Winter and Anger, no discontent

I am having a different sort of time. Living at my son’s house to look after their dog while they are away. Could live in my own house but it is small, no yard for Finlay. Life not as expected because it is far to b*&$^dy cold. I can’t stay out with Finlay more than 5 minutes, certainly can’t take him for a walk, he is big and would have me over on the iced driveway before we even got started. However, it is warm indoors, I have just been involved in the local Steinbeck celebration, and I have joined online courses. I got especially involved in WordPress Writing 201: Poetry, a lot of fun, and an awful lot of reading other people’s great effort. How creative everyone is, what different imaginations, responses to brief prompts.

Today the prompts are: word, FOG; form, Elegy; device, metaphor. I wrote a Lament for Summer.

It must be the Steinbeck, I’m thinking about Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this sun of York. The quote has fog, elegy and metaphor. It is of course by someone rather more adept than me (Shakespeare’s Richard III.) I wonder was it an influence on Ben Huberman from WordPress, the guy who thinks up the prompts? Also  I recall that Steinbeck used Winter of our Discontent as a title – must read that again as I have enjoyed Grapes of Wrath so much.

Getting to the point – a Steinbeck quote – 1952 BBC Voice of America Radio interview

“Anger is a symbol of thought and evaluation and reaction: without it what have we got?… I think anger is the healthiest thing in the world.”

Here are a few more Grapes of Wrath quotes – they speak just as loudly today as they must have done to the 1930’s dustbowl and the displacement of a whole people across route 66. [page numbers from Penguin Classic, Kindle edition.]

Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. [p. 36]

For man … grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man – when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step. This you may say and know it and know it. [p. 175.]

And in the tractor man there grows the contempt that comes only to a stranger who has little understanding and no relation. For nitrates are not the land, nor phosphates and the length of fiber in the cotton is not the land. Carbon is not a man, nor salt nor water nor calcium. He is all these but he is much more, much more; and the land is so much more … the machine man, driving a dead tractor on land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry; and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself. When the corrugated iron doors are shut, he goes home, and his home is not the land. [p. 134]

The great owners, striking at the immediate thing, the widening government, the growing labor unity; striking at new taxes, at plans; not knowing these things are results, not causes; results, not causes. The causes lie deep and simply – the hunger in a stomach, multiplied a million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security, multiplied a million times; muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied a million times… [p. 175.]

We could have saved you, but you cut us down, and soon you will be cut down and there’ll be none of us to save you. [p. 101.]

[as the preacher says grace] He paused, but the bowed heads stayed down, for they had been trained like dogs to rise at the “amen” signal. [p. 95.]

Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. [p. 176]

…a sedan picked them up… they got to California in two jumps. … And that’s true. But how can such courage be, and such faith in their own species? … strange things happen… some bitterly cruel and some so beautiful that the faith is refired forever. [p. 142.]

[Casy, the former preacher, tells Tom] “I figgered about the Holy Sperit and the Jesus road. I figgered “Why do we got to hand it to god or Jesus? Maybe, I figgered, maybe it’s all men an’ all women we love; maybe that’s the Holy Sperit – the whole shebang right there. Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of. Now I sat there thinking it, an’ all of a sudden – I knew it. I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it” [ p. 28.]


This is the beginning – from “I” to “we”.

Lets get together.

Write poetry.

Be angry.

They can go together too.

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