Pearson / Poetry

let us be prodigal, as heaven is

“One Star Fell and Another”
Conrad Aiken

One star fell and another as we walked.
Lifting his hand towards the west, he said–
–How prodigal that sky is of its stars!
They fall and fall, and still the sky is sky.
Two more have gone, but heaven is heaven still.

Then let us not be precious of our thought,
Nor of our words, nor hoard them up as though
We thought our minds a heaven which might change
And lose its virtue, when the word had fallen.
Let us be prodigal, as heaven is:
Lose what we lose, and give what we may give,–
Ourselves are still the same. Lost you a planet–?
Is Saturn gone? Then let him take his rings
Into the Limbo of forgotten things.

O little foplings of the pride of mind,
Who wrap the phrase in lavender, and keep it
In order to display it: and you, who save our loves
As if we had not worlds of love enough–!

Let us be reckless of our words and worlds,
And spend them freely as the tree his leaves;
And give them where the giving is most blest.
What should we save them for,–a night of frost? . . .
All lost for nothing, and ourselves a ghost.

from here, as always.

A gentle but necessary rebuke, though. I was (evidently) in a shitty mood last night but a series of exquisite poems last night – as well as a startlingly stunning explanation of the potency of poetry (which reminds me, I should repeat it here) I found – engendered some much-needed clarity in me. And with that comes comfort, I suppose. To be brave, reckless, even. It’s exceedingly trite to harbour regrets at this stage, isn’t it? Though none of us are safe from the the mawkishness of departure, after all. I feel perpetually betrayed by myself these days.

I feel better (I suppose). Someone told me the other day that I kept saying ‘I guess’ or its variants, and he didn’t like it.

This is it:

Appreciating poetry involves a rejection of what you’ve been taught your whole life — which is that a factual, rational understanding of a thing is the most, and possibly only important way to know it. Forget about focusing on what a poem is “supposed to be about”. Even the poet himself doesn’t know — any more than any of us know what we “mean” by half the things we write or say. The words in the poem and they way they are arranged are just a vehicle for delivering something to you that can’t really be captured in words. That’s the magic of poetry — it’s an impossibility. It’s a glimpse of God, if you’re so inclined. We are trained to look at the technical aspects, the narrative, the rational meaning, and so we miss entirely what the poem is really about. It’s like one of those optical illusions that you have to stare at for a long time so that it ceases to be just a whole bunch of marks on a page and becomes a picture. Don’t let yourself get distracted by the marks. Look for the picture.

this is from here.

I originally posted because I wanted to ask, rhetorically: how many times this year have I said, “oh, I did this in third/fifth/eighth grade”? Far too many times, that’s how many. The extent of Mao’s Orwellian imposition of control over Chinese society is appallingly ridiculous, to the point of hilarity, almost, in retrospect. Almost unreal, too (but of course, it was all too real, and perhaps I shouldn’t be laughing.)

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