I just love this poem.
BTW, I wrote about this poem here, if you’re interested. And sorry about the silence around here. Our internet company has this ridiculous, oppressive policy of expecting their bill to be paid on time every month. Which normally we manage. But it’s been a long, crazy couple of weeks. If you’ve been following along for a while, you are already aware of the fact that this sort of thing happens from time to time. Like the one time I got 5 flat tires in a month. On the same car.
Anyhow. I am beloved on the earth. Even if life is ridiculous and dumb.
When I was a senior in high school, I came across a poem which became my moral compass in a way, for my life ever since. It’s called Self Dependence by Matthew Arnold (you probably had to read his poem “Dover Beach” in high school):
WEARY of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At the vessel’s prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards, o’er the starlit sea.
And a look of passionate desire
O’er the sea and to the stars I send:
‘Ye who from my childhood up have calm’d me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end.
‘Ah, once more,’ I cried, ‘ye Stars, ye Waters.
On my heart your mighty charm renew:
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you.’
From the intense, clear, star-sown vault of heaven,
Over the lit sea’s unquiet way,
In the rustling night-air came the answer—
‘Wouldst thou be as these are? Live as they.
‘Unaffrighted by the silence round them,
Undistracted by the sights they see,
These demand not that the things without them
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy.
‘And with joy the stars perform their shining,
And the sea its long moon-silver’d roll.
For alone they live, nor pine with noting
All the fever of some differing soul.
‘Bounded by themselves, and unobservant
In what state God’s other works may be,
In their own tasks all their powers pouring,
These attain the mighty life you see.’ Continue reading
OK, OK, you got me – I skipped Bloggy Linky Goodness last week. I’m sure there was a perfectly good reason. Which I’d tell you if it was actually important. Or if I had enough brain power left to try to remember what it was. But it’s back! Hooray!
Before I get started, allow me to share one of the weird things I’ve been thinking about. First, the number 40. Remember how it rained for 40 days and 40 nights for Noah? And how the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. And Jesus retreated to the desert for 40 days before starting his ministry. And it takes 40 days to gestate a human baby. Coincidence? I think not.
Now on to Bloggy Linky Goodness: Continue reading
I came across this poem today and thought – yes, that’s it. For a long time, I figured that the point of this life was just to live through it well enough to reap a reward when you died. Continue reading
The Will of God
“I always think of a story I heard
on Christian radio,” she says
crossing her large arms
“About a woman
abused for years
by her husband.
He became a Christian.
It’s all worthwhile then.”
beat your wife
or girl Continue reading
I wish I could show
the beauty I see in you
when love looks through me
Many poets say that their poems just come to them, often fully formed. This is both how I usually write poems and why I haven’t written a lot more poetry. Usually it starts with some phrase that floats around my head for a while. Sometimes that’s all there is. I’ve had some phrases floating around my head for years that I’ve never figured out what to do with. (“A sense of the color of things” is my favorite.) But sometimes, I can get a couple more lines worked out, and I’ll sit down to write. When I’m really lucky, all the rest is just there. There’s always fiddling to be done, but the body of the poem has been provided.
For the last several days, the lines above have been floating around my head, but every time I sat down to write anything with them, I couldn’t go a single word further. This afternoon, I typed them out and once again couldn’t go any further. So I sat with it a minute and it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t supposed to go any further. I counted up the syllables and sure enough, I had a serviceable haiku.
It had been there all along. I just needed to stop trying to make it into something it wasn’t and look at it a little differently. Much like life sometimes we’re so busy trying to get things to me the way we think they are supposed to be that we miss what is. Maybe if we thought to stop and look a little differently more often, we would discover that everything has been alright the whole time.
A Tweet to the first person to guess correctly how old I was when I wrote this!
A Love Story
A turn of fate
A twist of the eye
The misalignment of moonlight
The glow of stars
And you are in love
Suddenly the world is blind
And you are beautiful
You’ve found someone to share your lunch with.
You cry at his jokes
And laugh at your wedding
Then you buy a frog
and the kids live happily ever after.
So you sell the washer and dryer
To buy a garden
Where you plant ladybugs until 3 pm
When it’s time to go, dear
And you ride away on your tandem bike.
I wrote this poem ages and ages ago but never thought it was very good. But lines from it keep popping into my head lately. So I thought I’d share.
I am the willow in winter
Long swaying branches
dance on frigid air
tinkling an icy fugue
the leafless branches
are all beauty, no life.
I will be the willow in spring
reaching down to choke the deep
and pull out life.
And I will dance
in warm, moist air
full of life
making shushing noises
as they rub together
these leaves will die again
the next time
the coldness of the world
overcomes the willow
I would quit
I have tried to quit
But it seems that I don’t know how
There is no window to submit your paperwork to
Or voicemail to leave a message on late at night.
You cannot march into God’s office
To announce your departure face-to-face
He will not reply, “I hate to see you go.”
No matter how hard
I try to quit
The well-worn ruts in my brain
Are etched out by more hours than I ever imagined
Spent in the company of the Divine.
The words carved into my psyche
Are taunting me and pulling at me
With that message I now want to quit:
“God is real. He loves you like a father
like a brother
like a servant
or a friend.
He loves me like a man
Longing for his beloved
Just wait. Just a little longer.
Resurrection comes with the dawn.”
I can no longer believe these
But I know no better guide to follow
Than these deep grooves
Sculpted into my brain.
Although now I am lost.
My lover will have to come for me.
If he is real
And if he is good.
I will know his voice
should it come
I have heard it often before