Thursday, July 31, 2008

Among the Mainers



It was important for me to get out of town this past weekend. In years past, that strategic exit from the city signaled the end of my availability to answer the kind of questions with which my office can be deluged at this time of year. I took advantage of a friend’s offer to play tour guide, and I settled for a few days in the Portland area.

As part of my Maine venture I reached Winslow Homer’s studio in nearby Prouts Neck. I visited the Portland Museum of Art another day and caught a great exhibit on the role of photography in the career of Georgia O’Keeffe. I sat with my morning coffee on benches lining the docks of the Old Port section of the city. I learned about the influence of Portland architect John Calvin Stevens as a tour bus carried me past houses he had designed in the Shingle Style and others he had designed in Colonial Revival.

I drank homemade lemonade, walked along rocky coasts, smelled the unmistakable aromas of Scarborough Marsh, and watched tanks of blue lobsters bubbling out their final hours in dockside shacks.

A surprise of the three days was a chance to visit the Portland Head Light one morning. I walked a little ways from the lighthouse and the museum next to it, pulled out my phone and captured my own image of a kind of structure that has stirred my imagination for as long as I’ve lived in New England.

I read a plaque near the lighthouse commemorating Longfellow's passion for this dramatic corner of his Maine home. Words from his poem "The Lighthouse" line the monument:

Sail on! sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man.

5 comments:

Bear Me Out said...

Sounds like a wonderful and refreshing trip! Hope it will invigorate you for days ahead. Blessings and Cheers.

Ur-spo said...

I love lighthouses; this one is one of my favorites.
When I die I hope my ashes are spread out onto the beach in front of the Pointe Betsie Light in Michigan.

Donald said...

The solid satisfaction from the Maine jaunt has eased me into vacation mode. Nice to be both relaxed and inspired by all I got to enjoy there. Thank-you notes are in order!

And thanks for your good wishes as well...

MperiodPress said...

Sail on! sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse.
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man.

So lovely, so lovely. People may say what they will about the perception of stilted language and the structure of feet and strict rhyme in poets of this era...but it soothes this poet's heart, I tell you. And how to easy to imagine it cryiing out from the rocks as a passionate testament to life, nature, beauty.

Donald said...

Longfellow strangely stands the test of the years. It is easier to understand at this age what might have been the true passion that wanted to bring together these words in these lines before this experience of life.