Category Poetry

“Come ‘Ere, Quick, You Gotta See This!” Poet Alison Jarvis’s “Sky, River”

In her slim 2013 volume, “On Beauty and Being Just,” Harvard Professor Elaine Scarry attempts to unravel the mysterious pull and effect of the beautiful on human consciousness. Far from being mere surface gloss obscuring the deeper or truer nature of any given object or experience, beauty is central to human experience, summoning us to ever deeper exploration—and our own depths in responding to it.

“Something beautiful fills the mind yet invites the search for something beyond itself, something larger or something of the same scale with which it needs to be brought into relation,” she writes.

And perhaps most importantly, beauty instills in us a desire to both replicate and share it—to point, to exclaim, to paint, to sing and dance and exult, to communicate about how we have been moved and inspired and ultimately, changed by it.

And to advance the possibility that others might be changed, too.


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Praise for the Invaded, Mutilated, and Beautiful World: Two Poems by Adam Zagajewski

Let’s face it: without hope and continual, sometimes rewarded longing for the world of love and beauty reflected in the faces of our mothers and her joyful cohorts from our first moments in the birth room, life would be a hard, hard slog. So much darkness, so much beauty.

It’s as if two exhausted boxers in the 35th round of a fight to the death keep probing and hoping for the merest, minuscule suggestion of acquiescence in the other so the question can be settled once and for all.

Polish poet Adam Zagajewski knew that slugfest well, beginning from his own birth in the city of Lwów, Poland, in June 1945. When he was barely four months old, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union annexed Lwów in the carve-up by the Allied powers as World War II ended, placing Lwów into the newly founded Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

Stalin sent Zagajewski’s engineer father and family of four packing along with countless other professi...

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O Life! O Sun! Robert Graves Evades the Jaws of War-Time Death

British writer Robert Graves came terribly close to joining the 9.7 million other soldiers who died in World War I when his body was tossed among mounds of corpses after it was evacuated from the battlefield and he was listed as officially dead, with notices sent to British newspapers and his family. A shell fragment had shot through his lungs at the Battle of the Somme in France. It was 1916, and he was 21 years old.

Graves went on to live another 69 years after almost literally coming back from the dead, and along the way he established himself as one of the leading figures in 20th century literature, with a prodigious output spanning the worlds of poetry, fiction, short stories and memoir.

He quit writing in his final dozen years only because Alzheimer’s disease descended upon him, robbing him, finally, of all memory.

He had been a deeply learned man, steeped in mythology, father of eight children from ...

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Call of the Wild (Within): Carl Sandburg’s “Wilderness”

Grrrrrrrowwwwwwwlllllllllroarrrrrrrrrrr!!!! The wildness echoes through prairies and canyons, carries over hillsides and frozen peaks, through churning waters that send chills down spines as it reverberates to the very ground of being and splays out an inherent threat to destroy all in its path.

Loosed from any chains of decorum and constraint, it is capable of cold remorseless cruelty, impervious to the call of conscience and mercy, subject only to its primitive need for survival, sustenance and the dominance its genetic coding compels it to maintain.

It is wolf, it is fox, it is hog and fish and baboon and eagle.

And as plain-spoken American poet Carl Sandburg suggests in his seminal, heavily anthologized poem, “Wilderness,” it is also us.

Nicely clothed, carefully coiffed, artificially scented and politely mannered humans, kin to creatures large and small, in something less than full possession of a la...

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Is “Happiness” Yours? It Could Be “Otherwise” (Two Jane Kenyon Poems)

One of the reminders I use for self-consolation and perspective whenever some challenging condition or situation has me appealing to the heavens for relief is, “It could always be worse.” It’s an inarguable point, given the sheer awfulness of calamities that beset human beings everywhere, each in their own time, some of them occurring now to dear friends even as I type these words.

So, an abstraction it most definitely is not.

Knowing and acknowledging we’re a long way from the bottom of suffering’s barrel is also a convenient means of maintaining humility, which is among the most treasured (and necessary!) spiritual virtues. After all, given the enormous sum total of human misery, who are we to think we should be spared such relatively trifling indignities as an occasional slam from the flu or a perceived snubbing by a longtime friend?

There it went, your happiness out the door to distant lands, where it

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