Friday, June 24, 2016

Poem of the Week 6.23.16: I Got Off the Train

I Got Off the Train

I got off the train
And said goodbye to the man I'd met.
We'd been together for eighteen hours
And had a pleasant conversation,
Fellowship in the journey,
And I was sorry to get off, sorry to leave
This chance friend whose name I never learned.
I felt my eyes water with tears...
Every farewell is a death.
Yes, every farewell is a death.
In the train that we call life
We are all chance events in one another's lives,
And we all feel sorry when it's time to get off.

All that is human moves me, because I'm a man.
All that is human moves me, not because I have an affinity
With human ideas or human doctrine
But because of my infinite fellowship with humanity itself.

The maid who hated to go,
Crying with nostalgia
For the house where she'd been mistreated...

All of this, inside my heart, is death and the world's sadness.
All of this lives, because it dies, in my heart.

And my heart is a little larger than the entire universe.

Alvaro De Campos
aka Fernando Pessoa
Translated by Richard Zenith

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Poem of the Week 3/22/2016: "& so to tenderness I add my action"

Poetry asks us to pledge to one another, I see you. Poetry has been for centuries our great social media. You are its great theme.

"I should have made my way straight to you long ago." - Walt Whitman

My life has been one of too much care, which ruins a person. To summarize: we are invisible to each other. Let's look into the first person's claim of being first. Let's look past the first person to see the second person.

"Then you, hey you." - Claudia Rankine

But let us pledge that it's not enough to see you, in the poem, in the world. Let's also set the poem humming so that the world may hum. Let me be you in the poem, and let me look up from the poem and still be you. Let me look up from many pages. Let me be you and you and you, and even you.

"Let's be simultaneous" - Christopher Gilbert

April to-do list:
1. If prose is called for, write a poem.
2. Write to someone, not to no one.
3. You will do.

"A challenge for you, You-ness/Add yours." - Thomas Sayers Ellis

- Jeff Shotts, Executive Editor, Graywolf Press

 This one is simply a comment on poetry, but does it go beyond a comment to speaking of something about the essence of poetry itself? I'm sorry not to have more to say after this long, four-year gap in writing on the poem of the week blog... but. Couldn't help it. There's something of "I and Thou" in this poem. As if "thou" was the "second person" - the "thou" being an entire alternate way of perceiving others. Read, the last line. "3. You will do."  What is referred to when Shotts writes, "you"? To be a little clever,  who are "you"? That Shotts looks for a connection between the poem humming in oneself, and looking up, and seeing "you." Somehow that the poem contains this world of "you" (which is, like the second person, simultaneously personal and generic) and wants to connect it with our everyday... is hopeful.