Wednesday, December 31
As long as we can believe anything
we believe in measure
we do it with the first breath we take
and the first sound we make
it is in each word we learn
and in each of them it means
what will come again and when
it is there in meal and in moon
and in meaning it is the meaning
it is the firmament and the furrow
turning at the end of the field
and the verse turning with its breath
it is in memory that keeps telling us
some of the old story about us.
-- W.S. Merwin
The Poetic 'Shadow' of Memory, Mortality (Merwin on NPR)
Copper Canyon Press is offering this poem as a free broadside to download
Thursday, December 25
In the december graveyard blossom moved
against remembering stone, softer than snow.
Along the christmas river we surprised
buds in the act of daring, sweet as toffee;
fields lay stretched and steaming in the sun,
and smoke was neat as feathers on the sky.
But discandying breath was only held. We felt
the afternoon turn over in its sleep
restless before it woke and blew us elsewhere
to practice separation like a scale
over and over until we run foolish,
to hoard and stroke the past till Now is gone,
to forget the past is now or not at all.
-- P.J. Kavanagh
Saturday, December 20
Copernicus would have named
constellations after its
Pinball on the tongue,
like the anticipatory chatter
in a theatre.
a high octave chill
in fishnet tights,
All lips and no shoulders.
Sweet pretending to be brut,
a very brigand of a wine.
-- Michael Henry
Saturday, December 13
. . .the meteorological processes taking place in the clouds, the formation and dissolution of the mist with different directions of the wind, the play of colors, the generation of hail and rolling thunder are described with individual plasticity. Also many questions are posed which our present discipline of physics knows how to formulate in scientific terminology but which it cannot solve sufficiently.
-- Alexander von Humboldt on the 37th chapter of Book of Job, in Kosmos III
Alexander von Humboldt
Job chapter 37
Tuesday, December 9
But outside, everything is immeasurable. And when the level rises outside, it also rises in you, not in the vessels that are partially controlled by you, or in the phlegm of your most unimpressionable organs: but it grows in the capillary veins, drawn upward into the furthermost branches of your infinitely ramified existence. This is where it rises, where it overflows from you, higher than your respiration, and, as a final resort, you take refuge, as though on the tip of your breath. Ah! where, where next? Your heart banishes you from yourself, your heart pursues you, and you are already almost beside yourself, and you can't stand it any longer. Like a beetle that has been stepped on, you flow from yourself, and your lack of hardness or elasticity means nothing any more.
Oh night without objects. Oh window muffled on the outside, oh, doors carefully closed; customs that have come down from times long past, transmitted, verified, never entirely understood. Oh silence in the stair-well, silence in the adjoining rooms, silence up there, on the ceiling. Oh mother, oh one and only you, who faced all this silence, when I was a child.
-- R.M. Rilke Les Cahiers de Malte Laurids Brigge
Tr. Maria Jolas