Saturday, August 4, 2012

Poetry Session on July 29, 2012 with the Philadelphia City Center Book Club


The City Center Book Club of Philadelphia (CCBC) is a group of women readers who interest themselves in non-fiction, plays, classical literature, and poetry. It was started in 2001. They meet once a month, mostly at the home of the convener, Rachel Munafo.

On July 29, 2012 Marie, host of Joe and KumKum Cleetus for a delicious weekend in Philadelphia, invited the CCBC members to her home and laid on a sumptuous feast, which these pictures will attest to.

 Marie checking the comestibles

The occasion was a Poetry session. As Marie put it: “Without any prearrangement we read from the poets of Japan, England, America, India, France, and Russia.......Not bad for a first sampling.”

KumKum, Nancy, Rachel, and Caroline select from the elaborate menu

Death poems in haiku formed the first reading by Rachel. She explained the significance and context for writing such poetry and gave an exquisite example of its practice by a haiku master, Yosa Buson.

Marie and Rachel help themselves

More Japanese poetry followed, describing the life of a famous courtesan of the 9th century, Oto No Komachi. A play on her life will be read in a longer session.

KumKum, Nancy, Marie, Caroline, Martha

The two poems with the title of Lullaby by W.H. Auden introduced readers to the fine choice of words to accompany the sentiment of lovers in bed.

KumKum and Nancy

Baudelaire figured in a wonderful interpretation by Nancy of his poem, Correspondances. The intense concentration of nasal sounds in the original French she read, gave an idea of the sensuality in which that poet's language is drenched.

Rachel, Taylor, KumKum, Nancy, and Caroline

Joe and KumKum expressed their gratitude to the members of the CCBC group for making them feel so welcome. In time KRG and CCBC may form more links and relationships.

Taylor, KumKum, Nancy, Caroline, Martha

For a full record of the session, click below.
 
Philadelphia City Center Book Club (CCBC)
Poetry Session on July 29, 2012 at the home of Marie Stuart

Present: Rachel Munafo, Taylor Williams, Nancy Naptulin, Karen Bramblett, Caroline Golab, Martha Witte, Marie Stuart
Absent: Judy Ramirez
Guests: Joe and Shipra (KumKum) Cleetus

The CCBC is a group of women readers in Philadelphia who interest themselves in non-fiction, plays, classical literature, and poetry. It was started in 2001. They meet once a month in the homes of the readers, mostly at the home of the convener, Rachel Munafo.

Marie had laid out a dinner and the spread was polished off first (Tandoori Chicken, Vegetable Jalfrezie, Pilaf, etc). After a few preliminaries Rachel began by noting that this poetry session was a first for CCBC with each reader choosing her own poet and poems. Each one has limited time. Reading poetry itself is a skill, for as Tom Duddy (a Brooklyn poet) once remarked, “all poetry has drama in it and the words deserve to be spoken as if it were the first time they are being heard.” Marie begged off reading as she was too rushed with visitors and getting the meal done to prepare.

Rachel
She chose some poems from Japanese poets who hold a special allure for her; she conducts tours of Japanese art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), including the wonderful wabi style of the Japanese Tea Room constructed and displayed at the PMA. It's name emblazoned on the portal is Sun Ka Raku, which means 'Evanescent Joys.'

She said that whatever she has read opens her eyes to how much more she has to learn before she can claim familiarity. The Japanese have a tradition of death poems written in anticipation of death, for example, on the verge of committing hara-kiri, at the time of terminal illness, and so on. Going into battle, Japanese soldiers wrote death poems often. In answer to a question, Rachel said, both men and women write death poems. As it happened, Taylor, one of the other members, was going to recite from the same poet.

Rachel noted that Zen Buddhist poets wrote death poems in the haiku form of three lines with the syllable count 5-7-5; Matsuo Basho (1644 - 1694) and Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783) were two great exponents of the form. Tanka, consisting of a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable meter is another classical form. More detail may be found at

Rachel noted in passing that the Japanese love things that possess the asymmetry and imperfections that occur in nature, unlike the Western mind that is given to explicit symmetry in art and life. Rachel referred to the Japanese preference for odd numbers of syllables and lines in poetry, in contrast to the traditional Chinese and Western preference for even numbers, and balance and symmetry in poetry and the visual arts. The Japanese view is that balance and symmetry are unnatural and artificial, for nature itself is irregular, imperfect, and asymmetrical.  Also, asymmetry is part of the wabi aesthetic of the Japanese tea ceremony which embraces the idea of naturalness and imperfection. 

