Long-returning friends & those here for the first time will surely be grateful for what Virginia Bodner left behind–memories; influence; gifts for eye, ear, heart & mind; and, shared here for the first time, writings just being discovered. Beyond her unassuming beauty of eye & ear, more was often going on–reflecting in tranquility, connecting heart & word, exploring the medium of expression….
She had grown up at home both in & out of her body–diving from the heights or flying off with a crow; dancing in leotards & disappearing into the music; at one with nature, in tune with her own feelings, & equally engaged in the lives of the mind, interested in the nature of the world. Her lovely, quiet voice had been partly tuned by piano, dulcimer & autoharp; more so by the elemental sounds of the encountered world; and more so still by her own heart-felt attention to the delicate life experienced.
Her quality of relation was a main source of her impact, influence & effects. Her artistic & poetic makings are of the same cloth–shared adventures, reflections, ways of tuning, feeling, asking. In the words of the old Hebrew thanksgiving song, Dayenu, “it would have been enough” to give thanks for the insight, good will & pleasure of the person.
Yet there is more to be found–& to be grateful for–in her artistic example, both practice & product, the by-product of craft, her caring attention to details. Her poetry practice (& products) were mostly in solitude–not hidden, but made & tucked away in quiet moments apart, often a form of meditation, fine-tuning not just awareness, but mood & sense of being.
Something else again comes out through the poetry, however. For one thing, she had all the tools of language, insight, and feeling required for that unlimited art. Though she studied natural sciences & teaching, she’d loved & practiced ‘language arts’ from an early age, including the oral–playing Anne Frank in high school; reciting poetry (Homer to e. e. cummings) in Cambridge, where she also discovered Tagore & Basho, along with a life partner similarly inspired, leading both to India & Japan after.
She went on discovering countless poets, poems, song-offerings & blessings since, world-wide & local alike, whether from the masters, professionals, neighbors, friends or students. Although grateful for what Yeats called “monuments of…magnificence,” she never believed the arts were meant mainly for masters & admired contemporaries alone (the 1%), but values meant for all ages & levels of sophistication.
Nor was sophistication or even knowledge key to what the arts offered, providing value-added experience as part of being human. In this, her relationship was essentially the same as with the natural world. First came a quality of attention, experience & relationship, a respect out of which interest in learning grows. Neither nature nor the arts were subjects that began or ended on or off school grounds.
She brought nature into school, while also the opposite, taking the classroom outside, restoring a little wetlands as an outdoor classroom. What had been a field of rubble & mud became a place for contemplating nature, as well as for exploring inner experience, where the arts expanded the range of response. More of that story is told on the Our Little Wetlands page. The point here is that neither nature study nor the arts were ever primarily academic to her, but active engagements in the daily life.
As a student at Radcliffe, she broke school rules to rehabilitate an injured bird (Iris) in her dorm room. Nor was this her only wild friend. When she’d left for college, she said goodbye to a rescued crow (Crocus), who’d been flying free for some time, but greeting her each morning. After an absence of about four years, Crocus showed up in the yard for her wedding.
If you knew her well, you recognize the spirit of the person. If you’ve never met her before, some such remains possible through the work left behind–especially the poetry–whether written as meditation, to/for specific readers, photo-album or to test/expand poetry’s potential.
Newcomers may want to check the earliest post below (“Hello, Friends”) for orientation to the site, a work in progress. Those especially interested in her writing will find the most examples so far on the Pen-Play page, but some also in Friends (two poems at the top) & the Poetic Discovery post below (two to take breath away), as well as a prose article in Our Little Wetlands .
~~~~ the pot is fired
~~~~~~with wood & dung
~~~~naked we enter the flames
~~~~in smoke & whispers