Bob Arnold’s “Yokel”: The Continuum Is Clear, a review by john martone / Issa’s Untidy Hut

Issa’s Untidy Hut: Bob Arnold’s Yokel: The Continuum Is Clear.

As another important American poet, john martone, states in his review of  Yokel a long Green Mountain poem by Bob Arnold, this is a poetry with a direct line to Emerson and Frost. I’d like to add that unlike fellow American Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau, whose philosophy ultimately failed them whenever they left the woods, Arnold yokes earth and work to poetry’s plow and never leaves it idle, reminding us that there is no earth where there is no daily work with it and that in this “human ecology” as martone notes, there is life, lived and poetry written, out of it. Arnold supplants the American class divide of the newly-transplanted gentry estranged from a plain and deep connection with the earth, and the poor, left to scrape at existence from leftovers of so called progress, with a poetic voice that excludes no one and nothing. And no preaching, either. No need to. Instead, a poetry of glistering intelligence, keen felt experience, and humor that starts somewhere in the soil and travels toes up backbone through twinkling eyes into this starry world, and the reverse.

In a wink to Japanese poet Masahide’s (1657? – 1723), haiku, translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto —

Barn’s burnt down – / now / I can see the moon. — Arnold writes, in Countryside,

Where there are tall maples and oaks
There once was a barn

Nothing left where it was
But sunshine

Yokel begins —

This Morning in the Rain
What Does the Robin Do

Takes long brown grass mowings
Neglected by the rest of the world
High off to her maple tree nest —
Sings back to us

The American Robin (and my state of Connecticut’s state bird) is stalwart — always the first to arrive and tell me that Spring is icumen in —, can stare an invisible worm down until it comes up for air, and can sing short and long. It can be seen in the company of several of its own kind or with a few sparrows, or solitary, in a kind of still revery. My life would  be so much less wild and civilized without this navigator. ~ yours truly, df

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  1. Seems like it’s a great day for Mr. Arnold. Well done, Donna.

    • Aren’t we lucky to be living poetry every day . . . Glad you like my two cents. Thanks be, Don.

  2. Hear, hear … just got back from an interview with the local weekly paper to promote next month’s book launch / reading.

    Very lucky, indeed.

    • And I will be wholly there, in spirit, for your new book, “Past All Traps”. (Another poet that, glory be, got away!)

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