Thursday, 10 May 2012
@Awoolham has always been an inspiration to me since I started XWS and she was my fist victim—I mean candidate! I love Aye’s unique perspective and her brash honesty in her blogs. I admire her ability to appreciate poetry. In the last four years of undergrad I’ve struggled with poetry: do I love it or do I hate it? I hated it for the last four years, and I loved it before that, and now that I’m officially done (at least until I find out I don’t get to graduate) with my undergrad, I think I’m finally back to loving poetry. Only this time I have four years worth of books and education to help me appreciate others poetry in a way I never could before. I still read for the purpose of enjoyment and enlightenment, but perhaps now I can find inspiration and value in things I thought I hated the last four years. So I’ve begun reading one of my text books from my Sophomore year again, and I came across some poems I find particularly inspiring, and I thought I’d share them with you. I also like some of the author’s comments, so I thought I’d include those too in quotations.
From A Book of Luminous Things by Czeslaw Milosz:
“The secret of all art, also of poetry, is, thus, distance.”
“Remembering, we move to that land of past time, yet now without our former passions: we do not strive for anything, we are not afraid of anything, we become an eye which perceives and finds details that had escaped our attention.”
THE AUTHOR OF AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY SKETCHES A BIRD, NOW EXTINCT
When he walked through town, the wing-shot bird he’d hidden
Inside his coat began to cry like a baby,
High and plaintive and loud as the calls he’d heard
While hunting it in the woods, and goodwives stared
And scurried indoors to guard their own from harm.
And the innkeeper and the goodmen in the tavern
Asked him whether his child was sick, then laughed.
Slapped knees, and laughed as he unswaddled his prize,
His pride and burden: an ivory-billed woodpecker
As big as a crow, still wailing and squealing.
Upstairs, when he let it go in his workroom,
It fell silent at last. He told at dinner
How devoted masters of birds drawn from the life
Must gather their flocks around them with a rifle
And make them live forever inside books.
Later, he found his bedspread covered with plaster
And the bird clinging beside a hole in the wall
Clear through to already-splintered weatherboards
And the sky beyond. While he tied one of its legs
To a table leg, it started wailing again.
And went on wailing as if toward cypress groves
While the artist drew and tinted on fine vellum
Its red cockade, gray claws, and sepia eyes
From which a white edge flowed to the lame wing
Like light flying and ended there in blackness.
He drew and studied for days, eating and dreaming
Fitfully through the dancing and loud drumming
Of an ivory bill that refused pecans and beetles,
Chestnuts and sweet-sour fruit of magnolias,
Riddling his table, slashing his fingers, wailing.
He watched it die, he said, with great regret.
“In a way, a poem is in one respect superior to a drawing, because it may follow a sequence of movements.”
In the night, in the wind, at the edge of the rain,
I find five irises, and call them lovely.
As if a woman, once, lay by them awhile,
then woke, rose, went, the memory of hair
lingers on their sweet tongues.
I’d like to tear these petals with my teeth.
I’d like to investigate these hairy selves,
their beauty and indifference. They hold
their breath all their lives
and open, open.
We are not lovers, not brother and sister,
though we drift hand in hand through a hall
thrilling and burning as thought and desire
expire, and, over this dream of life,
this life of sleep, we waken dying—
violet becoming blue, growing
black, black—all that
an iris ever prays,
“Poets have always been fascinated by the incomprehensible behavior of some creatures, for instance, the moth, which strives toward light and burns itself in the flame of a candle or kerosene lamp.”
My response: We should probably focus on our own incomprehensible behavior.
IN PRAISE OF SELF-DEPRECATION
The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.
Scruples are alien to the black panther.
Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.
The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.
The self-critical jackal does not exist.
The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly
live as they live and are glad of it.
The killer-whale’s heart weighs one hundred kilos
but in other respects it is light.
There is nothing more animal-like
than a clear conscience
on the third planet of the Sun.