Tag Archives: senses

What is Beauty: cancione

So what is beauty, really?
As a requisite to love
it seems far too subjective,
just some desire’s beguiling
design to snare a victim.

So what is beauty, really?
A figment caught by the eye
(or nature-made to seem thus)
to overwhelm reason’s care,
let loose the reins and run wild?

So what is beauty, really?
One sad half discovers whole,
making the universe sing
a melody so haunting
its croaking voice sounds lilting.

So what is beauty, really?
The eye knows only deceit;
the ear, a fading echo;
the mind, pale comparison;
the heart, hopeful delusion.

So what is beauty, really?
A single moment’s passing,
that folds future and present
up into both shroud and veil
for wedding, and funeral.

So what is beauty, really?
The weak, finite majesty
of illusion stitched in time,
the knowing of unknowing
that is a thing in itself.

27 JAN 2017

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Memory: a poem of the five senses

Burnt cinnamon and candle wax,
the surface of sandpaper and a tack,
a bitter hint of lemon peel
chased with a water back.

The tinkle of a shattered glass,
the supple strength of silk,
an echo of a footstep
and a hint of soured milk.

A new bouquet of flowers,
the barking of a hound,
cold shimmer of a moonbeam,
the scent of fresh-plowed ground.

17 APR 2014

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Seed Thought for the Day

The truth is that a man’s sense of the world dictates his subjects to him and that this sense is derived from his personality, his temperament, over which he has little control and possibly none, except superficially. It is not a literary problem. It is the problem of his mind and nerves. These sayings are another form of the saying that poets are born not made. A poet writes of twilight because he shrinks from noon-day. He writes about the country because he dislikes the city, and he likes the one and dislikes the other because of some trait of mind or nerves; that is to say, because of something in himself that influences his thinking and feeling. So seen, the poet and his subject are inseparable. There are stresses that he invites; there are stresses that he avoids. There are colors that have the blandest effect on him; there are others with which he can do nothing but find fault. In Music he likes the strings. But the horn shocks him. A flat landscape extending in all directions to immense distances placates him. But he shrugs his shoulders at mountains.

— Wallace Stevens, from Effects of Analogy (1948), The Necessary Angel

If, as Stevens proposes, a poet’s subject is congenital, that leads me to wonder about my own. While he states, earlier in the above-referenced essay, that “great numbers of poets come and go who have never had a subject at all,” I cannot see myself in that group. Perhaps after reading Foster’s biography of Yeats, I realized that I was not such a diletante, or rather a scatterbrain, at all, when it came to artistic endeavor. To be a playwright, poet, Musician, lyricist, essayist, polemicist, all in one frame-of-reference, is an achievable thing. And yet, I found in myself as compared to Yeats two things missing: one, an unerring belief in my own greatness; and two, the tenacity for self-publicizing that would drive me to have my voice heard, first, and heard in an environment that I created and/or controlled, second.

All that aside, I wonder on what my congenitally designated “poetic subject” might be. Or what, when I can avail myself of the ivory tower of solitary meditation and creative focus, is it that draws my thoughts in such a way that it is impossible NOT to write about them, or in some artistic manner, express my acknowledgment of it.

Looking back on the Poetry I’ve written in the past two years (probably my most consistently fruitful period in a single medium), I encounter a certain repetition of thematic elements: sound, silence, space, Music, balance and and underlying system of energy that runs through all that exists. But that seems too broad a spectrum of thought – and how it relates to the life I live, is questionable, although I can see how these things affect me, it is difficult to determine what exactly these concepts outline in my reality.

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Sometimes you smell trouble coming
Hinted on the breeze
The final fragile feather
That can bring you to your knees

Sometimes you can sense it coming
When the pressure builds, your ears start drumming
Sometimes you can tell the future
Read it in the signs

The simple subtle signals
That are there between the lines
Sometimes you can feel it growing
Where the wheel will stop, there’s just no knowing

Things can get crazy, the lines become hazy
And there is no sure way to go
Going through changes, your world rearranges
When it sweeps you up in the flow
Just let go …

Sometimes you sense change occurring
A shift in the air
The muffled moving Music
That transports from here to there

Sometimes you can hear the whirring
When the wheels and engines start purring
Sometimes you may feel the power
Taste it in your bones

The crackling coursing current
That bleeds through the danger zones
Sometimes it grows like a flower
When the muse will sing, who knows the hour?

Things can get crazy, the lines become hazy
And there is no sure way to go
Going through changes, your world rearranges
When it sweeps you up in the flow
Just let go …

19 SEP 2003

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