Friday, March 28, 2014

What Is Always Being Born

One proclaims again (sick in the library) the loveliness - the ecstatic expansiveness - of Cooper's sentences. What a joy the eighteenth century was for language! "It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered, before the adverse hosts could meet." Also, "My day has been too long."

Still, one inclines to the sweetness of unheard melodies, threads of song perceived the way smoke is perceived on a moonlit night, intimations of the Grecian urn. We call it love because we have to call it something, or think we do. Silence receives everything if only we will offer the necessary (liberating) allowance. The Romantics - Keats in particular - were looking in the wrong direction for the right insight.

Well, it happens to all of us, sooner or later so might as well get ready now. The road opens up as we drive, a black ribbon surrounded by pine trees and thawing ice-slatted rivers, slow bends in morning dark, no lights for miles. We share the way with everyone or we share it with nobody (or something like that). T. saw a bobcat two days ago and wants to see a moose and knows I know how to find them but I shied away from the implicit invitation to be her - or anyone's, really - guide.

The problem in a nutshell is wordiness confused with religion, and religion confused with maps, and maps confused with the territory, and the territory confused with any landscape other than Heaven. I'm nobody's dog which, if you think about it, is kind of a sad thing to say. Won't you be a blessing in an otherwise rainy day? I spent hours fixing her favorite rocking chair, the one she rocked in for hours before F. was born, and it was a gift, and more than a gift, and not only to her.

In late spring I am always yearning to go deep into the woods and watch what is always being born be born. The darkness broken by little fires that so long have gone unshared. She taught me that poetry was a way of making notes for later, and that later was simply the present recognized, unaffected by the seeming lengths we go to alienate it. How grateful I am to those who came before, on whose beams I rest a while, puttering and singing like a half-drunk carpenter on the verge of a bigger more intimate calling.


  1. Funny, Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn was a favorite of mine in high school, but rereading it recently I couldn't for the life of me remember why. But your sentence sums it up nicely.

    Beauty is truth and truth beauty, of course, as they both are love. It's so easy, really, to shine a light in another's direction if we simply offered a miracle, well, to offer a miracle. I'm still working on this trust business (which perhaps is the whole problem, thinking of it as work, I mean) but am finding that "allowing" comes first. That is, if I waiting to trust totally before opening, I would always stay contracted, but if I simply choose to extend love without expectations -- I have heard it called "unselfing" -- God meets me where I am and gives me more "reason" to trust.

    Not sure why I responded to your sentences with these thoughts, but "allowing" has been a keyword for the week ... and this is where it lead.

    Hope your yesterday went well.

    P.S. The temp dipped into the 20s here on Tuesday; today it is 70, and there's a robin resting in the middle of the birdbath, her feathers all wet and plumped out. Now that's living in the moment! :)

  2. Cooper and Keats are rough contemporaries, albeit prose and poetry. Sentences were incredible in the eighteenth century and have been deteriorating ever since, but poetry - lines - was where the spiritual action was at then. I am unfair to the Romantics, in part because I am so invested in their mode and - I think - share (shared?) a similar confusion about God and Heaven.

    I think of Dickinson in many ways as the meeting ground of the sentence and the line - and the resolution of the problem of looking in the wrong place for the solution to the illusion of separation - because I don't read her poems apart from her letters or vice-versa. She went deeper in an interior way than the Romantics - shy of maybe Wordsworth - went.

    After her we careen into the terror & blood & trains of the twentieth century and the sentence and line both suffer. Though I am reading Robert Creeley presently:


    Here is
    where there

    Also these lines (from Goodbye:

    I want no more sentimentality.
    I want no more than home.

    That second one is a nice six words! Tara Singh would have loved those two lines, I think, seen in them the whole answer to the problem of separation, of thinking that remains stubbornly unaligned with God's.

    We can never go wrong taking guidance from robins and perhaps that is all that needs to be said . . .

  3. Hi Sean,

    This morning I thought of language and how it both abets and hinders and how I look, look, look there for answers, for THE answer. David came in during this pondering and glanced at my disorganized shelves and commented (jokingly, I'm certain) that we have to clear out some of the clutter. And I said, laughing but not, you can take anything but my books.

    Which brings me back to language and what it can and cannot do. Religion -- in its organized form, of course -- is built on language, and Christianity survives solely on the foundation of a promise. That brings to mind your sentence that mentioned anticipation as a form of resistance, which I can see quite clearly. Eventually it all led to my musing on how religion keeps us in hell....

    Perhaps the whole thought sequence was inspired by
    Here is
    where there

    and the entirety of Goodbye, in which I really liked the opening lines as well as those final two.

    We make it all so complicated, climbing the ladder to get closer to the stars, not seeing we are the sky ... you know?

    Robins have it right, as do all other birds including cedar waxwings, which is M's favorite bird. I have never seen one, only pictures, they do not come this far South (although they have been spotted in a town slightly northwest of here) . But yesterday I saw my pair of bluebirds, a northern flicker, an osprey carrying off lunch and a towhee that probably needs to think about moving on...

    Feel better,

  4. I've always struggled with Creeley for some reason, his poems sort of floating through my head without sticking but something is different this time. Those lines about here and there remind me of Stein:

    "There is no there there."

    Yes, we are the sky, the stars, and the ladder, and the hands that grasp it, and the ground on which it rests, and the space it briefly fills, and the emptiness to which it returns when metaphors are no longer needed. I say it and say it - because I know it and I know I know it - and yet . . .

    On and on go the wordy circles . . .

    Here are two more Creeley fragments:

    from The Place

    This thinking
    is a place itself

    unthought, which comes
    to be the world.

    And this in particular, from The Mountains in the Desert, which I love dearly, a lovely prayer:

    Tonight let me go
    at last out of whatever
    mind I thought to have,
    and all the habits of it.

    Thanks for the well wishes. I feel like a crab locked in the shallows at low tide . . . passing the time with twitter poems and reading and an endless river of tea . . .

  5. So enter Shakespeare with "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so" and Dylan with, of all things, Twist of Fate, which is totally unrelated...

    Next thing I know I remember reading "The Art of Racing in the Rain," which I stumbled on quite by accident only to discover much later that it had been a Times bestseller. When I looked it up I see that it is written by a different G. Stein, and that may be what prompted the memory, although quite subconsciously. Anyway, I mention it here because it is told from the dog's point of view and wonder if you have read it...and also because I tend to act on these prompts more and more.

    At one time I would have censored myself in a space such as this ... my journey through the literary landscape has been much of "Oh look, what's that over there ... and on and on -- as I tend to suffer from the bright shining object syndrome when it comes to reading."

    And I am, admittedly and OK with it, rough around the edges.

    And, living here in blue crab country all these years, I so get your word picture.... :)

    And, there you have it for what it's worth, this Saturday stream of consciousness...take care.