Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Memory of the Great Poet, Lucille Clifton



I was heartbroken to learn that the amazing poet, Lucille Clifton, died on Saturday, February 13, 2010.  She is one of my favorite poets and I'll miss her amazing poetry.

When I read her poem, "Praise Song" I thought, 'Damn, this woman knows some of my relatives and is writing about them!'  I was inspired to write about my own three crazybeautiful alcoholic aunts.  That's what good poetry does for me:  it makes me pick up my pen (razor) and write (slice) from my heart (my wrists) and let the ink (blood) pour onto the page (floor). 

Does reading inspiring poetry do that for y'all?  What inspires you to write?

I wish I could recall when I first read a Lucille Clifton poem, but I can't.  I think it was "Homage to My Hips" because I remember printing it out and sending copies to many of my women friends and we all laughed with joy that a poet was writing the truth..... I also remember that her poetry deeply affected me and freed me to write more openly.  She truly wrote from her bruised and battered, beautiful poet-heart.  Below are a few of her poems.  I highly recommend her books. 

Love & Blessings,

~*~Marion~*~

+++++++++++++++++++++++

homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

praise song
By Lucille Clifton

to my aunt blanche
who rolled from grass to driveway
into the street one sunday morning.
i was ten. i had never seen
a human woman hurl her basketball
of a body into the traffic of the world.
Praise to the drivers who stopped in time.
Praise to the faith with which she rose
after some moments then slowly walked
sighing back to her family.
Praise to the arms which understood
little or nothing of what it meant
but welcomed her in without judgment,
accepting it all like children might,
like God.

################################

Blessing the Boats
By Lucille Clifton

(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

_______________________________

seeker of visions
By Lucille Clifton

What does this mean.
to see walking men
wrapped in the color of death,
to hear from their tongue
such difficult syllables?

Are they the spirits of our hope
or the pale ghosts of our future?
Who will believe the red road
will not run on forever?

Who will believe a tribe of ice
might live and we might not?.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

the mississippi river empties into the gulf
by Lucille Clifton

and the gulf enters the sea and so forth,
none of them emptying anything,
all of them carrying yesterday
forever on their white tipped backs,
all of them dragging forward tomorrow.
it is the great circulation
of the earth's body, like the blood
of the gods, this river in which the past
is always flowing. every water
is the same water coming round.
everyday someone is standing on the edge
of this river, staring into time,
whispering mistakenly:
only here. only now.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad." ~Marcel Proust

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality  ~Emily Dickinson

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

14 comments:

Woman in a Window said...

She is a wonderful write
who writes as it is
not lofty
but as we see and say and move.

I write when I am provoked
to see life
in metaphor
and that is at
raising coffee mug
wiggling toes
brushing teeth
rising.
It all brings me
forward.

xo
erin

GYPSYWOMAN said...

wow! an incredible homage to an incredible poet/woman - beautifully done, lady - and as i said over at gypsywomanworld, when i heard just snippets of her homage to her hips i was so moved and words of my own kept whirling swirling round and round from her words - that's greatness! to inspire, like you said - and how well you said it, too!!! love your description, marion! powerful!

your proust quote reminds me of your dear friend renee and her presence...bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive...

i actually came back over to tell you that i thought you might like the sand traveler over at gypsywomanworld in case you've not already checked it out - and then i see the proust quote speaks of ...they were traveling abroad...
neat!

great post, marion! you went all out!

Marion said...

Thank you, Erin. Oh, if only you could lend me your brain and poet-heart for a day or two. Love you...

Marion said...

Thanks, Gypsy. You and I have some serious synchronicity going on! I appreciate you!! Love & Blessings!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

you know, that's so right, the synchro thing going on! girl, "it's" everywhere! ;)

Kelly said...

I have you to thank for introducing me to Lucille Clifton's poetry. I think it might have been with 'Homage to My Hips', still one of my favorites.

She will be missed.

Marion said...

Gypsy, I'm with the Dalai Lama: “I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.” ~Dalai Lama

Kelly, you're welcome. She surely will be missed by the poetry lovers in this crazy world. Blessings!

lakeviewer said...

Thanks for introducing me to her. Lovely. I see Erin is waxing poetic up here too.

Phoenix said...

Ah, she will be missed. Her favorite poem of mine is actually "Blessing the Boats." Since you didn't post it:

Blessing the Boats
(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that


This poem has helped me survive so much heartache and loss and growth...and reminds me that we are all innocent as we move from one stage of life to the next.

blessings to you, Marion.

Wine and Words said...

Well my dear...you inspired me to write today. Marion Muse. Anyhoooo, loved the hips...their freedom, their voodoo over men. Yep...praise be to the hips cuz I gots me a pair.

Love, Annie

She Writes said...

I like the one about hips.

Karen said...

I knew the one about hips but not the others. What a wonderful insight into life is expressed in each of these! Thanks for bringing her back to life for us here.

Marion said...

Lakeviewer, you are in for a treat reading her amazing poetry. Thanks for stopping in. Blessings!

Phoenix, thanks for posting "Blessing the Boats". Like you said so eloquently, it's an inspiring, encouraging work of art! Blessings, my friend...

Annie, you so hold me to this fucked up earth....yes, I got me them birthin' hips that drive men crazy, too....LOL! Love you...

Amy, ain't it just grand? I appreciate your stopping by. Blessings...

Karen, you'd love the book I have pictured. It's overflowing with amazing poems. Blessings...

Marion said...

Lucille Clifton did great things for me with her poem about her hips. I remember reading it when I was quite young (as compared to now, lol!) and feeling ever so much better about my mighty hips! I am so sorry she's gone now...thank you for posting some of her other pieces of poetry, Marion!