In his house slippers dancing alone in his bedroom, humming step over step

paul celan

“In his youth, he worked in a factory, though everyone said he looked more like a professor of classical languages than a factory worker. He walked to work as if moving under water. He was a beautiful man with a slender body which moved in a mixture of grace and sharp geometrical precision. His face had an imprint of laugher on it, as if no other emotion ever touched his skin. Even in his fifties, the nineteen-year-old girls winked at him in trains or trolley-busses, asking for his phone number. Seven years after his death, I saw Celan in his house slippers dancing alone in his bedroom, humming step over step. He did not mind being a character in my stories in a language he never learned. That night, I saw him sitting on a rooftop, searching for Venus, reciting Brodsky to himself. He asked if his past existed at all.”

— Ilya Kaminsky on Paul Celan in “Traveling Musicians”


Paul Celan (1920 – 1970) was a Romanian poet and translator becoming one of the major German-language poets of the post-World War II era.

Poet Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa. He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York. After his father’s death in 1994, Kaminsky began to write poems in English: “I chose English because no one in my family or friends knew it—no one I spoke to could read what I wrote. I myself did not know the language. It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom. It still is.”


Image Credit. Quote Credit: ounu via Schonwieder. Bios: Wiki and Poetry Foundation.


As though it said to man, “Behold my work. And yours.”

victor-hugo

“Nature is pitiless; she never withdraws her flowers, her music, her fragrance and her sunlight, from before human cruelty or suffering. She overwhelms man by the contrast between divine beauty and social hideousness. She spares him nothing of her loveliness, neither wing or butterfly, nor song of bird; in the midst of murder, vengeance, barbarism, he must feel himself watched by holy things; he cannot escape the immense reproach of universal nature and the implacable serenity of the sky. The deformity of human laws is forced to exhibit itself naked amidst the dazzling rays of eternal beauty. Man breaks and destroys; man lays waste; man kills; but the summer remains summer; the lily remains the lily; and the star remains the star.

As though it said to man, ‘Behold my work. And yours.”

~ Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
 

Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. In France, Hugo’s literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). He was not only revered as a towering figure in literature, he was a statesman who shaped democracy in France writing and supporting the major political, social and artistic causes at the time.  Hugo’s wish was to be buried in a pauper’s coffin. While this wish was granted, he was nevertheless, on his death in 1885, voted a National Funeral and was buried as a national hero in the Panthéon. It is estimated that at least two million people followed the funeral procession.

Hugo left five sentences as his last will to be officially published :

« Je donne cinquante mille francs aux pauvres.
Je veux être enterré dans leur corbillard.
Je refuse l’oraison de toutes les Eglises.
Je demande une prière à toutes les âmes.
Je crois en Dieu. »
(“I leave 50 000 francs to the poor.
I want to be buried in their hearse.
I refuse [funeral] orations of all churches.
I beg a prayer to all souls.
I believe in God.”)

Credits: Quote – Thank you Soul Proprietor. Image Credit. Hugo bio: Wiki.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you


The poem “Solitude” was written in 1983 by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an American Author and poet (1850-1919). It was her most enduring work. The inspiration for the poem came as she was traveling to attend the Governor’s inaugural ball in Madison, Wisconsin. On her way to the celebration, there was a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. The woman was crying. Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she could barely attend the scheduled festivities. As she looked at her own radiant face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of “Solitude“: [Read more...]

Eat Ether

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Soar,
eat ether,
see what has never been seen;
depart,
be lost,
But climb.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay


ether

noun \ˈē-thər\

: Chemical – a liquid that burns easily, that is used to turn solid substances into liquid, and that was used in medicine in the past to prevent patients from feeling pain during operations

: Literary – the clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds.

the ether : the air : the sky


Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) was born in Rockland, Maine, attended Vassar College, and upon graduation moved to Greenwich Village. Millay was born to Cora Lounella, a nurse, and Henry Tollman Millay, a schoolteacher who would later become a superintendent of schools. Her middle name derives from St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, where her uncle’s life had been saved just before her birth. The family’s house was “between the mountains and the sea where baskets of apples and drying herbs on the porch mingled their scents with those of the neighboring pine woods.”  In 1923, when Millay was 31 years old, she published The Harp Weaver and Other Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Millay’s brilliant achievements in strict form place her in the first ranks of 20th-century American poets and today, when many of the high modernists are studied only in university classrooms, Millay’s poetry remains widely read and admired by a literate general audience. (Source: San Diego Reader and Wiki)


Poem Source: Thank you Journal of a Nobody.  Bio and Millay Photo Credit. Ether Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary


Fall to your knees. Today.

dancer,painting,whimsy

“They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?”

