Posts Tagged ‘cognition’

Thomas Merton’s golden poem, Song for Nobody

October 27, 2018

Another poem from Soul Food: Nourishing Poems for Starved Minds is Song for Nobody by Thomas Merton. This golden poem is Beautiful, Enigmatic, and Profound. Below are some reactions to it as I try to fathom the poet’s spiritual perspective. If you have any comments please feel free to post them below. I’d be curious to hear your take on it.

Black-Eyed-Susan Flower

Song for Nobody
by Thomas Merton

A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
For nobody.

A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
By itself.

Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.

(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)

A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.

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William Stafford’s last poem now seemed prophetic—an unintended literary epitaph

November 21, 2015

Below is the last poem William Stafford wrote in his Daily Writings, the morning of the day he died. He was 79 (Jan 17, 1914–Aug 28, 1993).

An unintended prophetic literary epitaph, you wonder if he knew on some deep level that his life was coming to a close?

In a way, the poem beautifully sums up his life as an awake poet, effortlessly creating (It was all easy) from the revelatory moment where, “For that instant, conceiving is knowing; the secret life in language reveals the very self of things.”*

Kim Stafford says a friend told him his father’s “imagination was tuned to the moment when epiphanies were just about to come into being.” Kim continues: At such a moment, ambition could be fatal to what we seek. Take a deep breath and wait. What seeks you may then appear.**

There is a reproduction of this poem in his own handwriting opposite the inside title of his posthumously published book, The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems, William Stafford, Graywolf Press (1999).

There was no title to the handwritten poem, just the date of the entry, 28 August 1993. It appears on page 46, and underneath the date is the title:

“Are you Mr. William Stafford?”

“Are you Mr. William Stafford?”
“Yes, but. . . .”

Well, it was yesterday.
Sunlight used to follow my hand.
And that’s when the strange siren-like sound flooded
over the horizon and rushed through the streets of our town.
That’s when sunlight came from behind
a rock and began to follow my hand.

“It’s for the best,” my mother said—”Nothing can
ever be wrong for anyone truly good.”
So later the sun settled back and the sound
faded and was gone. All along the streets every
house waited, white, blue, gray; trees
were still trying to arch as far as they could.

You can’t tell when strange things with meaning
will happen. I’m [still] here writing it down
just the way it was. “You don’t have to
prove anything,” my mother said. “Just be ready
for what God sends.” I listened and put my hand
out in the sun again. It was all easy.

Well, it was yesterday. And the sun came,
Why
It came.

Listen to a beautiful musical rendition of this poem by Daniel Austin Sperry from his album: Cutting Loose ~ A Tribute To William Stafford. Follow him on Facebook.com/PoetrySandwich for updates and musical videos. Visit http://cellomansings.com. Buy the digital album online or email to order the CD cellomansings@gmail.com.

See William Stafford—The Way It Is, also recorded by Daniel Sperry, as well as William Stafford—You and Art. Enjoy other favorite Stafford poems posted on The Uncarved Blog.

*Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford, by Kim Stafford, Graywolf Press (2002), page 289, referencing his National Book Award Acceptance Speech.

**Ibid, page 136. “What seeks you may then appear” and in the poem, “Just be ready for what God sends” remind me of the ancient rishis, the Vedic seers who were so awake inside that they heard the Veda humming to itself within their own consciousness; they cognized the richas, the hymns of the Veda that sought them out.

That quality of wakefulness, innocence and readiness—a subtle receptivity to what may be given, or realized, is described in Rk Veda, 5.44.14: Yo jagara tam richa kamayante. He who is awake, the richas seek him out. (Peter Freund’s Favorite Sanskrit Expressions, page 3.)

See Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describe the process of Vedic cognition during a 1976 European symposium on Science and Consciousness: He Who Is Awake the Hymns Seek Him Out.

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ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening

January 7, 2012

Ever tried painting? I mean the creative kind, not just painting the walls of your apartment. During my last year (1998), living in Vancouver, BC, Canada, one of my friends gave me the gift of an art class with Anita Nairne, an intuitive artist and teacher. She had been studying with Anita and I was impressed with the transformation in her artwork. At the time Anita was promoting her classes as Paint with your Angels. I found her website and she now calls her Intuitive Painting workshops & classes Creative Awakening.

Painting From The Inside Out

Anita is like a midwife to your artistic instincts. It was an unforgettable experience. She gave me a large white gessoed piece of thick art paper stock, brushes, and acrylic paints, and told me to just cover it with paint, anyway I liked. Without realizing what was happening, I found myself freely, intuitively brushing blotches of paint all over the paper. I was having fun. At one point she took the paper and put it up on the wall under lights and asked me what I saw. She would outline those shapes with chalk, or erase them, depending on what I thought was there. Much to my surprise, the edges of those blotches looked like facial profiles. She returned the artwork and showed me how to accentuate and bring out the faces. At one point, I realized I was ‘painting’ a sort of visual biography of my life, ‘recognizing’ some of the people I had loved, and who had loved me, or at least attempts at loving.

Feelings Not Thoughts

During this process my active thinking mind was not involved—a rare occurrence for someone who’s used to working with words all the time to express himself. I was now creating from a deeper, quieter, more intuitive place within me. I was painting from my heart. I was painting feelings, and they were telling me something! That realization blew my mind. Automatically the words started to form in my mind to describe what had just happened. Below is a poem from that experience.

ArtWords

The artwork informs
The canvas reveals
The mind then knows
What the heart feels

The faces in the painting
The pictures of my life
Where love was a saviour
Where love caused much strife

This process uncovers
Those parts of our lives
To show us the truth
To make us more wise

It’s possible to know
It’s possible to forgive
I’ll never forget you
As long as I live

© Ken Chawkin

I returned for two more classes. I was taking a new direction in my life and was getting ready to leave town in a few months to join the Purusha group in North Carolina. During my last class, I guess that sense of impending movement and transformation, the anticipated travel and making a new beginning, was trying to express itself on paper. I ended up painting a brightly colored phoenix bird at the top, flying eastward. Prophetic!

Here is a related poem featured in a film about verbal vs visual creativity: A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are.


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