Tag Archives: Wisdom

“Allow a Little Contemplation”

Contemplation1

“Allow a Little Contemplation”

Allow a little contemplation; mind the rising curse;
Give some room to commitments—
If a little late—distillations of a sundry ointment
Fit for open wounds. For now, we’re just a little worse
For wear and lacking poise, but in this happenstance,
What rests in all this noise? Tomorrow
When the mildew from sorrows
In the news has dried and circumstance
Permits, I’ll take the sun and leave the news,
The erudite reviews, the blues in mood and pulchritude,
Indictments of the way we rush to witness multitudes
In soundbites consume themselves in lewd
Proposals that what is alien is natural to the native;
What’s not been touched, somehow evocative and obliquely dative.

…photograph by Michelle Duerden…

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“Their Summer’s Stroll”

DALLAS

“Their Summer’s Stroll

Their summer’s stroll from rage to rage,
And they beget a bygone slight that as a child
Was not forgot, that from a strength were mild
But grew in time from childhood though to age.
And far beyond its slotted term their lights boil freely
Within a goal not steeped in wisdom’s nests
But gnarl’d, mishap’t to suit some moment’s tests
In  fruitlessness,  and doom’d because t’were seemly
That a child should bargain with his fathers’ sight
Nor rent a sire’s station for such gifts’
Revisions as rest in infants’ yearnings for the stars
Or worse, the adolescents’ endless swollen charms.
Do not tempt the agèd with a young man’s goal,
My friend, nor mistake a stallion for his honoured foal.

“And Comfort Comes”

chaucer1

“And Comfort Comes”

And comfort comes too late from stations on the bank
Of all great rivers, benchmarks, watersheds
And monuments petrified as zeitgeists; glories led
By strange humility in masters whose histories are blank
With whom generations cavil and invoke
In lesser moments a meaner age,  a leaning toward
The more prosaïc goals framed to ward
Off meteoric national malaise. These, the Titans, evoke
Wonder in the people, and awe
Amongst their artisans, and in the hour such light
Cannot be masked nor can the transitory might
Of kings suppress such eagles, neither nets nor censors, nor the law.
And then comes Chaucer, then Shakespeare, Fathers of the modern text…
And what are tongues that roar so loud and thunder in the index?

william-shakespeare-007

“The Finite Question”

the-finite-universe-richard-ortolano

“The Finite Question”

The finite question—Thank you very much!
Will do me fine, my friend, nothing more’s
To grasp; not “Why?” but jewels of “Who?” or “What?” The core’s
Chorus at my reach within a lifetime. Touch
A heart within my passion’s fields and ask me “When?”
Or “Where?” or even “How?” and I am whole
No more than any man must be, for when I troll
The deeps for useful answers to finite human ends,
I come equipped as any in the crowd
Because I walk the earth, and from the mind
And human blindness come all answers to the blind,
…And be assured we are all blind. The infinite, the “Why?”a loud
And brash defiance in defense within the foam, “I am no fool,
No prophet! I speak nothing from divinity,
but from a simple earthly rule.”

“I Found The Day’s Messiah”

Adam

“I Found The Day’s Messiah”

I found the day’s messiah breathing as if to pray;
No prayer, of course, no sign, no moon, no stars, silence—
Balm to souls and solace in a crisis
Of questions—so many hopes lay absurd, what they must say
Gives Animas to eternity and shields a simple fear, the terror
Of these days. I would not ask outright, “I have no words,” then,
Took flight so very tight in twilight when
From cancer and fallen branches—errors,
Really, to the whole—innocence conjures lasting alibis,
Sentinels that never come to rest, fruits of thought pressed
With violence enough to produce the wine—more from less,
Inebriation from what the old man once said. Patient sighs
Amongst the sparrows egg him on while sitting on a porch with me.
“Make peace with the Fathers,” says he, “from Sons of Adam flee.”

Ivory_Cain_Abel_Louvre_AO4052

“The ‘Once’, the ‘Ever'”

…dedicated to Hermann Bloch
1 November 1886– 30 May 1951
“”I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.”

“The ‘Once’, the ‘Ever'”

The once, the ever, standing in the atrium must burn;
The nexus of the meeting of the feeble lamps are lit as Virgil sits alone,
The flint stone at the confluence of the rivers; a tone
Once heard, a trace no more than words. Ever then discerns
A wisdom in the lengthening of days on end;
A reconciliation of the first sun’s now within
The pale of the last night’s then and all its many-eyed kin;
The End, scintilla of a notion’s distant toast:
“To Cæsar!” Distractions in the movement defer to mortality, defend
The pattern as it is, the peoples’ choice, a proud
Morbidity based in universal song on this, a night of leaving, joy
On this, a day of meeting. Stars and verses, voids,
A universe of empty consummation never executed while clouds
Obscure the moon, as ever toils below;
Perspicuous, yes! the once and only suns express,
So dark a night as never and one more day of less.

.

