Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Food for Thought

Rain brings back the pain of past breaks; the aged feel the ache in thier bones
Something about the grey sky makes my brain swell and press against my temples, the windows keep me safe and make reality into a painting.
The leaves remind me that life is there, buried in the dead sky. Even death is life and the rotting leaves make steam rise from the ground.

The cold stone columns rise above our heads and frame the sky.
From the damp ground I breathe in to catch the smell of earth-- the only smell that blends life and death.

2 comments:

Morna said...

This is a beautiful poem!

Douglas B. said...

Your poem is lovely and rich with mood, temperatures and mossy color. The poem below is another favorite, and your poem reminds me of "Many Famous Feet Have Trod", which is filled with ideas of impermanence, what is trivial and what is important, and many images of light......


Poem: Many Famous Feet Have Trod

Many famous feet have trod
Sublunary paths, and famous hands have weighed
The strength they have against the strength they need;
And famous lips interrogated God
Concerning franchise in eternity;
And in many differing times and places
Truth was attained (a moment’s harmony);
Yet endless mornings break on endless faces.

Gold surf of the sun, each day
Exhausted through the world, gathers and whips
Irrevocably from eclipse;
The trodden way becomes the untrodden way,
We are born each morning, shelled upon
A sheet of light that paves
The palaces of sight, and brings again
The river shining through the field of graves.

Such renewal argues down
Our unsuccessful legacies of thought,
Annals of men who fought
Untiringly to change their hearts to stone,
Or to a wafer’s poverty,
Or to a flower, but never tried to learn
The difficult triple sanity
Or being wafer, stone and flower in turn.

Turn out your pockets on the tablecloth;
Consider what we know. A silver piece:
That’s life; and, dealing in dichotomies,
This old discoloured copper coin is death.
Turn it about; it is impenetrable.
Reverse and obverse, neither bear
A sign or word remotely legible:
But spin the silver to a sphere.

Look in, and testify. Our mortal state
In turn is twisted in a double warp:
The light is waking and the dark is sleep
And twice a day before their gate
We kneel between them. There is more
Knowledge of sleep than death, and yet
Who knows the nature of our casting there,
Trawled inaccessible pool, or set

A line to haul its logic into speech?
Easier to balance on the hand
The waking that our senses can command,
For jewels are pebbles on a beach
Before this weaving, scattering, winged-and-footed
Privilege, this first, untold
And unrecurring luck that is never completed
Even in distance out of our hands’ hold,

That makes, this waking traffic, this one last,
One paramount division. I declare
Two lineages electrify the air,
That will like pennons from a mast
Fly over sleep and life and death
Till sun is powerless to decoy
A single seed above the earth;
Lineage of sorrow: Lineage of joy;

No longer think them aspects of the same;
Beyond each figured shield I trace
A different ancestry, a different face,
And sorrow must be held to blame
Because I follow it to my own heart
To find it feeding there on all that’s bad:
It is sanctionable and right
Always to be ashamed of being sad.

Ashamed that sorrow’s beckoned in
By each foiled weakness in the almanac
Engendered by the instinct-to-turn back
-Which, if there are sins, should be called a sin-
Instinct that so worships my own face
It would halt time herewith
And put my wishes in its place:
And for this reason has great fear of death.

Because tides wound it;
The scuttling sand; the noose
Of what I have and shall lose,
Or have not and cannot get;
Partings in time or space
Wound it; it weeps sorely;
Holds sorrow before its face,
And all to pretend it is not part of me,

The blind part. I know what it will not know:
All stopping-up of cracks
Against dissolution builds a house of wax,
While years in wingspans go
Across and over our heads. Watch them:
They are flying east. They are flying to the ebb
Of dark. They are making sorrow seem
A spider busy on a forgotten web.

They are calling every fibre of the world
Into rejoicing, a mile-long silken cloth
Of wings moving lightwards out of death:
Lineage of joy into mortality hurled,
Endowing every actual bone
With motionless excitement. If quick feet
Must tread sublunary paths, attest this one:
Perpetual study to defeat

Each slovenly grief; the patience to expose
Untrue desire; assurance that, in sum,
Nothing’s to reach, but something’s to become,
That must be pitched upon the luminous,
Denying rest. Joy has no cause:
Though cut to pieces with a knife,
Cannot keep silence. What else should magnetize
Our drudging, hypocritical, ecstatic life?

15 October 1996
Philip Larkin, Collected Poems