Tag Archives: literary works

“The Enigma” by Anne Stevenson

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Falling to sleep last night in a deep crevasse

between one rough dream and another, I seemed,

still awake, to be stranded on a stony path,

and there the familiar enigma presented itself

in the shape of a little trembling lamb.

It was lying like a pearl in the trough between

one Welsh slab and another, and it was crying.

I looked around, as anyone would, for its mother.

Nothing was there.  What did I know about lambs?

Should I pick it up?  Carry it….where?

What would I do if it were dying?  The hand

of my conscience fought with the claw of my fear.

It wasn’t so easy to imitate the Good Shepherd

in that faded, framed Sunday School picture

filtering now through the dream’s daguerreotype.

With the wind fallen and the moon swollen to the full,

small, white doubles of the creature at my feet

flared like candles in the creases of the night

until it looked to be alive with newborn lambs.

Where could they all have come from?

A second look, and the bleating lambs were birds–

kittiwakes nesting, clustered on a cliff face,

fixing on me their dark accusing eyes.

There was a kind of imperative not to touch them,

yet to be of them, whatever they were–

now lambs, now birds, now floating points of light–

fireflies signaling how many lost New England summers?

One form, now another; one configuration, now another.

Like fossils locked deep in the folds of my brain,

outliving a time by telling its story.  Like stars.

A Poem That Spoke to Me

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/kevin-mcfadden

 

Tone Defecit by Kevin McFadden

Can’t tell your oh from your ah?  Go, go or else

go ga-ga.  What, were you born in a barn?  Oh.

Ah.  What do you say when the dentist asks?

No novacaine?  Nah.  Then joke’s on us, Jack:

we gnaw ourselves when we really ought to know.

Can’t tell the force from the farce, nor our

cores from our cars.  The horde works hard in this

new nation of shopkeeps, moles in malls, minding

our stores when we should be minding our stars.

Harmony, whoremoney–can we even tell

the showman from the shaman?  Or are we

the worst kind of tourists, doing La France

in low fronts, sporting shorts at Chartres

and so alone in our elan?  Nope.  We’re Napoleons

of nowhere, hopeless going on hapless,

unable to tell our Elbas from our elbows.

 

Inspiration From The Leaves of Grass

 

We Too, How long we were Fool’d

 

We two, how long we were fool’d,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,
We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,
We browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaeous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings
and evenings,
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who believe ourselves orbic
and stellar, we are as two comets,
We prowl fang’d and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling
ovoer each other and interwetting each other,
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence
of the globe,
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.

Rumi/ How We Move in Grace

 

 

Doing prayer and meditation at a particular time,

fasting, and going on pilgrimage

are outward statements of inner intention.

Giving to charity and giving up jealousy

are ways to say how it is inside us.

Serving food and welcoming guests into your house

are actions that mean, I feel close to you.

Any time you exert yourself by going somewhere,

giving money, or taking time to pray,

you are saying, There is a priceless jewel inside me.

Fasting says, I have not eaten

even what is permitted.  I must want no connection

to what is not.  Giving to the poor says,

I am distributing my own property.

Certainly, I will not steal from others.

There are, though, fowlers who throw out grain

to snare birds, and cats who pretend to fast,

fast-asleep, when really they are peeking

through eye-slits to ambush prey.

They give generosity a bad name.

But despite all crookedness,

water comes from the star Arcturus

to wash even the hypocrites.

When our water here

becomes saturated with pollution,

it gets led back to the original water, the ocean.

After a year of receiving starlight,

the water returns, sweeping new robes along.

Where have you been?  In the ocean of purity.

Now I’m ready for more cleaning work.

Give me your demons.  I’ll take them to sea.

If there were no impurity, what would water do?

It shows its glory in how it washes a face,’

and in other qualities as well,

the way it grows the grass

and how it lifts a ship across to another port.

Every medicinal ointment derives essence

from water, as every pearl and every seed.

A river is a shop of salves,

food for the abandoned, movement

for those who are stuck.

When the river slows with the weight of silt

and corruption, it grows sad and prays,

Lord, what you gave me I gave others.

Is there more?  Can you give more?

Clouds then draw up the riverwater,

and dissolve it in the ocean.

What this means is

we often need to be refreshed.

Mingling with surroundings, the soul falls ill.

It calls out to the first caller-out, Bilal,

revive us.  Beat the drum that glides us along.

As the body stands at prayer,

the soul says, Peace, my friend,

then leaves for a while.

When it comes back, you don’t have to do ablutions

with sand anymore or guess which way

to point the prayer rug.

Water is the story of how we are helped.

Hot baths prepare us to enter the fire.

Only salamanders can go directly in

without an intermediary, salamanders and Abraham.

The rest of us need guidance from water.

Satisfaction comes from God,

but to get there you need to eat bread.

Beauty comes from the presence,

but those of us in bodies

must walk in a garden to feel it.

When this body-medium goes, we will see directly

the light that lives in the chest.

The qualities of water show

how we move inside grace.

 

Poem from The Essential Rumi

Friday is Forever Rumi

 

 

LIKE THIS

If anyone asks you

how the perfect satisfaction

of all our sexual wanting

will look, lift your face

and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness

of the nightsky, climb up on the roof

and dance and say,

Like this!

