Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wendell Berry, from Against the Nihil of the Age

The predicament of a visionary poet at any time is difficult.
The poems one desires to write cannot be written merely by
desire, or by intellect or learning or will or technical
artistry--though they also cannot be written without desire,
intellect, learning, will and artistry. Beyond all these, inspiration
must come, and when it comes one must be ready. The
readiness is everything. It involves everything listed above,
plus a life's work.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Barred Owl, by Richard Wilbur

The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Robin Wright, in her book, Rock the Casbah, "notes that several factors are proving detrimental to Al Qaeda’s long-term future, most notably its failure to offer any positive vision for building a society; its inability to provide constructive solutions for everyday issues like health care and jobs; its killing of Muslim civilians; and its ultrafundamentalist worldview. 

But while Mr. Bergen [Peter Bergan, in his book, The Longest War] worries that 'many thousands of underemployed, disaffected men in the Muslim world will continue to embrace bin Laden’s doctrine of violent anti-Westernism,' Ms. Wright is considerably more positive, asserting that a decade after 9/11, 'the Islamic world is now in the throes of a counterjihad' aimed at routing 'extremism in its many forms' and that this 'counterjihad will define the next decade as thoroughly as the extremists dominated the last one.'"
from a New York Times book review by Michiko Kakutani, August 1, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

J. D McClatchy said: "I prefer formal techniques, and use sonnets and rhyme, any manner of scheme to give a shape and order — of feeling as well as argument — to a poem. But all my life, I've also been a person who's made his bed in the morning and picks up the bath mat. That's what I mean by temperament. Whether genetic or acquired, I have a disposition to arrangements. One is born with this, as if with blue eyes or a weak heart. Do you think Allen Ginsberg ever put the cap back on his toothpaste?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. 
It turns what we have into enough, and more. 
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos
to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn 
a meal into a feast, a house into a home, 
a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes
sense of our past, brings peace for today, 
and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie -

Friday, April 22, 2011

Place by W.S. Merwin (1927-)
On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree
what for
not for the fruit
the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted
I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time

with the sun already
going down
and the water
touching its roots
in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing
one by one
over its leaves
(from The Rain in the Trees, Alfred A. Knopf, 1988)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nature by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Many in this world run after felicity
like an absent man hunting for his hat,
while all the time it is on his head or
in his hand."

Sydney Smith

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Enkindled Spring
by D. H. Lawrence

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration

Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among

This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.

from Complete Poems, published by Penguin Classics

Saturday, March 5, 2011

by Edgar Allan Poe

There are some qualities—some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence—sea and shore—
Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
Newly with grass o'ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name's "No More."
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If we take our vulnerable shell to be our true identity, if we think our mask is our true face, we will protect it with fabrications even at the cost of violating our own truth. This seems to be the collective endeavor of society: the more busily men dedicate themselves to it, the more certainly it becomes a collective illusion, until in the end we have the enormous, obsessive, uncontrollable dynamic of fabrications designed to protect mere fictitious identities - "selves," that is to say, regarded as objects.

Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions) 15

The House by Richard Wilbur

Sometimes, on waking, she would close her eyes
For a last look at that white house she knew
In sleep alone, and held no title to,
And had not entered yet, for all her sighs.

What did she tell me of that house of hers?

White gatepost; terrace; fanlight of the door;
A widow's walk above the bouldered shore;
Salt winds that ruffle the surrounding firs.

Is she now there, wherever there may be?

Only a foolish man would hope to find
That haven fashioned by her dreaming mind.
Night after night, my love, I put to sea.

from Anterooms: New Poems and Translation
by Richard Wilbur