Haiku
relates to the moment when the person is in meditation and alert to mindfulness. The sense of yearning is often present when the senses are alive to touching, hearing, feeling, … These are all metaphorical and stand for deeper memory.

Yosa Buson

Buson was also a great pictorial artist; he wrote until his death at age 68. Here is a haiku by him:
Of late the nights
are dawning
plum-blossom white.

The peculiarity of the plum tree is that the flower comes out before the tree starts to bloom. Here it is in transliteration from the Japanese:
shiraume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri

Someone commented that it is really not possible to translate poetry; it’s extremely hard to transfer the texture, the meaning, the rhyme, the references, and so on. Languages have sub-texts. This is an age-old problem, and there’s even a saying that poetry may be defined as what gets lost in translation (Robert Frost).

Marie thought that plum blossom white signifies the time to be born, rather than death. KumKum reflected on this as not a gloomy meditation on death, but a positive image that is hopeful. And does white not connote spirituality and other-worldliness? -- asked Marie. Taylor considers white as having a different significance in different cultures. Joe gave voice to another famous haiku (by Basho), which preserves the 5-7-5 syllabic form in translation:
An old silent pond …
A Frog jumps into the pond,
Splash! Silence again.

Matsuo Basho

Marie referred to the Greeks in the Iliad who also made poetry at the time of death.

Taylor referred to Dante in the context of translation, and Marie mentioned Seamus Heaney’s translation of the Gilgamesh. What she meant, as she later corrected, was Seamus Heaney's translation of Sophocles' Antigone, which he titled Burial of Thebes. Heaney uses three different forms: three-stress lines for exchanges between the sisters, Anglo-Saxon meter for the chorus, and blank verse for Creon. See his notes on translation at:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2005/nov/02/theatre.classics

Here is another death poem (although not a haiku) by the poet Moriya Sen'an (d. 1838); there is here a hint of the after-life:
Bury me when I die
beneath a wine barrel
in a tavern.
With luck
the cask will leak.

The wry sense of humor brought a smile to the lips of the group. Rachel said the poet was clever in making the last syllables rhyme with his name in Japanese. Here it is:
Ware shinaba
sakaya no kame no
shita ni ikeyo
moshi ya shizuku no
moriyasennan


Karen
The poems she chose were two labeled Lullaby by W.H. Auden. He distills every single word. The first is a poem of tender love written, as it appears, by Auden to his male lover:
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
.
Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,

Marie thought of the poem as being naughty and gay.

Wystan Hugh Auden

The second poem, written late in Auden’s life dwells on the enjoyment of solitude and pleasure, but notes that these are only available after the day’s chores are done. What be these pleasures?
Now you have licence to lie,
naked, curled like a shrimplet,
jacent in bed, and enjoy
its cosy micro-climate:
Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay.

Marie imagined something Whitmanesque in the feelings of liberation in this poem. Rachel agreed that in the work of many poets you can hear the echoes of poets who went before, and perhaps even explicit references to their lines.


Nancy
The poem she recited, Correspondances, is from Fleurs du mal (“Flowers of evil”), a collection of poems that became the touchstone of nineteenth century French poetry and had a great influence on poets who came after Charles Baudelaire. There is a site dedicated to this work:

Charles Baudelaire

Along with the original in French of several editions, the site has numerous translations of each poem into English. The chosen poem occurs at

The translation Nancy chose to read was one made by Kate Flores, herself a poet and translator from French and Spanish. You may see it in full, subscribed at the end.

Nancy commended the translation of the second stanza:
Like long drawn echoes afar converging
In harmonies darksome and profound,
Vast as the night and vast as light,
Colors, scents and sounds correspond.

Rachel found something inelegant in the last line
Which the rapture of the senses and the spirit sing

and didn't visualise the prairie as green at all, rather as brown. Perhaps Baudelaire had never seen the real N American prairie.

Correspondances in French means the relationships of people in communicating, said Nancy. It bespeaks similarities. The poem is full of nasal sounds in French, which vibrate and have overtones. Many tones sound at the same time, and this implies the unity of existence.

Nancy called attention to the fact the poem is a Sonnet written in classical French alexandrines (12 syllables) with a complex rhyme scheme abba cddc cdc dcc. She read it slowly, in a meditative way, to bring out the sensuality of the sound and the intricate images. A great sigh of admiration and wonder greeted her reading.

Rachel thought the sense of smell too comes into play, and smell brings memory with it, according to Proust, for we all remember in our subconscious a previous existence (la vie antérieure), a time when everything was in harmony.

