She sang beyond the genius of the sea. The water never formed to mind or voice, Like a body wholly body, fluttering Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry, That was not ours although we understood, Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.
The sea was not a mask. No more was she. The song and water were not medleyed sound Even if what she sang was what she heard, Since what she sang was uttered word by word. It may be that in all her phrases stirred The grinding water and the gasping wind; But it was she and not the sea we heard.
For she was the maker of the song she sang. The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea Was merely a place by which she walked to sing. Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew It was the spirit that we sought and knew That we should ask this often as she sang.
If it was only the dark voice of the sea That rose, or even colored by many waves; If it was only the outer voice of sky And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled, However clear, it would have been deep air, The heaving speech of air, a summer sound Repeated in a summer without end And sound alone. But it was more than that, More even than her voice, and ours, among The meaningless plungings of water and the wind, Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made The sky acutest at its vanishing. She measured to the hour its solitude. She was the single artificer of the world In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea, Whatever self it had, became the self That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we, As we beheld her striding there alone, Knew that there never was a world for her Except the one she sang and, singing, made.
Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know, Why, when the singing ended and we turned Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights, The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there, As the night descended, tilting in the air, Mastered the night and portioned out the sea, Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles, Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.
Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon, The maker’s rage to order words of the sea, Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred, And of ourselves and of our origins, In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
— Wallace Stevens
I am so tired of waiting, Aren’t you, For the world to become good And beautiful and kind? Let us take a knife And cut the world in two – And see what worms are eating At the rind.
— Langston Hughes
Always stand on the side of the egg
Please do, however, allow me to deliver one very personal message. It is something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the wall: Rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something like this:
“Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.”
Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?
My morning begins slowly. When I eventually draw the curtains to let in the startling light of another day getting away from me, I notice that it must have rained overnight. The nasturtiums by the side of the house, which have grown thick and large and more like lily pads than something for a salad, are dotted with water that gathers in perfect brilliant droplets like polished glass.
It is almost winter.
It feels as though colour has been leached away. Beneath a dirty white sky everything is a darker, more muted version of itself. It is especially hard to find the beauty in things.
Birds provide some brightness. The blue of fairy-wrens, red-beaked finches, noisy wagtails. There were pelicans in the dam last week. And above the empty cornfield a sea eagle. Below, gathering the maize kernels that the flocks of cockatoos and ravens missed, ducks. Russet-breasted ducks with stark white collars who would reveal themselves as they periodically scan for predators, peeking above the stubble of the field.
The field is beginning to fill with grass and weeds. A carpet of green, slowly forming between the orderly rows of cut corn stalks.
There are moments on the trail, when there are no distant cars or trucks, no low whine of tyres on bitumen, no devices or whirring fans, moments when the only sound is birdsong and the busyness of insects, of tall dried grass stalks rattling against their companions, brief periods that quicken the heart.
they come different and the same with each it is different and the same with each the absence of love is different with each the absence of love is the same
— Samuel Beckett, 1938
The End of Poetry
Enough of osseous and chickadee and sunflower and snowshoes, maple and seeds, samara and shoot, enough chiaroscuro, enough of thus and prophecy and the stoic farmer and faith and our father and tis of thee, enough of bosom and bud, skin and god not forgetting and star bodies and frozen birds, enough of the will to go on and not go on or how a certain light does a certain thing, enough of the kneeling and the rising and the looking inward and the looking up, enough of the gun, the drama, and the acquaintance’s suicide, the long-lost letter on the dresser, enough of the longing and the ego and the obliteration of ego, enough of the mother and the child and the father and the child and enough of the pointing to the world, weary and desperate, enough of the brutal and the border, enough of can you see me, can you hear me, enough I am human, enough I am alone and I am desperate, enough of the animal saving me, enough of the high water, enough sorrow, enough of the air and its ease, I am asking you to touch me.
Do not forget old friends you knew long before I met you the times I know nothing about being someone who lives by himself and only visits you on a raid
— Leonard Cohen (1968)
I used to pretend to believe in God. Mainly, I liked so much to talk to someone in the dark. Think of how far a voice must have to travel to go beyond the universe. How powerful that voice must be to get there. Once in a small chapel in Chimayo, New Mexico, I knelt in the dirt because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. That was before I learned to harness that upward motion inside me, before I nested my head in the blood of my body. There was a sign and it said, This earth is blessed. Do not play in it. But I swear I will play on this blessed earth until I die. I relied on a Miracle Fish, once, in New York City, to tell me my fortune. That was before I knew it was my body’s water that moved it, that the massive ocean inside me was what made the fish swim.
— Ada Limón (2015)
Although you sit in a room that is gray, Except for the silver Of the straw-paper, And pick At your pale white gown; Or lift one of the green beads Of your necklace, To let it fall; Or gaze at your green fan Printed with the red branches of a red willow; Or, with one finger, Move the leaf in the bowl– The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythia Beside you… What is all this? I know how furiously your heart is beating.