Sunday, December 30, 2012

920. Palais de Chaillot Inscriptions

Translated by ?

THE PASSERBY MUST DECIDE
IF I AM TOMB OR TREASURE HOUSE
ELOQUENT OR MUTE
THE CHOICE IS YOURS MY FRIEND
DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT DESIRE

EVERY MAN CREATES UNWITTINGLY
AS HE BREATHES
BUT THE ARTIST FEELS HIMSELF CREATE
THE DOING ABSORBS HIS WHOLE BEING
HIS CHOSEN SUFFERING GIVES HIM STRENGTH

WITHIN THESE CONSECRATED WALLS
I WELCOME AND PROTECT THE WORK
OF THE ARTIST'S MIRACULOUS HAND
EQUAL AND RIVAL OF HIS THOUGHT
THE ONE IS NOTHING WITHOUT THE OTHER

RARE THINGS BEAUTIFUL THINGS
HERE SKILLFULLY DISPLAYED
TEACH THE EYE TO BEHOLD
AS IF NEVER SEEN TILL NOW
THE VERY THINGS OF THIS WORLD

Saturday, December 15, 2012

919. Along the Way - Lenore Horowitz

 From: (http://www.womencandoit.com/)

Along the way,

a moment shimmers into being,

frames itself

to image where you are.

You see it in an instant, 

set aperture and shutter to best expose

the secret unfolding in your lens

in clearest hues of light and shadow.


Some images are signposts,

a mark of where you’ve been,

and others, guides

to where you’ve yet to go.

Destination never was the point,

for any line is many points,

each an opportunity

to stop

and turn

and look at what you find,

and what finds you,

along the way.

It only matters how

—not when or where,

or even what—

you see.

With each exposure

grows an attitude of seeing

not the surface,

but the light 
which opens,

pulsing from the center.

These images together

make a luminous arrangement,

a constellation to brighten midnight skies

for those you’ve met,

and known,

and loved

along your way.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

918. Miracle Fair - Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak (1)

Commonplace miracle:
that so many commonplace miracles happen.

An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.

One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it's backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.

An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.

Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.

A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.

An additional miracle, as everything is additional:
the unthinkable
is thinkable.

Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh (2)


The commonplace miracle:
that so many common miracles take place.

The usual miracle:
invisible dogs barking
in the dead of night

One of many miracles:
a small and airy cloud
is able to upstage the massive moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder is reflected in the water
and is reversed from left to right
and grows from crown to root
and never hits the bottom
though the water isn't deep.

A run-of-the-mill miracle:
winds mild to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

A miracle in the first place:
cows will be cows.

Next but not least:
just this cherry orchard
from just this cherry pit.

A miracle minus top hat and tails:
fluttering white doves.

A miracle (what else can you call it):
the sun rose today at three fourteen A.M.
and will set tonight at one past eight.

A miracle that's lost on us:
the hand actually has fewer than six fingers
but still it's got more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the inescapable earth.

An extra miracle, extra and ordinary:
the unthinkable
can be thought.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

917. A Dream of Trees - Mary Oliver

 .
There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,
A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments.
I would have time, I thought, and time to spare,
With only streams and birds for company,
To build out of my life a few wild stanzas.
And then it came to me, that so was death,
A little way away from everywhere.

There is a thing in me still dreams of trees,
But let it go. Homesick for moderation,
Half the world’s artists shrink or fall away.
If any find solution, let him tell it.
Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation
Where, as the times implore our true involvement,
The blades of every crisis point the way.

I would it were not so, but it is.
Who ever made music of a mild day?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

916. Shadows - D. H. Lawrence

.

And if tonight my soul may find her peace

in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,

and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower

then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon

my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft strange gloom

pervades my movements and my thoughts and words

then I shall know that I am walking still

with God, we are close together now the moon’s in shadow.

