Sometimes

Manchmal

Manchmal, wenn ein Vogel ruft
Oder ein Wind geht in den Zweigen
Oder ein Hund bellt im fernsten Gehöft,
Dann muß ich lange lauschen und schweigen.

Meine Seele flieht zuruck,
Bis wo vor tausend vergessenen Jahren
Der Vogel und der wehende Wind
Mir ähnlich und meine Bruder waren.

Meine Seele wird ein Baum
Und ein Tier und ein Wolkenweben.
Verwandelt und fremd kehrt sie zuruck
Und fragt mich. Wie soll ich Antwort geben?

–Hermann Hesse

From flickr.com: Primeval (4) | Old-growth forest, Columbia County, within th | Flickr1024 Ã-- 683 - 446k -

Sometimes

Sometimes the call of a bird
Or the rustle of wind-blown leaf,
Or the yelp of a dog, barely heard…
I am taken by laughter, then grief.

My soul flies back, aeons past
This life and so many others,
To a time when we all clove fast;
This bird and the wind were my brothers.

My soul becomes the tree,
A wisp of cloud, then a pond…
When, transformed, it comes back to me
Ripe with questions, how should I respond?

— translation by JJM

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Blackberry Authorities

 

When I first came out to the country
…… I knew nothing. I watched
as people planted, harvested, picked
…… the berries, explained
the weather, tended the ducks and horses.

When I first came out to the country
…… my mind emptied and I
liked it that way. My mind was like a sky
…… without clouds, a summer sky
with several birds flapping across a field
…… on the eastern horizon.

I liked the slowness of things. The empty
…… town, the lake stillness,
the man I met who seemed contented, who
…… sat and talked in the dusk
about why he had chosen this long ago.

I did better dreaming then. the colors
…… were clear. I found something
important in myself: capacity for renewal.
…… And at night, the sky so intense.
Clear incredible stars! Almost another earth.

But now I see there are judgments here.
…… This way of planting or that.
The arguments about fertilizers and organics;
…… problems of time, figuring how
to allocate what we have. So many matters
…… to fasten on and dissect.

That’s the way it is with revelations,
…… If you live it out, you start
thinking, examining. The mind cries out
…… for materials to play with.
Right now, in fact, I’m excited about
…… several new vines and waiting
for the blackberry authorities to arrive.
.

by Lou Lipsitz
from Seeking the Hook
Signal Books 1997

 

The Most of It

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
Spirit Whispers From Echo Rock
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush–and that was all.

— Robert Frost

When geometric diagrams

When geometric diagrams and digits
Are no longer the keys to living things,
When people who go about singing and kissing
Know deeper things than the great scholars,
When society is returned once more
To unimprisoned life, and to the universe,
And when light and darkness mate
Once more and make something entirely transparent,
And people see in poems and fairy tales
The true history of the world,
Then our entire twisted nature will turn
And run when a single secret word is spoken.

Novalis (1772 – 1801), tr Robert Bly

Novalis was the pen name of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, a mystical German romantic, lawyer and geologist, philosopher and poet, who left us much wonder but little joy, and died very young.

To romanticize the world is to make us aware of the magic, mystery and wonder of the world; it is to educate the senses to see the ordinary as extraordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, the finite as infinite.

The Poetry of Numbers

Numbers are alive for me, as if they sing and dance
All day a spreadsheet full of ciphers holds me in a trance
Data laugh and beckon me, I want to understand
While friends look blank and shake their heads at what for them is bland.
I wish that I could share with you the data-lover’s joy
The millstone of your weary toil, for me a bouncing toy.
Goethe, Maxwell and Piet Hein, Nick Herbert as “Jabir”
They saw the poetry in math, and earned the title “seer”.
If sentences can have aesthetics, why not numbers, too?
They leap to life and preach to me, (and so they might for you).

— JJM

Look, Stranger

Look, stranger, on this island now
The leaping light for your delight discovers,
Stand stable here
And silent be,
That through the channels of the ear
May wander like a river
The swaying sound of the sea.
Here at a small field’s ending pause
Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
Oppose the pluck
And knock of the tide,
And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
-ing surf, and a gull lodges
A moment on its sheer side.

Far off like floating seeds the ships
Diverge on urgent voluntary errands,
And this full view
Indeed may enter
And move in memory as now these clouds do,
That pass the harbour mirror
And all the summer through the water saunter.

— W. H. Auden

Utopia

Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

Wislawa Szymborska would have been 95 years old today.

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Ed Stafford

Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. Its made up of all those whove consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners — and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.” —W.S.