Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Embarrassment by Wendell Berry & The Hinge of Spring by Kay Ryan

A few Spring-ly girls from my Willow Tree angel collection.   Not that we have many actual flowers yet.  Our Winter has been so 'real' this year(!) that not even my Azaleas are blooming.  We had four or five snows and a few ice storms (totally unheard of in the 25 years I've lived here).  The best part of that weather is we also have no mosquitoes yet...or snakes.  Yea! They're usually swarming/slitering by this late in March. 
But I did see my first Hummingbirds yesterday.  My cat, Garfield, was in the window and his ears starting twitching wildly.  I looked outside and saw two Hummingbirds buzzing the empty feeder.  I had to fill it for them.  They're early by a few weeks, usually arriving the first week of April.  I hope Spring has sprung where you are.
I heard these poems on NPR's Writer's Almanac last week and they both just resonated in my heart, like a bell rung with a crystal clear, cleansing tone, washing my soul and lifting my spirit.  I hope you enjoy them.  The second one, "The Hinge" by Kay Ryan, is no less important than the first, IMO.  xo
An Embarrassment
by Wendell Berry

"Do you want to ask
the blessing?"

"No. If you do,
go ahead."

He went ahead:
his prayer dressed up

in Sunday clothes
rose a few feet

and dropped with a soft

If a lonely soul
did ever cry out

in company its true
outcry to God,

it would be as though
at a sedate party
a man suddenly
removed his clothes

and took his wife
passionately into his arms.

"An Embarrassment" by Wendell Berry from Leavings
Hey, again,
Long time, no see! as my sweet Aunt Mace used to say.  I've been in full Winter mode the past month, reading the "Game of Thrones" books and I fell off the face of the earth into Winterfeld and surrounding regions.  I've seen a few seasons of the HBO series, but, of course, the books are always better.  (I need a tee-shirt with that on it.)  My oldest daughter gave me a boxed set of five of the books in the series...over 4,000 pages of adventure, intrigue, romance, life, love, death, mystery, ghosts, and all points in between.  There's nothing better than an intriguing, well-written series.  You know when you finish one book that there are more waiting.  A book-slut such as myself's dream.
Since Spring is virtually here I thought I should crawl out of my cave, shower (ha! ha!) and post a few poems.  I've also been reading lots of the poets Charles Wright and Wendell Berry.  I have several of their books and dove into them feet first.  They're equally amazing poets, in different ways, of course.
I've only read Kay Ryan in anthologies, but I love her writing.  I plan to look up some of her books at the library.
My pain levels have been off the charts with this schizo weather...freezing one day, humid rain the next, so I've been walking trying to reduce the pain and bitching, bitching, bitching...which really does help...a lot!!  I freaking hate taking medications for it because all it does is mask the pain, but c'est la vie, right?
Happy Reading,
by Kay Ryan
The jackrabbit is a mild herbivore
grazing the desert floor,
quietly abridging spring,
eating the color off everything
rampant-height or lower.

Rabbits are one of the things
coyotes are for. One quick scream,
a few quick thumps,
and a whole little area
shoots up blue and orange clumps.

"The Hinge of Spring" by Kay Ryan from The Best of It: New and Selected Poems.
"The Best of It" by Kay Ryan

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Burnt Norton by T. S. Eliot

BURNT NORTON by T. S. Eliot (No. 1 of 'Four Quartets')

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
                              But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
                        Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

II  Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.

   At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
                                          Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

III  Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning
Tumid apathy with no concentration
Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind
That blows before and after time,
Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs
Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls
Into the faded air, the torpid
Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London,
Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney,
Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate. Not here
Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.   

   Descend lower, descend only
Into the world of perpetual solitude,
World not world, but that which is not world,
Internal darkness, deprivation
And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense,
Evacuation of the world of fancy,
Inoperancy of the world of spirit;
This is the one way, and the other
Is the same, not in movement
But abstention from movement; while the world moves
In appetency, on its metalled ways
Of time past and time future.

IV  Time and the bell have buried the day,
The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
Clutch and cling?   

Fingers of yew be curled
Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.   

   The detail of the pattern is movement,
As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.


Read the entire "Four Quartets".  It's worth every single minute.  I hide with my nose in piles of books of poetry waiting for spring to come.  She's late this year and I miss her early arrival, all dressed up in lace, flowers, pink and raindrops.