Marie recalled the Christian Nativity scene from the words 'frankincense' and 'myrrh' in the poem. Nancy  explained that  the translation was not  'myrrh' but in reality 'musk';  hence the Magi were not being referenced. The word benjoin is translated as 'benzoin' by some translators (a rather chemical-sounding name) and as 'benjamin' by others. It seems Baudelaire was enthralled by Eastern perfumes. Rachel connected that to the pervading orientalism at the time in France. The symbolism in the poem is also to be noted, for Baudelaire was known as a symbolist and endowed his poems with multiple meanings.


Joe
Joe read some poems by a contemporary Russian poet, Vera Pavlova, in Cyrillic, Вера Павлова.

Vera Pavlova
Vera Pavlova is a contemporary Russian poet, born in 1963 in Moscow. She trained as a musicologist. At the age of twenty she gave birth to her first of two daughters, and started writing poetry, and abandoned music as a career. Her first poems were published at the age of twenty-four in a literary magazine, and she attained some notoriety when the centerfold of a popular daily published 72 of her poems. She has published over 17 volumes of poetry and they have been translated into a score of languages. She has appeared in public and private recitals all over the world.

One of her poems was splashed over the New York subway. Translations of her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Poetry magazine where she has an extensive presence.

She enjoys the unparalleled advantage of having her own husband, the American Steven Seymour, as her translator into English. They have two daughters. She has collaborated on art projects with painters, written opera libretti, and published audiobooks of her reciting famous Russian poets such as Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, and Mandelshtam. She is easy to find on the Web with recordings of her poetry readings, and I will draw your attention especially to one of her in a private setting in Wellesley College’s Russian department

She goes on for an hour, chanting poem after poem from memory, alternating with translations read by Steven Seymour. All of them are taken from her first English collection by Knopf in 2010, which bears the title of her New York subway poster poem, If There is Something to Desire: One Hundred Poems. It may be noted that her poems are brief. The reference that got me started on Pavlova is this link to her one-line ruminations (reminiscent of the Polish poet Szymborska):

Here’s a quote of hers: “The purpose of poetry is to leave some residue in your head after you have lost everything else.”

After Joe read some of the poems he had chosen, there was a comment that it was a bit raunchy, and one would rather imagine a man writing such verse, than a woman. Admittedly there are risqué lines, but hers is an earthy kind of poetry. Marie was one of those whose eyebrows knitted on hearing Pavlova's lines of the poem Tenderly on a tender surface spoken in polite company. One wondered what the Wellesley College women made of such poems when they heard it from her lips in Russian (there's a well-known Russian program at the college), and Joe noted that Vladimir Nabokov had taught there in his pre-Lolita days, and perhaps found some inspiration on campus.


Taylor
Taylor wanted to read from Ono no Komachi, a poet of 9th century Japan. There is a story about her disdaining Fukakusa no Shono, a nobleman, who then fell ill and died. She was greatly grieved and sought forgiveness. There is a Noh play called Sotoba Komachi (Komachi on the stupa) which dramatises the poet's life, but the play is long and it would require a whole session for its reading. It is being deferred to another time. Please refer for more information to:

Ono No Komachi

Taylor handed out notes on Komachi at Sekidera, a Noh play written by Zeami, and you may view the material at:

She also helpfully provided some sheets with illustrations of Noh, the traditional Japanese form of theater entertainment. Here's the link:

Many members voiced the opinion that poetry sessions are so stimulating that they should be held at every second or third meeting of the CCBC. “We need to do poetry more,” everyone agreed.


KumKum
KumKum wanted to introduce the group to Rabindranath Tagore, a poet, playwright, novelist, and renowned as the composer of about two thousand Bengali songs. His 150th birth centenary was celebrated last year with equal honor in India and Bangladesh, for the national anthems of both countries were chosen from two songs he composed and set to music. 

Rabindranath Tagore 

The particular poem KumKum chose is addressed by Rabindranath to a future poet a hundred years hence. It is called The Year 1400, for the reason that by the Bengali calendar that would have been 1996, Gregorian, exactly one hundred years after the date of its writing.

She started by reciting the first stanza of the poem in Bengali in order to provide the sound of the Bengali intonation for the benefit of the audience. Then she gave her own translation of it in English, as she was not satisfied with any of the existing translations. The Year 1400 was written in 3 stanzas of 13, 16, and 10 lines. In the first Rabindranath sends his wishes forward in time to a poet a hundred years hence, who is reading his poems. In the second stanza Rabindranath wonders if the poet of the future will be able to sense the passion that flowed in his veins when he wrote this poem for her (the future poet becomes female in KumKum's translation, perfectly in consonance with the Bengali, which does not distinguish between male and female in pronouns).

