Friday, October 28, 2011

not mine













All my life to pretend this world of theirs is mine
And to know such pretending is disgraceful.
But what can I do? Suppose I suddenly screamed
And started to prophesy. No one would hear me. 
Their screens and microphones are not for that. 
Others like me wander the streets
And talk to themselves. Sleep on benches in parks,
Or on pavements in alleys. For there aren't enough prisons
To lock up all the poor. I smile and keep quiet. 
They won't get me now. 
To feast with the chosen—that I do well.





~ Czeslaw Milosz 
translated by Robert Hass 
photo by Christine de Grancy






meaning







.

When I die, I will see the lining of the world. 
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset. 
The true meaning, ready to be decoded. 
What never added up will add Up, 
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended. 
- And if there is no lining to the world? 
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign, 
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day 
Make no sense following each other? 
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth? 
- Even if that is so, there will remain 
A word wakened by lips that perish, 
A tireless messenger who runs and runs 
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies, 
And calls out, protests, screams.




~ Czeslaw Milosz


snow-mountain







.


All my life perplexed by truth and falsity, right and wrong;
Now amusing myself in the moonlight,
Laughing at the wind,
Listening to the songs of birds --
So many years spent idly contemplating
The immense white layer on the mountains;
This winter, all of a sudden,
I see it for the first time as a snow-mountain.





~ Dogen
english version by Steven Heine
from The Zen Poetry of Dogen
with thanks to poetry chaikhana
art by Chen Jun




ladder








A man tips back his chair, all evening.

Years later, the ladder of small indentations
still marks the floor. Walking across it, then stopping.

Rarely are what is spoken and what is meant the same.

Mostly the mouth says one thing, the thighs and knees
say another, the floor hears a third.

Yet within us,
objects and longings are not different.
They twist on the stem of the heart, like ripening grapes.







~ Jane Hirshfield 
from Given Sugar, Given Salt
with thanks to nexus


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

witchgrass





.
Something
comes into the world unwelcome
calling disorder, disorder -

If you hate me so much don't bother to give me
a name: do you need
one more slur
in your language, another
way to blame
one tribe for everything -

as we both know, if you worship
one god, you only need 
one enemy -

I'm not the enemy.
Only a ruse to ignore 
what you see happening
right here in this bed,
a little paradigm
of failure.  One of your precious flowers
dies here almost every day
and you can't rest until
you attack the cause,
meaning
whatever is left, whatever
happens to be sturdier
than your personal passion -

It was not meant 
to last forever in the real world.
But why admit that, when you can go on
doing what you always do,
mourning and laying blame,
always the two together.

I don't need your praise
to survive.  I was here first,
before you were here, before
you ever planted a garden.
And I'll be here when only the sun and moon 
are left, and the sea, and the wide field.

I will constitute the field.



~ Louise Gluck
from The Wild Iris






children of a full life





.




with special thanks to it's all dhamma




why do I write






I write because to write a new sentence, let alone a new poem, is to cross the threshold into both a larger existence and a profound mystery. A thought was not there, then it is. An image, a story, an idea about what it is to be human, did not exist, then it does. With every new poem, an emotion new to the heart, to the world, speaks itself into being. Any new metaphor is a telescope, a canoe in rapids, an MRI machine. And like that MRI machine, sometimes its looking is accompanied by an awful banging. To write can be frightening as well as magnetic. You don't know what will happen when you throw open your windows and doors.

Why write? You might as well ask a fish, why swim, ask an apple tree, why make apples? The eye wants to look, the ear wants to hear, the heart wants to feel more than it thought it could bear...

The writer, when she or he cannot write, is a person outside the gates of her own being. Not long ago, I stood like that for months, disbarred from myself. Then, one sentence arrived; another. And I? I was a woman in love. For that also is what writing is. Every sentence that comes for a writer when actually writing—however imperfect, however inadequate—every sentence is a love poem to this world and to our good luck at being here, alive, in it.



~ Jane Hirshfield





Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Che Fece... Il Gran Refiuto


.


For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
drags him down all his life.




~ Constantine P. Cavafy
from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems
translated by Edmund Keeley and Phillip Sherrard



the falling





.


You turn towards meteor showers in August,
wishing yourself like that:
bright and burning wholly out.
When feeling finally comes it is
that falling, matter breaking away
from air, the sound
of crickets moving through the grass like fire—
and the strangely twisted metal
in the field that a child finds:
residue, crown.
Then there’s the story of the Chinese sage,
in anger and despair, who cut his body away in pieces,
flung them into the lake.
Each one, becoming finned and whole, swims off.





~ Jane Hirshfield




a lie



self-portrait - 1901



Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth

Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don’t they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love a night, a flower, everything which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them? Whereas where painting is concerned, they want to understand. Let them understand above all that the artist works from necessity; that he, too, is a minute element of the world to whom one should ascribe no more importance than so many things in nature which charm us but which we do not explain to ourselves. Those who attempt to explain a picture are on the wrong track most of the time.



