Monday, April 19, 2010

Ordinary Moments--That Aren't

Each of us functions within a zone of comfort and familiarity that eventually turns even the most unusual activity into the ordinary. Two of my sons are drummers; while they never take their instrument for granted, the mystique is long gone because they know their drums intimately. But let someone enter our home who is not a percussionist and they are instantly and inevitably drawn toward the drum set just as the children in this poem are drawn to the knife-grinder's sparks. Walt Whitman often creates a mystique about the mundane, turning the ordinary into something special through his "writer's microscope."

2010 Poetry Parade: Day 19
Sparkles from the Wheel
Walt Whitman

Where the city's ceaseless crowd moves on, the live-long day,
Withdrawn, I join a group of children watching--I pause aside with them.

By the curb, toward the edge of the flagging,
A knife-grinder works at his wheel, sharpening a great knife;
Bending over, he carefully holds it to the stone--by foot and knee,
With measur'd tread, he turns rapidly--As he presses with light but firm hand,
Forth issue, then, in copious golden jets,
Sparkles from the wheel.

The scene, and all its belongings--how they seize and affect me!
The sad, sharp-chinn'd old man, with worn clothes, and broad shoulder-band of leather;
Myself, effusing and fluid--a phantom curiously floating--now here absorb'd and arrested;

The group, (an unminded point, set in a vast surrounding;)
The attentive, quiet children--the loud, proud, restive base of the streets;
The low, hoarse purr of the whirling stone--the light-press'd blade,
Diffusing, dropping, sideways-darting, in tiny showers of gold,
Sparkles from the wheel.

This poem is in the public domain.

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