Most of my Great-Uncle William’s diary is filled with references to poetry, classical literature, and his own history, which makes it difficult to post individual entries. I’m fond of this one, though, and it’s timely, and not nearly so obscure as most. Forgive me if I don’t footnote; it would spoil it, I think.
Another mild day, of which to my taste there have been far too many this winter, for they tempt the mind to wander. The sharp cold of a decent winter day hones the mind, but the promise of spring invites imagination, and a surfeit of imagination is not always, even for a poet (especially for a failed poet) a happy thing. If the feet, too, wander, as mine did, not stopping at my office after teaching this afternoon but continuing on northward to the town’s end and beyond, they may kick an unmoored stone into some dark pool of memory better left still but which the undisciplined mind is only too glad to stir. Had only my mind wandered I would have passed a useless but not unpleasant afternoon staring out the window of my office. Only the feet would have led me onward past the tree, which I had countless times passed on similar walks, but whose bare bones silhouetted in winter’s sinking light now became in a careless moment the old oak on my grandfather’s farm: not the stately companion in the yard that welcomed guests and shielded the parlor from the midday sun but the gnarled ancient by the pond in whose shade the cows lounged and my own assigned work languished. There, too, my feet and my mind once wandered. Read on