"The Copper Beech"

American Life in Poetry: Column 066

By Ted Kooser,
U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006

Some of the most telling poetry being written in our country today has to do with the smallest and briefest of pleasures. Here Marie Howe of New York captures a magical moment: sitting in the shelter of a leafy tree with the rain falling all around.

The Copper Beech

Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard like a dress,

with limbs low enough for me to enter it
and climb the crooked ladder to where

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone.
One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell
darkening the sidewalk.

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches,
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy,

watching it happen without it happening to me.

Reprinted from “What the Living Do,” W. W. Norton & Co., 1997. Copyright (c) 1997 by Marie Howe. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Quick quiz

I tried some new code over in the sidebar to try to tidy things up around here, and it keeps looking glitchy in Safari. Does it look right on your end? I’ve tested it with Netscape, too, and it seems to be OK. In Safari, the same content keeps popping up in all three scrollable windows.

Your input would be most appreciated.

Wiki Wednesday: Monckton!

1. Go to Wikipedia.
2. Click on “Random article” in the left-hand sidebar box.
3. Post it!

Gilbert Monckton, 2nd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

Major-General Gilbert Walter Riversdale Monckton, 2nd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley CB, OBE, MC (3 November 191522 June 2006) was the only son of Walter Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and Mary Adelaide Somes Colyer-Ferguson. He served in the British Army from 1939 to 1967.

Monckton was educated at Harrow School then Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1939. He immediately joined the Army, being commissioned into the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, which was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He commanded a troop on the River Dyle in Belgium, facing the advance of the German blitzkreig, and he received an MC for his actions in the retreat to the River Dendre. He was evacuated from Dunkirk with his regiment in 1940, and attended the Staff College, Camberley, to become a Brigade Major from 1942 to 1943. He then joined the 3rd King’s Own Hussars in Palestine in 1944, moving with it to Italy in 1944, before rejoining his own regiment in Germany.

After commanding a squadron in the Korean War from 1951 to 1952, he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and served in the War Office, being appointed OBE in 1956. He then commanded the 12th Royal Lancers in Germany for two years, before being promoted brigadier in 1961 and taking a staff posting to the War Office as deputy-director of personnel administration. He was promoted Major General in 1963, and became Army director of public relations, dealing with press scrutiny into the behaviour of soldiers in Germany in the aftermath of unhelpful comments from the SSecretary of State for War, John Profumo. He became Chief of Staff at the Headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine in 1965. He was appointed a Commander of the Belgian Order of the Crown in 1965 (Leopold III of Belgium was Colonel of his regiment), and CB in 1966. He left the Army in 1967, but was Colonel of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers from 1967 to 1973.

In retirement, he farmed in Kent and regularly attending the House of Lords, having succeeded to the Viscountcy in 1965. He was High Sherriff of Kent in 1981 to 1982. He persued an active interest in heraldry, being President of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies for 35 years, from 1965 to 2000. He became a Grand Officer of the Belgian Order of Leopold II in 1978.

He converted to Roman Catholicism at Cambridge, and was later a Knight of St John. He was bailiff of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and was awarded the Grand Cross of Obedience.

Lord Monkton married Marianna Laetitia Bower, the daughter of Commander Robert Tatton Bower RN on 30 December 1950. They had 5 children together:

A little something started by Verbatim.