Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

71 – “Our hands shake …”

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Our hands shake as we try to construct you,
block on block.
But you, cathedral we dimly perceive –
who can bring you to completion?

What is Rome? It crumbled.
What is the world? We are destroying it
before your towers can taper into spires,
before we can assemble your face
from the piles of mosaic.

Yet sometimes in dreams
I take in your whole expanse,
from its deepest beginnings
up to the rooftop’s glittering ridge.

And then I see: it is my mind
that will fashion
and set the last pieces in place.

Note: While on vacation I would like to share this beautiful poem from the “Book of Hours” by Reiner Maria Rilke (translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy). Next regular post will be published on February 1, 2013.

63 – “The Nights, the Days, Hold me in Thrall” by Horace Traubel

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

The nights, the days, hold me in thrall,
Toils of men and women drag my faith to the earth –
Furrowed with pain, the casual cares
I long – I look – I reach forth to life.

Release! Escape!
Shall I speak of the door swung wide, of the unbarred gates?

After the vigil I step across the border-line,
I take my place with the pioneers.

Have I met the hour patiently, without fear, at the portal?
Now is my name called, now the lip of my love has spoken:
Do I mistake you O divine Signaler? Is it after all some other soul that is hailed?
My self is my answer:
There’s that in my heart responds, meeting the call with equal voice, establishing forever the unspeakable bond!

Bond that does not bind – bond that frees – bond that discovers and bestows.

Look! I am flushed with inexhaustible possessions!
The old measures vanish, I am expanded to infinite sweep.

O world! Not dead to you – only seeing you, knowing you, at last,
Mixed with countless worlds, knowing with you your companions also:

O year! – Not dead to you – only seeing you, knowing you, at last,
Mixed with all time, untangling the knotted thread:

O world! O Year! –
Before birth seeing birth, after life seeing life!

The infinite blue, heaven’s fond eye, opens upon me.

O voice, mastering me, making me too master –
My ear is close, I hear the syllables fall,
Waves on shores of the farther worlds, waves on shores of the day.

The clouds part: O face – O face – O face!
Face smiling upon me – smiling me wings, buoyant beyond the discarded cheapened present.

(You too, O present, still remaining,
Duly visiting my heart, not forbidden,
Yet yielding the place supreme.)

I am all eye – O god! You are all speech:
Melody celestial – sight and voice, color and tone, warring no more,
In the boundless blue uplifted.

Whose hand touches me? – my brow – my breast – my own unasking hand –
Leading me out of self to self?

Divine form – mother, father – sex only now standing revealed, the union irreversible:
Divine form, I made whole in you,
The elements diverse here blended.

This minute grown infinite, the far worlds spread before me,
The endless drift of soul, the long stretch of faces, all lit by the divine sun –
Or swift or slow or early or late the line not anywhere broken,
All – all – equally sustained, swept in the same destiny, on sea and land of life,
The peak lit for all, the triumph inevitable.

O my soul! Look yet again:
There too are you, a figure in the panorama,
On your brow the dawn has set its beauteous beam,
Here with me – there not with me.

Death fills me with its abundance.
What is this food, overcoming body and sense?
I feel the walls of my skull crack, the barriers part, the sun-flood enter –
Love, lore, not lost, only magnified, floating eternal seas of essence –
Before and behind births and deaths, spiritual gravitation, the emergence ever-more expanding.

O soul, have I lost you or found you?
Found! The faultless circle born at last to you,
After the waiting years.

Far eras behind, far eras ahead, the simple few years I finger,
Shafts from the central sun,
Speeding for fuller fruition the orbs of space.

Back to the first word of speech,
On to the last utterance of seers,
My soul, knowing its own, wrapt in its protean habit, catches the perfect song.

God! I am circled – I am drunk with the influx of life –
Wheeled in your orbit – given the word I would speak yet must withhold –
Leaving you, O my brother, each one, to say it for yourself.

Brothers, worlds, I greet you!
The wheel turns, the boundless prospect opens:
All, all complicate – the light bearing limitlessly the burdens of all.
Do you think that you are missed, that the large heart beats not for you?
That somewhere on the road you must faint and die?

Strength will be given for all you need,
And the weakest, when the night comes which is the day,
Will greet the king, a giant in stature and grace.

Now the immortal years, the ceaseless round realized –
The doubts shorn of wing and foot,
The farthest league nearest, and the multiplied infinities choking here in my breast.

O my questioner! You do not suspect me – you suspect yourself;
Tomorrow, seeing yourself, you will see me,
And the illumined spirit, passing the portal,
Godgrown, will hail me proudly.

Horace Traubel

Note: New posts are usually published on the 1st and 15th of the month. To subscribe to the Blog, click on the RSS feeder (orange icon) on the left column of the Home page, down below the Archives.

53 – “Who has turned us around like this …?”

