A Shared Plane

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 10 2012 @ 8:00am


Jerry DeNuccio contemplates his encounters with deer, finding the creatures "at once ethereal and material, an annunciation of grace and power and beauty":

In Robert Frost’s poem, "Two Looking at Two," "love and forgetting" almost cause a couple to hike too far up a mountain trail to return in daylight. They stop by a tumbled stone wall "with barbed-wire binding," and on the other side see first a doe, then a buck enter the field from the surrounding spruce. The two couples, deer and human, each "in their own field," stare at each other across the wall until, with "a spell-breaking," the deer "pass unscared along the wall” and out of sight into the spruce. "Two had seen two," Frost says, and the couple felt "A great wave from it going over them,/ As if the earth in one unlooked-for favor/ Had made them certain earth returned their love."

The human and natural realms are separate, different orders of created being, Frost seems to suggest with the barbed wire-woven wall, but the wall is "tumbled."

Though different, the two realms can reflect something of each other in each other at some deep level of homology, and in Frost’s poem that shared plane appears to be love, at least as the human couple experiences it, and, who knows, really, the deer couple as well, or at least some version of a feeling our language labels "love." Two looked at two; the looking connecting them, if only for a moment, through some shared essential; and the human couple finding that nature itself, embodied in the paired deer, honors their love by reinforcing its felt experience.

(Photo: A picture taken on September 12, 2012 shows a herd of deer in a forest in Rambouillet, near Paris. Autumn marks the start of the 'rutting' season when the large red deer stags can be heard roaring and barking in an attempt to attract females. By Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)