Archive | Poetry RSS for this section

Hope

Our mission is to plant ourselves at the Gates of Hope –

Not the prudent gates of Optimism,

Which are somewhat narrower.

Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;

Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness

Which creak on shrill and angry hinges

(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through)

Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of

“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”

But a different, sometimes lonely place.

The place of truth-telling,

About your own soul first of all and its condition.

The place of resistance and defiance,

The piece of ground from which you see the world

Both as it is and as it could be

As it will be;

The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,

But the joy of the struggle.

And we stand there, beckoning and calling

Telling people what we are seeing

Asking people what they see.

 

  • by Victoria Safford
safford_victoria-1

Rev. Victoria Safford

The Reverend  Victoria Safford,  White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, is the author of Walking Toward Morning: Meditations (Skinner House, 2003) and a contributor to The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear (Basic Books, 2004).

Victoria Safford image: http://www.uua.org/directory/people/victoria-e-safford

Gate image: http://www.123rf.com/stock-photo/open_garden_gate.html?mediapopup=32875733

Thanks to Patricia R. for introducing me to this poem that seems very significant today.

May your lives be filled with hope  –

“The place of truth-telling . . .

Telling people what we are seeing

Asking people what they see.”

Aloha, Renée

Advertisements

Christmas Poem

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.  May there be peace on Earth and joy in your heart.
Aloha, Renée
images-2

Quotation: I live my life . . .

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
Book of Hours, I 2

th-1

Unknown

Rilke

-Rilke translation from Krista Tippett’s interview with Joanna Macy

http://www.onbeing.org/program/wild-love-world/feature/widening-circles/1444

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke —better known as Rainer Maria Rilke —was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language writing in both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke’s work as inherently “mystical”.[2][3] His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry, and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes haunting images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude, and profound anxiety. These deeply existential themes tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist writers. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainer_Maria_Rilke&gt;
…Wikipedia

Image: <https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=image+of+a+storm&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002&gt;.

<https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=image+of+a+falcon+in+flight&ei=UTF-8&h>

Aloha, Renée

 

 

 

“For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio” – so that is that” by W.H. Auden

For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio – written during the dark times of World War II is a Christmas poem for adults.

Christmas blessings to you and yours

Christmas blessings to you and yours

Image from: http://montazne-hise-on.net/images/bozicna-novoletna-jelka-21.jpg

Last portion of For the Time Being – by W.H. Auden
III
Narrator
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes —
Some have got broken — and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week —
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully —
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid’s geometry
And Newton’s mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
“Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake.”
They will come, all right, don’t worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God’s Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

IV
Chorus

He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.

He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

— W. H. Auden

From: http://www.cs.utsa.edu/~wagner/church/auden/

W.H. Auden 1907-1973

W.H. Auden       1907-1973

“English poet, playwright, critic, and librettist W(ystan) H(ugh) Auden exerted a major influence on the poetry of the twentieth century.”

image from: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/w-h-auden

Many blessings to all. Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays wherever you are. Aloha, Renée

“A Brief For The Defense” and more – Jack Gilbert

Image from: http://likesuccess.com/author/jack-gilbert

I’ve just discovered poet Jack Gilbert.

You may love his poems too.  Here are a few to get you started:

Bengal Tiger

“The Bengal tiger would not/be fashioned so miraculously well”

A Brief For The Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Failing and Flying

BY JACK GILBERT

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Source: Refusing Heaven (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)

From: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177687

Icarus

Jacob Peter Gowy’s “The Flight of Icarus”

Image from:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus

THE SIXTH MEDITATION: FACES OF GOD

“It is convenient for the old men to blame Eve.

To insist we are damned because a country girl

talked to the snake one afternoon long ago.

Children must starve in Somalia for that,

and old women be abandoned in our greatest cities.

It’s why we will finally be thrown into the lakes

of molten lead. Because she was confused

by happiness that first time anyone said

she was beautiful. Nevertheless, she must be

the issue, so people won’t notice that rocks

and galaxies, mathematics and rust are also

created in His image” (p. 382).

From The Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Poetry Foundation says this about the poet:

Jack Gilbert    1925–2012

When Jack Gilbert won the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1962 for Views of Jeopardy, he attained a kind of allure usually foreign to poets. His photo was featured in EsquireVogue, and Glamour, and his book was often stolen from the library. A Guggenheim Fellowship enabled him to go to Europe; he spent much of the ensuing two decades living modestly abroad. Although the literary world embraced him early in his career, he was something of a self-imposed exile: flunking out of high school; congregating with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Spicer in San Francisco but never really writing like a Beat poet; living in Europe and writing American poetry inspired by Pound and Eliot.

A self-described “serious romantic,” Gilbert had a relationship with poet Linda Gregg, and was later married to sculptor Michiko Nogami, who died after 11 years of marriage. Many of his poems are about these relationships and losses. Gilbert’s fourth book, Refusing Heaven (2005), contains, as poet Dan Albergotti describes, “poems about love, loss, and grief that defy all expectations of sentimentality. All of them are part of the larger poem, the poem that is the life of the poet, perhaps the most profound and moving piece of work to come out of American literature in generations.”

Refusing Heaven won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Gilbert’s work has also received a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His second book of poetry, Monolithos (1982), won the Stanley Kunitz Prize and the American Poetry Review Prize. Despite these awards, some critics have ignored or dismissed Gilbert, and critic Meghan O’Rourke, writing for Slate in 2005, pondered why: “Gilbert isn’t just a remarkable poet. He’s a poet whose directness and lucidity ought to appeal to lots of readers . . . the poet who stands outside his own time, practicing a poetics of purity in an ever-more cacophonous world—a lyrical ghost, you might say, from a literary history that never came to be.”

In an essay he wrote to introduce his own work in the anthology New American Poets of the Golden Gate (1984), Gilbert pointed to the spareness of his work: “I am by nature drawn to exigence, compression, selection,” he wrote. “One of the special pleasures in poetry for me is accomplishing a lot with the least means possible.” Publishing only four books since he began writing over 50 years ago reinforces for his readers Gilbert’s love of economy. In a 2006 interview on NPR, he reflected on his relatively sparse list of publications: “It’s not a business with me . . . . I’m not a professional of poetry, I’m a farmer of poetry.”

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/jack-gilbert

 Enjoy.

Aloha,Renée

For the Challenges of Our Lives: “The Guest House” by Rumi

Welcome Friends

Welcome Friends: Greet Everyone at the Door

When relationships, projects, plans, or dreams don’t go as you had hoped, remember the wise words of 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Rumi:

“The Guest House”

This being human is a guest-house.

Every morning a new arrival:

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary

awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep

your house empty of its furniture.

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be cleaning you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the the malice, meet them at the door

laughing, and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes because each has been

sent as a guide from beyond.

– from Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

(http://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/Rumipoetry2.html)

Welcome all that come to your door.

Welcome all that come to your door.

Wishing we all grow in wisdom and love as we meet the challenges of our lives.

Aloha, Renée

%d bloggers like this: