Posts Tagged ‘Derek Walcott’

Denise Levertov’s poem “Of Being” describes that mysterious moment of expansive inner stillness, joy and reverence

March 6, 2018

Denise Levertov, in her poem, Of Being, describes the mysterious experience of inner happiness, of just being. Though provisional in time, it is removed from great suffering and fear, and hails from an eternal inner source. Her description sounds like a taste of bliss consciousness, which is self-sufficient, not dependent on anything outside itself, and out of time — transcendental pure Being.

Of Being

By Denise Levertov

I know this happiness
is provisional:

the looming presences—
great suffering, great fear—

withdraw only
into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:

this mystery:

# # #

Denise Levertov must have also written Primary Wonder after becoming present to the “quiet mystery” that sustains everything.

Naomi Shihab Nye says something similar in her poem, So Much Happiness, where “there is no place large enough / to contain so much happiness, / you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you / into everything you touch.”

William Stafford also describes something similar in his poem, Just Thinking, where he appreciates the value “of just being there.”

Here is a poem I wrote on this subject in the early 90’s: Seeing Is Being.

Speaking Of Being, a mysterious bird in this Wallace Stevens poem, Of Mere Being, also uses the image of wind moving slowly in the branches, and teaches us the wonder of just being our self.

Derek Walcott, when he wrote his poem Love After Love, described it as withdrawing into a world of silence, and creating from there, as if in a trance, being blessed by “a kind of fleeting grace” if something happens.

Besides the magical experience of writing such a poem, I also see it as an experience of inner transformation, a time when you first acknowledge the value of just your self. Walcott instructs the reader to “Give back your heart / to itself, to the stranger who has loved you / all your life, whom you ignored / for another, who knows you by heart.”

Watch an excerpt from this CBC film where Maharishi describes the nature of inner life: bondage and liberation, and gaining bliss consciousness through Transcendental Meditation. If you’re interested to know more, watch the whole 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise.

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Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time

July 29, 2014

No Going Back
(Wendell Berry)

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

(The Sabbath Poems, 1993, I)

Here is a National Endowment For The Humanities interview with Wendell E. Berry, Awards & Honors: 2012 Jefferson Lecturer. These poems by Walcott, O’Donohue, Hafiz, and Oliver complement Berry’s theme: Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, The Root of The Rose by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, and The Journey by Mary Oliver.

For Hafiz the role of an enlightened poet is to connect humanity with the joy of the divine

July 16, 2014

A CRYSTAL RIM
by Hafiz

The
Earth
Lifts its glass to the sun
And light — light
Is poured.

A bird
Comes and sits on a crystal rim
And from my forest cave I
Hear singing.

So I run to the edge of existence
And join my soul in love.

I lift my heart to Beloved
And grace is poured.

An emerald bird rises from inside me
And now sits
Upon the Beloved’s
Glass.

I have left that dark cave forever.
My body has blended with His.

I lay my wing
As a bridge to you

So that you can join us
Singing.

(“The Gift” – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

Canadian poet P.K. Page describes a phantom bird in This Heavy Craft.

A mysterious bird in this Wallace Stevens poem teaches us the wonder of just being our self.

Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself.

Another poem by Hafiz via Ladinsky describes the spiritual transformation of loving deeply within himself.

See 3 beautiful and profound short poems by Hafiz about the nature of God within us.

Hafiz, via Ladinsky, reminds us when we love those in our care we are brought closer to God

Winding up the year with inspiration from Hafiz

Hafiz’s poem, God Pours Light, awakens the soul and frees the mind from debating words about it

Here is an enlightening article on Hafiz and Maharishi’s Science of Consciousness by Rebecca Busch.

Found this lovely YouTube channel by Enea B, which combines poetry with visuals and music.

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue complements Derek Walcott’s Love after Love

June 27, 2014

 

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue

May you recognize in your life, the presence, power and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
That your soul in its brightness and belonging
connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
That behind the facade of your life
there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,
and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

John O’Donohue (from Anam Cara)

See Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself.

