Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
― Leonard Cohen
I am sharing something quite different in this post. As some of you may know, I completed doctoral coursework in modern American and British fiction and poetry. Recently, when I was revisiting some poetry, I was inspired to share excerpts that speak about life and nature. These particular excepts remind me, as Leonard Cohen says in the quotation above, to make sure my life “burns.”
As paqos, we are on a path of conscious evolution and that starts with our resacralizing our relationship with nature. We are hummingbirds feeding on the sami (nectar) of the living cosmos. These poems are like sami to me, and I hope they are to you as well.
We start with part of a Mary Oliver poem about how to meet the end of your physical life with joy. Since she is one of my favorite contemporary poets, we also end with an excerpt from another of her poems. The other excerpts may inspire your immersion into nature both as a paqo and as a “natural” human being. For instance, the Walt Whitman excerpt reminded me of the Inka Seed. A paqos we are in ayni with nature, but we are also in ayni with the entire cosmos of living energy. Like poets, in the words of poet Wallace Stevens, we are “priests of the invisible.” Enjoy!
(Note: If you are viewing this post on a phone, the line breaks in the poems may be effected.)
Mary Oliver, Excerpt from “When Death Comes”
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Walt Whitman, Excerpt from Section 1 of “Song of the Universal”
Come said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.
In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.
By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal’d or unconceal’d the seed is
By William Wordsworth, Excerpt from “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798”
. . . The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, not any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
. . . For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
Conrad Aiken, Excerpt from Section 4 of “A Letter from Li Po”
Exiled are we.
Were exiles born.
The ‘far away,’
language of desert, language of ocean, language of sky,
as of the unfathomable worlds that lie
between the apple and the eye,
these are the only words we learn to say.
Each morning we devour the unknown.
we find, and take, and spill, or spend, or lose,
a sunflower splendor of which none knows the source.
This cornucopia of air! This very heaven
of simple day! We do not know, can never know,
the alphabet to find us entrance there.
So, in the street, we stand and stare,
to greet a friend, and shake his hand,
yet know him beyond knowledge, like ourselves;
ocean unknowable by unknowable sand.
Mary Oliver, Excerpt from “Humpbacks”
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will every dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
even the great whale,
throbs with song.