Michael Eric Dyson Spoke in depth about James Baldwin in his book What the Truth Sounds Like. My knowledge of James Baldwin was non-existent but thanks to the internet, I found a beautiful introduction to James Baldwin and his works. I found this poem most interesting and thought I would share it with you all today!
The giver (for Berdis)
By James Baldwin
If the hope of giving
is to love the living,
the giver risks madness
in the act of giving.
Some such lesson I seemed to see
in the faces that surrounded me.
Needy and blind, unhopeful, unlifted,
what gift would give them the gift to be gifted?
The giver is no less adrift
than those who are clamouring for the gift.
If they cannot claim it, if it is not there,
if their empty fingers beat the empty air
and the giver goes down on his knees in prayer
knows that all of his giving has been for naught
and that nothing was ever what he thought
and turns in his guilty bed to stare
at the starving multitudes standing there
and rises from bed to curse at heaven,
he must yet understand that to whom much is given
much will be taken, and justly so:
I cannot tell how much I owe.
Finally, a tiny postscript to last week:
If you did not find anything wrong with the post that lit the internet on fire last week, Karen explains beautifully what should have made you uncomfortable here.
And, then perhaps this perspective will open your eyes even wider.
Bonny stirred my interest last week with her review of Fox 8 – luckily my library had it and on Saturday I picked it up with a few other books, including a volume of Ted Kooser’s poetry (Thanks, Honoré!!)
I have been reading and rereading the poems in Delights & Shadows… and they are wonderful! This is a book I have added to my “need to buy” list!
I share some words for thought today from Delights & Shadows:
A Jar of Buttons
by Ted Kooser
This is a core sample
from the floor of the Sea of Mending,
a cylinder packed with shells
that over many years
sank through fathoms of shirts —
pearl buttons, blue buttons —
and settled together
beneath waves of perseverance,
an ocean upon which
generations of women set forth,
under the sails of gingham curtains,
and, seated side by side
on decks sometimes salted by tears,
made small but important repairs.
P.S. The Google Doodle is most appropriate – today would be Nelly Sachs’ 127th Birthday. You can read a sampling of her poetry here!
Since reading The Overstory, I have been more fixated on trees and really thinking much about this brilliant story that Richard Powers wrote. Recently, when I was flipping through a compilation of Derek Walcott’s poetry, I was struck by this poem and though I have not spent much time in eastern Pennsylvania, I can distinctly hear what he writes about.
I think this poem fits perfectly for Thanksgiving as well and perhaps this week when you are outside you will listen to the beautiful “mute roar of autumn” with deep gratitude.
Pastoral by Derek Walcott
In the mute roar of autumn, in the shrill
treble of the aspens, the basso of the holm-oaks,
in the silvery wandering aria of the Schuylkill,
the poplars choiring with a quillion strokes,
find love for what is not your land, a blazing country
in eastern Pennsylvania with the DVD going
in the rented burgundy Jeep, in the inexhaustible bounty
of fall with the image of Eakins’ gentleman rowing
in his slim skiff whenever the trees divide
to reveal a river’s serene surprise, flowing
through snow-flecked birches where Indian hunters glide.
The country has caught fire from the single spark
of a prophesying preacher, its embers glowing,
its clouds are smoke in the onrushing dark
a holocaust crackles in this golden oven
in which tribes were consumed, a debt still owing,
while a white country spire insists on heaven.
I hope your Thanksgiving preparations are going smoothly and whether you are traveling or are receiving travelers – may those travels be safe.
I will see you back here tomorrow for Unraveled Wednesday!
I started reading The Overstory yesterday. It opens with a selection of poetry and this poem by Bill Niedjie struck me…deeply. I hope it moves you as well.
he watching you.
You look at tree,
he listen to you.
He got no finger,
he can’t speak.
But that leaf….
he pumping, growing,
growing in the night.
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
I have been trying to up my poetry reading this year and this month brings me to the poetry of Michael Longley – a very prolific poet and I am fortunate that my library has a collection of his works. It has been fascinating to read bits and pieces of his work each morning as part of my morning meditations. Longley’s works provide the loveliest way to start the day and I thought I’d share one of the poems I read this week with you.
by Michael Longley
When you woke me up and showed me through the window
Curtains of silk, luminous smoke, ghost fires,
A convergence of rays above the Black Mountain,
The northern lights became our own magnetic field –
Your hand on my shoulder, your tobacco-y breath
And the solar wind that ruffled your thinning hair.
Happy Tuesday everyone!