Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

October 30, 2004

A Not So Random Act of Poetry

Traipsing about the Internet this morning, I discover that this past week has been Random Acts of Poetry Week upstairs in O Canada. My goodness, how did I miss it?

Poetry is seemingly a negligible piece of North American culture. And, since few people would voluntarily subject themselves to a live poetry reading, Canadian poets have decided, Mohammed-like, to take poetry to the people. I'm not sure what "the people" might do in return (fight? flee?), but here at Mr. Standfast I like springing poetry on my unsuspecting readers from time to time. So, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, I give you John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Continuing my traipse, I stumble on a blog called One House (by way of Abiding, through the amusingly titled Get Yer Goat--subtitled, "We can make a difference, one goat at a time"--who is simply following in the footsteps of Deegy at One Room). And so I found the following poem, which is by Edward Hirsch, from his book called, Lay Back the Darkness.

I Am Going To Start Living Like A Mystic

Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
and walking across the park in a dusky snowfall.

The trees stand like twenty-seven prophets in a field,
each a station in a pilgrimmage - silent, pondering.

Blue flakes of light falling across their bodies
are the ciphers of a secret, an occultation.

I will examine their leaves as pages in a text
and consider the bookish pigeons, students of winter.

I will kneel on the track of the vanquished squirrel
and stare into a blank pond for the figure of Sophia.

I shall begin scouring the sky for signs
as if my whole future were constellated upon it.

I will walk home alone with the deep alone,
a disciple of shadows, in praise of the mysteries.


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