~ Pablo Picasso
Boisgeloup, winter 1934


Monday, October 24, 2011

root






.

Though your life has almost passed, this present moment is its root:
if it lacks moisture, water it with repentance.
Give the Living Water to the root of your life,
so that the tree of your life may flourish.
By this Water past mistakes are redeemed.
By this Water last year's poison is made sweet.





~ Rumi
translation by Camille and Kabir Helminski
from Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance

Sunday, October 23, 2011

a choice





."Give us a king."

Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king, He said,
"This is what the king who will reign over you will do:

He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.
Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.
He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.
Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use.
He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen,
and the Lord will not answer you in that day.


"No," they said, "We want a king over us.
Then we will be like all the other nations,
with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."



~ 1 Samuel 8, 11-19
from the Holy Bible
new international version





allegro










I play Haydn after a black day
and feel a simple warmth in my hands.

The keys are willing. Soft hammers strike.
The resonance green, lively and calm.

The music says freedom exists
and someone doesn't pay the emperor tax.

I push down my hands in my Haydnpockets
and imitate a person looking on the world calmly.

I hoist the Haydnflag - it signifies:
"We don't give in. But want peace.'

The music is a glass-house on the slope
where the stones fly, the stones roll.

And the stones roll right through
but each pane stays whole.





~ Tomas Transtromer
from New Collected Poems
translated by Robin Fulton





Saturday, October 22, 2011

dark eyes






.
My love and my yearning for home
ignited in the heat of this night
like the sweet fragrance of foreign flowers
fanning the flames of a fierce fervor.

My love and my yearning for home
and all my fortune and misfortune
now stand like silent stanzas of a song
in the dark mirror of your mythic gaze.

My love and my yearning for home
have turned away from the noise of this world
and in your dark eyes
have built a vast, secret throne.





~ Hermann Hesse
from The seasons of the Soul
translated by Ludwig Max Fischer


near




.

When the soul leaves the body, it is no longer under the burden and control of space and time.  The soul is free;  distance and separation hinder it no more.  The dead are our nearest neighbors; they are all around us.  Meister Eckhart was once asked, Where does the soul of a person go when the person dies?  He said, no place.  Where else would the soul be going?  Where else is the eternal world?  It can be nowhere other than here.  We have falsely spatialized the eternal world.  We have driven the eternal out into some kind of distant galaxy.  Yet the eternal world does not seem to be a place but rather a different state of being.  The soul of the person goes no place because there is no place else to go.  This suggests that the dead are here with us, in the air that we are moving through all the time.  The only difference between us the the dead is that they are now in an invisible form  You cannot see them with the human eye.  But you can sense the presence of those you love who have died.  With the refinement of your soul, you can sense them.  You feel that they are near.




~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara
art by Roderick Maclver



Friday, October 21, 2011

no bell





.

When I heard the sound of the bell ringing,
there was no bell,
and there was no I -
there was only the ringing. 

Once you stop clinging and let things be,
you’ll be free, even of birth and death. 

You’ll transform everything…
And you’ll be at peace wherever you are. 

Even as fire finds peace
in its resting place without fuel,
when thoughts become silence
the soul finds peace in its own source. 

When the mind is silent,
then it can enter into a world
which is far beyond the mind:
the highest End. 

The mind should be kept in the heart
as long as it has not reached the highest End.
This is wisdom, and this is liberation. 





~ Upanishads 




hidden





.
Hidden in the heart of every creature
Exists the Self, subtler than the subtlest,
Greater than the greatest.  They go beyond
All sorrow who extinguish their self-will
And behold the glory of the Self
Through the grace of the Lord of Love.

Though one sits in meditation in a 
Particular place, the Self within
Can exercise his influence far away.
Though still, he moves everything everywhere.

When the wise realize the Self,
Formless in the midst of forms, changeless
In the midst of change, omnipresent
And supreme, they go beyond sorrow.

The Self cannot be known through study
Of the scriptures, nor through the intellect,
Nor through hearing discourses about it.
The Self can be attained only by those
Whom the Self chooses.  Verily unto them
Does the Self reveal himself.






~ The Katha Upanishad
translated by Eknath Easwaran



Thursday, October 20, 2011

solitude









I was nearly killed here, one night in February.
My car shivered, and slewed sideways on the ice,
right across into the other lane. The slur of traffic
came at me with their lights.

My name, my girls, my job, all
slipped free and were left behind, smaller and smaller,
further and further away. I was a nobody:
a boy in a playground, suddenly surrounded.

The headlights of the oncoming cars
bore down on me as I wrestled the wheel through a slick
of terror, clear and slippery as egg-white.
The seconds grew and grew – making more room for me –
stretching huge as hospitals.

