March 24, 2005 - A Poem For Ed
There is a poem on a plaque, on a boulder, by the side of a private Mission Oaks Lane, off of Foothill, next to the Mission Canyon fire station. The poem goes like this:
I DWELL APART AMONG THE HILLS, AND
MANY COME TO SEE
AND MANY CURIOUSLY ASK WHAT
PLEASURE THIS MAY BE.
I SMILE BUT ANSWER NOT, FOR THEY
ARE BLIND WHO ONLY SEE
THE SYCAMORES, WILD FLOWERS
AND THE RIVER FLOWING FREE.
DO SKY AND EARTH ENFOLD THE
WORLD? FOR THEM - BUT
NOT FOR ME!
Under the poem, it says AD 1909. Now AD could be the initials of the author, but a more logical assumption is that it is simply a qualifier of the date (as opposed to BC).
You can get to the plaque by walking down the road, or by taking a hike on the short trail that starts at the back of Rocky Nook Park. With all the rain, everything is green and the creek is full.
Ed got a B+ in Poetry 101 way back in his college years. With this strong academic background, he felt uniquely qualified to provide literary analysis of the verse. First of all, Ed was quick to point out that every other line rhymed … see/be/see/free/me. You see? Then Ed told us that he could relate. Just as the author sees more than just trees, rivers, and flowers, Ed sees more than just palm trees, hitching posts, and women’s shoes.
Yesterday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com set out to discover who wrote this poem, why it was posted on a boulder, and if anyone in town knew about it.
The first thing we did was to consult the Internet. The dedicated staff, for whom Google and Yahoo enfold their world, tried searching for “dwell apart”, “Santa Barbara poet 1909”, “Mission Oaks Lane” and a bunch of other things, but this poem could not be found.
We found some poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, and Sam Walter Foss that used the phrase “dwell apart”, but not this one.
The next thing we did was try to find someone on Mission Oaks Lane who could tells us the story of the poem. We were fortunate enough to find a resident who was collecting his mail from a mailbox that was smack dab in front of the boulder poem. We asked him if he knew any thing about the poem. He told us that even though he had lived in the neighborhood for “a long time”, he knew nothing. He did tell us a rumor that once a bicyclist had smashed into the boulder and died. It was unclear, however, if he thought that the rumored bike incident had anything to with the poem.
So, we struck out. No one knows who wrote the poem, and no one knows who put it on a plaque and screwed the plaque into the boulder. But maybe it’s better that way. Maybe, like the poem says, it’s blindness to only focus on ‘the who’, ‘the what’ and ‘the why’. Maybe the poem on the plaque, on the boulder, in the forest, means a lot more just by itself.
As for the question of ‘does anyone in town know about it?’ the answer is yes, but not too many. S. B. Ron was the only Edhat subscriber to correctly identify the location as Rocky Nook. He wins an Axxess Book. Hey, that rhymes!
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