Archive for September, 2014

… from Organic Torah

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I always knew that I came from
another language

and now even when I can no longer see
I continue to arrive at words

but the leaves
and the shells were already here
and my fingers finding them echo
the untold light and depth

I was betrayed into my true calling
and denied in my advancement
I may have seemed somewhat strange
caring in my own time for living things
with no value that we know
languages wash over them one wave at a time

when the houses fell
in the earthquake
I lost my wife
and my daughter
it all roared and stood still
where they were in daylight

I named for my wife a flower
as though I could name a flower
my wife dark and luminous
and not there
I lost the drawings of the flowers
in fire

I lost the studies
of the flowers
my first six books in the sea

then I saw that the flowers themselves
were gone
they were indeed gone
I saw
that my wife was gone
then I saw that my daughter was gone
afterwards my eyes themselves were gone

one day I was looking
at infinite small creatures
on the bright sand
and the next day is this
hearing after music
so this is the way I see now

I take a shell in my hand
new to itself and to me
I feel the thinness the warmth and the cold
I listen to the water
which is the story welling up
I remember the colors and their lives
everything takes me by surprise
it is all awake in the darkness

W.S. Merwin
Travels (1997)

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“In a dry time we learn whose roots run deep.”

~ James Louis Carcioppolo,

from Sonnet II in  The Lost Sonnets of Cyrano de Bergerac

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the poem as fantasia

Spectral Lyre

The poem as an occasion of the extraordinary, of imagining, of intenser time.

Marina Tsvetaeva wrote this about Alexander Alexandrovich Blok:

Your name is a—bird in my hand,
a piece of ice on my tongue.
The lips’ quick opening.
Your name—four letters.
A ball caught in flight,
a silver bell in my mouth.

A stone thrown into a silent lake
is—the sound of your name.
The light click of hooves at night
—your name.
Your name at my temple
—sharp click of a cocked gun.

Your name—impossible—
kiss on my eyes,
the chill of closed eyelids.
Your name—a kiss of snow.
Blue gulp of icy spring water.
With your name—sleep deepens.

April 15, 1916

from “Poems for Blok”
translated by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine

Why did she write such a thing in such a way? I’ll not interrogate personal motivation. I’ll restrict my curiosity to that phrase “in such…

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“There are many people who are more poetic and more sensitive than some of our best poets. What makes the poet unique is that he has a spiritual memory. He can retain his thoughts and his feelings until he has clarified them in words, and this other people cannot do. This was the gift that had now been given … ” ~ Hans Christian Andersen, “The Magic Galoshes”


“His imagination was so alive, and he felt so tenderly toward the world. Without thinking, he bent down and picked a flower. It was only a daisy that had been growing in the grass, yet it was able to explain to him, in one minute, what it would have taken a botanist long hours to tell. The little flower related the myth of its birth, told of the power of the sun: how it forced its petals to unfurl and give off their lovely scent. This made the poet think of how our lives, too, were a struggle and that it was this that aroused so many of the feelings that we have. Sunlight and air, the flower explained, were her suitors, but sunlight was her favorite, and she obeyed it and always held her head up toward it. When it disappeared and night came, she closed her petals and slept in the air’s embrace. “The sunlight makes me beautiful,” said the daisy. “But it is the air that gives you breath, so you can live,” whispered the poet.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen, “The Magic Galoshes”



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“Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests of our lives.”

~ Mary Oliver, from “Wild, Wild”

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