And if, as autumn deepens and darkens

I feel the pain of falling leaves, and stems that break in storms

and trouble and dissolution and distress

and then the softness of deep shadows folding,

folding around my soul and spirit, around my lips

so sweet, like a swoon, or more like the drowse of a low, sad song

singing darker than the nightingale, on, on to the solstice

and the silence of short days, the silence of the year, the shadow,

then I shall know that my life is moving still

with the dark earth, and drenched

with the deep oblivion of earth’s lapse and renewal.

And if, in the changing phases of man’s life

I fall in sickness and in misery

my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead

and strength is gone, and my life

is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches of renewal

odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers

such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me

then I must know that still

I am in the hands of the unknown God,

he is breaking me down to his own oblivion

to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

915. Year's End - Jorge Luis Borge

Translated from the Spanish by W. S. Merwin

Neither the symbolic detail
of a three instead of a two,
nor that rough metaphor
that hails one term dying and another emerging,
nor the fulfillment of an astronomical process
muddle and undermine
the high plateau of this night
making us wait
for the twelve irreparable strokes of the bell.
The real cause
is our murky pervasive suspicion
of the enigma of Time,
it is our awe at the miracle
that, though the chances are infinite
and through we are
drops in Heraclitus’ river,
allows something in us to endure,
never moving.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

914. Toy Camera - Lenore Horowitz

.
If only life could be like that

sometimes,
just blurred at the edges,

slightly out of focus,

a tiny bit fogged,

and those people in your frame

caught looking,

harmless, like cartoon characters,

and the surprises
you couldn’t see

when you snapped the shutter,

guessing at focus, exposure—

how the sun glows softly,

and shadows spread like coffee,

and all life’s multitude of grays

shimmer like silk scarves

and dance in summer’s breeze.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

913. Now I Become Myself - May Sarton

.
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before–”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

912. From March 1979 - Tomas Tranströmer

Tomas Tranströmer - From March 1979
Translated from the Swedish by Robin Robertson


Sick of those who come with words, words but no language,
I make my way to the snow-covered island.

Wilderness has no words. The unwritten pages
stretch out in all directions.

I come across this line of deer-slots in the snow: a language,
language without words.


Tomas Tranströmer - From March 1979
Translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton


Weary of all who come with words, words but no language
I make my way to the snow-covered island.
The untamed has no words.
The unwritten pages spread out on every side!
I come upon the tracks of deer in the snow.
Language but no words.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

911. The Peace of Wild Things - Wendell Berry

.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

910. A Maze Me - Naomi Shihab

 .
Life is a tangle of
twisting paths.
Some short.
Some long.
There are dead ends.
And there are choices.
And wrong turns,
and detours,
and yield signs,
and instruction booklets,
and star maps,
and happiness,
and loneliness.
And friends.
And sisters.
And love.
And poetry.

Life is a maze.
You are a maze.
Amazed.
And amazing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

909. into the strenuous briefness - e.e. cummings

 .
into the strenuous briefness
Life:
handorgans and April
darkness, friends

i charge laughing.
Into the hair-thin tints
of yellow dawn,
into the women-coloured twilight

i smilingly glide. I
into the big vermilion departure
swim, sayingly;

(Do you think?) the
i do, world
is probably made
of roses & hello:

(of solongs and, ashes)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

908. Look To This Day - Kalidasa

(Sanskrit poet)

Look to this day
For it is the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The verities and realities of your existence:
The glory of action,
The bliss of growth,
The splendour of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today well lived makes
Every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

907. Under One Small Star - Wislawa Szymborska

Under One Small Star (1)
Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh


My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me distant wars for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minutes to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage,
your gaze always fixed on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to the felled tree for the table's four legs.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don't pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don't take offence that I've only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man.
I know I won't be justified as long as I live,
since I myself stand in my own way.
Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labour heavily so that they may seem light.

