Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Lines for a Lockdown: ‘I write in order to comprehend not to express myself’


The Lamp

I write in order to comprehend not to express myself
I don’t grasp anything I’m not ashamed to admit it
sharing this not knowing with a maple leaf
So I turn with questions to words wiser than myself
to things that will endure long after us
I wait to gain wisdom from chance
I expect sense from silence
Perhaps something will suddenly happen
and pulse with hidden truth
like the spirit of the flame in the oil lamp
under which we bowed our heads
when we were very young
and grandmas crossed the bread with a knife
and we believed in everything
So now I yearn for nothing so much
as for that faith.

                          by Anna Kamieńska

from Astonishments, Selected Poems of Anna Kamieńska, edited and translated by Grażyna Drabik and David Carson, Paraclete Press, 2007.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Lines for a Lockdown: ‘The seconds fall and scatter into thousands/Of tiny saints’




Cranborne Woods (17 May, 1994)
(for my mother)

We stopped the car, ducked below the fence
Felt time unravelling in a revelation
The seconds fall and scatter into thousands

Of tiny saints, a reborn multitude
Flowing past the trees, through pools of sun,
Each earthly form a spirit flame, pure blue.

They watched us drift among them, large as gods,
As if we’d come as part of their parousia
To stay with them forever in these woods.

As time grew darker we slipped away like ghosts
And slowly drove...towards your death next May
When once again I saw the risen host

Could watch you walking weightlessly among
The welcomers, the gently swaying throng.

                                                 by James Harpur


from Oracle Bones (Anvil Press, 2001)

James can be heard reading this poem here

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lines for a Lockdown: in memory of Eavan Boland



Energies

This is my time:
the twilight closing in,
a hissing on the ring,
stove noises, kettle steam
and children’s kisses.

But the energy of flowers!
Their faces are so white –
my garden daisies –
they are so tight-fisted,
such economies of light.

In the dusk they have made hay:
in a banked radiance,
in an acreage of brightness
they are misering the day
while mine delays away

in chores left to do:
the soup, the bath, the fire
then bed-time,
up the stairs –
and there, there

the buttery curls,
the light,
the bran-fur of the teddy bear,
the fist like a night-time daisy,
damp and tight.

by Eavan Boland

from New Collected Poems, Carcanet, 2005.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Lines for a Lockdown: 'When I was still a horse in a meadow'


Self-portrait as a horse

When I was still a horse in a meadow

I must have lived in his body
have seen in his eyes what he saw

that life would never begin nor
would ever end, nor be repeated

I must have left his body and my memories
must have remained behind in him

you are standing by the fence round a meadow
on the other side a horse is standing

look it in the eyes – it will look in yours

by Rutger Kopland

translated by James Brockway

from: Memories of the Unknown, Rutger Kopland, translated by James Brockway, foreword by J.M. Coetzee. The Harvill Press, London, 2001.

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Lines for a Lockdown: ‘I write in order to comprehend not to express myself’

The Lamp I write in order to comprehend not to express myself I don’t grasp anything I’m not ashamed to admit it sharing this not know...