Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Five Poems



You know you are getting old when your sun tan is so much darker than your hair and mustache. Sometimes I wish we could grow younger.

This has been my summer to get healthy. This has been my summer to get rid of my pasty indoor skin look, loose weight, quit smoking, and generally be in as good a shape as I can be for my age. I have wanted to do this simply to feel better and to feel better about myself; I have needed to do it 'just in case' the neurosurgeon decides it is time to dig around in my brain; I have continued to do it because I enjoy it and I enjoy being outside in the sun; I will continue to do it in the hope I can become fit enough that walking the El Camino in Spain can become a reality.

I have also been enjoing some poetry that I have run acrossed. I would like to share it with you.

First, though, is a quote I ran across that I liked but I forgot to write down where it came from. Does anyone recognize it?

"The very worst impulses of humankind can survive generations, centuries, even millennia. And the best of our individual efforts can die with us at the end of a single lifetime."
Pessimistic, what?

First is a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye called 'Kindness.' This is incredibly beautiful.
KINDNESS
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.
 
~~ Naomi Shihab Nye

The next offering is a poem by Wislawa Szymborska. I have shared her poetry with you before.

VIEW WITH A GRAIN OF SAND

We call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing, incorrect, or apt.
Our glance, our touch mean nothing to it.
It doesn't feel itself seen and touched.
And that it fell on the windowsill
is only our experience, not its.
For it, it is no different from falling on anything else
with no assurance that it has finished falling
or that it is falling still.
The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn't view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.
The lake's floor exits floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorelessly.
Its water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular or plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.
And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being
that it blows.
A second passes.
A second second.
A third.
But they're three seconds only for us.
Time has passed like a courier with urgent news.
But that's just our simile.
The character is invented, his haste is make-believe,
his news inhuman.

~~Wislawa Szymborska

Next up is a poem by the 13th Century Persian Poet, Rumi.

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
 
~~ Rumi

Wendell Berry's The Peace of Wild Things speaks to all of us who find solace in nature.

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

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.

~~Wendell Berry
My last offering is another poem by my favorite poet, Pablo Neruda. I have posted one of his works before. This is an amazingly beautiful poem. I hope you enjoy it.

TOO MANY NAMES
 
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.
No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.
When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.
It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.
When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?
This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formallities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.
I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.
 
~~ Pablo Neruda.

This is the end of the items I wished to share with you. I know poetry isn't everyone cup of tea and I promise not to post any more ... for at least a week. Maybe. Sometimes I just can't help myself. I live in the hope that maybe one of these has touched at least one of you.
(Originally posted to Multiply July 2, 2008)

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