Silent Poetry

On Frolicking, Snow, and a Poem

We had our first snow yesterday.  Not much.  But enough to cause some roadway havoc.

I always love the first few snows of the season . . . but the dogs?  Oh, they REVEL in it!  They race around the yard, frolicking.  They rub their faces in the snow and dig and roll and chase each other.  It is Pure Dog Joy!

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Watching them play in the snow always makes me think of this perfect poem by Mary Oliver, from her book Dog Songs.

The Storm (Bear)
    --- by Mary Oliver

Now through the white orchard my little dog
    romps, breaking the new snow
    with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
    hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins,
until the white snow is written upon
    in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
    the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better
    myself.

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Have a wonderful weekend!


Practicing Gratitude: Gifting with a Side of Poetry

29/30

It's that time of year when knitters (and makers) everywhere get really serious about creating handmade gifts for people they care about.  

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(Yes.  That's a sock.  But don't get excited about it.  I finished it over a year ago, and haven't even cast on for its mate.  This post just needed a sock picture, so I dug it out of the drawer for just long enough to snap a photo.)  (It's back in the drawer now.)

I'm not knitting-for-Christmas this year, myself (although I do have one gift recipient who desperately needs a hat, so there is that), but I thought I would share this gratitude-related poem about receiving the gift of socks to inspire all of you gift-knitters and gift-makers out there.

Ode to My Socks
         by Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft
as rabbits.
I slipped my feet
into them
as though into
two
cases
knitted
with threads of
twilight
and goatskin.
Violent socks,
my feet were
two fish made
of wool,
two long sharks
sea-blue, shot
through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons:
my feet
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
socks.
They were
so handsome
for the first time
my feet seemed to me
unacceptable
like two decrepit
firemen, firemen
unworthy
of that woven
fire,
of those glowing
socks.

Nevertheless
I resisted
the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere
as schoolboys
keep
fireflies,
as learned men
collect
sacred texts,
I resisted
the mad impulse
to put them
into a golden
cage
and each day give them
birdseed
and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers
in the jungle who hand
over the very rare
green deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stretched out
my feet
and pulled on
the magnificent
socks
and then my shoes.

The moral
of my ode is this:
beauty is twice
beauty
and what is good is doubly
good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool
in winter.

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Happy gift knitting, my friends.  And if you'd like to read other knitting tales today, hop on over to Kat's for Unraveled Wednesday.


Sundays are for Poetry

26/30

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Could Have
by Wisława Szymborska

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier.  Later.
Nearer.  Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.

You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone.  With others.
On the right.  The left.
Because it was raining.  Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck -- there was a forest.
You were in luck -- there were no trees.
You were in luck --  a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
a jamb, a turn, a quarter inch, an instant.
You were in luck -- just then a straw went floating by.

As a result, although, despite.
What would have happened if a hand, a foot,
within an inch, a hairsbreadth from
an unfortunate coincidence.

So you're here?  Still dizzy from another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn't be more shocked or speechless.
Listen,
how your heart pounds inside me.


Sundays are for Poetry

19/30

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Wild Geese
    by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - 
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Sundays are for Poetry

5/30

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The Peace of Wild Things
                        by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Two in One Day: Post #1 - A Poem in Your Pocket

Today . . . I am doing something unheard of.  

Today . . . I am posting TWICE.  (Please be sure to check my other post today by clicking here.)

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It's Poem In Your Pocket Day.  Share the power of poetry today with the people in your life today!

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the laughing heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

--- by Charles Bukowski

 

(The sculpture accompanying the poem in my post today is Hopeful by Linda Lewis, available at Button Gallery in Douglas, Michigan.  The photograph is my own.)

 


Words on Wednesday: Poetry

Poetry . . . and Science.

Science . . . and Poetry.

It sort of seems like they don't go together at all, doesn't it?

Poetry.  Words and images and emotions.

Science.  Data and hypotheses and facts.

But, y'know. . . both poetry and science share a common raw material.

Nature.

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Last weekend at the March for Science, Jane Hirshfield, poet and environmental spokesperson, clearly saw the link between poetry and science -- and launched Poets for Science.  Jane and some of her colleagues from the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State were on hand at the march in Washington DC, supporting science with the power of poetry -- with banners, workshops, and even new poetry.

Poetry and Science.  (Of course!)

On the Fifth Day

On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.

The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.

In gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

--- Jane Hirshfield (for the March for Science)

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April is National Poetry Month.  On Wednesdays throughout the month, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 - that's tomorrow - is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.


Words on Wednesday: Poetry

I've had a rather . . . thoughtful . . . year.  I think it's just the natural rhythms of life.  Changes.  Settling.  Getting older.  I'm finally understanding that life really is fleeting, and that every day is a gift that shouldn't be squandered.

Melancholy?  Nah.  

It's just . . . getting to a point where I think about things from a new perspective.  Acceptance, maybe?  Wisdom?  Certainly a commitment to make the most out of every single day.

I think poets capture this . . . sense of things . . . in remarkable and beautiful ways.  They can distill that almost-melancholy-but-not-really feeling in just a few, perfectly chosen words.  And get it so very right!  (That's one of the reasons I like poetry so much.)

The poem I'm sharing today is by W. S. Merwin, who served as the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2010-11.  It's from his collection Garden Time, written in his late 80s as he was losing his eyesight.

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The Wings of Daylight

Brightness appears showing us everything
it reveals the splendors it calls everything
but shows it to each of us alone
and only once and only to look at
not to touch or hold in our shadows
what we see is never what we touch
what we take turns out to be something else
what we see that one time departs untouched
while other shadows gather around us
the world's shadows mingle with our own
we had forgotten them but they know us
they remember us as we always were
they were at home here before the first came
everything will leave us except the shadows
but the shadows carry the whole story
at first daybreak they open their long wings

                -- W.S. Merwin 

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April is National Poetry Month.  On Wednesdays throughout the month, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.


Words on Wednesday: Poetry

April is National Poetry Month.  

As a reader and lover of poetry, I always celebrate this month -- and I take it as a personal challenge:  To share poetry I love; to remind people that poetry is wonderful; and to encourage others to just . . . give it a try!  Because if you hated it in school . . . well . . . I'm betting it was the way it was taught. 

In third grade, my teacher's name was Mrs. Clinton.  Besides being an excellent teacher, she was also an artist -- and a lover of poetry.  When she taught poetry, it was from the heart!  And, best of all, she taught us that poetry could be fun.  She shared silly poems with us every day -- and we loved them!  By beginning with the silly, she took the dust-and-fuss off the rest of "Poetry," so when she threw the more serious stuff at us later, we were receptive and unintimidated.  I'm going to bet that many of my classmates also grew up with, at the very least, a fondness for poetry.

Anyway, I think of Mrs. Clinton whenever I pull this book off my shelf.

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Here's a poem from the book.  (I think Mrs. Clinton would have approved.)  (But not for third graders.)

"What do women want?"

I want a red dress.
I want it fliimsy and cheap.
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath.  I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears abut me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want.  When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio

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On Wednesday throughout April, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.