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,

or what “God’s fragrance” means,

lean your head toward him or her.

Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image

about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,

slowly loosen knot by knot the strings

of your robe.

Like this?

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,

don’t try to explain the miracle.

Kiss me on the lips.

Like this.  Like this.

When someone asks what it means

to “die for love,” point

here.

If someone asks how tall I am, frown

and measure with your fingers the space

between the creases on your forehead.

This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, then returns.

When someone doesn’t believe that,

walk back into my house.

Like this.

When lovers moan,

they’re telling our story.

Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.

Stare into this deepening blue,

while the breeze says a secret.

Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,

light the candle in his hand.

Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?

Huuuuuuu.

How did Jacob’s sight return?

Huuuuuuu.

A little wind cleans the eyes.

Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,

he’ll put just his head around the edge

of the door to surprise us.

Like this.

 

Poem from The Essential Rumi

 

 

 

 

May I Present Humphrey Gifford

1580 woman

 

A Delectable Dream

Here is a timeless satire on the faoibles of woman.  It was written nearly four hundred years ago, yet it sounds like a twentieth-century comment–a twentieth-century man’s comment.

A woman’s face is full of wiles,

Her tears are like the crocodiles;

With outward cheer on thee she smiles

When in her heart she thinks thee ill.

Her tongue still chats of this and that,

Than aspen leaf it wags more fast;

And as she walks she knows not what,

There issues many a truthless blast.

Thou far dost take thy mark amiss

If thou think faith in them to find.

The weathercock more constant is,

Which turns about with every wind.

Oh, how in pity they abound!

Their heart is mild like marble stone’

If in thyself no hope be found,

Be sure of them thou gettest none.

I know some pepper-nosed dame

Will term me fool and saucy jack,

That dare their credit so defame

And lay such slanders on their back.

What though on me they pour their spite?

I may not use the glozer’s trade:

I cannot say the crow is white,

But needs must call a spade a spade

(c. 1580)

glozer: flatterer.

A Love Dream

Love by Peace by Piece Crations

 

PLEASANT thoughts come wandering,

When thou art far, from thee to me;

On their silver wings they bring

A very peaceful ecstasy,

A feeling of eternal spring;

So that Winter half forgets

Everything but that thou art,

And, in his bewildered heart,

Dreameth of the violets,

Or those bluer flowers that ope,

Flowers of steadfast love and hope,

Watered by the living wells,

Of memories dear, and dearer prophecies,

When young spring forever dwells

In the sunshine of thine eyes.

I have most holy dreams of thee,

All night I have such dreams;

And, when I awake, reality

No whit the darker seems;

Through the twin gates of Hope and Memory

They pour in crystal streams

From out an angel’s calmed eyes,

Who, from twilight till sunrise,

Far away in the upper deep,

Poised upon his shining wings,

Over us his watch doth keep,

And, as he watcheth, ever sings.

Through the still night I hear him sing,

Down-looking on our sleep;

I hear his clear, clear harp-strings ring,

And, as the golden notes take wing,

Gently downward hovering,

For very joy I weep;

He singeth songs of holy Love,

That quiver through the depths afar,

Where the blessed spirits are,

And lingeringly from above

Shower till the morning star

His silver shield hath buckled on

And sentinels the dawn alone,

Quivering his gleamy spear

Through the dusky atmosphere.

Almost, my love, I fear the morn,

When that blessed voice shall cease,

Lest it should leave me quite forlorn,

Stript of my snowy robe of peace;

And yet the bright reality

Is fairer than all dreams can be,

For, through my spirit, all day long,

Ring echoes of that angel-song

In melodious thoughts of thee;

And well I know it cannot die

Till eternal morn shall break,

For, through life’s slumber, thou and I

Will keep it for each other’s sake,

And it shall not be silent when we wake.

 

Poetry by James Russell Lowell ,Lowell’s Poetical Works, 1892

 

 

Essential Rumi Sunday

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى‎), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (جلال‌الدین محمد رومی), and more popularly in the English-speaking world simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian[1][6] poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.[7] IraniansTurksAfghansTajiks, and other Central Asian Muslims as well as the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy in the past seven centuries.[8] Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the “most popular poet in America.”[9]

 

rumi-love-quotes-1

 

 

A Community of the Spirit

There is a community of the spirit.

Join it, and feel the delight

of walking in the noisy street,

and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,

and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes

to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,

if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel

the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.

Don’t accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.

Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.

You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”

Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.

Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.

Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always

widening rings of being.

There’s a strange frenzy in my head,

of birds flying,

each particle circulating on its own.

Is the one I love everywhere?

Drunks fear the police,

but the police are drunk too.

People in this town love them both

like different chess pieces.

 

Poem from the book The Essential Rumi: Translations by Coleman Barks

The World through Henry David Thoreau’s Eyes

Epitaph On The World

Here lies the body of this world,
Whose soul alas to hell is hurled.
This golden youth long since was past,
Its silver manhood went as fast,
An iron age drew on at last;
‘Tis vain its character to tell,
The several fates which it befell,
What year it died, when ’twill arise,
We only know that here it lies.

Henry David Thoreau