Monday, February 20, 2017

a prayer for unison

a poem is online at Heron Tree

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rilke: Let everything happen to you

Gott spricht zu jedem nur, eh er ihn macht,
dann geht er schweigend mit ihm aus der Nacht.
Aber die Worte, eh jeder beginnt,
diese wolkigen Worte, sind:

Von deinen Sinnen hinausgesandt,
geh bis an deiner Sehnsucht Rand;
gib mir Gewand.
Hinter den Dingen wachse als Brand,
dass ihre Schatten, ausgespannt,
immer mich ganz bedecken.

Lass dir Alles geschehn: Schönheit und Schrecken.
Man muss nur gehn: Kein Gefühl ist das fernste.
Lass dich von mir nicht trennen.
Nah ist das Land,
das sie das Leben nennen.

Du wirst es erkennen
an seinem Ernste.

Gib mir die Hand.

God speaks to each creature only before he makes it,
then walks silently with it out of the night.
But the words, before each begins,
those cloud-shrouded words, are:

Sent outward by your senses,
go to the limit of your longing;
and so clothe me.
Rise behind things like a fire,
so that their long-drawn shadows
cover me over.

Let everything happen to you: Beauty and Terror.
One must only keep going: no feeling is final.
Don't stray far from me.
Nearby is the land
that they call life.

You will know it
by its graveness.

Give me your hand.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke
The Book of Hours
(my translation, rather literal and quick)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

mni wiconi

These images, in which I find a strange, abstract beauty, are cropped and enlarged sections of an aerial news photograph (by Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune) showing the Oceti Sakowin camp, where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. A federal judge on Monday refused to stop construction on the last stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline. The honourable efforts of the Dakota people to protect their land and water will almost certainly fail, under the weight of corporate interests, paired with the federal government's unsleeping insistence toward empire.

Here, in this time of fade and dissolution, we are surrounded by the long, somber rhythms of many things dying.

One can see the full image here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

when the cities lie at the monster's feet

Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught – they say – God, when he walked on earth.

Robinson Jeffers

As Donald Trump proceeds with the putrefaction of American life, installing White Nationalist propagandists in the White House, we look for sanctuary. Here it is
--- rock and water, sky and poetry. These things are not eternal. They are not much at all, compared with the stars. But they will easily outlast any vulgar, bigoted con-man.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

from rilke's french (a spring poem in summer)



Melody of the sap
rising in the instruments
that all these trees are ---
accompany the singing
of our too-brief voices.

Abundant nature,
we are able to follow
the intricate figures
of your long ecstasy
for but a few measures.

When we fall silent
others will carry on the song.
But how, for the moment,
can I proffer my vast
complementary heart?


Everything readies and rises
toward manifest joy;
the earth and all the rest
unleashes its charms.

We will be well placed
to see all, to hear all;
we will even have to shield ourselves
and sometimes beg, Enough!

More so if we were inside it!
But our excellent seats
are a bit too removed
from the thrilling play.


The rise of sap in the capillaries
suddenly shows old men
the stiffened year hard to climb
and prepares departure in them.

The body, threatened by the power
of brute nature that doesn't know
the arteries where she still beats
withstand poorly an importunate order,

refuses the too brusque adventure;
but as it braces, distrustful,
to get by in its fashion, it makes
this game easy for the harsh earth.


It is the sap that kills
the old and those who hesitate
when this unheard-of air
suddenly floats in the streets.

Those who lack the force
to feel out wings for themselves,
are invited to the divorce
that mixes them with earth.

It is sweetness that pierces
with its exquisite point,
and a caress knocks flat
any who still resist.


How would sweetness matter,
if it were not capable,
though tender, ineffable,
of provoking our terror?

It so far surpasses
all other violence,
there is no defense
against its advances.


The murderess death, in winter,
comes in to sit by the hearth,
seeking sister and father,
and tunes her fiddle to their breath.

But when earth's pulse beats
under spring's first spade,
death roams the streets
and hails the strollers with a nod.


They took Eve
from Adam's side,
but when her life ends,
where will she go to die?

Will Adam be her grave?
Must she, when she wearies,
pry herself an entrance
between his long-healed ribs?

--R.M. Rilke
(my translation)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

thinking of winter

To Wish Not to Move

Mid-winter is no time, unhousing him.
Is it despair he wants in February,
a distance from the floral throb he dreads?
The freezing lake where water at the edge
of ice is colder, more improverished,
than ice. These raw, uneasy clouds, iron-gray,
spit-pale, pearlescent half-shine of burn scars
in the ache of heatless sun that penetrates.
Wind drags a thinning scrim of last night's snow
across the months-old, still unbroken crust,
a sustained sibilance that sharpens or slurs
as the wind rises or slacks, and is meaningless,
not even the terse, shrieked consonants of gulls
to liven it with their bright, famished cruelty.