not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

somewhere between earth's wish and earth's rapture


When the wind
asks, Have you prayed?
I know it's only me

reminding myself
a flower is one station between
earth's wish and earth's rapture

(from "Have you Prayed", li-young lee)

10 comments:

  1. Wwoo...brilliance is the only way one can interpret this...beauty lies in the eye of the beholder..indeed

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    1. manik, can you imagine sunflowers?! it's hard for me right now because we are still locked in winter. but jesusgod, what miracles.

      xo
      erin

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  2. "Have You Prayed", by li young-lee

    (you can hear him read the poem here:
    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182921)

    When the wind
    turns and asks, in my father’s voice,
    Have you prayed?

    I know three things. One:
    I’m never finished answering to the dead.

    Two: A man is four winds and three fires.
    And the four winds are his father’s voice,
    his mother’s voice . . .

    Or maybe he’s seven winds and ten fires.
    And the fires are seeing, hearing, touching,
    dreaming, thinking . . .
    Or is he the breath of God?

    When the wind turns traveler
    and asks, in my father’s voice, Have you prayed?
    I remember three things.
    One: A father’s love

    is milk and sugar,
    two-thirds worry, two-thirds grief, and what’s left over

    is trimmed and leavened to make the bread
    the dead and the living share.

    And patience? That’s to endure
    the terrible leavening and kneading.

    And wisdom? That’s my father’s face in sleep.

    When the wind
    asks, Have you prayed?
    I know it’s only me

    reminding myself
    a flower is one station between
    earth’s wish and earth’s rapture, and blood

    was fire, salt, and breath long before
    it quickened any wand or branch, any limb
    that woke speaking. It’s just me

    in the gowns of the wind,
    or my father through me, asking,
    Have you found your refuge yet?
    asking, Are you happy?

    Strange. A troubled father. A happy son.
    The wind with a voice. And me talking to no one.

    ***

    the photo is of a sunflower's heavy head.

    xo
    erin

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  3. Oh, Erin...that Sunflower photo with that poem is just perfection personified. I adore Mr. Lee (I think you turned me on to his poetry). How I love the wind. The old, tall Pine trees in the woods across the street from my house sway and dance to the wind and I laugh out loud every time I see them boogeying. Thanks for sharing this. xo

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    Replies
    1. marion, you spend your days noticing the natural world at work. sometimes there's awe to be had and sometimes foolishness:)

      yes, lee is a very special poet and this hardly begins to say anything.

      xo
      erin

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  4. It's a pleasure to visit your black and white sunflower world Erin,,,

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    Replies
    1. thank you, michael, although we are long long way from sunflowers yet:)

      xo
      erin

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  5. Thank you for this poem, this image. Thank you for posting the whole thing. Thank you for the gift of Li-Young Lee's voice reading it, with his lovely preamble, which I find helpful and moving. The universality of guilt, of failure, of pain! And yet when the poet examines his memory closely, he remembers love.

    The poem speaks to me of the insufficiencies of language and thoughts to encapsulate a life. Words are not what they describe, and they do not add up to anything except representations. The math doesn't work. That "truth" in these lines pushes the mind away and lets the heart try to understand. Yet how beautiful his language! How necessary! The gowns of the wind . . . !

    I have encountered this poet just a couple of times before, and I need to know him better. Thank you also for that. xoxo

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  6. ruth, he is...well, what can one say but to say he is li-young lee.

    i am stymied by...everything, thwarted from understanding as though this were precisely the desired end result, as though god played with the same two polarities and repulusion were the only option otherwise all would attract and collapse in upon itself.

    we pick up the stick to poke our own bodies. that is what language is like, that kind of distance and yet it is the tool to touch.

    xo
    erin

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  7. Really wonderful...
    i like the poem too, specially the second verse.
    I'm thinking about your last comment...
    W.

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"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))