Gatherings and agitations, mornings of thin
light-lines trailing behind and running out in front,
ever encompassing, ever dazzling the tender heart,
ever singing the extravagant song of searching rain.
You are the most robust compass, all and all
the wildest grace and delight.
You mark time as a slow dream.
You shelter vultures overhead.
You open doors onto panoramas of telepathic trees.
You are the great-souled one.
You are the translucent touch of night, smell
of dark mountains and burning ash.
So and so and so it is. I accept you
as you accept the storm, as you speak soft
words and hard. Speak! Speak!
Speak again as you pass below the bridge
and above the weary noise. Impelled by the forces
of gravity, matter and light, you trace the sacred arc
and move freely, a dry leaf in the breeze.
August 12, 2019
The following poem is from “The Book of Dust and Hope,” an “in progress” book of poems, observations, brief essays, images, and perennial questions on the theme of hope.
What is Hope
what is hope but land
without water, fingers
without rings, claw-marks
in blue snow
what is hope but speech
without words, language
without fire, wistful
dreams and dust
what is hope but mind
without thoughts, thoughts
without songs, untrammeled
roads in a rich gray fog
what is hope but love
without masks, acceptance
without fear, daily heeding
a sad and tender heart
Rick Visser, May 10, 2019
“Star of evening, that brings all things which bright dawn scattered, you bring the sheep, you bring the goats, you bring the child back to its mother.” — Sappho
“And openly I pledged my heart to the grave and suffering earth, and often in the sacred night I promised to love it faithfully until death, without fear, with its heavy load of fatality, and to despise none of its enigmas. Thus I bound myself to it with a mortal cord.“
Praxilla of Sicyon was a Greek lyric poet of the 5th century BC. She was considered one of the “immortal-tongued” women poets of Greece, and was highly esteemed in her time.
I offer here one of her especially poignant poems; to me, one of the most beautiful and touching of all poems. Perhaps she is contemplating her own mortality and all she must leave behind. Perhaps, reading it today, we may find ourselves contemplating the mortality of the entire human species, and all we must leave behind:
Most beautiful of things I leave is sunlight;
Then come glazing stars and the moon's face;
Then ripe cucumbers and apples and pears.
Praxilla, 450 B.C.
My Heart the Sun
my heart – the sun
my body – earth air
my love – their radiance
my condition – lost
. . .to bear all naked truths,
And to envisage circumstance, all calm,
That is the top of sovereignty. -- John Keats