Oct 312017
 

To learn just who you are
Look at tombs as you walk.
They hold the bones, the powdered dust
Of kings and tyrants, of wise men,
Of men proud of their noble fathers,
Of men glorying in their gold and their glory
And their beautiful bodies.
And when the time came
What protected them against death?
Nothing. Everyone living dies the same death.
Look at tombs and learn just who you are.

 Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments (Modern Library Classics). trans. Burton Raffel

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Oct 292017
 

We all pray for it
Before it comes,
Then blame it
When it arrives.
Old age is a debt
We like to be owed,
Not one we like to collect.

Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments (Modern Library Classics). Trans. Burton Raffel.

 Comments Off on Menecrates
Oct 272017
 

I brooded on dark water,
was neither fish nor bird,
an unembodied voice
that made all things by word,

made light, space, words and time
creatures that glow and grow,
bodies that shine above
and root, glide, creep below.

Seeing all this was good
I wanted creatures who
will share my admiration
of everything I do.

Though always bodiless
I have a certain form
so modelled it in clay,
gave breath to make it warm.

You are my image, folks,
greater than all you see
in intellectual scope,
but not as great as me.

Your dreadful faults, alas,
reflect what I desired:
a need to make new life,
a need to be admired.

New lives made with labour,
bodies requiring breath,
come to displace their makers,
condemning them to death.

I will not mend the faults
that generate your woes.
Mistakes can be creative too,
as every artist knows.

(2002)

 Comments Off on Alasdair Gray: God Again
Oct 032017
 

not will, not desire:
perhaps prayer

not still:
held

at the end you said:
I want to keep my eyes open,
to miss nothing

not entreaty, not regret
not future, not past:
touch and warm weight

breath and again:
what word can be heard

not loss, not absence:
perhaps soul

not inside, not outside:
dusk’s doorway

not alone

from All We Saw: Poems

 Comments Off on Anne Michaels: Not
Aug 062017
 
See how the orient dew,
Shed from the bosom of the morn
   Into the blowing roses,
Yet careless of its mansion new,
For the clear region where ’twas born
   Round in itself incloses:
   And in its little globe’s extent,
Frames as it can its native element.
   How it the purple flow’r does slight,
      Scarce touching where it lies,
   But gazing back upon the skies,
      Shines with a mournful light,
         Like its own tear,
Because so long divided from the sphere.
   Restless it rolls and unsecure,
      Trembling lest it grow impure,
   Till the warm sun pity its pain,
And to the skies exhale it back again.
      So the soul, that drop, that ray
Of the clear fountain of eternal day,
Could it within the human flow’r be seen,
      Remembering still its former height,
      Shuns the sweet leaves and blossoms green,
      And recollecting its own light,
Does, in its pure and circling thoughts, express
The greater heaven in an heaven less.
      In how coy a figure wound,
      Every way it turns away:
      So the world excluding round,
      Yet receiving in the day,
      Dark beneath, but bright above,
      Here disdaining, there in love.
   How loose and easy hence to go,
   How girt and ready to ascend,
   Moving but on a point below,
   It all about does upwards bend.
Such did the manna’s sacred dew distill,
White and entire, though congealed and chill,
Congealed on earth : but does, dissolving, run
Into the glories of th’ almighty sun.
 Comments Off on Andrew Marvell: On a Drop of Dew