Archive for July 6th, 2007

Poetry Friday: What Is the Grass?

July 6, 2007 @ 9:24 pm | Filed under:

Poetry Friday was at Farm School this week, and I’m squeaking in with just a few hours of Friday left. And I’m wracking my brain, because earlier in the week I had a poem all picked out for today, and now I can’t remember it. Whitman, I think it was Whitman. Hang on, it’s coming to me. The girls and I were reading—OH THAT’S RIGHT! The grass.

The older my children get, the more children I have, the more Whitman means to me. He understands about wonder.

Leaves of Grass, Section 14, Poem 6

A child said, *What is the grass?* fetching it to me with full hands;

How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say, *Whose?*

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic;
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white;
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you, curling grass;
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men;
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;

It may be you are from old people, and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mothers’ laps;
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers;
Darker than the colorless beards of old men;
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death;
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Why the Internet Was Created

July 6, 2007 @ 7:46 am | Filed under:

So that people like William Kamkwamba could inspire the entire rest of the world.

This is awesome both in the "too totally cool" sense of the word I absorbed into my pores as a teenager in the 80s and in the old, non-slang sense of inspiring awe. William is a 19-year-old in Malawi, and this is his windmill blog. He grew up in a village with no electricity, in a house lit by pungent paraffin candles. He had to drop out of school for five years because his family couldn’t pay the fees. But just because William couldn’t take classes didn’t mean he stopped learning:

During that time I decided to try to get as much education as possible
by reading as many books as I could find. An organization called the
Malawian Teacher Training Activity (MTTA), a project of USAID
contributed a large quantity of books to the primary school library
near my home. I read many of them.  One of the books I read was called Using Energy,
a primary school textbook about how energy is made. Inside the book
there were plans for a windmill. I decided to build a windmill to
provide power for my family.

Read the rest to find out what happened—and how it came to pass that William is now writing a blog.