Songs of Celebration

Earth, isn’t this what you want?  To arise in us, invisible?

Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly

there’s nothing left outside for us to see?

What, if not transformation,

is your deepest purpose?  Earth, my love,

I want that too.  Believe me,

no more of your springtimes are needed

to win me over – even one flower

is more than enough.  Before I was named

I belonged to you.  I seek no other law

than yours, and know I can trust

the death that you will bring.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

Earth is your mother as you were mine, my earth,

my sustenance, my comfort and my strength

and now without you I turn to your mother

and seek from her that I may meet you again

in rock and stone: whisper to the stone,

I love you; whisper to the rock, I found you;

whisper to earth, Mother, I have found my mother

and I am safe and always have been

~ David Ignatow ~

Now in the thriving season of love
when the bud relents into flower,
your love turned absence has turned once more,
and if my comforts fall soft as rain
on her flutters, it is because
love grows by what it remembers of love

The world is not a courtroom,

there is no judge, no jury, no plaintiff.

This is a caravan,

filled with eccentric beings

telling wondrous stories about God.

~ Saadi ~

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes

around the streetlights in Paris

and what I see is an aberration

caused by old age, an affliction.

I tell you it has taken me all my life

to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see,

to learn that the line I called the horizon

does not exist and sky and water,

so long apart, are the same state of being.

Fifty-four years before I could see

Rouen cathedral is built

of parallel shafts of sun,

and now you want to restore

my youthful errors: fixed

notions of top and bottom,

the illusion of three-dimensional space,

wisteria separate

from the bridge it covers.

What can I say to convince you

the Houses of Parliament dissolve

night after night to become

the fluid dream of the Thames?

I will not return to a universe

of objects that don’t know each other,

as if islands were not the lost children

of one great continent.  The world

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,

becomes water, lilies on water,

above and below water,

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow

and white and cerulean lamps,

small fists passing sunlight

so quickly to one another

that it would take long, streaming hair

inside my brush to catch it.

To paint the speed of light!

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,

burn to mix with air

and changes our bones, skin, clothes

to gases.  Doctor,

if only you could see

how heaven pulls earth into its arms

and how infinitely the heart expands

to claim this world, blue vapour without end.

~ Lisel Mueller ~

I think continually of those who were truly great.

Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history

Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,

Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition

Was that their lips, still touched with fire,

Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song.

And who hoarded from the spring branches

The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious is never to forget

The delight of the blood drawn from ancient springs

Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth;

Never to deny its pleasure in the simple morning light,

Nor its grave evening demand for love;

Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother

With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields

See how these names are fêted by the waving grass,

And by the streamers of white cloud,

And whispers of wind in the listening sky;

The names of those who in their lives fought for life,

Who wore at their hearts the fire’s center.

Born of the sun, they traveled a short while towards the sun,

And left the vivid air signed with their honor.

~ Stephen Spender ~

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

~ Dylan Thomas ~

How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
is
to open ourselves, to be
the flames?

~ Galway Kinnell ~

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

~ e.e. cummings ~

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


~ Rumi ~

But perhaps God needs the longing, wherever else shall it dwell,
Which with kisses and tears and sighs fills mysterious spaces of air -
And perhaps is invisible soil from which roots of stars grow and swell -
And the radiant voice across fields of parting which calls to reunion there?
O my beloved, perhaps in the sky of longing worlds have been born of our love -
Just as our breathing, in and out, builds a cradle for life and death?
We are grains of sand, dark with farewell, lost in births’ secret treasure trove,
Around us already perhaps future moons, suns, and stars blaze in a fiery wreath.

~ Nelly Sachs ~

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