Five Poems about Poetry
BY GEORGE OPPEN
The question is: how does one hold an apple
Who likes apples
And how does one handle
Filth? The question is
How does one hold something
In the mind which he intends
To grasp and how does the salesman
Hold a bauble he intends
To sell? The question is
When will there not be a hundred
Poets who mistake that gesture
For a style.
THE LITTLE HOLE
The little hole in the eye
Williams called it, the little hole
Has exposed us naked
To the world
And will not close.
Blankly the world
And we compose
And the sense
And there are those
In it so violent
And so alone
They cannot rest.
Sing like a bird at the open
Sky, but no bird
Is a man--
Like the grip
Of the Roman hand
On his shoulder, the certainties
And of time
Held him, I think
With the pain and the casual horror
Of the iron and may have left
No hope of doubt
Whereas we have won doubt
From the iron itself
And hope in death. So that
If a man lived forever he would outlive
Hope. I imagine open sky
Surely it was this sky.
Impossible to doubt the world: it can be seen
And because it is irrevocable
It cannot be understood, and I believe that fact is lethal
And man may find his catastrophe,
His Millennium of obsession.
a stone on a stone,
something balanced momentarily, in time might the lion
Lie down in the forest, less fierce
Than the world, the walls
Of whose future may stand forever.
I, says the buzzard,
If ‘life is a search
‘At whose behest
Does the mind think?’ Art
Also is not good
Unless like the fool
In his folly
It may rescue us
As only the true
Might rescue us, gathered
In the smallest corners
Of man’s triumph. Parve puer . . . ‘Begin,
O small boy,
To be born;
On whom his parents have not smiled
No god thinks worthy of his table,
No goddess of her bed’
So I decided to take the challenge: 30 poems in 30 days during the month of April. It makes sense to have this blog as a showcase, or probably more accurately, a repository for those 30 poems. They may be 30 haiku (don't underestimate the power or demand of the smaller forms), but that's the target, 30 poems.
I will probably also be posting poems that inspire, encourage, or challenge me. Here's the first:
The Joy of Writing
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence - this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word "woods."
Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they'll never let her get away.
Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.
They forget that what's here isn't life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof's full stop.
Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?
The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.
By Wislawa Szymborska