I just love this online volume of poetry and art.
It is so beautiful, I think everyone should have the opportunity
to look at it:
Paper Scissors – Vol. I
Something akin to a maiden strayed
from this marriage of song and string,
glowing radiant through veils of spring;
inside my ear a bed she laid.
And there she slept. Her dream was my domain:
the trees which enchanted me; vistas vast
and nearly touchable; meadows of a vernal cast
and every wondrous joy my heart could claim.
She dreamed the world. Singing God, how made
you that primordial repose so sound she never
felt a need to waken? Upon arising she fell straight to dream.
Where is her death? O, will you yet discover her theme
before your song is eclipsed forever? —
Abandoning me, where does she go?–something akin to a maid-
Ranier Maria Rilke, from Songs to Orpheus
trans. Robert Hunter
See also Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet.
Oh little shadow. Little lurker into doorways. Little gypsy gypsy gypsy of a girl. Whose bird you were. Whose darkling in the branches on the underside of morning thrashed them into shimmering with parting as I turned. Who disappeared. Each bitter word or look dropped like a coin into your pocket, small gold hidden in the blindfolds of your skirt. Keep back. Come close. In cities made of falling and not falling, smell of smoke. Smell of wind and blood and ashes. Smell of dancing and of soot. They said Gypsy blacksmith forged the nails to kill their Christ; that’s the reason someone set the church bells ringing, sky in flames. And when you ran – burned from the clearing, all those black wings beating, beating – who ran with you, just behind you or before you, also flew? So spit your luck into the embers. Flash your name, if that’s your jewel. What cannot be torn away from you is deeper fire: sing.
“It swings forever to the absolute
crying out beauty like a silver flute.”
~ From “Broken Shell”
“Here sits the Unicorn,
leashed by a chain of gold
to the pomegranate tree.
So light a chain to hold
so fierce a beast,
delicate as a cross at rest
on a maiden’s breast.”
~ From “The Unicorn in Captivity”
“There is no harvest for the heart alone:
the seed of love must be
~ From “Second Sowing”
Burning tree upon the hill
and burning tree within my heart,
what kinship stands between the two,
what cord I cannot tear apart?
The passionate gust that sets one free,
– a flock of leaves in sudden flight –
shatters the bright interior tree
into a shower of splintered light.
Fused moments of felicity,
when flame and I and heart unite,
come they from earth, or can they be
the swallows of eternity?
Within the Wave
Within the hollow wave there lies a world,
gleaming glass-perfect, rising to be hurled
into a thousand fragments on the sand,
driven by tide’s inexorable hand.
Now in the instant while disaster towers,
I glimpse the land more beautiful than ours,
another sky, more lapis-lazuli,
lit by unsetting suns, another sea
by no horizon bound, another shore,
glistening with shells I never saw before.
Smooth mirror of the present, poised between
the crest’s “becoming” and the foam’s “has-been” –
how luminous the landscape seen across
the crystal lens of an impending loss!
Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another’s fire may glow,
a harp on which another’s passion, blow.
The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there’s nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.
Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
from The Unicorn and Other Poems
It’s the second Saturday of the month in Benicia, California, and that means … the Benicia Library book-sale is in full swing! (God bless every dear, white-haired volunteer of the Friends of the Library forever and ever, amen.) I bought thirty-five books for $26.50. Whoo-hoo! And the books … I went straight to the sci-fi section and re-stocked up on some of Frank Herbert’s Dune masterpieces (mine are in storage in Colorado and I miss them!) as well as the prequels and sequels written by Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson (which I’ve not read before).
Then I moseyed on over to the poetry section where, well, I sucked up all the abundance of the seas! (Yes, that’s an allusion to Deuteronomy 33:19 … and why am I thinking of that? Probably because Gurney Halleck, a musician in Dune alludes to it, too …) Among the treasures that fell into my book bag were The Song of Roland, The Rubaiyat, Yeats, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Berryman, Louise Erdrich … Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s The Volcano Sequence, Cecilia Woloch’s Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s The Unicorn and Other Poems … a couple of anthologies, Poetry Out Loud (2005), Muse of the Round Sky: Lyric Poetry of Ancient Greece (1969), and World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time (1998) as well as The Wordsworth Book of Love Poetry (1995). Ahem.
Novels were not forgotten! I got all the Narnia novels combined in one volume (yes, Aslan is on the move), a biography of Abelard and Heloise (the passion of two twelfth-century French lovers makes for such a powerful story in any version), and a novel by Nicholas Drayson called A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (and, I admit, I cried when I read the opening words, reminded of Uganda, where I was recently living, although this story is set in neighboring Kenya).
I got gift books that I’ve given away and will give away … oh, and a slim but marvelous volume by Neruda, a poet whom I love. When I brought home all these books and shared them with my mother and my sister, my sister Alice opened up the little Neruda anthology and read “The Vastness of Pines” in Spanish, presented here in translation, by W.S. Merwin.
“The Vastness of Pines”
Ah vastness of pines, murmur of waves breaking,
slow play of lights, solitary bell,
twilight falling in your eyes, toy doll,
earth-shell, in whom the earth sings!
In you the rivers sing and my soul flees in them
as you desire, and you send it where you will.
Aim my road on your bow of hope
and in a frenzy I will flee my flock of arrows.
On all sides I see your waist of fog,
and your silence hunts down my afflicted hours;
my kisses anchor, and my moist desire nests
in your arms of transparent stone.
Ah your mysterious voice that love tolls and darkens
in the resonant and dying evening!
Thus in the deep hours I have seen, over the fields,
the ears of wheat tolling in the mouth of the wind.
~ Pablo Neruda (trans. by W.S. Merwin)
Don’t you wish you were here? 😉