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

While I am on a vacation I would like to introduce you, if already not familiar with it, to the beauty and poignant relevance today as when it was written in the 1920s of Rilke’s Eighth Elegy:

With all its eyes the creature
sees the open. Our eyes alone are
as if turned back, and placed all around,
like traps, encircling its free escape.
What is outside we know only
from the animal’s face; and we even
twist the young child around and force it to look
at created things, not at the open
deep in the creature’s face. Free from death.
But death we alone can see: the free animal
always hast its demise behind it
and God before, and when it walks it walks
into eternity, like the flowing of a spring.
We never, not for a single day, have
before us the pure space into which flowers
endlessly open. Always it is world,
and never nowhere without the no: that pure,
unsurveilled element one breathes and
infinitely knows, without desiring. As a child,
one may lose oneself to it in silence, and be
shaken back. Or die and be it.
For close to death, we stop seeing death,
and stare beyond, perhaps with the vast gaze of animals.
Lovers, if the other were not there,
obstructing the view, come near to it and marvel …
As if by oversight it opens up to each
behind the other … But neither can
get past, and once again it is world.
Always turned toward the created, we see
what’s free only in its reflection,
darkened by us. Or that an animal, mute,
looks up and calmly looks through us.
This we call fate: to stand opposite
and nothing else and forever opposite.

If consciousness like ours existed in that
confident animal heading toward us
from another direction –, it would whip us round
in its wake. But for the animal,
its being is infinite, unfettered, unconcerned
with its own condition, pure as its outward gaze.
And where we see future, it sees everything,
and itself in everything, forever healed.

And yet in the watchful, warm animal is
the weight and care of a deep sadness.
For what so often overwhelms us
adheres in the animal as well, – a memory,
as if all that we seek
had been closer once, more true, its ties to us
infinitely tender. Here all is separation,
there it was breath. After the first home, the second
seems a hybrid place, wind-blown.
O bliss of the tiny creature who
remains forever in the womb that bore it:
O happiness of the gnat, who still leaps within,
even on its wedding-day: for womb is all.
And see the half-assurance of the bird,
who by birth almost knows both worlds,
as if it were a soul of the Etruscans,
freed from a dead person, and received in a new space,
but with the same reclining figure as the lid.
And how crestfallen is the womb-born creature
who has to fly. As if startled
by itself, it zigzags through the air, like a crack
through a cup. So the tracery of a bat
rends the porcelain of evening.

And we: spectators, always, everywhere,
facing all this, never the beyond.
It overfills us. We arrange it. It falls apart.
We arrange it again, and fall apart ourselves.

Who has turned us around like this, so that
whatever we do, we find ourselves in the attitude
of someone going away? Just as the person
on the last hill, which shows him his whole valley
one last time, turns, stops, lingers –,
so we live, forever taking our leave.*

The power of our Minds … to comprehend and envision the Universe from which we are created and into which we unfold … is imprisoned by a demeaning and self-destructive old paradigm: A paradigm that is inflexibly perpetuating Ignorance and inciting Separation. Yet a new paradigm based on Knowledge … where we see everything and ourselves in everything … is just outside the crumbling walls of the old paradigm.

* Translated by Galway Kinnell & Hanna Liebmann

Note: New posts are usually published on the 1st and 15th of the month.

40 – “I bring to the Universe a new Universe”*

Friday, September 30th, 2011

* From “The Keeper of Sheep, XLVI” by Fernando Pessoa writing as Alberto Caeiro.

In this way or that way,
As it may happen or not happen,
Sometimes succeeding in saying what I think
And at other times saying it badly and with things mixed in,
I keep writing my poems, inadvertently,
As if writing were not something requiring action,
As if writing were something that happens to me
In the same way that the sun reaches me from outside.

I try to say what I feel
Without thinking about what I feel.
I try to place words right next to my idea
So that I won’t need a corridor
Of thought leading to words.

I don’t always manage to feel what I know I should feel.
Only very slowly does my thought swim across the river, Weighed down as it is by the suit men forced it to wear. I try to shed what I’ve learned,
I try to forget the way I was taught to remember,
To scrape off the paint that was painted on my senses,
To uncrate my true emotions,
To step out of all my wrapping and be myself – not Alberto Caeiro
But a human animal created by Nature.

That’s how I write, wanting to feel Nature not even as a man but merely as someone who feels Nature.
That’s how I write, sometimes well, sometimes badly, sometimes saying just what I want to say,
Sometimes getting it wrong,
Falling down one moment and getting up the next,
But always continuing on my way like a stubborn blind man.

Even so, I’m somebody.
I’m the Discoverer of Nature.
I’m the Argonaut of true sensations.
I bring to the Universe a new Universe,
Because I bring to the Universe its own self.

This is what I feel and write,
Perfectly aware and clearly seeing
That it’s five o’clock in the morning
And that the sun, although it still hasn’t raised its face
Over the wall of the horizon,
Is already showing the tips of its fingers
Gripping the top of the wall
Of the horizon sprinkled with low hills.

Note: New posts are usually published on the 1st and 15th of the month. To subscribe to the Blog, click on the RSS feeder (orange icon) on the left column of the Home page, down below the Archives.