A word of caution to those approaching the oracle

You’ve come because you want to learn what’s coming;
You hope to dodge a blow or cheat a blight.
You hear the drone of distant drummers drumming,
And wish to circumvent a nasty fight.

A fear has blurred your thought, you feel alone.
Like many gallant men, you’ve lost your mooring,
Forgotten things that once you’ve deeply known.
(From where you sit, they’re hardly reassuring.)

The sybil’s work is not to help you hide;
Your destiny, we know, is to be bold.
You’ll neither fight the future nor evade it;
You’ll co-create with allies far and wide.
The outcome in advance cannot be told—
You won’t know destiny until you’ve made it.

— JJM = #00 from the I Ching Sonnet Project

Michelangelo

You are Waiting in Vain

I am an echo.
You are waiting for the voice blooming in heaven
and raining down
like fireworks.

You are waiting for the voice
to raise the birds from their nests,
to bear an avalanche
and to make the blue glass of heaven
split into a thousand cracks.

But remember
I am an echo
and you haven’t shouted yet.

— Mara Zalite, translated from Latvian by Inguna Jansone

boy listening

Community

The leaders never want us to unite
Our squabbles leave them firmly in control.
Defending each his independent soul,
We miss the opportunity to fight
Collectively, each for the good of all.
We isolate, behind a private wall
And squander our consolidated might.
Then fear triumphs, we panic and take flight.

The dread of death is man’s Achilles heel.
Confused, we’re easy prey when we’re afraid.
The remedy needs discipline and grace.
Surrender to this truth: all flesh must fade;
But, seeking self within, we find a place
That knows it’s our collective soul that’s real.

— JJM = #8 in the I Ching Sonnet Project

Biting Through 噬嗑

It’s true that anger clouds your thought when most
You need the clarity to gauge a plan.
Those who have natural self-possession can
Effect the most appropriate riposte.

But anger has its place and it can teach us:
What is unacceptable in our sight?
For what cause are we energized to fight?
It’s through our passion, awareness may reach us.

Most useful is rage on behalf of others;
Most dangerous is umbrage at a slight.
You are the least unfortunate of men!
Your anger only finds its target when
Invoked in defense of less privileged brothers.
None can stop the warrior whose cause is right.

— JJM = #21 in the I Ching Sonnet Project

Painting inspired by Chinese character for hexagram 21.

ANALOGUE

I watch me until I disappear and we
Enter the danced dimension of the good
True beautiful, whose claims may be
Ignored but not withstood.

Join me because forever perfected
Love’s one moment emerges here
Forever alive. Time undermines us
But our made love stands clear.

Marie Perlot

The Mystery

If sunset clouds could grow on trees
It would but match the May in flower;
And skies be underneath the seas
No topsyturvier than a shower.

If mountains rose on wings to wander
They were no wilder than a cloud;
Yet all my praise is mean as slander,
Mean as these mean words spoken aloud.

And never more than now I know
That man’s first heaven is far behind;
Unless the blazing seraph’s blow
Has left him in the garden blind.

Witness, O Sun that blinds our eyes,
Unthinkable and unthankable King,
That though all other wonder dies
I wonder at not wondering.

— G. K. Chesterton

The relation of reason to wonder

At the beginning of this text, the moon enters the narrator’s body so as to become coextensive with his physical form. He asks,

Why are there dark areas on the moon?

She smiled a little, then she said: “If mortals’
opinion therein errs, where key of sense
unlocketh not, surely the shafts of wonder
ought not to pierce thee now; for thou perceivest
that short are Reason’s wings, when following sense.
But tell me what thou think’st thereof thyself.”

This from a time when scientific reasoning found a natural place in poetry.

And I: “What seems to us diverse up here,
is caused, I think, by bodies thin and dense.”
And she: “Thou ’lt surely see that thy belief
is sunk in error, if but well thou heed
the arguments I’ll now oppose to it.

Canto 2 from the Paradiso of Dante, trans. William Wordsworth
text explication

Moon - Wikipedia

Kuai = Breakthrough

Then, out of nowhere, sudden certainty;
A confident conviction fills the air.
You had been hanging back, but now you dare
To take decisive action; you feel free,
Though sensing you could do no differently.
Your gait embodies unselfconscious flare,
That naturally the others want to share,
They join in eager unanimity.

In time is metamorphosis compressed.
A line divides the future from the past,
As past the river’s rambling you can see
An occult energy there manifest;
And all the universe erupts in vast,
Uncontemplated possibility.

— JJM = #43 from the I Ching Sonnet Project

Limitation

The poet who commits to fourteen lines
Finds focus and a certain inspiration,
While words that don’t conduce his destination
Can have no place in sonnet’s strict confines.

A marriage, or a pledge made to a child
Can focus life, as poems focus art
A parent pares all that cannot be part
Of life that son and daughter have beguiled

He feels he’s both the finder and the found;
His yoke is tight, but surely it is his.
He bucks and starts, acknowledging what is
His lot and manifest, to which he’s bound.

The sum of his creation stands or falls
On what transpires within these prison walls.

— JJM = #60 in the I Ching Sonnet Project

Iching60

Sometimes

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

~ David Whyte ~