In the third stanza Rabindranath acknowledges the song of the future poet filling the house, and dispatches his joyful greetings laden with the sounds of the earth from a hundred years ago.

In the matter of translation, one of the professional women noted that even someone giving a deposition in dialectal English will get translated by the court recorder; for instance, an Italian witness, when asked about the weather on the day of the incident, replied "It was a nice-a day," which was translated as "It was a nice day."

For two other translations of the same poem, including one by Joe, see

The difficulties of translation in general, with specific examples from Bengali poems of Rabindranath Tagore are dealt with at


Caroline
Caroline spoke of reasons for reading poetry -- for emotional release, for solace, for comfort, for sheer beauty. If one reads from the King James Version of the Bible -- the Psalms, the Song of Songs -- the experience is quite poetic in many passages. Take Ecclesiastes 3:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
...
The message is profound. Caroline chose for her first offering a famous poem of the Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, called Pied Beauty. It is no doubt a religious poem, but there's a surprise in the choice of words, and in the staccato rhythms that punctuate the poem. Hopkins was known for inventing what is called 'sprung rhythm,' of which this is a prime example. It is in imitation of spoken speech and has a stressed first syllable, followed by several unstressed syllables. A line that is hard to forget is in the middle:
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Gerard Manley Hopkins

It may be noted that, as an act of humility, Hopkins did not offer any of his poetry for publication when he was alive.

The second poem Caroline chose was by Robinson Jeffers, Unnatural Powers. You may read more about the poet at

Robinson Jeffers

Caroline appreciated the two stark lines that end the short poem, which is a reflection on the unsatisfactory condition of humankind after having acquired 'unnatural' powers ('to fly like the eagles', 'to voyage to the moon'). It is the same self-disgust and horror that the physicist, Robert Oppenheimer, expressed upon the explosion of the first atomic weapon, when he quoted from the Bhagvad Gita:
I am become death, The Destroyer of Worlds.

By contrast Jeffers may be extolling the natural powers humans are born with. The Poetry Foundation reference notes: “His uncompromising work celebrates the enduring beauty of sea, sky and stone and the freedom and ferocity of wild animals in contrast to human pettiness, meddling and greed.”

Conclusion
By the end of the session everyone agreed the group should start doing more poetry.

A reference was made by Rachel to Frances Laird and her book Swan Songs: Akhmatova & Gumilev,

Anna Akhmatova

It is derived from the letters and poems the two wrote to one another, which continued through all their infidelities until the violent death of the poet Gumilev. Rachel also recalled a CCBC meeting at which they had the author of a cookbook, Sudha Koul, a Kashmiri:

The author appeared in a bright turquoise and orange saree with an unbelievably delicate pashmina shawl. It was beautiful. Sudha Koul had an arranged marriage in India after leaving Kashmir. Her website is at

And here are pictures of her with her husband, Kishen, and her curries without worries:
http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot.com/2007/12/sudha.html

CCBC invited Sudha Koul to discuss her book, The Tiger Ladies, a memoir of her life in Kashmir. In her gracious manner, she gave each of the CCBC members an autographed copy of her cookbook.  

 


THE POEMS

W.H. AUDEN (1907-1973)
(1) Lullaby
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

(2) A Lullaby
The din of work is subdued,
another day has westered
and mantling darkness arrived.
Peace! Peace! Devoid your portrait
of its vexations and rest.
Your daily round is done with,
you've gotten the garbage out,
answered some tiresome letters
and paid a bill by return,
all frettolosamente.
Now you have licence to lie,
naked, curled like a shrimplet,
jacent in bed, and enjoy
its cosy micro-climate:
Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay.

The old Greeks got it all wrong:
Narcissus is an oldie,
tamed by time, released at last
from lust for other bodies,
rational and reconciled.
For many years you envied
the hirsute, the he-man type.
No longer: now you fondle
your almost feminine flesh
with mettled satisfaction,
imagining that you are
sinless and all-sufficient,
snug in the den of yourself,
Madonna and Bambino:
Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay.

Let your last thinks all be thanks:
praise your parents who gave you
a Super-Ego of strength
that saves you so much bother,
digit friends and dear them all,
then pay fair attribution
to your age, to having been
born when you were. In boyhood
you were permitted to meet
beautiful old contraptions,
soon to be banished from earth,
saddle-tank loks, beam-engines
and over-shot waterwheels.
Yes, love, you have been lucky:
Sing, Big Baby, sing lullay.

