Today, I start with a quote from a lovely book by the poet Jane Hirshfield which I read last year. I collect quotes about poetry elsewhere and there are many which I find explain why some of us are drawn to poetry but in the end it boils down to this -- humbled and awed by the "inexplicable beauties and mysteries" of life, one alternately pays homage and seeks solace through the music of poetry. In some ways, for some of us, poetry "asserts who we are".
"To speak, and to write, is to assert who we are, what we think. The necessary other side is to surrender these things - to stand humbled and stunned and silent before the wild and inexplicable beauties and mysteries of being." - Jane Hirshfield (p 221, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry". Essay: Writing and the Threshold Life)
Anyways, here's the poem for today:
This Was Once a Love Poem
by Jane Hirshfield
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
IT spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.
The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.
Yes, it decides:
Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them—one, then another—
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.