Now that they weren’t moving with the car the world seemed to slow down. The sky grew wider. A fragrant breeze soughed across the grass, and the ground as far as eye could see blazed with wildflowers. Mallow, dogbane, sensitive briar, coneflower, fringed salt cedar like pink bursts of feathered gauze—on and on they rolled to the horizon where yet more blooming hills billowed like waves. Wild rose, thistle, larkspur, rue, bluets and lupine, wild violet, deep purple locoweed and buckeye, tumble mustard, sumac, indigo. Here on the prairie in May was the heaven of flowers, blooming for no one at all… .

She and her daughters walked the pasture, marveling at the flowers. The world over, their poor dowdy state earned ridicule from those whose eyes had not been taught where—or how—to look, for the vastness of the land and the speed with which most people crossed it served as a veil. Prairie-born, Freddie and her daughters knew they had to stop, turn off the car, walk out a ways, and wait. They knew that if still they failed to feel the beating of the great slow heart of earth beneath their feet, the fault was theirs.

Janet Peery, “Ideal Marriage,” Image no. 81.

The “poor dowdy state” is Kansas, naturally. 

If only being “prairie-born” meant you knew how to see your own state. Alas, too many of my fellow Midwesterners despise the land as they were taught to do.

(via giftsoutright)


“Nowhere, not even at sea, does a man feel more lonely than when riding over the far-reaching, seemingly never-ending plains; and after a man has lived a little while on or near them, their very vastness and loneliness and their melancholy monotony have a strong fascination for him”

Theodore “T.R.” Roosevelt

Towards the end he sailed into an extraordinary mildness,
And anchored in his home and reached his wife
And rode within the harbour of her hand,
And went across each morning to an office
As though his occupation were another island.

Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge
His terror had to blow itself quite out
To let him see; but it was the gale had blown him
Past the Cape Horn of sensible success
Which cries: ‘This rock is Eden. Shipwreck here.’
But deafened him with thunder and confused with lightning:
—The maniac hero hunting like a jewel
The rare ambiguous monster that had maimed his sex,
The unexplained survivor breaking off the nightmare—
All that was intricate and false; the truth was simple.

Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bed and eats at our own table,
And we are introduced to Goodness every day.
Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;
he has a name like Billy and is almost perfect
But wears a stammer like a decoration:
And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;
It is the Evil that is helpless like a lover
And has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,
And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.

For now he was awake and knew
No one is ever spared except in dreams;
But there was something else the nightmare had distorted—
Even the punishment was human and a form of love:
The howling storm had been his father’s presence
And all the time he had been carried on his father’s breast.

Who now had set him gently down and left him.
He stood upon the narrow balcony and listened:
And all the stars above him sang as in his childhood
‘All, all is vanity,’ but it was not the same;
For now the words descended like the calm of mountains—
—Nathaniel had been shy because his love was selfish—
But now he cried in exultation and surrender
‘The Godhead is broken like bread. We are the pieces.’
And sat down at his desk and wrote a story.

W.H. Auden, “Herman Melville”

(via invisibleforeigner)


“There is something magical about youth and ‘Bobby Jean’ sings like a dirge reminding you that the kid you once saw in the mirror is gone, and he is not. It’s not closure that Springsteen’s plain words give you, but they seem to be pointing to an open ended grief – in some regard, life is loss. If you can mourn that loss then you can also wake up tomorrow a brand new creature.

You can choose to listen to Springsteen’s songs on several different levels, but actually singing them forces you to get below the surface. ‘Bobby Jean’ is written in about as plain language as you can get, but there is profound loss lying below those simple words.

The more I sang ‘Bobby Jean’ the more I realized regret and the energy that is born out wanting a thing, or missing who you were. ‘Bobby Jean’ helps you realize the difference in who you thought you’d be and who you are – how you see the world and how it really is.

Springsteen writes with such plain language that you may not initially realize what songs like ‘Bobby Jean’ are accomplishing down in your heart. One minute you’re singing about a girl, the next your whole life is laid on the table to be examined. These songs help you feel like you have a place in your own life. This is your world too, sometimes you just need Bruce to remind you.” – Ryan Culwell

Listen to the expanded version of his understanding of the song:

Various Artists – Ryan Cutwell – Bobby Jean Commentary