~ Jeanette Winterson


Bio: Jeanette Winterson, 53, is a writer, journalist and delicatessen owner. She was born in Manchester, England, and adopted by Pentecostal parents who brought her up in the nearby mill-town of Accrington. Intending to become a Pentecostal Christian missionary, she began evangelising and writing sermons at age six. As a Northern working class girl she was not encouraged to be clever. Her adopted father was a factory worker, her mother stayed at home. There were only six books in the house, including the Bible and Cruden’s Complete Concordance to the Old and New Testaments. Strangely, one of the other books was Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, and it was this that started her life quest of reading and writing. The house had no bathroom either, which was fortunate because it meant that Jeanette could read her books by flashlight in the outside toilet. Reading was not much approved unless it was the Bible. Her parents intended her for the missionary field. Schooling was erratic but Jeanette had got herself into a girl’s grammar school and later she read English at Oxford University. While she took her A levels she lived in various places, supporting herself by evening and weekend work. In a year off to earn money, she worked as a domestic in a lunatic asylum.

Credits: Image – Thank you HungarianSoul. Quote: Thank you Whiskey River. Jeanette Winterson Bio @ this link and Wiki.

Looking it in the Face

portrait,black and white, photography

“Once she stops pestering me, I steal a peek at the clock and can’t believe my eyes. They say that time goes faster after you pass sixty. No question about it, it’s true. Where are the long, lazy summers of my youth when I sat moping from morning till night unable to think of anything interesting to do? I recollect walking up to a mirror and repeating with greater and greater conviction, “Life is boring.” On such days, the old clock barely budged, just to spite me. You fool, I’m thinking today, that was pure bliss. The mystery of happiness was right there in that cheap clock your mother bought at Woolworth. Time graciously came to a stop in it; eternity threw open its doors and you hesitated or grew wary on its threshold and breathed a sigh of relief when the door shut in your face and the hand of the clock moved on.”

“Of course, I never really believed it would happen. Grow old, I mean. I knew it was coming, saw the evidence of it in my friends and relatives, but despite that, I acted as if aging had nothing to do with me. Even having people congratulate me on my seventy-fifth birthday doesn’t sound right to me. Either they or I must have screwed up the count somewhere along the way. Knowing the truth, of course, is better than fooling oneself, but who wants to look truth in the face every morning?…” [Read more...]

And suddenly you know: that was enough

black and white, photography,portrait, eyes closed

Remembering

And you wait. You wait for the one thing
that will change your life,
make it more than it is -
something wonderful, exceptional,
stones awakening, depths opening to you.

In the dusky bookstalls
old books glimmer gold and brown.
You think of lands you journeyed through,
of paintings and a dress once worn
by a woman you never found again.

And suddenly you know: that was enough.
You rise and there appears before you
in all its longings and hesitations
the shape of what you lived.

- Rainer Maria Rilke


Wiki Bio for Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926).  Credits: Image by Stephan Vanfleteren. Poem: Thank you Whiskey River.

Portrait of a Poet

Portrait of a Poet from Kendy on Vimeo.

[Read more...]

Now

black and white, portrait, fashion model, model

Most days I cling to a single word.

It is a mild-mannered creature made of thought.

Future, or Past. 

Never the other, obvious word.

Whenever I reach out to touch that one, it scurries away.

—Laura Kasischke, opening lines to “Riddle” from Space, in Chains


Laura Kasischke was awarded the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry for Space, In Chains.  She is currently a Professor of English Language at the University of Michigan.  She attended the University of Michigan (MFA 1987) and Columbia University.


Image Source: Wedebrand via Here And Now.  Quote Source: Apoetreflects

You Reading This, Be Ready

woman, face, portrait, eyes

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

- William Stafford  (The Way It Is)


Sources: Poem – Thank you WhiskeyRiver.  Photograph: Rangefinder

Every year there is a brief startling moment…

gif - grass - rock - wind - ocean - Edward Hirsch - poem - poetry - FJORD, SCANDINAVIA, NORDIC WILD, LANDSCAPE

And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

  ~ Edward Hirsch (“Fall”)

Sources: Thank you Luke @ Crashingly Beautiful for quote and headlikeanorange via  goodmemory for image.