Under A Certain Little Star (2)
Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak


My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity in case I'm mistaken.
Don't be angry, happiness, that I take you for my own.
May the dead forgive me that their memory's but a flicker.
My apologies to time for the quantity of world overlooked per second.
My apologies to an old love for treating a new one as the first.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
My apologies for the minuet record, to those calling out from the abyss.
My apologies to those in train stations for sleeping soundly at five in the morning.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing sometimes.
Pardon me, deserts, for not rushing in with a spoonful of water.
And you O hawk, the same bird for years in the same cage,
staring, motionless, always at the same spot,
absolve me even if you happen to be stuffed.
My apologies to the tree felled for four table legs.
My apologies to large questions for small answers.
Truth, do not pay me too much attention.
Solemnity, be magnanimous toward me.
Bear with me, O mystery of being, for pulling threads from your veil.
Soul, don't blame me that I've got you so seldom.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere.
My apologies to all for not knowing how to be every man and woman.
I know that as long as I live nothing can excuse me,
since I am my own obstacle.
Do not hold it against me, O speech, that I borrow weighty words,
and then labor to make them light.

       

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

906. Parallax - Lenore Horowitz

 From: (http://www.womencandoit.com/)

You never know

What will change the world-

a word lightly spoken,

a touch from a stranger,

a glance from a woman

in a red dress,

or a flower opening in your garden.

What you do know

down deep in your bones

is that the cells have

lined up in a new arrangement,

muscles grown

where before was weak and hollow,

and when you woke up this morning,

something else was on your mind

because the old furniture had moved

around to make room.

A momentary alignment of planets

has opened a door somewhere.

You never know how or when,

only that it means

Everything.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

905. Credo - Maxine Kumin

.
I believe in magic. I believe in the rights
of animals to leap out of our skins
as recorded in the Kiowa legend:
Directly there was a bear where the boy had been

as I believe in the resurrected wake-robin,
first wet knob of trillium to knock
in April at the underside of earth's door
in central New Hampshire where bears are

though still denned up at that early greening.
I believe in living on grateful terms
with the earth, with the black crumbles
of ancient manure that sift through my fingers

when I topdress the garden for winter. I believe
in the wet strings of earthworms aroused out of season
and in the bear, asleep now in the rock cave
where my outermost pasture abuts the forest.

I cede him a swale of chokecherries in August.
I give the sow and her cub as much yardage
as they desire when our paths intersect
as does my horse shifting under me

respectful but not cowed by our encounter.
I believe in the gift of the horse, which is magic,
their deep fear-snorts in play when the wind comes up,
the ballet of nip and jostle, plunge and crow hop.

I trust them to run from me, necks arched in a full
swan's S, tails cocked up over their backs
like plumes on a Cavalier's hat. I trust them
to gallop back, skid to a stop, their nostrils

level with my mouth, asking for my human breath
that they may test its intent, taste the smell of it.
I believe in myself as their sanctuary
and the earth with its summer plumes of carrots,

its clamber peas, beans, masses of tendrils
as mine. I believe in the acrobatics of boy
into bear, the grace of animals
in my keeping, the thrust to go on.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

904. The Swan - Mary Oliver


Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?

Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -

An armful of white blossoms,

A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned

into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,

Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall

Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -

A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet

Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

903. The Healing Time - Pesha Gertler

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say   holy
        holy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

902. That I Not Be A Restless Ghost - Margaret Mead

(to her daughter)

That I not be a restless ghost
Who haunts your footsteps as they pass
Beyond the point where you have left
Me standing in the new spring grass,

You must be free to take a path
Whose end I feel no need to know,
No irking fever to be sure
You went where I would have you go. . . .

So you can go without regret
Away from this familiar land
Leaving your kiss upon my hair
And all the future in your hands.

From a reader.  "There is a stanza missing to this poem. I found this poem as a clipping among my mother's papers but there was nothing to say who the author might be nor was there a title, except "for the children."
The reader did not indicate where the stanza goes. Any help?

