I still have my copies of Dismantling the Silence and Return to a Place lit by a Glass of Milk that I purchased during my freshman year in college–1977. The books are somewhat creased and dogeared after 30 years; I’ve lent them to other poets many times, but I always got them back. His later work does not create in me the fresh excitement I feel everytime I open one of the aformentioned books, but I’m not sure whether it’s his rut or mine.
To call, say, Thoreau a “nature writer” is a species of litotes; to read him as a “nature writer” is a diminution . Yet, if Henry David Thoreau is not a nature writer, who is? May be it’s better to say in a particular instance, that he “writes from nature” rather paste on the label of “nature writer.”
What Cady says, I like a good deal of that. I have fewer mystical experiences than I did before I went on medication for Manic Depression, but I still have them on occasion. The manhole covers really used to do it for me. The quality of the mystical experience is not related to the quality of the articulation of the mystical experience, and vice versa. To write about a mystical experience is a kind of subterfuge, anyway, since words quite literally fail.
But I do think it is important to know the names, of trees, of birds, and of all natural and unnatural things, especially the things one sees everyday. I think of it almost as a sort of rudeness, not to know or inquire to know the names of the trees I walk under, just as it is rude not to know the names of the co-workers. Juan Ramon had it in a poem– “Intelligence, give me the name of things!…the exact name, and your name and theirs and mine, for things!”