I almost felt that I could rest
and take a breath
before the crash.

Then something caught: some helpful sand
or a well-timed gust of wind. The car
snapped out of it, swinging back across the road.
A signpost shot up and cracked, with a sharp clang,
spinning away in the darkness.

And it was still. I sat back in my seat-belt
and watched someone tramp through the whirling snow
to see what was left of me.



~ Tomas Transtromer


Tranströmer is the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature. His other honors and awards include the Aftonbladets Literary Prize, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Oevralids Prize, the Petrach Prize in Germany, and the Swedish Award from International Poetry Forum.

He has read at many American universities, often with poet and friend Robert Bly. Tranströmer is a respected psychologist, and has worked at a juvenile prison, and with the disabled, convicts, and drug addicts. He lives with his wife Monica in Vasteras, west of Stockholm.

from  poets.org


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

two things






Two things of opposite natures seem to depend
On one another, as Logos depends
On Eros, day on night, the imagined

On the real. This is the origin of change.
Winter and spring, cold copulars, embrace
And forth the particulars of rapture come.

Music falls on the silence like a sense
A passion that we feel, not understand.
Morning and afternoon are clasped together

And North and South are an intrinsic couple
And sun and rain a plural, like two lovers
That walk away together as one in the greenest body.





~ Wallace Stevens








the place of rest








Unto the deep the deep heart goes,
It lays its sadness nigh the breast:
Only the Mighty Mother knows
The wounds that quiver unconfessed.

It seeks a deeper silence still;
It folds itself around with peace,
Where thoughts alike of good or ill
In quietness unfostered cease.

It feels in the unwounding vast
For comfort for its hopes and fears:
The Mighty Mother bows at last;
She listens to her children's tears.

Where the last anguish deepens -- there
The fire of beauty smites through pain:
A glory moves amid despair,
The Mother takes her child again. 





~ A. E. (George William Russell)
with thanks to poetry chaikhana






Monday, October 17, 2011

immense











It is a strange and magical fact to be here, 
walking around in a body, 
to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. 

It is an immense privilege, 
and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here … 

It is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us 
so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. 
We are here. 
We are wildly and dangerously free.





~ John O'Donohue
from Anam Cara




Saturday, October 15, 2011

today





a radiance once seen only in time and space
 shares his blessing without boundary

today a named one 
brings a particular beauty to the nameless 

today the pain and strength of  longing
stretches beyond limits

today that sparkling love can't be seen with eyes,
we seek it everywhere





 ~  nead rellek
for Doug









Friday, October 14, 2011

be open







may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever 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
.
Happy Birthday
Edward Estlin Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962)



In 1926, Cummings' father was killed in a car accident. Though severely injured, Cummings' mother survived. Cummings detailed the accident in the following passage from his i: six nonlectures series given at Harvard (as part of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) in 1952–1953:


... a locomotive cut the car in half, killing my father instantly. When two brakemen jumped from the halted train, they saw a woman standing – dazed but erect – beside a mangled machine; with blood spouting (as the older said to me) out of her head. One of her hands (the younger added) kept feeling her dress, as if trying to discover why it was wet. These men took my sixty-six year old mother by the arms and tried to lead her toward a nearby farmhouse; but she threw them off, strode straight to my father's body, and directed a group of scared spectators to cover him. When this had been done (and only then) she let them lead her away.

His father's death had a profound impact on Cummings, who entered a new period in his artistic life. Cummings began to focus on more important aspects of life in his poetry. He began this new period by paying homage to his father's memory in the poem "my father moved through dooms of love"

Born into a Unitarian family, Cummings exhibited transcendental leanings his entire life. As he grew in maturity and age, Cummings moved more toward an "I, Thou" relationship with God. His journals are replete with references to “le bon Dieu” as well as prayers for inspiration in his poetry and artwork (such as “Bon Dieu! may I some day do something truly great. amen.”). Cummings "also prayed for strength to be his essential self ('may I be I is the only prayer--not may I be great or good or beautiful or wise or strong'), and for relief of spirit in times of depression ('almighty God! I thank thee for my soul; & may I never die spiritually into a mere mind through disease of loneliness')."


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes


~ from Wikipedia


Thursday, October 13, 2011

words' leaves







.
Truly now I've grown old
in the winter rains.
Even the words' leaves
of love
change in their falling




~ Ono no Komachi




care






.

Once upon a time, when Dongshan was ill, a monk asked him, 
"You are ill, teacher, but is there anyone who doesn't get ill?" 


Dongshan said, "There is." 
 

The monk said, "Does the one who doesn't get ill look after you?" 
 

Dongshan said, "No, I look after him." 
 

The monk said, "How is it when you look after him?" 

Dongshan said, "I see that there is no illness." 






~ Dongshan
from the Book of Serenity
Zen dialogue (Case 94)