Thursday, November 3, 2011

UU - Poetry and Spirituality Oct. 27

Follow-up from Poetry and Spirituality
October 27, 2011

What a terrific group! Thank you Joyce, Phyllis, Rich, Mariano, Noel, Emily, Martin for your thoughtful participation.

For those who couldn’t make it, we discussed the church theme of “discipline” with four poems. For more reading, I highly recommend:
David Whyte, Poetry of Compassion
most any Mary Oliver or Ted Kooser
Stanley Kunitz, Passing Through
(you can also check out )

Here is a quick sketch to summarize the main points ofdiscussion:

Adding to the mix of associations of discipline as commitment, a stick-to-itness of positive habits, a focus on priorities, as well as discipline as an area of study, a profession, or even a corrective measure, the poems brought out other aspects and benefits related to discipline. Perhaps surprisingly, openness, allows a receiving part of discipline, where in David Whyte’s poem, it “steels us” for revelation to allow a discovery of an unknown part of ourselves which like Lazarus is revived.

Mary Oliver’s confession of being deaf and blind to the metaphorical “honeycomb”
does not dwell in a “woe is me” chastisement, but rather, a desire that the “unknowable touch the buckle of her spine” – which brings to mind a posture of supplication and humility without stumbling on doubt. The last stanza, rather than certifying or confirming anything, leaves the reader to contemplate her attitude and confirms the importance of a discipline of faith.

Ted Kooser’s depiction of a dark, musty basement store, where an old man is trying out glasses, wearing another person’s rejected clothes, turns in the second stanza to a universal “you” where the reader also participates in “trying on new glasses” and looking into the mirror to check the fit. Plural mirrors reveal him, looking at us, and the opportunity to look beyond “the particular” and the past. Finally, Kunitz’ round mimics the repeating music, like Oliver’s repeating summer, of a glimpse of joy and his discipline to trudge to his semi-dark cell to try to capture it in words.

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