Those who would fence the future in
Between two walls of well-laid stones
But lay a ghost walk for themselves,
A dreary walk for dusty bones.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

901. So Much Happiness - Naomi Shihab Nye

.
It is difficult to know what to do
with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something
to rub against,
A wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you,
you have pieces to pick up,
Something to hold in your hands,
like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof
of the next house, singing,
And disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived
in a peaceful tree house
And now live over a quarry of noise and dust
Cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
It too could wake up filled with possibilities
Of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
And love even the floor
which needs to be swept,
The soiled linens and scratched records…..
Since there is no place large enough
To contain so much happiness,
You shrug, you raise your hands,
and it flows out of you
Into everything you touch.
You are not
responsible.
You take no credit,
as the night sky
takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it,
and to share it,
And in that way, be known.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

900. Nocturne - Tomas Tranströmer

translated from the Swedish by Robin Fulton

I drive through a village at night, the houses rise up
in the glare of my headlights—they're awake, want to drink.
Houses, barns, signs, abandoned vehicles—now
they clothe themselves in Life.—The people are sleeping:

some can sleep peacefully, others have drawn features
as if training hard for eternity.
They don't dare let go though their sleep is heavy.
They rest like lowered crossing barriers when the mystery draws past.

Outside the village the road stretches far among the forest trees.
And the trees the trees keeping silence in concord with each other.
They have a theatrical color, like firelight.
How distinct each leaf! They follow me home.

I lie down to sleep I see strange pictures
and signs scribbling themselves behind my eyelids
on the wall of the dark. Into the slit between wakefulness and dream
a large letter tries to push itself in vain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

899. To Be Found - Willow Pearson

.
We are always looking for the mirror

by which we might see

our true Self

Look closely.

There is no place that mirror is not

Yet the vastness that we are

cannot be captured

in a single image

Through that One, see all beings

We are always listening for the voice

by which we might hear

our true Heart

Listen closely.

There is no place that voice does not resound

Yet the vastness that we are

cannot be captured

in a single sound

In that one tone, listen

as the whole universe sings back to you

The need to be seen, heard

through sacred reflections, and earthly echoes

is the guiding impulse of our basic sanity

Surrender.

While looking and listening,

as we must and as we will

Remember

the One

who looks and listens

Become the inward mirror of your searching eye

the inner echo of your true heartsong

Become the very Beloved you seek

There is nothing you are not

Nothing.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

899. “Any fool can get into an ocean . . .” - Jack Spicer

.
Any fool can get into an ocean
But it takes a Goddess
To get out of one.
What’s true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when you’ve tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That’s when the fun starts
Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

898. Argos - Michael Collier

.
If you think Odysseus too strong and brave to cry,
that the god-loved, god-protected hero
when he returned to Ithaka disguised,
intent to check up on his wife

and candidly apprize the condition of his kingdom,
steeled himself resolutely against surprise
and came into his land cold-hearted, clear-eyed,
ready for revenge--then you read Homer as I did,

too fast, knowing you'd be tested for plot
and major happenings, skimming forward to the massacre,
the shambles engineered with Telemakhos
by turning beggar and taking up the challenge of the bow.

Reading this way you probably missed the tear
Odysseus shed for his decrepit dog, Argos,
who's nothing but a bag of bones asleep atop
a refuse pile outside the palace gates. The dog is not

a god in earthly clothes, but in its own disguise
of death and destitution is more like Ithaka itself.
And if you returned home after twenty years
you might weep for the hunting dog

you long ago abandoned, rising from the garbage
of its bed, its instinct of recognition still intact,
enough will to wag its tail, lift its head, but little more.
Years ago you had the chance to read that page more closely

but instead you raced ahead, like Odysseus, cocksure
with your plan. Now the past is what you study,
where guile and speed give over to grief so you might stop,
and desiring to weep, weep more deeply.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

897. Secure - May Swenson

.
Let us deceive ourselves a little
while   Let us pretend that air
is earth   and falling lie resting
within each other's gaze   Let us

deny that flame consumes   that
fruit ripens   that the wave must
break   Let us forget the circle's
fixed beginning marks to the
instant its ordained end   Let us

lean upon the moment and expect
time to enfold us   space sustain
our weight   Let us be still   and

falling lie face to face and drink
each others breath   Be still
Let us be still   We lie secure

within the careful mind of death

Sunday, May 27, 2012

896. Variation on the Door - Margaret Randall

Variation on the Door - Margaret Randall
with Adrienne Rich


There is nothing I would not give
for years or even minutes,
time moving differently in this place we occupy,
memory hoisting itself upright in us.

