Showing posts from April, 2019


Rainer Maria Rilke   from DUINO ELEGIES , Ninth Elegy, Lines 43-52 (Trans. A. Poulin, Jr.) This is the time for what can be said. Here is its country.   Speak and testify.   The things we can live with are falling away more than ever, replaced by an act without symbol. An act under crusts that will easily rip as soon as the energy inside outgrows them and seeks new limits. Our hearts survive between the hammers, just as the tongue between the teeth is still able to praise. I read these lines when I was a graduate student working on the new field of ecopsychology. They gave voice to so much of what I was feeling at the time that I held them close for the rest of my student days. Decades later, now, I still recite them often. This is the time …for moral courage, for giving honest testimony about this epochal historical moment we share, all of us on the cliff edge together. The things we can live with …are, in


Wendell Berry, born Aug 5, 1934, is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic and farmer.   His writing is grounded in the notion that one’s work ought to be rooted in and responsive to place. From 1979 to the present, Berry has been writing what he calls “Sabbath poems”.   The poems are inspired by Berry’s withdrawal from civilization and consumer culture when he walks onto the land on Sunday mornings.   As he puts it, “I go free from the tasks and intentions of my workdays, and so my mind becomes hospitable to unintended thoughts – to what I am very willing to call inspiration.” Wendell Berry I GO AMONG TREES ( from This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems ) I go among trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water. My tasks lie in their places   where I left them, asleep like cattle. I literally knew nothing about Wendell Berry when I decided, with little thought, to bring along thi


Sometimes a poem will slap you in the face. "Tulips" by Sylvia Plath is one such poem.  The poem is a painting of white on white with a sudden splash of red. Like white hotel sheets with a stain of menstrual blood. Shocking and explosive. In the poem the narrator is in a hospital bed.She seeks oblivion. Pure. Winter white. Colourless. Emotionless. Empty. The only colours are the green of the trolley car and the black pill box of her overnight bag. There is a nautical flavour to the poem. Nurses float by like seagulls. She is the pebble that is soothed by their hands. She sees herself as a thirty year-old-cargo boat being swabbed clear of loving associations. The husband and the child in the photo are little smiling hooks. Her belongings sink out of sight and the water envelops her. She is nothing. She lies “Like an eye between two white lids”. She is in a snow white emptiness. “I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.” And then the tulip