Viewed from 1,000 feet up, the
earth is an even patchwork of
clearly outlined areas and sharply
etched threads of roads and
streams. A man is but a speck and
trees look like fuzzy matchsticks.
An old hand at jumping will
usually look for smoke to gauge
the wind. Thick, curling, rising
smoke is a good sign-no ground
wind. Thin, drifting smoke flat-
tened out over the tree tops indi-
cates a ground wind and probably
a rough landing.
The young jumper, still incul-
cated with his training, fastens
his attention on the horizon and
avoids looking down. He was
taught to do this to avoid a fear
through which he might lose con-
trol and "freeze" in the door. This
attitude will last for a while, until

the temptation is too great to re-
sist and the trooper is compelled
to look where he's going.
Clrouched in the door of the
plane, the paratrooper feels as if
he were standing at the edge of
a raging river. Turbulent air,
churned up by the propellers, flows
by the door in torrents. Termed
"prop blast" in the paratroopers'
jargon, it will be into this stream
that the jumper will jettison him-
self.
NUMBED by the weight of in-
ternal and external pressures,
the paratrooper awaits the signal
to spring up and out into the air.
No matter how hard he tries nor
how alert he is, when the green
light flicks on, he is never quite
ready to go and it always catches
him by surprise.
Then it comes. Green light, a
hardwhack omnstherrear byhthe
jumpmaster, and the desperate
command-"GO".
At this moment, the instant he
leaves the airplane to step into
nothing, the paratrooper knows
his "moment of truth," his mom-
ent when he has overcome, for a
second, his human capacity for
fear.
Immediately upon leaving the
aircraft the falling paratrooper ex-
periences a series of sensations,
one following the other in rapid
succession. The drowning roar of
the engines and withering blast
of the prop wash literally knock
the breath out of the jumper.
Little sense of falling is felt as
human depth perception at 1,000
feet is too imperfect to measure
the drop of about 100 feet, the
distance fallen before the chute
opens.
Instead, the trooper imagines
himself being carried along on a
swift rush of air, tremendous at
the beginning but quickly dim-n-
ishing as man and airplane sep-
arate. The jumper sees the ground
below him sway dizzily as he is
twisted and turned by the air
current. Perhaps the sensation of
which he is most aware is the
passage of time, or the seeming
lack of it. He counts to himself
"one thousand, two thousand,
three thousand," ticking off the
seconds before the chute should
open. Should it not open at the
end of "three thousand," the
trooper is trained to react by using
the reserve parachute strapped to
his chest, extricating himself
from a precarious position 900
feet above the ground with no vis-
ible means of support.
AFTER WHAT SEEMS an in-
terminable wait, the para-

ciple was adopted) do not flutter
open gently, they crack open
sharply, producing what is us-
ually called the "opening shock."
Having much the same effect
as a crushing "gang tackle" on
the football field, paratroopers
liken the opening shock to meet-
ing a speeding locomotive head
on. Despite its power, the open-
ing shock is the most comforting
sensation in the world. It is a
violent but certain sign that the
paratrooper has a spread of silk
over his head, a thin sheet between
hires and destruction.
Cause of the opening shock is
simplesenough, being the sudden
deceleration from moving 120
miles per hour in one direction,
plus 64 feet per second in another
(down), to practically zero in any
direction. The paratrooper, on ex-
iting from the plane, describes a
trapectory similar to that of a
dropped bomb, the difference being
that after three seconds he comes
to a marked halt.
AFTR the opening shock, the
jumper swings down under
the canopy, the parachute having
opened not directly above but at
an angle in front of him where

it w
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lene

THE PLUNGE
.. .not made that way

chute opens and the trooper gets
a smashing blow which he ab-
sorbs through the upper portion
of his body, from the crotch to the
shoulders. Parachutes (at least
not until recently when a new
chute operating on a new prin-

i

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Showing an unusual selection of
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others at 49.50
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