Robert M. Chute returns with the republication of his book filled with poetry centered on Henry David Thoreau, Woodshed on the Moon. He has read Thoreau’s work throughout his life, then wrote his first response poem to Thoreau’s first journal entry. The book itself is filled with his musings in relation to Thoreau, hence the dedication to the philosopher. Its introduction reveals the meaning of the title, in that it stems directly from a quote of Thoreau, in which he says, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.” Thus, the title, Woodshed on the Moon.
With a gentle voice, Chute talks about simple goings-on among philosophical pieces, as with the poems In the Maine Woods and Sugaring Off. Other poems have both real-world wanderings and philosophical wonderings, direct addresses to Thoreau, musings alongside his spirit, and so much more. Each poem is beautifully crafted, sparking a little bit of the feeling Chute must have felt as he was writing and refining them. Each one elevates Thoreau with reverence.
My years have seen the overgrowth
of stony pasture and the brush-bordered
trout-tumble of Clark’s Brook. We accept
casual acceptance of grass, goldenrod,
thistle, gray birch and pine. But suddenly
surveyor’s flags appear. Scarlet bunting
marks pinned corners and blazed line.
chainsaw, tractor, builder, and the people
follow: crabs creeping from borrowed
shell to borrowed shell. Long ago
in Concord Thoreau knew, in dreams
saw the Devil hold the rod. Henry sighted,
signaled, and a line was drawn.
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