Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Favorite Poet. Again.

Anyone who has followed my blog over the past two or three years knows of my love affair with the poetry of Denise Levertov.  She and I had taken a break recently, but tonight, after a few hard days, the passion returned.  I was thinking and praying, and thinking about God, and the lines repeated themselves in my mind, "Though I claw at empty air and feel/ nothing, no embrace/ I have not plummeted."  And I remembered my favorite phrase from any of her poetry--"sunlight's gossamer"--and went back and read "The Love of Morning" right after I had reread "Suspended."  Then I wanted to find something new, so I was looking through Denise Levertov collections online.  As I read through them, I came across a few old favorites--"The Ache of Marriage" and "The Well."  And I discovered some new ones, either ones I hadn't read before or ones I had read and forgotten.  I felt God comfort me through her poetry.  And I felt myself identify with the words of the poems in a way that told me, "You are not alone."

On my last poetry post, someone mentioned that I didn't share the poem I was talking about.  I don't share my own poetry on my blog, but I will happily share a few of Levertov's in the hope that someone else can gain something beautiful out of them.

I love the last line of this one:

In Mind

There's in my mind a woman
of innocence, unadorned but

fair-featured and smelling of
apples or grass. She wears

a utopian smock or shift, her hair
is light brown and smooth, and she

is kind and very clean without
ostentation--

but she has
no imagination

And there's a
turbulent moon-ridden girl

or old woman, or both,
dressed in opals and rags, feathers

and torn taffeta,
who knows strange songs

but she is not kind.


 I've always been uncomfortable with how frequently Levertov writes about the moon, but I liked a lot about this poem:

Adam's complaint

Some people,
no matter what you give them,
still want the moon.
The bread, the salt,
white meat and dark,
still hungry.
The marriage bed
and the cradle,
still empty arms.
You give them land,
their own earth under their feet,
still they take to the roads.
And water: dig them the deepest well,
still it's not deep enough
to drink the moon from.


But, at the end of the day, I found myself comforted the most by old favorites:

The Love of Morning

It is hard sometimes to drag ourselves
back to the love of morning
after we've lain in the dark crying out
O God, save us from the horror . . . .

God has saved the world one more day
even with its leaden burden of human evil;
we wake to birdsong.
And if sunlight's gossamer lifts in its net
the weight of all that is solid,
our hearts, too, are lifted,
swung like laughing infants;

but on gray mornings,
all incident - our own hunger,
the dear tasks of continuance,
the footsteps before us in the earth's
beloved dust, leading the way - all,
is hard to love again
for we resent a summons
that disregards our sloth, and this
calls us, calls us.
 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A New Favorite Poem

I have come to accept that I need to write and wade through a lot of crummy poetry in order to hit upon the sometimes-only-occasional good poem.  I go through spells.  Sometimes, I like almost everything I write.  Sometimes, I go months without writing anything that doesn't sound like I wrote it in high school.  (To my credit, I like to think I was a decent poet in high school.  But, still.  Not what I want to be writing at 27.)

Every once in awhile--and I mean a long while--I write something that I really, truly love.  The kind of poem I want to give a hug.  Almost always, I love it in its first-draft form, and I only change a few words here and there when editing.  I write a lot of things I like a lot, but this kind of fall-head-over-heals-in-love-with-my-poetry thing only happens once in a rare while.

It happened today.  The poem I had considered my "favorite poem" of mine was written four years ago.  My second favorite poem was written five years ago.  But, today, I think I may have replaced them both.  The great part is, it wasn't a first draft poem.  It was something I had written over a month ago and just returned to today.  I was frustrated with it but spent about an hour editing.  And now I think it's kind of great.

I don't really do New Years resolutions.  I like to resolve to do something when I feel like I should.  A few months ago, I resolved to write more poetry.  I haven't been doing wonderfully, but I've been doing it more than I was a year ago.  It's nice when these resolutions pay off.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shafts of Light

Sometimes, really hard stuff happens in life.  The kind of stuff you share with a few close friends but don't want to publish to the rest of the world.  Usually, when things like this happen, I back away from my blog.  It's not that I don't want to blog, but the only thing I can think of is the dark dreary battle in my heart, and I don't know how to say something about it without over-sharing or sounding complainy or whiny.  So, I take some time off, and then I return when things are more or less bearable again.

I've been thinking today, though, how many shafts of light God grants me even during the darkest, most difficult times.  I can be going through the most difficult period of my life, and God will still reduce me to tears of gratitude and thankfulness by his unwavering faithfulness and his incomparable goodness. And I thought that although I don't want to discuss the darkness, I also don't want to hide God's shafts of light.

Like how one Sunday, when I was breaking with discouragement and God seemed silent, I suddenly heard him speak to me through the words of the hymn "Spirit of God" (click here for a link to the City Hymn version):

Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh
Teach me the struggle of the soul to bear
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer

(seriously, check out the full hymn linked above.  it quickly made it to my list of "5 favorite hymns.")

Or like how, last night, I shared some things that are happening with my women's discipleship group from church and how our leader said a special prayer for me while another held my hand.  And how one of the ladies sent me an email this morning letting me know that she was praying for me.

Also how my parents are the most amazing people you will ever meet, and how God has blessed me so very, very much through their love, support, and sacrifice.

These are the shafts of sunlight which keep me joyful as I long for the day we will bathe in the glorious warmth of Christ's glory in heaven.