Night Skies Finish Last
“The heavenly bodies, in their courses,
have it in their power to move human
minds to unknown heights of delight.”
–Isak Dinesen (Out of Africa)
E. E. Cummings wrote:
“Thy fingers make early flowers of all things”
I know this because the phrase has stalked me
All these years you see
I read him a lot in high school where I needed help
And I am a romantic
But I guess that’s what poetry means
It sticks with you in the teeth of forgetfulness
And yes literally
God knows why
Robert Frost said poetry is at its best
With a tantalizing ambiguity
And I still dream of “early” flowers
Though I know not what they may be
It clearly predates the sunset
Hence the stars are not yet out
Yet it does make me dream
And I guess as poet Jesus said
By their fruits shall ye know them
And this is a fruit
That has left stains on my lips
All these years
I guess then there is hope
For a sudden romance that personifies the stars
Because I still have faith somehow
In the night sky
Even if it does finish last
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:
“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”
This post I think, though a segue from the romantic theme of last time yet is of the same silk ilk (pardon my romantic bias).
I have pushed poetry production on this blog. Here are three of the previous posts to prove that:
And in an ancillary fashion, this, my first post (from April Fool’s Day, 2013):
This post, once again, is of the romantic ilk mostly for the psychological reparations. Because to me what romantic merely means is it appeals to the heart. And sometimes I generalize to the opinion that a good way to repair the heart is to express the heart through art. Because then the heart feels listened to.
But two things: first, these days my art form is poetry, though I have dabbled in drawing. And even there was one painting. For an example, see above. Can you guess whom it’s meant to represent? (Bonus points if you can guess. But I bet you didn’t know she was quite popular with the Anatolian Sufis! The answer will be in the next post) If so, my art may have succeeded, at least for starters.
And so I emphasize what I am best at, and I hope I am not off on some ego trip when I say I think it may help budding poets if I sometimes talk about how I do it or since I am not quite sure myself about that, at least, how I got the inspiration (My muse was knocking at my door, and I was profoundly amused). And second, I have a broad definition of “art.” I hope not as Cummings satirized (”O world, o art!). I mean one shouldn’t feel intimidated, and say for instance, “But I can’t paint . . . I can’t dance . . .”
But poetry is feeling. As Cummings said to the students:
“Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.”
Which reminds me of the wonderful line from Lily Tomlin’s Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe:
“I always had wanted to be someone. But now I realize I should have been more specific.”
What a simple key (Cummings’ heart business) to pick the lock of originality!
So it seems one surefire poetry trick is to write lines that make you cry. Or dance.
Or laugh. All the things then that good art (art from the heart) does is at your fingertips and then you have mastered the piano and in that, you even have Rachmaninoff’s huge hands.*
But I digress.
But first, before we leave Cummings, I suggest you check out on youtube, Cummings himself reading what to me is the greatest living love poem, “somewhere I have never traveled”:
Yes indeedy. Cummings was a romantic.
But back to therapy. Para precisar, (I love that useful Spanish phrase, which means “in order to explain exactly”) I do believe life itself is performance art. And conversation is an art as well, especially if you use it to express your heart.
And so once again, dear ones, my gentle readers, I will do a post a bit about poetry.
The poem above is an example (I wrote it three days ago, para precisar).
But first, I should elaborate on the background. In a recent series of posts (can two be a series?) I talked of the spiritual dimensions of romance.
Of course, if you look up the word romance in the dictionary, the love affair aspect is given but seventh shrift. (although we “romantics” may call that akin to the famous seventh heaven.”**) The other six definitions deal with derring-do tales, etc. And interestingly the French word for novel is “roman.” So you see that tradition comes from way back.
But as the poem says, in high school, I was lonely and sought refuge in the poetry of E. E. Cummings.
Also true is that I have had that line from his poetry floating through my head all these years,*** and when it came to mind I decided to use it as a springboard to the above poem. (As I do with any spontaneous charged line which comes to me. It’s one of the miracles that keep my happiness afloat that I can almost invariably assume that if I start a poem like that, the rest of the poem will ensue. And since I am a grateful sort, and perhaps solely on that account, a believer in God (but that’s another story probably at least a thrice-told tale in my series of blog posts), I consider it my sacred obligation, even my prayer practice, to stop everything when such a line appears. I do believe that faithfulness is a partial explanation for the fact that my muses rarely let me down, so I show fealty to that sacred impulse.
Of course, too, I often start a poem with a quote to start the ball rolling. But this time for some reason I decided to incorporate it into the poem proper. Which turned out a good thing when the Isak Dinesen quote turned up.
But again, I digress (hopefully not to any crabgrass degree). I had better hurry up and get to the point or this post will have to be a two parter.
So, yes, as you can surmise from the poem, I’d be in danger of being a lonely boy (for lack of an inspiring girlfriend) if it weren’t for having the stars at my back.
There. I think I have gotten to the point. I have the stars at my back.
God be with you,
*Yes Rachmaninoff had veritably huge hands which drove the pianists nuts with his music having chords that only a person of his huge fingerspan could easily manage. Indeed an amusing comedy sketch based on that is hereby included:
** According to wikipedia.com, seventh heaven is “the abode of immortal beings, or the visible sky.” Which of course fits right in with my introductory poem, does it not?
***As well as the even better known ending. Here’s the whole poem:
Thy Fingers Make Early Flowers
–By E. E. Cummings
Thy fingers make early flowers
of all things.
thy hair mostly the hours love:
a smoothness which
(though love be a day)
do not fear,we will go amaying.
thy whitest feet crisply are straying.
thy moist eyes are at kisses playing,
whose strangeness much
(though love be a day)
for which girl art thou flowers bringing?
To be thy lips is a sweet thing
Death,thee i call rich beyond wishing
if this thou catch,
(though love be a day
and life be nothing,it shall not stop kissing).
And for those who also like to hear the poem:
(Read by Christina Chu)