October 01st, 2014

All Life is Being Lived

rilke

And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances
or streets, as they wind through time?

–Rainer Maria Rilke
 

Painting: Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Untitled, 1963.


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August 24th, 2014

One More, the Round by Theodore Roethke

morris_bird_moonlight

What’s greater, Pebble or Pond?
What can be known? The Unknown.
My true self runs toward a Hill
More! O More! visible.

Now I adore my life
With the Bird, the abiding Leaf,
With the Fish, the questing Snail,
And the Eye altering All;
And I dance with William Blake
For love, for Love’s sake;

And everything comes to One,
As we dance on, dance on, dance on.


— Theodore Roethke

 

Opening painting: Bird Singing in Moonlight, 1938, by Morris Graves


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June 16th, 2014

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins

monk_sea

Like Walt Whitman, Hopkins makes a fascinating play of language — where his word picks stack and accrue into an incantational pressure. A genius gesture, because after a spell you aren’t quite sure what you’re reading and translating, but you don’t care. It just feels good.

And so you read his poem again (and again).

And then, in the end, the lid of your head comes off and all the grandeur and the beauty and the space and the mystery comes tumbling in.

Try it!
 

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

 

Painting: Monk by the Sea by David Friedrich



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January 08th, 2014

Why Write And Read Poetry?

frosted

“No poet ever wrote a poem to dishonor life, to compromise high ideals, to scorn religious views, to demean hope or gratitude, to argue against tenderness, to place rancor before love, or to praise littleness of soul. Not one. Not ever.

“On the contrary, poets have, in freedom and in prison, in health and in misery, with listeners and without listeners, spent their lives examining and glorifying life, meditation, thoughtfulness, devoutness, and human love. They have done this wildly, serenely, rhetorically, lyrically, without hope of answer or reward. They have done this grudgingly, willingly, patiently, and in the steams of impatience.

“They have done it for all and any of the gods of life, and their record of so doing belongs to each one of us.

Including you.”

–Mary Oliver
 

Photograph Frosted by Stephan Amm


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December 26th, 2013

Oceans: Juan Ramón Jiménez

I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.
And nothing
happens! Nothing … Silence …Waves…

— Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and we are standing now, quietly, in the new life?

–Juan Ramón Jiménez
 

Photograph by Leonid Tishkov


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