See Emily Dickinson’s Solitude.

Other poems For a New Beginning by John O’Donohue and The Inner History of a Day by John O’Donohue.

Listen to Krista Tippett interview John O’Donohue On Being: The Inner Landscape of Beauty.

Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself

June 22, 2014

Just received this beautiful poem, Love after Love, written by Derek Walcott. To me it’s about coming back to yourself, discovering and loving your self. It can be a sweet, quiet awakening, when you recognize it, open your heart to it, to who you are.

I remember when it happened to me, living alone in a room I was renting in a house in North Vancouver. I finally let go of all the distracting reasons to search for happiness outside myself, in wanting to love another person or be loved by them, or some thing to do I thought would make me happy. I just stopped and discovered the loving stranger that was there, and accepted myself instead, as if for the first time. Took more than half my life for it to finally happen, but was quietly surprised and pleased when it did. Derek Walcott describes this process of self-recognition and acceptance so well, so powerfully.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

After a little research I discovered Derek Walcott to be an amazing man, an artist, poet, professor and playwright. Acknowledged as the greatest living poet in the English language, he won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1992. He taught at Boston University for 20 years. Turns out he also taught in Canada. In 2009, Walcott began a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta. In 2010, he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.

Born in Saint Lucia, Derek Walcott was influenced by his mixed racial and cultural heritage. He married a Trinidadian, raised a family there, and built the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. For someone who was in search of his own identity, both as a person and an artist, this poem represents a coming back to one’s essential self. It resonates deeply with the thousands who have read it. It was first published in Sea Grapes, and later in Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984, and The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.

Here are a few videos worth watching: a BBC documentary, Derek Walcott; an interesting Canadian TV interview, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott on his life and work; and a poetry reading: Derek Walcott: The Perpetual Ideal is Astonishment | 92Y Readings. Here is a more recent poetry reading at the 92nd Street Y: Derek Walcott with Glyn Maxwell and Caryl Phillips. He reads Love after Love at 26:25.

Listen to this excellent July 13, 2014 BBC Radio 4 interview where Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott talks about his life and work at home on St Lucia: Derek Walcott: A Fortunate Traveller (28 mins).

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, profoundly complements this theme by Derek Walcott.

Here is an excerpt of Derek Walcott reciting his poem, Love After Love, in a new documentary film about him, POETRY IS AN ISLAND, by Ida Does. You can also see an interview with Derek Walcott by DBSTV St.Lucia in May 2014 in St.Lucia where he comments on the film.

For more information on the film visit www.walcottfilm.com and check facebook.com/PoetryIsAnIsland for the DVD release date. Read a detailed description of this film about Derek Walcott at the new Poetry is an Island merchandise site.

Update: On March 17, 2017, Nobel laureate, poet, playwright, and painter Derek Walcott died at age 87. Here are a few of the many articles that appeared in the world press: The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times.

I was surprised to see these comments from Derek Walcott in the Paris Review, Issue 101, Winter 1986: Derek Walcott, The Art of Poetry, No. 37. Since Walcott seems to equate poetry and prayer in this discussion, interviewer Edward Hirsch askes him how he writes. He describes it as withdrawing into a world of silence, and creating from there, as if in a trance, being blessed by “a kind of fleeting grace” if something happens.

“But I do know that if one thinks a poem is coming on—in spite of the noise of the typewriter, or the traffic outside the window, or whatever—you do make a retreat, a withdrawal into some kind of silence that cuts out everything around you. … I’m not a monk, but if something does happen I say thanks because I feel that it is really a piece of luck, a kind of fleeting grace that has happened to one. Between the beginning and the ending and the actual composition that goes on, there is a kind of trance that you hope to enter where every aspect of your intellect is functioning simultaneously for the progress of the composition. But there is no way you can induce that trance.


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