Current Writer-in-Residence is multiple-prize winning Anthony Doerr, known best for his short fiction. There is a formal bio on Doerr's website, but it's more fun reading about him at the Idaho Commission on the Arts. That's where I found this great photo of Doerr.
The Shell Collector.
Did you do any shell collecting this summer? We did -- in Stone Harbor, NJ.
Inspired by summer, and the title of Doerr's book, I'm sharing "The Chambered Nautilus" by Oliver Wendell Holmes. It's an ode -- part biography of a shell, part mystical rumination.
With Nautilus shells, there's a lot to ruminate about. The chambers of the shell are a Fibonacci spiral.
The Chambered Nautilus
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
My favorite concept in this poem is that the shell brings the poet a "heavenly message." When we slow down and pay attention -- isn't that what happens during shell seeking? -- it is a kind of meditation. I hope you get some shell seeking in before summer ends (2 weeks!)
Today's Poetry Friday host is The Stenhouse Blog.