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  From the Editor
   UNDER MONADNOCK

      A recent headline in the Groton (Massachusetts Herald reads: “Trails Used by Emerson Bring Scouts to Monadnock Summit.”   Let’s hope the Scouts follow Emerson in spirit as well as in fact—they read the essays and the poems for their own enrichment.
    Every now and then, you hear about an old person who dies in squalor and turns out to have a couple of million in cash stuffed under a mattress or hidden under their socks in a cardboard box.  People are amazed that anybody could live like that, yet we acclimate ourselves to a garbage popular culture with hardly a second thought.  If young people aren’t connecting with their great heritage of New England culture, do we adults just continue to shrug that off?
    This past November, three guys who grew up in Connecticut stood together on a patio in Marlborough, New Hampshire.  There was John Boldt, Richard Springer and myself, and we were at an age where we’d just as soon spend some time looking up at Mount Monadnock as climb it.  None of us were academics, but we were interested in literature, a popular enthusiasm in the Fairfield County of the early ‘60s. Each of us had read quotes from Emerson’s poem “Monadnoc,” but none of us had come across the entire poem. Why wasn’t it in the anthologies?

Mt. Monadnock

    As it turns out, the poem is twenty pages long and is an embarrassment to the popular notion of Emerson as a serene sage.  Alone on the mountain, perched on a rock that’s now called Emerson’s Seat, the poet is swept up in a ferocious inner struggle. Has his aesthetic sensibility separated him irrevocably from ordinary people? He works it out, but, starting out, it is anything but serene and strikes the inner ear more like an Eric Clapton guitar solo than something by Wordsworth  or even Whitman.  Towards the end of the poem, the mountain speaks:
                              Already my rocks lie light                                                                                                                
                              And soon my cone will spin.
  For Emerson, everything is flow; Mount Monadnock, too, will dissolve and disappear in time. Young people, given the chance to read “Monadnoc,” would find it as intense as anything they’ve been downloading to their iPads.

                                                                                                                                   Max H. Peters

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