Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

day #25 of National Poetry Month ~

imageLast night I walked a metaphor. Staying here on Mauie, with a close friend, at her mother’s house is certainly cool enough. But an inward journey? Under a full Maui moon? Pardon the pun, but celebrating the rebuilding (& ‘reframing’) of the newly restored Sacred Gardens labyrinth was amazing.

Listening to the history of this labyrinth — and the Chartres labyrinth from which it was modeled — was its own circuit. A labyrinth differs from a maze, in serious significant ways. A maze is an attempt to confuse the walker — blind ends, switchbacks. A labyrinth, on the other hand, is a pilgrimage. Some say the Chartres labyrinth was a way for Crusade-era Christians to replicate the physical journey to Jerusalem metaphorically — and escape the frequent deaths befalling pilgrims.

Others say the labyrinth was always a metaphor for the inner journey to a spiritual center. Either way, you are walking in a metaphor.

Today’s poem — another by Auden — is actually referencing a maze, but that’s a small error, and nothing to reproach Auden for. He still captures the feeling of last night: epiphany, re-framing of lives, and spiritual journey. Good to contemplate.

Here’s Auden’s ‘The Labyrinth”:

The Labyrinth

Anthropos apteros for days
Walked whistling round and round the Maze,
Relying happily upon
His temperment for getting on.

The hundreth time he sighted, though,
A bush he left an hour ago,
He halted where four alleys crossed,
And recognized that he was lost.

“Where am I?” Metaphysics says
No question can be asked unless
It has an answer, so I can
Assume this maze has got a plan.

If theologians are correct,
A Plan implies an Architect:
A God-built maze would be, I’m sure,
The Universe in minature.

Are data from the world of Sense,
In that case, valid evidence?
What in the universe I know
Can give directions how to go?

All Mathematics would suggest
A steady straight line as the best,
But left and right alternately
Is consonant with History.

Aesthetics, though, believes all Art
Intends to gratify the heart:
Rejecting disciplines like these,
Must I, then, go which way I please?

Such reasoning is only true
If we accept the classic view,
Which we have no right to assert,
According to the Introvert.

His absolute pre-supposition
Is – Man creates his own condition:
This maze was not divinely built,
But is secreted by my guilt.

The centre that I cannot find
Is known to my unconscious Mind;
I have no reason to despair
Because I am already there.

My problem is how not to will;
They move most quickly who stand still;
I’m only lost until I see
I’m lost because I want to be.

If this should fail, perhaps I should,
As certain educators would,
Content myself with the conclusion;
In theory there is no solution.

All statements about what I feel,
Like I-am-lost, are quite unreal:
My knowledge ends where it began;
A hedge is taller than a man.”

Anthropos apteros, perplexed
To know which turning to take next,
Looked up and wished he were a bird
To whom such doubts must seem absurd

 

 

 

 

 

day #24 of National Poetry Month ~

imageIt’s hard to keep up a routine in Maui. Even w/ every good intention, I have yet to pick up my journal. And despite how much I love my iPad, it’s impossible to upload certain images. But in honour of my past two days at Maui beaches, w/ a dear girlfriend, I’m going to try to post another. And a poem to go with it.

Because I’m gifted w/ not only the most amazing s birth sisters, but also incredible heart sisters. And at least 3 of them are both — the three pictured w/ me here. So today’s poem is by a poem who knew, loved, and wrote about women — sisters, lovers, friends & redeemers. And all of them dance with me, metaphorically & sometime literally.

Here’s Adrienne Rich’s ‘Women':

Women

My three sisters are sitting
on rocks of black obsidian.
For the first time, in this light, I can see who they are.

My first sister is sewing her costume for the procession.
She is going as the Transparent lady
and all her nerves will be visible.

My second sister is also sewing,
at the seam over her heart which has never healed entirely,
At last, she hopes, this tightness in her chest will ease.

My third sister is gazing
at a dark-red crust spreading westward far out on the sea.
Her stockings are torn but she is beautiful.

 

 

 

day #23 of National Poetry Month ~

Today is my father’s birthday. He would be 96. It also happens to be Shakespeare’s, which should probably be more important (he’s a LOT older, for one) to a poet. But it’s not.

I looked for poems about fathers, which seems appropriate. This one won, as I often want to ask my father about something, or share news with him…

Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World

by Sherman Alexie
The morning air is all awash with angels . . .
– Richard Wilbur
The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is most among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,

I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”
I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.
– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19508#sthash.vvyE4TGm.dpuf

day #22 of National Poetry Month ~

I confess to a huge crush on W.S. Merwin, begun long before I met him at a Nimrod Literary Journal weekend. His work is amazing. He’s a Buddhist from way back. And he’s trying very hard to restore & save a palm forest on Maui. Not to mention he’s just a lovely person, when you meet him. Brilliant, wryly witty, contemplative.  He seems particularly appropriate for Earth Day, poetry month, and a  Buddhist blog.

Icing on the cake for me: Merwin met Ezra Pound, a literary hero of mine. He sat with Pound at St. Elizabeth’s, where Pound was institutionalised. And I sat w/ Merwin at Nimrod. :) That felt as much like being part of a literary tradition as anything I’ve had the good luck to enjoy.

And finally — today’s poem has bees in it! Here’s ‘The River of Bees” by W.S. Merwin:

The River of Bees

In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blind man followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older

Soon it will be fifteen years

He was old he will have fallen into his eyes

I took my eyes
A long way to the calenders
Room after room asking how shall I live

One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Images of hope
It was offered to me by name

Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say

He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass

I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay

He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water

We are the echo of the future

On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live

Previous Posts

a bardo for Richard
My friend Richard died this week. Tuesday, to be precise. And in light of that precision, he was really my sister's friend, at least at first. But because we ended up talking across her FB page, we became friends

posted 4:48:57pm Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

foxholes
The word 'foxhole' has multiple meanings. First -- of course -- is the den foxes build for their young: a skulk of foxes. The other comes from WWI -- trench warfare, a hole to (hopefully) save your life. Today's

posted 9:03:25pm Oct. 28, 2014 | read full post »

vernacular scholars, pointy-heads, and regular folks: a tale of bewilderment ~
This is a story about what happens (far too often) when you have a PhD, or at least when folks find out you have a PhD (and I rarely confess to this!). It's the sad story of a culture where folks either react w/ ins

posted 8:43:15pm Oct. 23, 2014 | read full post »

autumn roses, a metaphor
In the spring, when my roses begin to bloom, it's wonderful: it means winter is over! And I'm always ready. But to be honest? The fall roses are more lovely. They're more fragrant, more vivid in colour, just overa

posted 3:47:34pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

a happy birthday for my beloved
If you've been following the blog, you know that my beloved broke his ankle about 6 weeks ago. He was unable to walk these past weeks, since the accident and the surgery. Noooo load-bearing on that foot, the doc said. And believe me: we were NOT happy about it. It's amazing what you can't do when yo

posted 5:50:32pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.