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June 3, 2011

Poetry Friday--"The Sand Altar"

Have you seen the movie with Kathleen Turner and Nicholas Cage, Peggy Sue Got Married? I happen to like it despite the horrible acting job by Mr. Cage (he's one actor who's overrated).

Peggy Sue, delightfully played by Turner, attends her high school reunion. An uncomfortable encounter causes her to faint and triggers a journey back to her high school self. It's a funny and poignant film, and has some great lines. One of which is spoken in Peggy Sue's math class. "I happen to know that in the future I will not have the slightest use for algebra, and I speak from experience."

Math always get a bad rap! And so, I have made this tenuous link to Poetry Friday!
The Sand Altar
by Amy Lowell

With a red grain and a blue grain, placed in precisely
    the proper positions, I made a beautiful god, with
    plumes of yard-long feathers and a swivel eye.

And with a red grain and a blue grain, placed in pre-
    cisely the proper positions, I made a dragon, with
    scaly wings and a curling, iniquitous tail.

Then I reflected:
    If, with the same materials, I can make both god and
    dragon, of what use is the higher mathematics?

Having said this, I went outdoors and stood under a tree
    and listened to the frogs singing their evening songs
    in the green darkness.

from Amy Lowell: Selected Poems, edited by Honor Moore [The Library of America, 2004]
I wonder if Amy Lowell would have liked Peggy Sue Got Married? I think Peggy Sue would have liked Amy Lowell.

Toby Speed is hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up at The Writer's Armchair.


  1. PSGM is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the connections you made today, Diane!

  2. Hi, Diane. This is a new poem for me. Thanks for sharing it. It reminds me of Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer."

  3. Thanks, Laura, for pointing out the similarity to Whitman's poem.