Archive for the ‘Charles Simic’ Tag

“An infinity of tragic shapes …   Leave a comment

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to make thinking difficult.”

So run the final two lines from Charles Simic‘s poem “Letter.”

Except often it’s just not (only) about us. Trees loom and leaf for their own sake, expressions of energy just as valid without any human presence to comment on them or arrogate them for a poem, however talented or honored the poet (Simic won a Pulitzer in 1990). And I say this as a bard, a devotee of words and their crafting. I like some of Simic’s work very much.

Yes, human presences make their trails, but the seasons also have their say, wordless though it is.

Here’s an autumn view of a hill on a neighborhood walk that blesses my wife and me whenever we take it.

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And here’s the same path as winter dresses it:

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We make our paths through a world immeasurably larger than we are, a great comfort, I find. Sometimes the part of the Druid is listening, without comment. Of course, by itself listening doesn’t get the poems written, the blogposts online, the books and songs and stories heard and known and loved. But listening … oh, listening and looking, may you two always come first, springs of lasting wonder.

Snowhenge   2 comments

It’s not really a henge at all, of course — just a large boulder we removed from our garden space a couple years ago and set along the north-south axis in our front lawn. A simple bed underneath it, a few other small rocks to steady it.  Grass grown back now.  Lichens finding the stony surface to their liking, adding their dull green patina to the stone.  But the word henge came to me as I looked out the front window at the solstice evening. So I’ll go with it.   The heavy band of cloud along the horizon behind the trees presages rain.  The mailbox — it seems out of place.  But let’s go with that, too, I say to myself.  Is this a message?

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Mystery is a landscape. OK, I think.  There’s always more to see. Even a finite object like a boulder presents a myriad of perspectives. By the time I’ve looked at even a small number of them, the boulder has subtly changed. The light on it has shifted, lichens on its surface beneath the snow cover are growing and dying, and a small, small portion of its substance has crumbled and fallen.

That’s part of it.  Hmm, I say to myself.  This second sentence, like the first, feels like a communication from outside myself.  Is this the start of another Druid dialog?  Don’t get hung up on the source, I chide myself, or you’ll miss what comes next.  You can worry about doubt and truth and origins later.

The snow’s gone blue in the twilight.  The bare trees — “an infinity of tragic shapes, to make thinking difficult,” as Charles Simic says in one of his short poems.  Lovely, or inaccurate, or a distraction, depending on your reaction.  But decidedly other — not my own primary experience, but the report of another person’s.

Landscape reveals itself when we walk through it.  Mystery at its fullest is participation, not just standing apart and analyzing.  Then it may be obscurity, or incomprehension.  Yes, I can read a scene like a Tarot card, but I can also move into it, inhabit it.  Which is a good way to work with Tarot, too.  Mystery needn’t be alien or unfriendly.  It can and often does reside in the utterly familiar — until all is changed and it steps forward, or we see it again.

Mystery’s not just a quality of experience, though, but a presence.  I get why the Lakota call it wakan tanka, “great mystery.”  Not “a god” or “gods” but “great mystery.”  It’s something specific, even as it remains mystery.  The merely obscure darkens.  Mystery, on the other hand, deepens.

Updated 24 December 2013

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