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This article is taken from PN Review 244, Volume 45 Number 2, November - December 2018.

Space & Time in Modern Poetry

Exploring the Supernatural Lapse of Time in Fairyland and General Relativity Theory
Emily Grosholz
How modern poetry plays with space and time, and lives on the edges


I FEEL LUCKY that I live close to where I grew up, on the outskirts of Philadelphia. I still have quite a few cousins there, and friends from high school, and my youngest son just graduated from Haverford College, so I drive by my old house rather often. It is right next to a big Catholic Church, Our Lady of the Assumption, flanked by a rectory for the priests, a primary school and a garden-like cemetery which always seemed to me like a bit of Italy. The church bought our house (a decade or so after my father left it), and turned it into offices; the resident priest was very nice, so I could take my children in there, and show them my favourite places. One such place was the modest landing-stair where the front staircase turned a corner in the way down. I liked to plant myself there and observe. Perhaps I was inspired by the poem ‘Halfway Down’, by A.A. Milne, which I learned from a brightly coloured vinyl record; it was turned into a song which I can and do frequently sing out loud. If you go on YouTube, you can here that very song performed by Robin the Frog (Kermit’s nephew!) and also by Gene Kelly, looking debonair:

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
Other stair
Quite like
It.
 
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So ...


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