1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Land o' Goshen!: Finding Hidden Explosions and 'Sunlight on the Garden' in Southern Illinois ('Egypt')

A "pebble pup" pores over a pile of mostly purple fluorite for sale that was extracted from a mine in Hardin County

Weekend before last, we traveled with a group of ardent rock hounds, members of the Southern Illinois Earth Science Club, to Hardin County. We were on a quest to find ancient, cryptoexplosive breccia and associated treasure, hiding for untold centuries under Hicks Dome and elsewhere nearby, that miners would eventually discover: Fluorite...

and chunks of iron. We raked and picked through a section of the leaf-littered forest for the tailings of a long-abandoned iron mine. An old iron furnace nearby that dates back to Civil War days helped to fire up my imagination and make me wax poetic in this land called Egypt...

The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.


The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying!...

(from the poem by Louis MacNeice, c.1937, 1938)

I found Mr. MacNeice's poem in my Norton Anthology of English Literature and was struck by the editors' comment that "in love with life's irreducible multiplicity, he [MacNeice] strives to embrace life's flux, despite an underlying sense of sadness and, sometimes, tragedy: 'All our games are funeral games.' " The editors note that he traveled to the United States at the beginning of World War II. I can't help but wonder if he ventured into Southern Illinois during his travels? The words of his poem certainly have an eerie sense of belonging here. 

The book club at our local library is at present reading Murder in Little Egypt by Darcy O'Brien. It's a true story of filicide, but I consider that it's also a story of community culpability. Mr. O'Brien's in-depth study of the history of this place called Egypt at the beginning of the book supplies the reader with building blocks for constructing a pyramid of plausibility: Tyrants/terrorists are, essentially, enabled by their communities. "When all is told, we cannot beg for pardon."

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