Tuesday, April 19, 2005

leaves as pages in a secret text

Here is another Edward Hirsch poem, courtesy of the wonderful poetry subscription list Panhala, which I learned about thanks to Andy.

Poet, essayist, literary critic, English professor, Edward Hirsch is currently president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and is the author of two of my favorite books, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, and The Demon and The Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration

I Am Going to Start Living Like a Mystic

Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
and walking across the park in a dusky snowfall.

The trees stand like twenty-seven prophets in a field,
each a station in a pilgrimage--silent, pondering.

Blue flakes of light falling across their bodies
are the ciphers of a secret, an occultation.

I will examine their leaves as pages in a text
and consider the bookish pigeons, students of winter.

I will kneel on the track of a vanquished squirrel
and stare into a blank pond for the figure of Sophia.

I shall begin scouring the sky for signs
as if my whole future were constellated upon it.

I will walk home alone with the deep alone,
a disciple of shadows, in praise of mysteries.

(From Lay Back the Darkness)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


We couldn't tell if it was a fire in the hills
Or the hills themselves on fire, smoky yet
Incandescent, too far away to comprehend.
And all this time we were traveling toward
Something vaguely burning in the distance --
A shadow on the horizon, a fault line --
A blue and cloudy peak which never seemed
To recede or get closer as we approached.
And that was all we knew about it
As we stood by the window in a waning light
Or touched and moved away from each other
And turned back to our books. But it remained
Even so, like the thought of a coal fading
On the upper left-hand side of our chests,
A destination that we bore within ourselves.
And there were those -- were they the lucky ones? --
Who were unaware of rushing toward it.
And the blaze awaited them, too.

Edward Hirsch
from Earthly Measures (Knopf, 1994)

that which connects

I sat in the hot tub in our rainy backyard the other morning, with my computer wrapped in two towels against the drizzle, and listened to an a conversation between philosopher Ken Wilber of the Integral Institute and Reb Zalman Schacter-Shalomi (grandfather of the neo-Hassidic Jewish Renewal movement). You can download here it from Integral Naked if you become a subscriber (the first month of subscription is free!).

At one point Wilber says: "Buber talked about the I-Thou relationship--and the Big Mystery is that hyphen."