Only 24 years ago, Contemporary Poetry was prolific with reference
to so much of the past. Reading it today, I am amazed at the distance
we have traveled in our common understanding of our world, our hope
for change and growth…. even the sense of a direction needed through
which to carve a future.
However, I found a voice there I’d like to remember:
Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair,
I wake to sleep , and take my waking slow.
Great nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by goIng where I have to go.”
………THEODORE ROETHKE, printed in the Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry,
edited by J. D. McClatchy. 1990
Today we are on the eve of a new moon,
a little after 4 am tomorrow.
A time to wash my hair, shower until the water feels like rain,
and bask in freshness.
I knew Mary Oliver would have a word or two on that:
” THE SWEETNESS OF DOGS
What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, make me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. thus we sit, myself
thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.”
………..MARY OLIVER, in the book of poetry, Dog Songs.
Back to the subject I chose: Delayed Gifts.
I received that poetry book at Christmas, 2013.
I read the last poem, a middle poem, loved it
and then the long winter of 2014 took over.
New moon or full moon, the words touch me
and I am grateful for this morning, for the idea
of me being one iota pondering heaven, and
how rich it is to love the world.
Six years ago I shared this poem with you in October,’08. Curious
that when I pulled this book out just now that I opened to it
without planning to. We were then looking at a winter coming, and now
we are looking at a Spring and Summer on the brink of being here.
That may sound like a declaration. Yes, it is. When we have a sudden snow
on the last day of March, we have to put forward our requests clearly.
Here is such a request:
“may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
wherever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old
may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young
and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile”
……………………. e e cummings, #53 from his book 100 Selected POEMS.
Everything too easy in my dream, and I woke myself up to avoid a sense of having been there, done that.
When I turned on my computer email, I found Joe Riley’s poem for the day.
However, it was the picture accompanying that of an opening book against a clearing sky that held me captive. Took my breath away.
Here’s part of the poem entitled Words:
” The world does not need words. It articulates itself
in sunlight, leaves, and shadows.
And one word transforms it into something less or other …
Yet the stones remain less real to those who cannot
name them, or read the mute syllables graven in silica.
To name is to know and remember.
The sunlight needs no praise piercing the rainclouds,
painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving
each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it.
The daylight needs no praise, and so we praise it always …
greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.”
…………….DANA GIOIA, from the book, Interrogations at Noon.
Can we wait for February and it’s weather’s ups and downs to
be done with? I realize how weary we are for the change of
Spring and a sense of lift-off!
The armchair traveler in me will have to do with this poem:
Our jet storms down the runway, tilts up, lifts.
We’re airborne, and each second we see more —
Outlying hangars, wetland with a pond
That flashes like sheened silver and, beyond,
An estuary and the frozen drifts
Of breakers wide and white along a shore.
One watches, cheek in palm. How little weight
the world has as it swiftly drops away!
How quietly the mind climbs to this height
As now, the seat-belt sign turned off, a flight
Attendant rises to negotiate
The steep aisle to a curtained service bay.”
……………………….TIMOTHY STEELE, from the book, 180 more Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, compiled
by Billy Collins.