Monthly Archives: February 2016

Robert Hayden

“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

 

Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.   I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house.   Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?
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Rumi

Love has taken away my practices and filled me with poetry. I tried to keep quietly repeating, No strength but yours, but I couldn’t. I had to clap and sing. I used to be respectable and chaste and stable, but who can stand in this strong wind and remember those things? A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself. That’s how I hold your voice. I am scrap wood thrown in your fire, and quickly reduced to smoke. I saw you and became empty. This emptiness, more beautiful than existence, it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes, existence thrives and creates more existence! The sky is blue. The world is a blind man squatting on the road. But whoever sees your emptiness sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man. A great soul hides like Muhammad, or Jesus, moving through a crowd in a city where no one knows him. To praise is to praise how one surrenders to the emptiness. To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes. Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship. So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where! Just to be held by the ocean is the best of luck we could have. It’s a total waking up! Why should we grieve that we’ve been sleeping? It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been unconscious. We’re groggy, but let the guilt go. Feel the motions of tenderness around you, the buoyancy.

 

Philip Larkin

Next, Please

Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say,

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear,
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste!

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,
Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it’s
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.”

Sheldon B Kopp

“Whether pilgrim or wayfarer, while seeking to be taught the Truth (or something), the disciple learns only that there is nothing that anyone else can teach him. He learns, once he is willing to give up being taught, that he already knows how to live, that it is implied in his own tale. The secret is that there is no secret. Everything is just what it seems to be. This is it! There are no hidden meanings. Before he is enlightened, a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman, and falls asleep. But once he has attained enlightenment, then a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman, and falls asleep. The Zen way to see the truth is through your everyday eyes. It is only the heartless questioning of life-as-it-is that ties a man in knots. A man does not need an answer in order to find peace. He needs only to surrender to his existence, to cease the needless, empty questioning. The secret of enlightenment is when you are hungry, eat; and when you are tired, sleep. The Zen Master warns: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” This admonition points up that no meaning that comes from outside of ourselves is real. The Buddhahood of each of us has already been obtained. We need only recognize it. Philosophy, religion, patriotism, all are empty idols. The only meaning in our lives is what we each bring to them. Killing the Buddha on the road means destroying the hope that anything outside of ourselves can be our master. No one is any bigger than anyone else. There are no mothers or fathers for grown-ups, only sisters and brothers.”

Rumi

” Love has taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.

I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn’t.

I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold your voice.

I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.

I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence!

The sky is blue. The world is a blind man
squatting on the road.

But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man.

A great soul hides like Muhammad, or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city
where no one knows him.

To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.

To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.

So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best of luck
we could have. It’s a total waking up!

Why should we grieve that we’ve been sleeping?
It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been unconscious.

We’re groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness
around you, the buoyancy.”

Sheldon B Kopp

“I remember a group therapy session when one of the patients was reluctantly turning his corner. He would accept it, he said, but he wouldn’t like the idea of having to solve problems every day for the rest of his life. My co-therapist told him that it was not required that he like it. She shared her own displeasure, saying: ‘I remember that when I first discovered what life was like, I was furious. I guess I’m still kind of mad sometimes. “

Thomas Merton

“The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with inconsistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.

I came up here from the monastery last night, sloshing through the cornfield, said Vespers, and put some oatmeal on the Coleman stove for supper. It boiled over while I was listening to the rain and toasting a piece of bread at the log fire. The night became very dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside! What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen. “

 

ON MEETING WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

 

ON MEETING  WILLIAM  WORDSWORTH

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a poet

Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 “ Hi Bill, nice to meet you. I’ve been a fan for years.”

His look was stern, but I continued:

“I’m a bit of a poet myself.”

He remained silent, his frown marked

“ Are you off on a romp to write some limericks? “

His demeanour grew steadily darker.

 Uncomfortable with his obvious unfriendliness

I departed

Accidently treading on some flowers –

Daffodils I think.

 Dorothy wasn’t pleased.

 At the train station I couldn’t help but brood on Bill

What on earth is so attractive about a few dirty northern lakes I wondered?!

Has he ever bothered coming south?!

Has he ever been to my neck of the woods – Neasden?!

 You never know

It might improve his poetry

Poetics

Poetics
By A. R. Ammons
(1926 – 2001)
I look for the way
things will turn
out spiraling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in
so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
wind-glittering
totally its apparent self:
I look for the forms
things want to come as
from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will
unfold:
not the shape on paper — though
that, too — but the
uninterfering means on paper:
not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.