There is nothing I would give
you or another,
repetition comforts me today,
a long delicate line of pink light parts the sky
and a coyote crossing the road makes you smile.

Knowing you here—a here
distant as voices or a room apart
(working as I work)
our air becoming a single air—
knowing you here holds my body in space,
fixes my mind.

This knowledge neither linear nor perfect
is again and again the door
opening because we have chosen
to walk through, chosen to risk,
remember our names.

Memory walks tall in this dream, memory
and hope.
Nothing can call me home, love,
but to your eyes and hands.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

895. The Door - Jane Hirshfield

.
A note waterfalls steadily
through us,
just below hearing.

Or this early light
streaming through dusty glass:
what enters, enters like that,
unstoppable gift.

And yet there is also the other,
the breath-space held between any call
and its answer—

In the querying
first scuff of footstep,
the wood owls' repeating,
the two-counting heart:

A little sabbath,
minnow whose brightness silvers past time.

The rest-note
unwritten,
hinged between worlds,
that precedes change and allows it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

894. For a Wedding on Mount Tamalpais - Jane Hirshfield

 .
July,
and the rich apples
once again falling.

You put them to your lips,
as you were meant to,
enter a sweetness
the earth wants to give.

Everything loves this way,
in gold honey,
in gold mountain grass
that carries lightly the shadow of hawks,
the shadow of clouds passing by.

And the dry grasses,
the live oaks and bays,
taste the apples' deep sweetness
because you taste it, as you were meant to,
tasting the life that is yours,

while below, the foghorns bend to their work,
bringing home what is coming home,
blessing what goes.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

893. The Garden - Louise Glück

.
I couldn't do it again,
I can hardly bear to look at it—

in the garden, in light rain
the young couple planting
a row of peas, as though
no one has ever done this before,
the great difficulties have never as yet
been faced and solved—

They cannot see themselves,
in fresh dirt, starting up
without perspective,
the hills behind them pale green, clouded with flowers—

She wants to stop;
he wants to get to the end,
to stay with the thing—

Look at her, touching his cheek
to make a truce, her fingers
cool with spring rain;
in thin grass, bursts of purple crocus—

even here, even at the beginning of love,
her hand leaving his face makes
an image of departure
and they think
they are free to overlook
this sadness.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

892. Kindness - Naomi Shihab Nye

.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread

only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

891. Poem White Page White Page Poem - Muriel Rukeyser

.
Poem   white page   white page poem
something is streaming out of a body in waves
something is beginning from the fingertips
they are starting to declare for my whole life
all the despair and the making music
something like wave after wave
that breaks on a beach
something like bringing the entire life
to this moment
the small waves bringing themselves to white paper
something like light stands up and is alive

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

890 For a Wedding on Mount Tamalpais - Jane Hirshfield

July,
and the rich apples
once again falling.

You put them to your lips,
as you were meant to,
enter a sweetness
the earth wants to give.

Everything loves this way,
in gold honey,
in gold mountain grass
that carries lightly the shadow of hawks,
the shadow of clouds passing by.

And the dry grasses,
the live oaks and bays,
taste the apples' deep sweetness
because you taste it, as you were meant to,
tasting the life that is yours,

while below, the foghorns bend to their work,
bringing home what is coming home,
blessing what goes.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

889. Everything - Mary Oliver

No doubt in Holland,
when van Gogh was a boy,
there were swans drifting
over the green sea
of the meadows, and no doubt
on some warm afternoon
he lay down and watched them,
and almost thought: this is everything.
What drove him
to get up and look further
is what saves this world,
even as it breaks
the hearts of men.
In the mines where he preached,
where he studied tenderness,
there were only men, all of them
streaked with dust.
For years he would reach
toward the darkness.
But no doubt, like all of us,
he finally remembered
everything, including the white birds
weightless and unaccountable,
floating around the towns
of grit and hopelessness––
and this is what would finish him:
not the gloom, which was only terrible,
but those last yellow fields, where clearly
nothing in the world mattered, or ever would,
but the insensible light.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

888. A Winter Night - Tomas Tranströmer

.
The storm puts its mouth to the house
and blows to get a tone.
I toss and turn, my closed eyes
reading the storm’s text.

