Sunday, December 19, 2010

Still, by A. R. Ammons

Georg Friedrich Händel - Oratorio - Messiah, HWV 56, Hallelujah Chorus
performed by The English Concert & Choir

I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!

from Selected Poems (2006)
thank you Roxana for the poem

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Great Grief Has Made the Empress Mute, by June Jordan

Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck - Mélodie, from Orfeo ed Euridice
with Ginette Neveu, violin

dedicated to the Empress Michiko and to Janice Mirikitani

Because it was raining outside the palace
Because there was no rain in her vicinity

Because people kept asking her questions
Because nobody ever asked her anything

Because marriage robbed her of her mother
Because she lost her daughters to the same tradition

Because her son laughed when she opened her mouth
Because he never delighted in anything she said

Because romance carried the rose inside a fist
Because she hungered for the fragrance of the rose

Because the jewels of her life did not belong to her
Because the glow of gold and silk disguised her soul
Because nothing she could say could change the melted
              music of her space
Because the privilege of her misery was something she could
              not disgrace
Because no one could imagine reasons for her grief
Because her grief required no imagination
Because it was raining outside the palace
Because there was no rain in her vicinity

poem from