Now for oblivion: let
the belly-mind take over
down below the diaphragm,
the domain of the Mothers,
They who guard the Sacred Gates,
without whose wordless warnings
soon the verbalising I
becomes a vicious despot,
lewd, incapable of love,
disdainful, status-hungry.
Should dreams haunt you, heed them not,
for all, both sweet and horrid,
are jokes in dubious taste,
too jejune to have truck with.
Sleep, Big Baby, sleep your fill.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE (1821-1867)
Correspondances
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.
(Charles Baudelaire)

Correspondences
Nature is a temple from whose living columns
Commingling voices emerge at times;
Here man wanders through forests of symbols
Which seem to observe him with familiar eyes.

Like long drawn echoes afar converging
In harmonies darksome and profound,
Vast as the night and vast as light,
Colors, scents and sounds correspond.

There are fragrances fresh as the flesh of children,
Sweet as the oboe, green as the prairie,
And others overpowering, rich and corrupt,

Possessing the pervasiveness of everlasting things,
Like Benjamin, frankincense, amber, myrrh,
Which the rapture of the senses and the spirit sing.
(translated by Kate Flores)

VERA PAVLOVA (1963 – )
If there is something to desire, 
there will be something to regret.
If there is something to regret,
there will be something to recall.
If there is something to recall,
there was nothing to regret.
If there was nothing to regret,
there was nothing to desire.

I broke your heart.
Now barefoot I tread
on shards.

Tenderly on a tender surface
the best of my lines are written:
with the tip of my tongue on your palate,
on your chest in miniscule letters,
on your belly . . .
But, darling, I wrote them
pianissimo!
May I erase with my lips
your exclamation mark?

Why is the word YES so brief?
It should be
the longest,
the hardest,
so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,
so that upon reflection you could stop
in the middle of saying it . . .

Perhaps when our bodies throb and rub
against each other, they produce a sound
inaudible to us but heard up there, in the clouds and higher,
by those who can no longer hear common sounds . . .
Or, maybe, this is how He wants to check by ear: are we still intact?
No cracks in mortal vessels? And to this end He bangs
men against women?

Writing down verses, I got
a paper-cut on my palm.
The cut extended my life line
by nearly one fourth.

If only I knew from what tongue 
your I love you has been translated,
if I could find the original,
consult the dictionary
to be sure the rendition is exact:
the translator is not at fault!

A Draft of a Marriage Contract
...if necessary, the books shall be divided as follows:
you get the odd, I get the even pages;
“the books” are understood to mean the ones we used to read aloud
together, when we would interrupt our reading for a kiss,
and would get back to the book after half an hour…

Eyes of mine,
why so sad?
Am I not cheerful?
Words of mine,
why so rough?
Am I not gentle?
Deeds of mine,
why so silly?
Am I not wise?
Friends of mine,
why so dead?
Am I not strong?

Learn to look past,
to be the first to part.
Tears, saliva, sperm
are no solvents for solitude.
On gilded wedding bowls,
on prostitutes’ plastic cups,
an eye can see, if skilled,
solitude’s bitter residue.

Armpits smell of linden blossom,
lilacs give a whiff of ink.
If only we could wage love-making
all day long without end,
love so detailed and elastic
that when the nightfall came,
we would exchange each other
like prisoners of war, five times, no less!


RABINDRANATH TAGORE (1861-1941)
The Year 1400
A hundred years hence
Who be you, I wonder
Reading my poems with such keenness?
My verses about flowers, and birdsong,
And the multiple hues of nature,
Will they affect you a hundred years later
With the same intensity I experienced?

If the essence of these poems escapes you,
Please open the window to the south,
And sit there gazing at the far horizon;
Slip out of the present and imagine …
A time, a hundred years ago;
Be transported there, imperceptibly,
For then, I'm sure you'll discover
The same feelings I had on a beautiful spring morn
When the south wind wafted a sultry fragrance of flowers,
And nature seemed so intoxicating,
So youthful in its variegated attire,
Frolicking in the breeze!

You may also imagine me,
The poet, working passionately,
Trying to set down the tenor of this fleeting instant,
A hundred years ago …

A hundred years in the future,
Who is the new poet that captivates you?
Here is my song-offering to her, this spring
With the hope that she'll sing, in passing,
My madrigal of spring, at your festival
A hundred years hence …


GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS (1844-1889)
Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

ROBINSON JEFFERS (1887-1962)
Unnatural Powers
For fifty thousand years man has been dreaming of powers
Unnatural to him: to fly like the eagles–this groundling!
to breathe under the seas, to voyage to the moon,
To launch like the sky-gods intolerable thunder-bolts:
now he has got them.
How little he looks, how desperately scared and excited,
like a poisonous insect, and no God pities him.

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