Saturday

Aug. 10, 2013

In the Community Garden

by Mark Doty

The text for this poem is no longer available.

"In the Community Garden" by Mark Doty, from Fire to Fire. © Harper Collins, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this date in 1519 that the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set off to sail around the world. Although he was Portuguese, Magellan had sworn allegiance to Spain, and he began the journey with a fleet of five ships and 270 men to see if he could accomplish what Columbus had failed to: find a navigable route to Asia that didn't involve going around Africa. They set sail from Seville, heading west. After crossing the Atlantic, surviving a mutiny, and losing one ship, Magellan reached Brazil and turned south, following the coast until he came to a deep-water strait that separated the rest of South America from Tierra del Fuego. Magellan entered the strait on All Saints' Day in 1520, so he christened it the Strait of All Saints. Later, the Spanish king changed its name to the Strait of Magellan. After sailing 373 miles in the strait, Magellan became the first European to enter the Pacific Ocean from the east, and he's the one who named it "Pacific," because it was much calmer than the Atlantic.

Unfortunately for Magellan, he never completed the voyage himself. The fleet stopped off in what are now the Philippine Islands, where Magellan befriended a local chief and offered to help him in his war with the natives on a neighboring island. Magellan was killed in battle in April 1521, and the remaining fleet continued on without him. They arrived back in Seville — down to one ship and 18 men — on September 8, 1522.

It's the birthday of poet Mark Doty (books by this author), born in Maryville, Tennessee (1953). He said: "I was bored very early on by what seemed to me the plain nature of the clothes and toys and roles handed out to little boys. I saw no future for myself there. The sort of stuff my sister kept in her special drawer of souvenirs was redolent of something else — exuberance, playfulness, permission. [...] My love of that shiny stuff in the drawer was, I think, a kind of early outbreak of longing — a wish for life to be something more. That took other forms later on, of course, or I'd simply have become a drag queen rather than a poet!"

Doty did become a poet, and he has written many award-winning books of poetry, including My Alexandria (1993), Atlantis (1995), and Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (2008).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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