Poetry and Poets: June 2007 Archives

Fierce Poetry, Fragile Poet


I post these because they speak for me when I have no tongue or sense and they say what cannot be said by me even were I longing to say it.

To My Lady of Poetry
Alfonsina Storni

I throw myself here at your feet, sinful,
my dark face against your blue earth,
you the virgin among armies of palm trees
that never grow old as humans do.

I don't dare look at your pure eyes
or dare touch your miraculous hand:
I look behind me and a river of rashness
urges me guiltlessly on against you.

With a promise to mend my ways through your
divine grace, I humbly place on our
hem a little green branch,

for I couldn't have possibly lived
cut off from your shadow, since you blinded me
at birth with your fierce branding iron.

Note "My lady" not "Our lady." The poem seems to be about the Blessed Virgin and is certainly strewn with her trappings, but what is adored here is not Mary, Mother of God, but the muse of poetry. And what is said here is said thoroughly in the last tercet because it seems to me that there is a way of seeing that cannot be undone or unseen, a blindsight that is the gift and curse of the poet and no amount of undoing can change it or alter it one iota--it is laid upon one at birth, or at least very early on and it is through that lens that all is seen that can be seen and seen in ways that it seems others do not. Although that last may simply be pretension and pride.

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Confused Love


And love can be most confusing:

I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
Pablo Neruda

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

And another, quite lovely even in translation:

Saddest Poem
Pablo Neruda

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.

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In the Season of the Spirit


Veni Creator
Czeslaw Milosz

Come, Holy Spirit,
bending or not bending the grasses,
appearing or not above our heads in a tongue of flame,
at hay harvest or when they plough in the orchards,
or when snow covers crippled firs in the Sierra Nevada.

I am only a human being: I need visible signs.
I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.
Many a time I asked, you know it well,
that the statue in church lift its hand, only once, just once, for me.
But I understand that signs must be human,
therefore, call one person, anywhere on earth,
not me-after all I have some decency-
and allow me, when I look at that person,
to marvel at you.

And as a result, my life is better.

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Lest We Seem Too Far Gone


A contemporary British haiku, thank you.

[Haiku] Wendy Cope


November evening:
The moon is up, rooks settle,
The pubs are open.

That never-ending Japanese obsession with the pubs here creeps into British poetry.

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A Purgatorial Poem


Being of a melancholy cast of mind this morning, a purgatorial poem seems best to fit the mood:

Cuchulain Comforted
William Butler Yeats

A man that had six mortal wounds, a man
violent and famous, strode among the dead;
Eyes stared out of the branches and were gone.

Then certain Shrouds that mutter head to head
Came and were gone. He leant upon a tree
As though to meditate on wounds and blood.

A Shroud that seemed to have authority
Among those bird-like things came, and let fall
A bundle of linen. Shrouds by two and three

Came creeping up because the man was still.
And thereupon that linen-carrier said
'Your life can grow much sweeter if you will

'Obey our ancient rule and make a shroud;
Mainly because of what we only know
The rattle of those arms makes us afraid,

'We thread the needles' eyes and all we do
All must together do.' That done, the man
Took up the nearest and began to sew.

'Now we shall sing and sing the best we can
But first you must be told our character:
Convicted cowards all by kindred slain

'Or driven from home and left to die in fear.'
The sand, but had not human notes n or words,
Though all was done in common as before.

They had changed their throats and had the throats of birds.

Something about these shades resonates within me. The poem speaks out of shadow and into shadow and is shadow-strewn all about.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Poetry and Poets category from June 2007.

Poetry and Poets: January 2007 is the previous archive.

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