Poets are the soul-keepers of our world

Reading this poem, by Czeslaw Milosz, I’m filled with gratitude for his exquisite voice, for his wisdom and vision, and the devotion with which he served what he loved throughout his long, working life. Poets are the soul-keepers of our world, and he was one of the finest.

LATE RIPENESS

Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from my people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forget–I kept saying–that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago–
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef–they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.

I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

–Czeslaw Milosz, Late Ripeness, from New and Collected Poems

Round

Devil's Marbles, Australia

She won’t be held
in pants with tightly buttoned waists,
their tailored creases knifing into
glittering conversations. She won’t enter
the clamorous avenues of your angular world.

Her roundness deflects your demands.
She will not offer you mirrored surfaces, the comfort
of your own high-powered reflection. She is mute
that way. She holds her counsel as she holds
the undulant hive that spins sunshine
in the moonlit chamber of her symmetry.

Her home is in the round hills. You have to climb
a long way to reach her and then
the mouth of her cave is hidden in thickets of box thorn,
prickly pear, nettles, desert mallow.

You have to want her enough to go looking for her.
You have to shed your city clothes, risk being stung
on the soles of your feet. You have to be brave.

You call, call out.
Your voice echoes off the red hills, disappears
in the thin, sage-scented air.

You turn away. And then, just perhaps,
you’ll hear it—
a single thrumming note that builds, reverberates,
a stream of golden honey from a hundred thousand bees
pouring into the startle of your ear.


Tender Mercies

springtime buds

On this day of renewal, when we celebrate the miracle of life emerging from broken ground — I offer you the tenderness of this poem by George McWhirter. May you savour, with a joyful heart, “the roughest, dearest sugar of the fruit.”

ON PANCAKE EATING AT THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN
1.
We all turn to sugar, paradoxically,
in the cap, where we have been twisted
hard, screwed on with a snap
by our mother or our father to keep
our love in, fresh, like the maple syrup–

as if mouths loosened with greed,
lips as curdled as the molten
pancake batter across the bevelled
skillet, drooling all around us,
could coax it out of the bottle.

But once love is gone, and this is all
that’s left–a brown rust stuck
around the rim, I am driven
back to lick the place
where sweetness scabbed the glass.

2.
When we walked in the wood, it was June;
the salmonberry leaves were green,
their stalks slender
and ginger; the berries like
jewelled upside-down temples
raised to become solid vessels
for the light. They filled
with the dark worship of the ground–
this prickly vermouth in their mouths

vinted from the sour
sap of the salmonberries through
the lanky spigots rooted there.

I offered you six or seven,
a handful of plump prayers.
hoping you would look at me
and forgive, confer no more
with the conifers about my weaknesses.

I plucked one for myself and bit
into a whitened worm inside
and wondered why we could not always
savour our decay, eat into the corruption
where it has supped and gone granular
to become the roughest, dearest
sugar of the fruit?

–George McWhirter, On Pancake Eating at the Feast of St. John, from The Book of Contradictions

This is what language is…

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Each morning, I read poems — sometimes, a single drop of a poem that widens and ripples through my life all day; sometimes, a dancing river of poems that sweeps me towards a glimmering horizon.

Poems restore my soul, return me to my beating heart, to my breath and body. They deliver me home to the lineage of bards and poets who sang around hearth-fires and campfires, who loved the everyday world and told of its mysteries in ancestral caves, and whispered their songs down the mouths of sacred wells.

Here’s an excerpt from Eavan Boland’s poem, A Habitable Grief, that rings like a pebble flung into a great, copper vat, this morning:

“This is what language is:
a habitable grief. A turn of speech
for the everyday and ordinary abrasion
of losses such as this

which hurts
just enough to be a scar.

And heals just enough to be a nation.”

This is soul food. Drink it in. Let it settle into your cells, into your hungry bones. Feel the golden nourishment of truth, eloquently spoken.


Goodbye, Seamus Heaney

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Seamus Heaney died in Dublin today. He was a poet whose work has been central to the development of my own poetic vision, and who enriched our world immensely through his work and his life. He was a man who loved the world with the most tender attention, finding the soul essence in the particular genius of ordinary people, events, places and things, offering us their magic in his astonishing body of work, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

Seamus Heaney, thank you for living so generously, for discovering the illuminated heart of “the disregarded ones” and giving them such eloquent voice. We will miss you.

Here’s a poem from his collection, Opened Ground, Faber & Faber, 1998.

MINT

It looked like a clump of small dusty nettles
growing wild at the gable of the house
beyond where we dumped our refuse and old bottles:
Unverdant ever, almost beneath notice.

But, to be fair, it also spelled promise
and newness in the back yard of our life
as if something callow yet tenacious
sauntered in green alleys and grew rife.

The snip of scissor blades, the slight of Sunday
mornings when the mint was cut and loved:
My last things will be first things slipping from me.
Yet let all things go free that have survived.

Let the smells of mint go heady and defenceless
like inmates liberated in that yard.
Like the disregarded ones we turned again
because we’d failed them by our disregard.

–Seamus Heaney


Between shelter and flight

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image19952492

Today, all that shelters me descends
with the sudden, clamorous weight
of a collapsed safari tent. Tangled

in its heavy canvas, its guy wires and
flapping doorway, I struggle
to my knees, scrape the palm of my hand

against flinty ground, stagger upright
in the ruins of shelter gone rogue,
its domed roof and foldaway

walls revealed for what they are:
a flimsy intervention.

Until the bird in me, that
leather-winged pterodactyl,
resumes its interrupted flight

choosing the accommodation of wings
to uplifting air, leaving the mortal need
for pretexts of home far, far behind.


This is the miracle

This is the miracle


Hurl the torch of your unlived life back into the sun

Hurl the torch of your unlived life back into the sun


Peace rises

Peace rises


Undeniable you

On this Christmas Day, I wish you the enfolding embrace of Wholeness.
May you flourish in all your complex beauty.
May you share with the world the gift of Undeniable You.

Undeniable you

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  • You are a sovereign being,
    a fractal of the Sacred,
    a fractal of Wholeness.
  • The flow of your life.
    The soul of your business.
  • Grow your business.
    Grow yourself.
  • Expand your life. Evolve your business.
  • The art of alignment. The miracle of action.
  • Trust in the power of your perfect unfolding.
  • Permission to grow, to flow, to know.
  • You learn about freedom by experiencing what it feels like to be bound.
  • Beyond your beliefs, beyond your drama — the truth of your life.
  • Success is becoming the person who can ask for hugs and holding when your own strength has deserted you.
  • Embrace the mystery at the heart of creation.
  • Your soul sends out tendrils of light and fragrance into the world.
  • You are the gift — and the giver.
    You are the Love, and the lover.
  • At the heart of all things — even limiting beliefs and painful programming — is wholeness.
  • Surrender is an act of will. It is aligning your will with the will of the Sacred.
  • You learn about sovereignty through the experience of being dethroned.
  • Love transforms.
  • Your soul's purpose is to participate in wholeness, to express wholeness.
  • True Desire is a messenger of your soul.
    It leads directly to your soul’s purposes.
  • Unfold the miracle of your life and business.
  • Business = Love in action.
  • Everything you need is already within you, waiting to unfold and express itself.
  • Your inner world shapes your outer world.
    Success is an inside job.
  • You are the story, and the story-maker.
    Your life is yours to shape.