Tuesday, July 25, 2006

a place for poetry (for the sake of life)


God banish from your house
The fly, the roach, the mouse

That riot in the wall
until the plaster falls;

Admonish from your door
The hypocrite and liar;

No shy, soft, tigerish fear
Permit upon the stair,

Nor agents of your doubt.
God drive them whistling out.

Let nothing touched with evil,
Let nothing that can shrivel

Heart's tenderest frond, intrude
Upon your still, deep blood.

Against the drip of night
God keep all windows tight,

Protect your mirrors from
Surprise, delirium.

Admit no trailing wind
Into your shuttered mind

To plume the lake of sleep
with dreams. If you must weep

God give you tears, but leave
you secrecy to grieve.

And islands for your pride
And love to nest in your side.

-Stanley Kunitz

I love to squeeze a dose of poetry into my day. When Garrison Keillor's mellow yet reedy voice intones a batch of lilting verse over the radio waves, I halt the stream of water from the kitchen tap and listen.

This poem is tender and wishful; I like it very much. The fact that is is named Benediction and then speaks of flies and roaches cracks me up. The penultimate line gave me pause, but I came to grips with it easily enough. If I insisted on hoarding bits pride in my life, then I guess islands would be the place to stash them.

I quote the author:
"The poem comes in the form of a blessing-'like rapture breaking on the mind', as I used to say in my youth. Through the years I have found this gift of poetry to be life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and absolutely unpredictable. Does one live, therefore, for the sake of poetry? No, the reverse is true: poetry is for the sake of life."

Stanley Kunitz was the recipient of many literary honors, not the least of which was America's Poet Laureate. He died May 14, 2006 at the age of 100.


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I love poetry

11:18 PM  
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