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
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
You don’t have to act crazy anymore
We all know you were good at that.
Now retire, my dear,
From all that hard work you do
Of bringing pain to your sweet eyes and heart.
Look in a clear mountain mirror –
See the Beautiful Ancient Warrior
And the Divine elements
You always carry inside
That infused this Universe with sacred Life
So long ago
And join you Eternally
With all Existence – with God!
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.
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:
Painting: Monk by the Sea by David Friedrich
“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.