Block’s Death of Virgil had to be the most ambitious reading of any single novel I have ever read with James’ The Ambassadors right up there with it, but a close second. The stimulus of both novels, however, is incomparable in value and I can suggest that anyone who values the language should read both of them at least once before death simply because they exist; as Everest has been for the mountain climbers, so both novels have been to anyone who reads and loves the language.

Block’s “Virgil” is not fun to read, but it represents an incomparable challenge and once conquered, a kind of badge of honour having braved the greatest storms of both prose and poetry that could be imagined short of blowing out the circuits of both.

With the James novel, it was said that it was his favourite, but apparently almost impenetrable to some readers of his time. To one “Lady ‘whomever’” who complained of this, he advised sticking with it and that once having arrived at a certain point in the narration, the specific gravity or gravitas of that novel would hit and the worth of the whole vindicated. And so it was; I had to read that novel page by page, reading each several times to get anything near clarity in what was being said or where the action of that novel was going. Then, one late afternoon, while cooling off from a very hot shower in preparation for going out for the evening, I decided to sit on my bed, pick up that novel and continue plugging away at it. Suddenly, there it was! A catharsis of unimaginable majesty that hit so hard that I almost cancelled my evening out in order to continue reading to the end. Great works are like that.

For me, there is no “fun” involved in reading, but the rewards are everlasting, something that is rare in the reading of secular prose. Block’s work is a combination of poetry and prose in a mixture I never thought possible until reading “Virgil,” and I cannot imagine now, an equal to this. My sonnet alludes to but one of the thoughts that seem to dance throughout that work in spite of laborious, endless poetry, all of which may be beautiful, but only in small doses like genuine truffles; like chocolate, there are some things in this world that are “legal” but close to lethal in effects, and Block’s “Virgil” comes quite close to that.

 

“His Dreams”

Horse1

“His Dreams”

His dreams define the smiles within his skies, but goals
Are drowned within the pits, the bottoms, the deadly dregs
Of what this world seeks that greets the eye; the festering eggs
To what in nature all but cedes reality. What foals
To what dark stallions then are bred?
He need not strain himself to know the truth of this,
And in his several steps he leaves no trace
Of what he’s become to mark his leaving of the place.
Specialties and exhibits, the inner lining of the kiss
That one day brings up bubbles from the depths of readied cauldrons;
Progeny and circumstance, my friend! Mortality confirms in
No uncertain terms a many-hidden hydra and remorse
For what a man must abdicate when incident has run its course.
His dreams refine the miles within his eyes, but goals
Are crowned within the lows, the highs, and all their middling rôles.

“I Withdraw”

“I Withdraw”

I withdraw so easily, or waking, dreamed
So soon as laboured in the day ill-advised
Through doors whether in or out with nothing analysed,
Nothing ostracised, nothing blind. Early minutes’ quiet gleaned
From what I see, Rorschach patterns reckoned ends bit off before
The deeds were quite done. Salutations to the daylight in the darkness
Knowing light my only threat. I sought no rest
But simply waved my rights before I’d hit the bathroom door.
Another matin ritual and by the time I see the streets
My spirits rise to the anthem of inversion, papers purchased and there
When no one hears me enter (no one saw me leave;  no one’s left
Who remembers where I stood before the fall–the cleft
Between the morning after and the afternoon before–the air,
The pavement, strokes of something like a sidewalk drawing, noted.
I’ve arrived in time to beat the elect but somehow never voted.)

“If Wroth Breathing”

Expression_Of_Anger_by_MyBurningEyes

“If Wroth Breathing”

If wroth breathing, there is a need;
If need, then comes the question never spoke
By either brother, a primal continental rift that broke,
A rupture when in that moment, Adam’s seed
Made more than one, difference cedes
A natural shift from peace to war; the smoke
Alone had been enough, but weighted, a stroke.
And from the rapture’s might no longer leads
The sign of truth. “Ask what may be done,” is Abel’s
Cry; “What may not be undone nor forever won,” from God’s domain
Replies, and neither will survive that summer’s day
Within the Garden where truth no longer reigns and envy blocks the rays
Of sun and moon and stars where once their steeds were stabled—
And what may not be undone in angers deep within the heart of Cain?

“So Simple”

sliver moon

“So Simple”

So simple seen at dawn so long delayed, but a sliver of a moon! Brighter
Than I’ve ever seen it, veiled perhaps to purpose
through the willful blindness of my years,
What was it that I remembered to forget? Either eye—when both were clear
And unobstructed—saw visions in the nightly flight to lighter
Skies, at sunset drawn the more to intimate sensations in the rites or
Worshiping the more immediate, stated immaculately, requiring little fear,
An unobstructed view of objects seen as “closer than they appear
Within the mirror?”…or were they ever there at all? I know no delight now nor
Fascination in the company of others of the present stage―
The Illuminati of so many conversations in the next booth just the other day―
before the show and afterward, hushed and heavy harsh realities
Of lamps without their shades, a universal fade to cold formalities
Of “I don’t know, though!” or “Whatever…” from the blossoms’ buds whose age
belies so much gravitas and care.
And whose will does not beget transaction before they’re paid
and praised. Then again, does this ancient luminary care
so long as they’ve been there?