Sunday, March 29, 2015

Twenty-One Love Poems, VI, by Adrienne Rich

This is a re-post, for Adrienne, may you rest in peace.

Prelude in B minor, arranged for piano by Alexander Siloti
from Prelude in E minor BWV 855a by J. S. Bach
with Emil Gilels

Your small hands, precisely equal to my own -
only the thumb is larger, longer - in these hands
I could trust the world, or in many hands like these,
handling power-tools or steering-wheel
or touching a human face...such hands could turn
the unborn child rightways in the birth canal
or pilot the exploratory rescue-ship
through icebergs, or piece together
the fine, needle-like shreds of a great krater-cup
bearing on its sides
fingers of ecstatic women striding
to the sibyl's den or the Eleusinian cave -
such hands might carry out an unavoidable violence
with such restraint, with such a grasp
of the range and limits of violence
that violence ever after would be obsolete.

in The Fact of a Door Frame: Poems Selected and New, 1950-84, WW Norton & Co (1985)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flower Chorus, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gioachino Rossini - Overture, Il Barbiere di Siviglia

O such a commotion under the ground,
When March called: "Ho! There! Ho!"
Such spreading of rootlets far and wide
Such whisperings to and fro!
"Are you ready?" the Snowdrop asked,
"'Tis time to start, you know."
"Almost, my dear!" the Scilla replied,
"I'll follow as soon as you go."
Then "Ha! ha! ha!" the chorus came
Of laughter sweet and low,
From millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.

"I'll promise my blossoms, " the crocus said,
"When I hear the black bird sing."
And straight thereafter the Narcissus cried,
"My silver and gold I'll bring."
"And ere they are dulled," another spoke,
"The Hyacinth bells shall ring."
But the Violet only murmured, "I'm here,"
And sweet grew the air of Spring.

O the pretty brave things, thro' the coldest days
Imprisoned in walls of brown,
They never lost heart tho' the blast shrieked loud,
And the sleet and the hail came down;
But patiently each wrought her wonderful dress
Or fashioned her beautiful crown,
And now they are coming to ligthten the world
till shadowed by winter's frown.
And well may they cheerly laugh "Ha! ha!"
In laughter sweet and low,
The millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.

poem from the Parabola website

Friday, March 20, 2015

Clearing, by Morgan Farley

Franz Schubert - Impromptu No 3 in G flat major Op 90 D 899
with Grigory Sokolov

I am clearing a space
here, where the trees stand back.
I am making a circle so open
the moon will fall in love
and stroke these grasses with her silver.

I am setting stones in the four directions,
stones that have called my name
from mountaintops and riverbeds, canyons and mesas.
Here I will stand with my hands empty,
mind gaping under the moon.

I know there is another way to live.
When I find it, the angels
will cry out in rapture,
each cell of my body
will be a rose, a star.

If something seized my life tonight,
if a sudden wind swept through me,
changing everything,
I would not resist.
I am ready for whatever comes.

But I think it will be
something small, an animal
padding out from the shadows,
or a word spoken so softly
I hear it inside.

It is dark out here, and cold.
The moon is stone.
I am alone with my longing.
Nothing is happening
but the next breath.

poem from the website

Many blessings to you all on this New Moon-Eclipse-Equinox time of clearings and new beginnings.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Say Yes Quickly, by Rumi

Ludwig Van Beethoven - Fifth Symphony, I - Allegro con brio

Forget your life. Say God is Great. Get up.
You think you know what time it is. It’s time to pray.
You’ve carved so many little figurines, too many.
Don’t knock on any random door like a beggar.
Reach your long hands out to another door, beyond where
you go on the street, the street
where everyone says, “How are you?”
and no one says How aren’t you?

Tomorrow you’ll see what you’ve broken and torn tonight,
thrashing in the dark. Inside you
there’s an artist you don’t know about.
He’s not interested in how things look different in moonlight.

If you are here unfaithfully with us,
you’re causing terrible damage.
If you’ve opened your loving to God’s love,
you’re helping people you don’t know
and have never seen.

Is what I say true? Say yes quickly,
if you know, if you’ve known it
from before the beginning of the universe.

poem from The Threshold Society website
translated by Coleman Barks

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