Category Archives: poetry

Franz Marc’s Blue Horses

Franz_Marc_Large_Blue_Horses

The Large Blue Horses (1911), oil on canvas, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I step into the painting of the four blue horses. / I am not even surprised I can do this.

One of the horses walks toward me. / His blue noses noses me lightly. I put my arm / over his blue mane, not holding on, just / commingling. / He allows me my pleasure.

Franz Marc died a young man, shrapnel in his brain. / I would rather die than try to explain to the blue horses what war is. / They would either faint in horror, or simply find it impossible to believe. / I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.

Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually. / Maybe the desire to make something beautiful / is the piece of God that is inside each of us.

Now all four horses have come closer, are bending their faces toward me / as if they have secrets to tell. / I don’t expect them to speak, and they don’t. / If being so beautiful isn’t enough, what / could they possibly say?

Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (New York, Penguin, 2017), p. 21.

 

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Gone Missing

Kindly reader, I am a blog without a blogger

He has gone missing for weeks

and my house is empty. Suffer me awhile,

or go, and if you meet him—

he with a distant look and shambling gait—

tell him the hearth is cooling down.

 

I won’t know a thing for days,

he takes to a walk-about

and never pays me notice.

What kind of life is that?

 

Yet I’ve never expected different—

I’m glad he just comes back at all.

And you could say absence

sometimes makes for a better blog.

 

Adapted from Paul Quenon, “Gone Missing,” in Unquiet Vigil: New and Selected Poems (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2014), 13-14. The words “poem” and “poet” have been replaced with “blog” and “blogger.”

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Advice from Me to Myself

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Your mind is spinning around
About carrying out a lot of useless projects:
It’s a waste! Give it up!
Thinking about the hundred plans you want to accomplish,
With never enough time to finish them,
Just weighs down your mind.
You’re completely distracted
By all these projects, which never come to an end,
But keep spreading out more, like ripples in water.
Don’t be a fool: for once, just sit tight.

Excerpt from “Advice from Me to Myself” by Patrul Rinpoche (1808-1887)

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Desiderata

The title of this 1927 poem is Latin for “desired things,” which seems appropriate since I’m studying for a Latin final. I’m not to keen on the couplet “Therefore be at peace with God / whatever you conceive Him to be,” because it sounds New Agey. Still, there’s a lot of wisdom here, so I thought I’d share it.

DESIDERATA

by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
And remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly & clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull & ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud & aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain & bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing future of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity & disenchantment
it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness.
Beyond wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees & the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labours & aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

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Year’s End

The end of a year is a time of reflection. We remember the highs and lows, the blessings and tragedies of the past while looking forward with hope to a new year. My mother sent me the words of a German hymn yesterday written by Eleonore, Princess of Reuss (1835-1903). You can read the full text in the original here.  I’ve pasted a translation of the first and last verses below. I hope you like it.

Silently The Year Comes To An End

1. Silently the year comes to an end,

Be therefore still my soul.

Into God’s faithful hand

I lay my pains of old,

And ev’ry thing this year encumbered,

Griefs only my God has numbered,

The tears I long to weep,

The wounds still burning deep.

6. Help us through these troubled days

And let our hearts be strong,

Walk beside us on our ways,

Keep us from doing wrong.

And it is here below

So desolate, so alone,

O grant us in your peace

To be blessed now here at home!

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