Saturday, May 8, 2010



At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue 

 shadows on azure seawater.
~ Louise Glück


The closest I have come to experienciong resurrection has been a return from despair, or a liberation from oppressive circumstances, such as a bad relationship with a domineering partner who becomes more and more a vampire. And then -- a burst of creativity that can follow.

Louise Glück's famous poem is among my great favorites on the subject of resurrection.  

I was reminded of this poem last year when I read Eat, Love, Pray. (How I'd love that book to be not chatty, but exquisite, the way Brodsky wrote about Venice.). On p. 39, I came on this:
Del centro della mia vita venne una grande fontana
which, translated into Italian, is the unforgettable line by Louise Gluck:
From the center of my life came a great fountain
the title poem in Wild Iris. In Italian it sounds to me like something out of Dante, that kind of dignity and gravitas. And of course the music, the music . . .
But aside from how gorgeous the line sounds in Italian, the longing for this came over me – how much I'd love a great fountain to come from the center of my life. I wouldn't insist that this fountain should be poems, though I have experienced the birth of a poetic sequence more than once.
George Herbert (1593-1633) has a long poem, “The Flower,” whose last two stanzas have always spoken to me deeply.

Who would have thought my shriveled heart
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O, my only Light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.

~ George Herbert, from “The Flower”


My apologies for the problems with spacing. I did what little repair was possible. More could not be fixed.

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