07 February 2008

In the quiet heart of concentration

Reading some of Bud's thoughts on Adam Zagajewski led me to find a starting point with Mysticism for Beginners (translated by Clare Cavanagh). I would read a few poems between the books I was able to find in my yearly trip to a North American library, and the spare simplicity of his lines were perfect for those winter days. Here are a few I scribbled down for myself.

From "Long Afternoons":
Oh, tell me how to cure myself of irony, the gaze
that sees but doesn't penetrate; tell me how to cure myself
of silence.
From "Three Angels":
But still, the second angel mumbled shyly,
there's always a little joy, and even beauty
lies close at hand, beneath the bark
of every hour, in the quiet heart of concentration,
and another person hides in each of us--
universal, strong, invincible.
Wild roses sometimes hold the scent
of childhood, and on holidays young girls
go out walking just as they always have,
and there's something timeless
in the way they wind their scarves.
Memory lives in the ocean, in galloping blood,
in black, burnt stones, in poems,
and in every quiet conversation.
The world is the same as it always was,
full of shadows and anticipation.
From "Houston, 6 p.m.":
Poetry calls us to a higher life,
but what's low is just as eloquent
Poetry summons us to life, to courage
in the face of the growing shadow.
Can you gaze calmly at the Earth
like the perfect astronaut?

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