The Bell

Plantation bell ~ Uncle Henry’s Place, Moon Lake, Mississippi


Precisely when the bell arrived at Uncle Henry’s is hard to say. It may have been installed in 1926, during the property’s first incarnation as an Elks Lodge. It may have arrived later, after the property sold and became the Moon Lake Club.

There certainly is a chance both Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner saw the bell during their visits to Moon Lake. Both authors featured the colorful and storied club in their work — particularly Williams, who grew up in the area and visited the casino as a child — and both would have appreciated these lines by Pablo Neruda, resonant as the songs of the hidden and mysterious Delta.


This broken bell
still wants to sing:
the metal now is green,
the color of woods, this bell,
color of water in stone pools in the forest,
color of day in the leaves.
The bronze cracked and green,
the bell with its mouth open to the ground
and sleeping
was entangled in bindweed,
and the hard golden color of the bronze
turned the color of a frog:
it was the hands of water,
the dampness of the coast,
dealt green to the metal
and tenderness to the bell.
This broken bell
miserable in the rude thicket
of my wild garden,
green bell, wounded,
its scars immersed in the grass:
it calls to no one anymore, no one gathers
around its green goblet
except one butterfly that flutters
over the fallen metal and flies off, escaping
on yellow wings.

Esta campana rota
quiere sin embargo cantar:
el metal ahora es verde,
color de selva tiene la campana,
color de agua de estanques en el bosque,
color del día en las hojas.
El bronce roto y verde,
la campana de bruces
y dormida
fue enredada por las enredaderas,
y del color oro duro del bronce
pasó a color de rana:
fueron las manos del agua,
la humedad de la costa,
que dio verdura al metal,
ternura a la campana.
Esta campana rota
arrastrada en el brusco matorral
de mi jardín salvaje,
campana verde, herida,
hunde sus cicatrices en la hierba:
no llama a nadie más, no se congrega
junto a su copa verde
más que una mariposa que palpita
sobre el metal caído y vuela huyendo
con alas amarillas.


Comments always are welcome.
The poem is taken from The Sea and the Bell, written during Neruda’s last year of life and translated by William O’Daly.
For more history of the Moon Lake Casino and an account of my visit there, see my current post at The Task at Hand, titled “Moon Lake Legacies.”

The Last Sunset


Strictly speaking, this is far from the world’s last sunset; in truth, it’s not even the last sunset I’ll see from my beloved third story perch above the water. But it is the last sunset I’ll photograph from this perch. In little more than a week I will have made the move from my unobstructed view of sky and water to a ground-level view of cypress trees, pedestrian hedges, and very little sky.

Friends know I’ve been pondering this move for some time. Only the sky, the water, and the night birds have prevented a move to a smaller, more economical apartment without the stairs that could become a liability in future years. Finally, overcome by a fit of rationality, I made the decision. Today, stacks of book-filled boxes and empty walls attest to an undeniable reality: another chapter is closing.

In time, I’ll search out other sunsets, and discover unexpected treasures in a new setting. But now it’s time to move on, and the words of the poet Horace seem fitting:

No one’s allowed to know his fate,
Not you, not me: don’t ask, don’t hunt for answers
In tea leaves or palms. Be patient with whatever comes.
This could be our last winter, it could be many
More, pounding the Tuscan Sea on these rocks:
Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.


Comments always are welcome.
The lines of “Ode I. 11”  are taken from The Essential Horace: Odes, Epodes, Satires and Epistles, edited and translated from the Latin by Burton Raffel. © Northpoint Press, 1983.

Nature’s Sanctuary


Leaves of cedar elm and Chinese tallow, combined with the bright red berries of yaupon, glow in the late, low afternoon sunlight, their panoply of color providing the backdrop for a young tree branch — perhaps American beech.

The effect is as pleasing as any stained glass window: a perfect complement to nature’s sanctuary.


Comments always are welcome.