Thursday, March 21, 2013

commentary on March 18: mystical writing

commentary on poems for March 18.

I love the synchronicity of hearing a Cornelius Eady sing, (see the link to his group “Rough Magic” ) and then look up his poem on the poet walk and find that it resonates with the first poem presented by Rumi. “Love” says Eady... no matter the circumstances,
especially since things you think “weren’t supposed to occur/have happened,(anyway). Eady then finds the ease of breathing, like Rumi asking God to absorb him, his words, leaving only the silence of union...

What is it about mystic writing that moves us? “The quintessential somewhere; The mystical nowhere: The enigmatic anywhere ; My gift to you - the key to everywhere.
Place becomes a play of light and shadow where the mortal will find itself lost while the soul knows the way. Whether it is St. John of the Cross contemplating “The Dark Night of the Soul”, Wang Wei or Hayden Carruth meditating in twilight, or dreamlike state, the reader is invited to put on a new pair of eyes. Poems cast our words, our stories, what we choose, such as smiling, in the Carruth poem, for the simple reason we can (and how does that mean to him? or to you as reader?). If we agree with Weng Wei, then we too “watch the flow of clear water,/ dream of sitting on the uncarved rock (Tao)/
casting a line on the endless stream.(Tao).

Paul Muldoon has a different approach: unlike Rumi, Weng Wei, and Carruth whose measured, deliberate slow pace matches the softness of the scene, he seems to unwind ballads. In “Tell” it could be a rhymed story of a boy combining William Tell and Cowboys and Indians. What is the sound of an apple splitting above your head in such a childhood memory? I love that as readers we could think of 1916 and the troubles, think of father/son, the stakes of William Tell, and all that can be associated with the unknown.

In the “Mirror” his poem translates a story
by Michael Davitt (1846-1906), Irish hero for tenant protection from absentee landlords. but it would well be re-told by the Irish “Bob Dylan”, Michael Davitt who founded in 1970 the Irish-language literary journal Innti. (More than a poetry magazine, the Innti 'movement', akin to that of the Beats in the United States, revitalised poetry in the Irish language with its emphasis on contemporary concerns and sharp vernacular wit. By staging public readings across Ireland and literally bringing poetry back to the streets, a sense of excitement was generated in the Seventies and Eighties poetry scene which resembled that of the San Francisco renaissance during the previous two decades.)

But I digress. Consult to find out more about Muldoon. There you will read “gamesman, then, is another name for poet in Paul Muldoon's practice."
However it is, the three part story, which starts out at a wake, goes into the reason for the father’s death, and ends with the son putting the mirror in position, brought out much discussion. The “cold Paradox” of someone dead – “he was no longer my father, but I was his son” – what living is – what the next world is – how the mirror swallows one,
allows ghosts, transcendence from one world to the next – in a rather haunting “St. John of the Cross” tone. I think of Seamus Heaney and “The Spirit Level”. Which brings us to the poem, “The Frog” where the speaker is in the same “spirit level”...

The final poem This much I know.
In “Hay” Muldoon starts off with “This much I know”—and then remarks his observation of the hay, the raw itching hands, the light, and the “one” when one bursts,
can be both one of the hay accordions, (although for a fraction of a second, “one” seems to refer to a universal “you”) something takes flight/
from those hot and heavy box-pleats. This much, at least,/
I know.

And what is it that takes flight – and what is it then, we know? And does that alter,
like circumstances over which we have no control, anything? Keep breathing; love.

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