john spenser

OATMEAL

 I eat oatmeal for breakfast.

I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health
       if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have
       breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary
       companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge,
       as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime,
       and unsual willingness to disintigrate, oatmeal should
       not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat
       it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had
       enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John
       Milton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as
       wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something
       from it.
Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the
       "Ode to a Nightingale.“
He had a heck of a time finishing it those were his words "Oi ‘ad
       a 'eck of a toime,” he said, more or less, speaking through
       his porridge.
He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in his
       pocket,
but when he got home he couldn’t figure out the order of the stanzas,
       and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they
       made some sense of them, but he isn’t sure to this day if
       they got it right.
An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacket
       through a hole in his pocket.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas,
       and the way here and there a line will go into the
       configuration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up
       and peer about, and then lay \ itself down slightly off the mark,
       causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about
       the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some
       stanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.
I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmeal
       alone.
When breakfast was over, John recited “To Autumn.”
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words
       lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn’t offer the story of writing “To Autumn,” I doubt if there
       is much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field go thim started
       on it, and two of the lines, “For Summer has o'er-brimmed their
       clammy cells” and “Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours,”
       came to him while eating oatmeal alone.
I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering
       furrows, muttering.
Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion’s tatters.
For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch.
I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneaously
       gummy and crumbly, and therefore I’m going to invite Patrick Kavanagh
       to join me.

Galway Kinnell                      

John Dickson Batten, The Garden of Adonis (Amoretta and Time), 1887.

Amoretta is one of the main characters from Edmund Spensers epic poem “The Faerie Queene”. Amoretta and her sister Belphoebe were twins of Chrysogone, born of immaculate conception. The goddess Diana adopted Belphoebe, and the goddess Venus adopted Amoret. Spenser uses the twins to represent “chaste love and virginity,” each representing one virtue. Amoret was supposed to marry Scudamour but was kidnapped on her wedding night, then the female knight Britomart saves her. Where Belphoebe represents virginity, Amoret represents married love, or chaste love. She is also another portrayal of the Virgin Queen. She is loyal to the one she loves, eventually reunites with him, and they marry. Amoret means “little love,” and likely that it is a Spenser-style variation of the Italian word amore, meaning love, with a possible French twist (the T at the end). Occasionally the name is spelled Amoretta, making it seem more Italian.