September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Ok, so I’m not doing a good job managing my blog…
Three days without a poem? “I thought you loved poetry,” I can hear the chorus that is my audience.
Sorry guys. My only excuse is that my life has been really topsy turvy the past few days. Sparing the details, let’s just say it’s pretty amazing given the circumstances that I am even publishing at all these days.
But it’s what keeps me going. When I have time, I post and do some explication. But I need to do a better job of at least putting up a poem a day, even if it’s just the poem.
So, to make up for lost time, let’s post some of my favorites for the 17th, 18th and 19th:
September 17, 2012- “The Wound-Dresser” by Walt Whitman, which you can find here
September 18, 2012- How about “Epistle 2” from Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man”? You remember this one from high school, right? It has my favorite couplet ever: “presume not God to scan/ the proper study of mankind is man”
and for September 19, 2012- “The Sparrow” by Ivan Turgenev, my favorite poem about love:
I was returning from hunting, and walking along an avenue of the garden, my
dog running in front of me.
Suddenly he took shorter steps, and began to steal along as though tracking
I looked along the avenue, and saw a young sparrow, with yellow about its
beak and down on its head. It had fallen out of the nest (the wind was
violently shaking the birch-trees in the avenue) and sat unable to move,
helplessly flapping its half-grown wings.
My dog was slowly approaching it, when, suddenly darting down from a tree
close by, an old dark-throated sparrow fell like a stone right before his
nose, and all ruffled up, terrified, with despairing and pitiful cheeps, it
flung itself twice towards the open jaws of shining teeth.
It sprang to save; it cast itself before its nestling … but all its tiny
body was shaking with terror; its note was harsh and strange. Swooning with
fear, it offered itself up!
What a huge monster must the dog have seemed to it! And yet it could not
stay on its high branch out of danger…. A force stronger than its will
flung it down.
My Trésor stood still, drew back…. Clearly he too recognised this force.
I hastened to call off the disconcerted dog, and went away, full of
Yes; do not laugh. I felt reverence for that tiny heroic bird, for its
impulse of love.
Love, I thought, is stronger than death or the fear of death. Only by it,
by love, life holds together and advances.
Ivan Turgenev, 1878
September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
In Beauty May I Walk
In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me,
may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively;
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again…
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
“In Beauty May I Walk” is a Navajo prayer that I have come to love. It is simply asking to do all things in life with beauty, illustrated through the metaphor of walking.
Walking is a powerful image despite being a commonplace verb. This prayer is actually a chant, and the act of chanting mimics the repetition of walking- each chanted line is like one step on the poem’s walk, and the word “walk” repeated over and over again at the end of each line starts to sound onomatopoeic, like the heavy thud of a foot on a dirt path. The imagery of walking and the action of chanting sentences that end in “walk” fit comfortably together.
I wish I could find the Navajo word for “beauty” because the word is so crucial here. “Beauty” is such a complex word, and it would be interesting to see a more detailed translation of the original Navajo term.
I love the repetitious sentence structure as well. It reminds me of Whitman.
No hidden meaning here. Just let the eternal message of the desire for beauty in one’s life envelop you, and chant it out loud for full effect.