Projects Pink

Edmund Hardy

Astronaut Jeff Williams of the International Space Station 13 crew noticed this ash plume emanating from the Cleveland volcano, part of the Alaskan Aleutian islands. The eruption lasted for two hours. Does NASA supply a complete Emily Dickinson in orbit? Poem 1705 runs:

Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America
I judge from my Geography -
Volcanoes nearer here
A Lava step at any time
Am I inclined to Climb -
A Crater I may contemplate
Vesuvius at Home.
Here the volcano travels from the pages of an atlas, from the striking photograph of an astronaut, and it arrives "at Home" as the poet climbs a staircase of Lava, always possible. We may feign a cheerful cry, Let the basalt fall where it may!, but there is also this vicarious toppling point located in domestic life: a tip into the molten, "A Crater I may contemplate". A volcanic violence is again taken up at the opening of poem 1748:

The reticent volcano keeps
His never slumbering plan -
Confided are his projects pink
To no precarious man.
The volcano, secretive and wakeful, is apparently teasing "precarious man" with the possibilities of "projects pink", not a term taken up by geologists, who prefer to discuss varities of pyroclastic deposit. So if a friend should indeed announce they are off to see Vesuvius or similar, whether at home or in situ, the appropriate response must be, "Buon divertimento, allora, e state attenti a non cadere nel cratere!" ("Have a good time, then, but don't fall in the crater!")

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