My favorite poem of Rilke's is found in this book. I first read it in the bathroom of the Video Saloon where it had been written with sharpie in the f...moreMy favorite poem of Rilke's is found in this book. I first read it in the bathroom of the Video Saloon where it had been written with sharpie in the first stall.
"I am praying again, Awesome One" (Ich bete wieder, du Elauchter)
You hear me again, as words from the depths of me rush toward you in the wind.
I’ve been scattered in pieces, torn by conflict, mocked by laughter, washed down in drink.
In alleyways I sweep myself up out of garbage and broken glass. With my half-mouth I stammer you, who are eternal in your symmetry. I lift to you my half-hands in wordless beseeching, that I may find again the eyes with which I once beheld you.
I am a house gutted by fire where only the guilty sometimes sleep before the punishment that devours them hounds them out in the open.
I am a city by the sea sinking into a toxic tide. I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown had poisoned my mother as she carried me.
It’s here in all the pieces of my shame that now I find myself again. I yearn to belong to something, to be contained in an all-embracing mind that sees me as a single thing. I yearn to be held in the great hands of your heart– oh let them take me now. Into them I place these fragments, my life, and you, God–spend them however you want.
Once I was given the great gift of Wendell Berry's poem "Do Not Be Ashamed," which can be found in this selection of his poetry.
"Do Not Be Ashamed"
You...moreOnce I was given the great gift of Wendell Berry's poem "Do Not Be Ashamed," which can be found in this selection of his poetry.
"Do Not Be Ashamed"
You will be walking some night in the comfortable dark of your yard and suddenly a great light will shine round about you, and behind you will be a wall you never saw before. It will be clear to you suddenly that you were about to escape, and that you are guilty: you misread the complex instructions, you are not a member, you lost your card or never had one. And you will know that they have been there all along, their eyes on your letters and books, their hands in your pockets, their ears wired to your bed. Though you have done nothing shameful, they will want you to be ashamed. They will want you to kneel and weep and say you should have been like them. And once you say you are ashamed, reading the page they hold out to you, then such light as you have made in your history will leave you. They will no longer need to pursue you. You will pursue them, begging forgiveness. They will not forgive you. There is no power against them. It is only candor that is aloof from them, only an inward clarity, unashamed, that they cannot reach. Be ready. When their light has picked you out and their questions are asked, say to them: "I am not ashamed." A sure horizon will come around you. The heron will begin his evening flight from the hilltop. (less)
I am ashamed to admit that I had dismissed Emily Dickinson as some kind of cutesy, greeting card, nature poet prior college when I -- a non-honors stu...moreI am ashamed to admit that I had dismissed Emily Dickinson as some kind of cutesy, greeting card, nature poet prior college when I -- a non-honors student -- managed to sneak into an honors discussion course about her poetry where I quickly gained a new respect for her.
This selection of Emily Dickinson's poems is wonderful except for one omission: the poem "In Winter in my Room," which I handwrote in the back of my copy.
In Winter in my Room I came upon a Worm -- Pink, lank and warm -- But as he was a worm And worms presume Not quite with him at home -- Secured him by a string To something neighboring And went along.
A Trifle afterward A thing occurred I'd not believe it if I heard But state with creeping blood -- A snake with mottles rare Surveyed my chamber floor In feature as the worm before But ringed with power --
The very string with which I tied him -- too When he was mean and new That string was there --
I shrank -- "How fair you are"! Propitiation's claw -- "Afraid," he hissed "Of me"? "No cordiality" -- He fathomed me -- Then to a Rhythm Slim Secreted in his Form As Patterns swim Projected him.
That time I flew Both eyes his way Lest he pursue Nor ever ceased to run Till in a distant Town Towns on from mine I set me down This was a dream. (less)