Wednesday, February 9, 2011

O Pen -- 2/7 : Jane Hirshfield and a Valentine from Ruth Stone

In Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes, at the end of a section about Jane Hirschfield, is a quote by Bill Stafford. "Talk with a little luck in it, that's what poetry is -- just let the words take you where they want to go. You'll be invited; things will happen; your life will have more in it than other people's lives have."

To understand this in context, kindly understand that the poems below work to deep levels. Hirshfield will convince you that a single haiku by Issa can have as great a compassion and enormous a grief as any English elegy. Poems work, b/c they are not explanation but promise connection, loosening and expand judgement’s heart.

She shared this piece, as one of her favorites, at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival,

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight
also leaks between the roofplanks
of this ruined house.
-- Izumi Shikibu (from "The Ink Dark Moon, tr. by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani)

Our walls can protect us -- and keep us from good parts, such as Moonlight, which is often associated with love or Buddhist awakening.

Language – darkness seems larger, more open, because AFFIRMED.

We think more fully, act more fully IF we feel,like a string quartet,infinite as in this haiku by Basho.

Loneliness --
cicadas' crying
darkens the stone.

Jane explained the translation of "darkens" -- the idea is that the sound is
"dyeing" as if the stone were cloth, but the cleverness and deep understanding
is that of stone darkening wetness.
stone shown as altering – what in outer world would not change.
intimate experience – of loneliness – where one thing is connected to another.

Poems discuss in Open:
It was like this:
You were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not

The Envoy (it permits "going on" -- agreeing to be permeable to what comes to live willingly in the hard knowledge that we do not know what will come to us in our lives, or how it comes or goes.

Habit -- and A Cedary Fragrance: choosing... making the unwanted wanted.

For What Binds Us -- see below.

Green Apples -- Ruth Stone. Just like the wind to come to whisper, urgently, like love,
this is the moment, here, now. A poem to memorize.
Comments from Contemporary American Poetry:

For What Binds Us –
She often gives as public readings, as it steadies her and seats her as poet, person. themes of ranscience and loss, of interconnection and abidance; of how a person goes on, somehow, no matter what.
Images drawn from the earth, science, carpentry, horseflesh; bodies and psyches of lovers, a cup, these also seem abiding terrain. Not narrative, but writes of the inner life by describing the outer. Look, it requests of its reader, and makes a promise that if you do, you will see what it sees, feel what it feels. This is as good a description as any of the process by which certain kinds of lyric poems carry experience from one person into another. It was written in one breath; arrived at 4 am speaking itself.

"The practice of shapeliness and music and rhetoric enters the marrow. And then, when the time comes that a poem awakens a writer during a lightless hour, they are there, holding the psyche, permitting the transformation between raw and overwhelming grief and the grief that becomes a poem by being caught in craft-amber, in the lasting sap of the heart flood." p. 146

The order, "mend or tear" or "tear or mend" -- that untearability or unmendability which has the final say, makes an immense difference to the feeling one takes from the statement.

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