Yesterday the Washington Post published a little reflection by Edward Hirsch on the connection between walking and poetry [hat tip]. He threads his own poetic footsteps with those of Baudelaire, Frost, Blake, and a host of others. The piece has an interesting resonance with a lecture Hirsch gave last year at Trinity University, in which he compares the act of reading to pulling a message from a bottle drifting in the sea. We can see him wandering along the beach, gathering the bottles tossed into the waves by poets on distant shores; and to stretch the metaphor further, uncorking a missive sent through the oceanic postal system of memory by the nascent poet in an 8-year-old Edward Hirsch.
Mostly, though, this discussion of long, poetic walks reminds me of Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch. The opening passage introduces lovers who wander the streets of Paris, dating by chance:
Would I find La Maga? Most of the time it was just a case of my putting in an appearance, going along the Rue de Seine to the arch leading into the Quai de Conti, and I would see her slender form against the olive-ashen light which floats along the river as she crossed back and forth on the Pont des Arts, or leaned over the iron rail looking at the water. It was quite natural for me to climb the steps to the bridge, go into its narrowness and over to where La Maga stood. She would smile and show no surprise, convinced as she was, the same as I, that casual meetings are apt to be just the opposite, and that people who make dates are the same kind who need lines on their writing paper, or who always squeeze up from the bottom on a tube of toothpaste.