The child’s eyes grow wide in the dark
and the storm howls for him.
Both love the swinging lamps;
both are halfway towards speech.

The storm has the hands and wings of a child.
Far away, travellers run for cover.
The house feels its own constellation of nails
holding the walls together.

The night is calm in our rooms,
where the echoes of all footsteps rest
like sunken leaves in a pond,
but the night outside is wild.

A darker storm stands over the world.
It puts its mouth to our soul
and blows to get a tone. We are afraid
the storm will blow us empty.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

887. Olives - Amos Oz

.
Sometimes the taste of these strong olives cured slowly in oil,
with cloves of garlic, bay leaves and chillies and lemon and salt,
conjures a whiff of a bygone age: rocky crannies,
goats, shade and the sound of pipes,
in the tune of the breath of primeval times. The chill of a cave, a hidden cottage
in a vineyard, a lodge in a garden, a slice of barley bread and well water.
Your are from there. You have lost your way.
Here is exile. Your death will come, and lay a knowing hand on your shoulder.
Come, it’s time to go home.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

886. Portrait Of A Woman - Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska - Portrait Of A Woman (1)
Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

She must be a variety.
Change so that nothing will change.
It's easy, impossible, tough going, worth a shot.
Her eyes are, as required, deep, blue, gray,
dark merry, full of pointless tears.
She sleeps with him as if she's first in line or the only one on earth.
She'll bear him four children, no children, one.
Naive, but gives the best advice.
Weak, but takes on anything.
A screw loose and tough as nails.
Curls up with Jasper or Ladies'Home Journal.
Can't figure out this bolt and builds a bridge.
Young, young as ever, still looking young.
Holds in her hand a baby sparrow with a broken wing,
her own money for some trip far away,
a meat cleaver, a compress, a glass of vodka.
Where's she running, isn't she exhausted.
Not a bit, a little, to death, it doesn't matter.
She must love him, or she's just plain stubborn.
For better, for worse, for heaven's sake.
      
Wislawa Szymborska - Portrait  Of A Woman (2)
Translated from the Polish by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert a. Maguire

She must be willing to please.
To change so that nothing should change.
It's easy, impossible, hard, worth trying.
Her eyes are if need be now deep blue, now gray,
dark, playful, filled for no reason with tears.
She sleeps with him like some chance acquaintance, like his one and only.
She will bear him four children, no children, one.
Naive yet giving the best advice.
Weak yet lifting the weightiest burdens.
Has no head on her shoulders but will have.
Reads Jaspers and ladies' magazines.
Doesn't know what this screw is for and will build a bridge.
Young, as usual young, as always still young.
Holds in her hands a sparrow with a broken wing,
her own money for a journey long and distant,
a meat-cleaver, poultice, and a shot of vodka.
Where is she running so, isn't she tired?
Not at all, just a bit, very much, doesn't matter.
Either she loves him or has made up her mind to.
For better, for worse, and for heaven's sake.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

885. Do Not Expect - Dana Gioia

Do not expect that if your book falls open
to a certain page, that any phrase
you read will make a difference today,
or that the voices you might overhear
when the wind moves through the yellow-green
and golden tent of autumn, speak to you.

Things ripen or go dry. Light plays on the
dark surface of the lake. Each afternoon
your shadow walks beside you on the wall,
and the days stay long and heavy underneath
the distant rumor of the harvest. One
more summer gone,
and one way or another you survive,
dull or regretful, never learning that
nothing is hidden in the obvious
changes of the world, that even the dim
reflection of the sun on tall, dry grass
is more than you will ever understand.

And only briefly then
you touch, you see, you press against
the surface of impenetrable things