Monday, December 09, 2019

a December post - on weather, poetry, beauty


White light seen through
the season's double window
clouding the room reveals the roses'
week-old gift of petals bruised purple-black.
Dry paper falling on white cloth
seconds the white room's wonder
at cold sun flurried, crumbling stars
compacted underfoot: lattice
of fixed clarity, wintrish eidolon
half patience, half at prayer.
--Reginald Shepherd
from "Roman Year"

In restarting posting to this blog, I begin with a short poem, one section Shepherd's longer "Roman Year," a meditation on this time of year, of double windows, bruised flower petals, flurried cold sun, and seemingly crumbling stars... but like the beauty in the poem, what surrounds me in Dec. is not all purple-black; or purple -black is the beauty of it. It's raining, and dark, and is expected to rain all day. It's hard to get motivated when the sun only comes out once a week, or less. But the dog and I are comfortably listening to the steady subtle sound of drops out the window, biding our time until we can go out into the fresh near-winter air. We'll appreciate that, in our way, differently from warmer days, but getting in our blood nonetheless, and keeping us moving forward.

Also, this from Joy Harjo, in the NYT, a series on "beauty":
from editors:

"Humans have engaged with the concept of beauty for millennia, trying to define it while being defined by it.

Plato thought that merely contemplating beauty caused “the soul to grow wings.” Ralph Waldo Emerson found beauty in Raphael’s “The Transfiguration,” writing that “a calm benignant beauty shines over all this picture, and goes directly to the heart.” In “My Skin,” Lizzo sings:

“The most beautiful thing that you ever seen is even bigger than what we think it means.”
We asked a group of artists, scientists, writers and thinkers to answer this simple question: Why is beauty, however defined, so important in our lives? Here are their responses."

The sung blessing of creation
Led her into the human story.
That was the first beauty.

Next beauty was the sound of her mother’s voice
Rippling the waters beneath the drumming skin
Of her birthing cocoon.

Next beauty the father with kindness in his hands
As he held the newborn against his breathing.

Next beauty the moon through the dark window
It was a rocking horse, a wish.

There were many beauties in this age
For everything was immensely itself:
Green greener than the impossibility of green,
the taste of wind after its slide through dew grass at dawn,
Or language running through a tangle of wordlessness in her

She ate well of the next beauty.

Next beauty planted itself urgently beneath the warrior shrines.

Next was beauty beaded by her mother and pinned neatly
To hold back her hair.

Then how tendrils of fire longing grew into her, beautiful the flower
Between her legs as she became herself.

Do not forget this beauty she was told.

The story took her far away from beauty. In the tests of her living,
Beauty was often long from the reach of her mind and spirit.
When she forgot beauty, all was brutal.
But beauty always came to lift her up to stand again.

When it was beautiful all around and within,
She knew herself to be corn plant, moon, and sunrise.

Death is beautiful, she sang, as she left this story behind her.

Even her bones, said time.
Were tuned to beauty.

Joy Harjo is the United States poet laureate. She is the first Native American to hold the position.