the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery; I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life; I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was
for a little while.”
Mary Oliver, from her poem “Dogfish.”
I mistyped “alive” as “alove.” That too.
“I think that night for the first time
I held you with whole hands that night
you said My body will answer yours
that it was like a prayer why
did I laugh then when you had let me see
through the idea of you to you”
Craig Arnold, from “Asunder,” in his collection Made Flesh
“The stars will come out over and over
the hyacinths rise like flames
from the windswept turf down the middle of upper Broadway
where the desolate take the sun
the days will run together and stream into years
as the rivers freeze and burn
and I ask myself and you, which of our visions will claim us
which will we claim
how will we go on living
how will we touch, what will we know
what will we say to each other.”
Adrienne Rich, from “Nights and Days,” in her collection, The Dream of a Common Language
Which of our visions will claim us?
“I would stop
my wings in midair.
If only I could take my place in the dances
where once as a girl at fancy weddings
I made my feet whirl
alongside my girlfriends -
we were rivals in grace”
Euripides, from “Iphigenia Among the Taurians,” translated by Anne Carson
“Come, grace of sound and breath,
fortify this mouth,
even when its weakness
frightens and stifles us.
Come, and do not falter,
for we battle so much evil.
Before dragon’s blood protects an enemy,
this hand will fall into the fire.
Deliver me, my word!”
Ingeborg Bachmann, from her poem, “Spoken and Rumored,” translated by Peter Filkins
With deference to the genius of David Bowie, here’s Space Oddity, recorded on Station. A last glimpse of the World.
Huge thanks in the making of the video to the talented trio of Emm Gryner, Joe Corcoran and Andrew Tidby, plus Evan Hadfield and all at the CSA.
Pace, Mr. Bowie, but this is my new favorite version of this song.
Amazing. And thank you, Commander Hadfield.
“And all the spaces of the midnight town
Ring with appeal and sorrowful abuse.
There some most lonely are: some try to crown
Mad lovers with sad boughs of formal yews,
And Titan women wandering up and down
Lead on the pale fanatics of the muse.”
J. E. Flecker, from “The First Sonnet of Bathrolaire”
“The old god, too, writes aureate poetry
In tarnished modes, maundering among the wastes,
Fair chronicler of every foul declension.
Age, and ages of prose, have uncoiled
His talking whirlwind, abated his excessive temper
When words, like locusts, drummed the darkening air
And left the cobs to rattle, bitten clean.
Skies once wearing a blue, divine hauteur
Ravel above us, mistily descend,
Thickening with motes, to a marriage with the mire.”
Sylvia Plath, from “Ouija”
“And in the best of all possible lives, that beginning and that end are the same: in poem after poem I encountered words that mark the first something made out of language that we hear as children repeated night after night, like a refrain: I love you. I am here with you. Don’t be afraid. Go to sleep now. And I encountered words that mark the last something made out of language that we hope to hear on earth: I love you. You are not alone. Don’t be afraid. Go to sleep now.”
Poet Mary Ruefle, from her lecture “On Beginnings,” in Madness, Rack, and Honey
“Love forgive me all I’ve given
has been a form of taking
talking over a table of scarred wood
talking always about the table
I’ve held out my hand and drawn it back
in case you took it always afraid
to take the table away forever.”
Craig Arnold, from “A Place of First Permission” in his collection, Made Flesh
I like to imagine that forgiveness is being asked not of a specific lover, but of Love