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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Monday, June 14, 2010

Under my skin

Recently, a friend to whom I read a few Yeats poems asked why I had such an intense attraction to the man, his poetry and his country, since I'm not Irish, political, or religious. I couldn't really give a satisfactory answer, other than the weasly one that Yeats and his language combine mysticism, Nature and human civilization in a most incredible way. I should have just said that he gets under my skin, especially since we visited Sligo a few years ago.

Maine does that too (especially since I haven't been there for 10 days!). I can't really explain it. I'll cross the Piscataqua River Bridge tomorrow and I'll think, or maybe even say out loud, that the air is fresher, the trees greener. I'll swear that the smell of pine is suddenly stronger, possibilities huge.

Trees are a large part of it, and they don't have to be perfect to fit the bill. One cause of tree burls and tumors is apparently salt spray driven into and under the bark by strong winds off the ocean. The tree's tissues and cells proliferate around the insult, trying to heal it. It's the way Maine gets under my skin: it's a little embarrassing maybe, the way the affection/infection is so obvious, but the cancer doesn't seem to harm me or the tree at all, and we stand proudly and awkwardly at the edge of the cliff, not caring who sees. Yeats didn't care either, especially by the end of his life when he got positively weird with mysticism. The beauty of Maine and of poetry is definitely not skin-deep.

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