The Lightest Touch, David H. Whyte

feathers

THE LIGHTEST TOUCH

Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then, like a hand in the dark,
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line,
you can feel Lazarus,
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

~David H. Whyte

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Rain, Peter Everwine

egret

Rain

Toward evening, as the light failed
and the pear tree at my window darkened,
I put down my book and stood at the open door,
the first raindrops gusting in the eaves,
a smell of wet clay in the wind.
Sixty years ago, lying beside my father,
half asleep, on a bed of pine boughs as rain
drummed against our tent, I heard
for the first time a loon’s sudden wail
drifting across that remote lake—
a loneliness like no other,
though what I heard as inconsolable
may have been only the sound of something
untamed and nameless
singing itself to the wilderness around it
and to us until we slept. And thinking of my father
and of good companions gone
into oblivion, I heard the steady sound of rain
and the soft lapping of water, and did not know
whether it was grief or joy or something other
that surged against my heart
and held me listening there so long and late.
~Peter Everwine
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Creative Fire, Carl Jung

 

Cain Fleeing Abel
William Blake, 1826

 

The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him  on the one hand the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire. The lives of artists are as a rule so highly unsatisfactory, not to say tragic, because of their inferiority on the human and personal side, and not because of a sinister dispensation.

There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of the creative fire. It is as though each of us were endowed at birth with a certain capital of energy. The strongest force in our make-up will seize and all but monopolize this energy, leaving so little over that nothing of value can come of it. In this way the creative force can drain the human impulses to such a degree that the personal ego must develop all sorts of bad qualities — ruthlessness, selfishness, and vanity (so-called “auto-eroticism”) and even every kind of vice, in order to maintain the spark of life and to keep itself from being wholly bereft.

How can we doubt that it is his art that explains the artist, and not the insufficiencies and conflicts of his personal life? These are nothing but the regrettable results of the fact that he is an artist,  that is to say, a man who from his very birth has been called to a greater task than the ordinary mortal. A special ability means a heavy expenditure of energy in a particular direction, with a consequent drain from some other side of life.

Carl Jung,  Modern Man in Search of a Soul

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The Artist as Bear, Jane Yolen

Bear, John Schoenherr

Bear, John Schoenherr

 

The Artist As Bear

In the softness of the year,
she follows green trails.
Stands by the rush of river
pulls silver fish into her mouth.
Summer berries spurt
between her long teeth.
Wind tickles across her back.
She meets with other bears
in warning and worry.
She growls.

In the harshness of the year
she travels in dreams,
the cave her curtain.
She feasts on her own belly,
gives birth to herself,
nurses without thought.
Dark contains her,
sustains her, keeps her safe.
as she slims down to the real,
finds meaning in her night.

Bear knows that to journey in,
she must first journey out.
An old story, but a true one.

~Jane Yolen

bear

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Shapechangers in Winter

This is the Solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future,
the place of caught breath

–Margaret Atwood 
Eating Fire

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Denise Levertov, In Mind

 

bird_and_boat
In  Mind

There’s in my mind a woman
of innocence, unadorned but

fair-featured and smelling of
apples or grass. She wears

a utopian smock or shift, her hair
is light brown and smooth, and she

is kind and very clean without
ostentation–

but she has
no imagination

And there’s a
turbulent moon-ridden girl

or old woman, or both,
dressed in opals and rags, feathers

and torn taffeta,
who knows strange songs

but she is not kind.

~Denise Levertov

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Denise Levertov, Aware

forest_arch
Aware

When I found the door
I found the vine leaves
speaking among themselves in abundant
whispers.
My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.
I liked
the glimpse I had, though,
of their obscure
gestures. I liked the sound
of such private voices. Next time
I’ll move like cautious sunlight, open
the door by fractions, eavesdrop
peacefully.

~Denise Levertov

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