Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lost, by David Wagoner

Vincenzo Bellini - Casta Diva, from Norma
with Angela Gheorghiu (2001)

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

poem from Riverbed
(Indiana University Press, 1972) 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Violins, by Anna Margolin

Niccolò Paganini - Concerto for Violin 1 in D major, Op. 6, III
with Yehudi Menuhin

The blue dream of violins.

I and you,

such a revelation,

such a revelation,

and nobody knows,

that we circle

in golden rings

like butterflies,

in the blue night of violins.

You, my peace,

our night,

the blue violins play

for me and for you.

poem from Drunk from the bitter truth: Poems of Anna Margolin
State University of New York Press, 2005

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved, by Gregory Orr

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Laudate Dominum
from Vesperae solenne de confessore KV 339
with Lucia Popp

Resurrection of the body of the beloved,
Which is the world.
                               Which is the poem
Of the world, the poem of the body.

Mortal ourselves and filled with awe,
We gather the scattered limbs
Of Osiris.
                That he should live again.
That death not be oblivion.


The beloved is dead. Limbs
And all the body's
Miraculous parts
Scattered across Egypt,
Stained with dark mud.

We must find them, gather
Them together, bring them
Into a single place
As an anthologist might collect
All the poems that matter
Into a single book, a book
Which is the body of the beloved,
Which is the world.

Who wants to lose the world,
For all its tumult and suffering?
Who wants to leave the world,
For all its sorrow?
                            Not I.
And so I come to the Book,
Which is also the body
Of the beloved. And so
I come to the poem.
The poem is the world
Scattered by passion, then
Gathered together again
So that we may have hope.

The shape of the Book
Is the door to the grave,
Is the shape of the stone
Closed over us, so that
We may know terror
Is what we pass through
To reach hope, and courage
Is our necessary companion.

The shape of the Book
Is dark as death, and every page
Is lit with hope, glows
With the light of the vital body.

When I open the Book
I hear the poets whisper and weep,
Laugh and lament.

In a thousand languages
They say the same thing:
"We lived. The secret of life
Is love, which casts its wing
Over all suffering, which takes
In its arms the hurt child,
Which rises green from the fallen seed."

It's not magic; it isn't a trick.
Every breath is a resurrection.
And when we hear the poem
Which is the world, when our eyes
Gaze at the beloved's body,
We're reborn in all the sacred parts
Of our own bodies:
                              the heart
Contracts, the brain
Releases its shower
Of sparks,
                 and the tear
Embarks on its pilgrimage
Down the cheek to meet
The smiling mouth.

Sadness is there, too.
All the sadness in the world.
Because the tide ebbs,
Because wild waves
Punish the shore
And the small lives lived there.
Because the body is scattered.
Because death is real
And sometimes death is not
Even the worst of it.

If sadness did not run
Like a river through the Book,
Why would we go there?
What would we drink?

Isis kneels on the banks
Of the Nile. She is assembling
The limbs of Osiris.
Her live limbs moving
Above his dead, moving
As if in a dance, her torso
Swaying, her long arms
Reaching out in a quiet
Constant motion.

And the river below her
Making its own motions,
Eddies and swirls, a burbling
Sound the current makes
As if a throat was being cleared,
As if the world was about to speak.

The poem is written on the body,
And the body is written on the poem.

The Book is written in the world,
And the world is written in the Book.

This is the reciprocity of love
That outwits death. Death looks
In one place and we're in the other.

Death looks there, but we are here.

"What is life?"
                      When you first
Hear that question
It echoes in your skull
As if someone shouted
In an empty cave.
The same answer each time:
The resurrection of the body
Of the beloved, which is
The world.

Every poem different but
Telling the same story.
And we've been gathering
Them in a book
Since writing began
And before that as songs
Or poems people memorized
And recited aloud
When someone asked: "What is life?"

The things that die
Do not die,
Or they die briefly
To be born again
In the Book.

Did you think
You would see
The loved one again
In this world
Or in some other?

No, that cannot happen.
But we have been
Gathering, all of us,
The scattered remnants
Of the loved one
Since the beginning.

In Egypt, the loved
One is not in the pyramids
But in the poem
Carved in stone
About the lover's lips
And eyes.
                In the igloo
The poem gathers
The dark hair of the beloved.

All the poems of the world
Have been gathering the beloved's
Body against your loss.
Read in the Book. Open
Your eyes and your heart;
Open your voice.
                           The beloved
Is there and was never lost.

from Part One of Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved
Copper Canyon Press

Saturday, December 27, 2014

For a New Beginning, by John O'Donohue

Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16, II
with Evgeny Kissin, piano

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Winter of Listening, by David Whyte

Maurice Ravel - Gaspard de la nuit: Trois poèmes pour piano d'après Aloysius Bertrand
Piano: Samson François

No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate
in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.

All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.

And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous

Silence and winter
has led me to that

So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.

poem from here

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dear Heart

Camille Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre
Played by the National Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Leopold Stokowski

The sun does not make shadows - 

it calls, an invitation

to dance, 

shadow and light. 

It is time, dear heart

to remember you,


can hold this


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Invocation, by Jeanne Lohmann

Edvard Grieg - Peer Gynt Suite No.1, Op.46 - 1. Morning Mood 
with the Berliner Philharmoniker

Let us try what it is to be true to gravity,
to grace, to the given, faithful to our own voices,

to lines making the map of our furrowed tongue.
Turned toward the root of a single word, refusing

solemnity and slogans, let us honor what hides
and does not come easy to speech. The pebbles

we hold in our mouth help us to practice song,
and we sing to the sea. May the things of this world

be preserved to us, their beautiful secret
vocabularies. We are dreaming it over and new,

the language of our tribe, music we hear
we can only acknowledge. May the naming powers

be granted. Our words are feathers that fly
on our breath. Let them go in a holy direction.

from Between Silence and Answer (Pendle Hill Publications, 1994)