A spare yet intricate poem from Mark Strand (1934-2014) that has been open in one of my browser tabs for weeks…
Lie down on the bright hill
with the moon’s hand on your cheek,
your flesh deep in the white folds of your dress,
and you will not hear the passionate mole
extending the length of his darkness,
or the owl arranging all of the night,
which is his wisdom, or the poem
filling your pillow with its blue feathers.
But if you step out of your dress and move into the shade,
the mole will find you, so will the owl, and so will the poem,
and you will fall into another darkness, one you will find
yourself making and remaking until it is perfect.
In the spirit of resurrecting some of my favorite poems from the last 10 years–and in the spirit of posting more hopeful work–here’s a gorgeous prose poem from the great Swedish poet and Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer (1931-2015).
I inherited a dark wood to which I seldom go. But a day will come when the dead and the living change places. Then the wood will begin to stir. We are not without hope. The most serious crimes remain unsolved despite the efforts of many policeman. In the same way there exists, somewhere in our lives, a great love, unsolved. I inherited a dark wood but today I am going into another wood, the bright one. Every living thing that sings, wriggles, oscillates, and crawls! It is spring and the air is very strong. I have a degree from oblivion’s university and am empty-handed as the shirt on the clothesline.
Oh, Rilke, how I adore you.
from Book of Hours
You, darkness, of whom I am born —
I love you more than the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illumines
and excludes all the rest.
But the darkness embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations — just as they are.
It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night.
translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows