This planet, carpet thousands of years old,
shall flourish but it does not accept death nor repose:
each spring the sun's keys open
fertility's cyclical locks,
and cascading bunches of fruit resound,
the earth's splendor rises and falls to the mouth
and humankind is thankful for the goodness
.........of its kingdom.
Praised be the old land the color of excrement,
her cavities, her sacrosanct ovaries,
the storehouses of wisdom that contained
copper, oil, magnets, ironworks, purity.
The lightning bolt that seems to fall from hell
was hoarded by the ancient mother of roots
and each day bread came out to greet us,
unperturbed by the blood and death we humans wear,
the accursed progeny who deliver light unto the world.
-- from The Earth; Pablo Neruda (trans. Richard Shaaf)
A Poem- for April
The scene mainstays, it is
genesis while a jounce
in the scroll- new presence-
slight bird for the visage-
decants alight aqua blue
nimbus thin over the altar
ground, supposed auburn,
age oiled rounded slowness
in thick churn of old times
on sediment of decades,
where Jerusalem of Earth
precedes its own sacrifice;
drawn wheeled cart proven
by impossible weight as
implausible blooms, occur.
No defeat is made up entirely of defeat—since
the world it opens is always a place
..............a world unsuspected,
........................beckons to new places
and no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory
..............made up of despairs
........................and without accomplishment
realizes a new awakening:
........................which is a reversal
..............For what we cannot accomplish, what
is denied to love,
..............what we have lost in the anticipation—
........................a descent follows,
endless and indestructible......
--from ‘The Descent’; William Carlos Williams (1954)
When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions- such as merit, such as past, present, and future- our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.
-- Peter Matthiessen (1927 - 2014)
It is Born
--Pablo Neruda (trans. Alastair Reid)
Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.
I love the handful of the earth you are.
Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica
of the multiplying universe.
Your wide eyes are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through rain.
Your hips were that much of the moon for me;
your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;
your heart, fiery with its long red rays,
was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.
So I pass across your burning form, kissing
you - compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.
-- Pablo Neruda (trans by Stephen Tapscott)
From a Brian Eno interview/article at The Polymath Perspective:
I think that sex, drugs, art and religion very much overlap with one another and sometimes one becomes another. So I thought, ‘What do all those things have in common?’ The umbrella that they all exist under is this word, ‘surrender’ because they are all forms of transcendence through surrender. They are ways of transcending your individuality and sense of yourself as a totally separate creature in the world. All of those things involve some kind of loosening of this boundary that is around this thing you call ‘yourself’.
In Gospel music you do it by surrounding yourself in the inner community, so you are no longer you and become a part of ‘us’, and, of course, that’s what happens in sex, if you enjoy it!
This idea of surrender has become more and more what I’ve been thinking about for the last few years....I consider surrender an active verb, in the sense that you have this spectrum ranging from control to surrender, and the model of post-enlightenment man is that we’ve become better and better at control. If you think of our distant genetic past, most of our time was spent around the surrender end of the spectrum because there wasn’t much we could control. We were at the mercy of weather, creatures, geology, geography and everything else. We had to learn to surrender in a situation because when you are powerless, your option is to go with the flow and learn how to navigate it. That’s what I call active surrender.
[via slow muse]
Courtyard wall of brick
And sun submerged in beer, and streaming in glasses,
The weave of a sleeve, the careful and undulant tile. A quick
Change of the eye and all this calmly passes
Into a day, into magic.
Is there any end to true textures, to true
Integuments; do they ever desist from tacit, tragic
Fading away? Oh maculate, cracked, askew,
Gay-pocked and potsherd world
I voyage, where in every tangible tree
I see afloat among the leaves, all calm and curled,
The Cheshire smile which sets me fearfully free.
--from "Objects"; Richard Wilbur
From a 1977 interview with Richard Wilbur, as found at the Paris Review:
You have said, “I do think that there is nothing more dangerous to the imagination than fantasy.” Many people would equate the two things. Could you elaborate on that?
To me, the imagination is a faculty that fuses things, takes hold of the physical and ideal worlds and makes them one, provisionally. Fantasy, in my mind, is a poetic or artistic activity that leaves something out—it ignores the concrete and the actual in order to create a purely abstract, unreal realm. If we think of fantasy at its least dignified, non-artistic level, this becomes obvious. Sexual reverie very clearly leaves something out, and that something is the physical object of one's desire.
Still as Stone.....
By the wren bone.....
Wall hearing the moan.....
Of the mother hidden.....
And the shadowed head of pain.....
Casting tomorrow like a thorn.....
And the midwives of miracle sing.....
Until the turbulent new born.....
Burns me his name and his flame.....
And the winged wall is torn....
By his torrid crown...
And the dark thrown....
From his loin...
~ Dylan Thomas.....
This nightflower, the size of a cat's head--
now moist and sentient--
let it hang there in the dark;
bare beauty asking nothing of us,
if we could graft you to us,
so singular and married to instant.
But now rest picked, a trillium
never to repeat yourself. Soon enough
you'll know dead air, brief homage,
a sliver of glass in someone's brain.
-- from 'A Year's Changes'; Jim Harrison (1968)
The Stalin Epigram
-- Osip Mandelstam (trans W. S. Merwin)
Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.
But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,
the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,
the huge laughing cockroaches
on his top lip, the glitter of his boot-rims.
Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.
One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.
He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.
He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home.
-- Osip Mandelstam
She has not yet been born:
she is music and word,
and therefore the un-torn,
fabric of what is stirred.
Silent the ocean breathes.
Madly day’s glitter roams.
Spray of pale lilac foams,
in a bowl of grey-blue leaves.
May my lips rehearse
the primordial silence,
like a note of crystal clearness,
sounding, pure from birth!
Stay as foam Aphrodite – Art –
and return, Word, where music begins:
and, fused with life’s origins,
be ashamed heart, of heart!
[via poetry in translation]
I want to forget every
word I know I want
to forget every word
I know I want no thought
half-lit almost river
speaking her variant
over the shoreline
meat into the crocuses
--from 'Mandelstam Variations'; Ian Dreiblatt
From "Intersecting Influences in American Haiku" (Thomas Lynch (2001), as available in full online):
In sum, several relevant correlations between the poetic theory of Japanese haiku poets and the theory of the American transcendentalists can be deduced: 1) a belief in the interfusion of the self with external nature, seeking to resolve the subject/object dichotomy and to return us to an awareness of the true self that we share with all other things; 2) an understanding that in order to achieve such an interfusion we need to attain what might be termed an Edenic condition in which we efface the ego-self and reject preconceptions and received beliefs; 3) a recognition that for most of us such an interfusion occurs in fragmentary moments of perception; 4) an awareness that the present time is the only time, and the present place the only place, to achieve such a perception... (pg 121).
[via NeverEnding Story]
Haiku- Winter 2013/14
empty birch sings
its own white song
before the snow
grounded at solstice
stardust of Sirius
height of stars
cascading down upon
weight of winter-
an ice covered lake
black wine beneath
a north wind howl,
donning wool socks
rather than wings
when outside drafts in
old familiar songs
frigid and clear
the pale pulse
of constant cosmos
spheres in the flight
of a snowy owl
what was it I heard?
not thoughts, the whisp
of Sweden in the forest
and a single sound
with the river
a cold west wind
one syllable real
where sky cleared
chunk of moon sits
in clear blue sky
day lit moon held
in a thick of branches
green haiku abound
but those of snow remain
here, in the snow
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;........
How restlessly they speed and gleam and quiver,........
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon........
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:—........
Or like forgotten lyres whose dissonant strings........
Give various response to each varying blast,........
To whose frail frame no second motion brings.............
One mood or modulation like the last.............
We rest—a dream has power to poison sleep;.............
We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day;.............
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep,........
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:—........
It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,........
The path of its departure still is free;........
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;........
Nought may endure but Mutability.........
--Percy Bysshe Shelley........