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Notes on “Up at the Basin”

Notes on “Up at the Basin”

(p.60) 7 Notes on “Up at the Basin”
David J. Rothman
University of Chicago Press

“Up at the Basin” combines an original poem with an accompanying essay. The poem springs from the author’s memory of being a young ski racer in the 1970s, and the joy of that experience at a very small ski area called Snow Basin, which went out of business long ago. It is a celebration of both vitality and mortality, all in relation to the natural world as the author encountered it in the wooded hills of the Massachusetts Berkshires. The essay discusses the author’s poem and experiences in the context of the poet Robinson Jeffers’s injunction in “The Answer” to love man but only in the context of man’s tiny—and often “atrociously ugly”—part in the vast panoply of the natural world: “Love that, not man/Apart from that.” The essay closes with a series of questions about how and why the poet’s experience of ski racing as a boy led him into a more intense and thoughtful relationship with the natural world. By extension, it asks, in Jeffers’s spirit, how experience and memory can forge the consciousness of “a greater wildness of which we are always already part.”

Keywords:   Alpine, ski racing, slalom skiing, Robinson Jeffers, integrity, beauty, wildness, poetry

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