I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental healthif somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to havebreakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginarycompanion.Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge,as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime,and unsual willingness to disintigrate, oatmeal shouldnot be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eatit with an imaginary companion, and that he himself hadenjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and JohnMilton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not aswholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn somethingfrom it.
Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the"Ode to a Nightingale."
He had a heck of a time finishing it those were his words "Oi 'ada 'eck of a toime," he said, more or less, speaking throughhis porridge.
He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in hispocket,but when he got home he couldn't figure out the order of the stanzas,and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and theymade some sense of them, but he isn't sure to this day ifthey got it right.An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacketthrough a hole in his pocket.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas,and the way here and there a line will go into theconfiguration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself upand peer about, and then lay itself down slightly off the mark,causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard aboutthe scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling somestanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.
I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmealalone.
When breakfast was over, John recited "To Autumn."
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the wordslovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn't offer the story of writing "To Autumn," I doubt if thereis much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field go thim startedon it, and two of the lines, "For Summer has o'er-brimmed theirclammy cells" and "Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours,"came to him while eating oatmeal alone.I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmeringfurrows, muttering.
Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion's tatters.
For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch.
I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneaouslygummy and crumbly, and therefore I'm going to invite Patrick Kavanaghto join me.
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