Friday, October 06, 2006

The grace of God is in my mind shaped like a key...10? poems for List Friday

(Donald Swann)

This is a re-posting. It was originally posted sometime in June. I wrote it on a Sunday and then hid it in the previous week's archives. What can I say, sometimes a girl needs to be sentimental. It's been a rough week in Sarah Louise Land. But I am still learning.

So, a reprise of "The Grace of God is in my mind shaped like a key..."

Loretta's List Friday was about what ten things (aside from live loved ones) we'd grab from the house in an emergency. My inner life is too tumultuous at the moment to even imagine an outward emergency.

This morning, I awoke early and wasn't ready to get out of bed. So I grabbed one of my latest Goodwill finds, a book of poetry/prose compiled by Elizabeth Goudge. I was pawing through the pages, looking for something, not knowing what. When I found IT, it took me all over my apartment, tearing through my "treasure boxes" for a poem that I love. While searching, I discovered something I had made lost and am now ready to embrace, a translation of the Love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) done by my last love, a complex man that I knew for two years, dated for one of those. He is now happily married, and through the magic of the Internet, I know that the day he defended his doctoral dissertation, his first son was born. I never subscribed to the "I'll always love you" theory--I figure, we're broken up, you married someone else, I'm glad.

But a poem by Agatha Christie (I'm assuming the mystery writer) changed my mind, that love could be this ineffable stream, not necessarily linked to the reality of now. That it's okay for me to still love what we had, that moment in time. Even though now, it exists outside of time. So I played really hard and fast with the rules of List Friday. These are the poems I would never want to lose. These I have searched for high and low in my apartment or from scraps of keywords in Google. If ever there was a post that would get me in trouble with the Feds, it's this one. I'll try to link to sources if I can find them.

Thursday (from First Fig and other Poems, by Edna St. Vincent Millay)

And if I loved you Wednesday,
Well, what is that to you?
I do not love you Thursday--
That much is true.

And why you come complaining
Is more than I can see.
I loved you Wednesday--yes--but what
Is that to me?

This poem was important to me when I was snubbed by the guy who wrote the next poem, which is no longer posted anywhere on the 'net and he would probably kill me or call me long distance from England, so I'm censoring myself. It's a poem about losing someone from your memory after you've lost them the first time. Just so you know, this post will only be "up" for today. Tomorrow I'll hide it in last week's archives.

"The Second Time" Censored.

The prose piece from the Elizabeth Goudge compilation that got me, right there:

Our moments of happiness are those when we see a burning light through the bars of our personal prison, when for some amazing reason we look out through the cracks; or perhaps by suffering with someone in charity, we leap out of the prison itself, guided by the Spirit, which has never lost its New Testament talent for walking through brick walls. The grace of God is in my mind shaped like a key, that comes from time to time and unlocks the heavy doors.

--Donald Swann

(from A Book of Faith, compiled by Elizabeth Goudge, p. 291)

This image, of the prison doors opening, took me to pawing through my apartment for at least twenty to thirty minutes, for the box that held the next poem. I know not where I originally found it, only that it for me is a favorite.

"After All these Years"
(my note on the creased page, which is in pink ink--of course--says poetry lines, leading me to believe it was not set up as prose as you see it here.)
(okay, I put it in "poetry lines," but I have no idea the original source, or whether the lines as I've set them out are matched to the original poem.)

When I fantacize your kisses it rattles me,
like downing four mugs of coffee in advance of noon,
making me tremble unnervingly through the whole lunch hour.
But your real kisses,
when they come to me,
calm me like half a Valium chased with beer,
so that my convict heart stops banging its cup on the bars--
because the iron door has suddenly shuddered open,
and the guard's waving me out,
waving me out with a smile
after all these years.

(Joseph Hutchinson) (I'm assuming my link is the same guy--I have no actual proof.)

This next piece was a Christmas gift the year we each gave each other eighteen gifts. We spent Christmas day together, without family, because we worked the 24th and the 26th for Fox Books. We traveled on the 27th I think, to our respective homes. But that day was ours alone. And he gave this to me, framed. I don't like to keep mementos from past lovers so the frame is long gone. But I kept this copy. I have hidden it from myself again, each time I found it. I found it folded, among other papers. He translated it from the Greek. (Any wonder that I long to learn Greek, any wonder that I have pined after seminarians?)

And yet I show you the far superior way to take.
If I should babble in the tongues of humans and angels, but I have not love,
I have become only a clanging cymbal or a ringing bronze.
And if I should be able to interpret the divine will
and I should have all the knowledge
of what is both within human grasp and what exceeds it and I
should possess all the faith to alter a mountain,
and I have not love,
I am nothing.

Even if I should take all that I own and use it to feed the poor,
singing against my body in such a way that others would boast about it,
and I have not love,
then I am helped in no way at all.

Love is long in suffering, love is good and kind, not jealous or full of itself.
Love does not act unseemingly, it does not seek what betters itself alone,
Love is not provoked, it does not keep score against those who wrong it,
Love does not delight in the unjust, but rejoices with the truth;
Love endures everything, trusts everything, hopes everything, survives everything.
Love does not fail; but wherever there are divine interpretations,
they will be abolished; wherever humans or angels babble,
those babblings will be made to cease;
wherever there is knowledge, it will be no more.
For we know a part of the whole and we interpret a part of the whole divine will;
But when the end toward which we strive should come,
that end will abolish that part which we possess.

When I was childish, I used to babble childlishly,
I used to think in a childish way,
I used to consider as a child would; whereas I have become a man
and I have abolished those childish ways.
For even now we see in riddles through a mirror, but then face to face;
even know, I know a part of the whole,
but then I will acknowledge just as I was acknowledged.
And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love;
And the greater of these is love.

Paul of Tarsus
1 Corinthians 13

So, now the Agatha Christie. I'll finish with that chick. I can't remember her name at the moment.


If I should leave you in the days to come--
God grant that it may not be--
But yet if so,
Your love for me must fade I know.
You will remember--and you will forget.
But oh! how imperisable--strong
My love for you shall burn and glow
Deep in your heart--your whole life long,
Unknown, unseen, but living still in bliss
So you shall bear me with you all the days.
Forget then what you will.
I died--but not my love for you,
That lives for aye--though dumb,
Remember this,
If I should ever leave you in the days to come.

(from The Book of Faith, compiled by Eliz. Goudge, p. 190)

by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

I'll have you know that I searched high and low, hither and yon, to find this poem. Thank you to the Academy of American Poets.

Oh, how could you do a post on poetry and lost and found things without Elizabeth Bishop?

Elizabeth Bishop - One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.
--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

And now, it is beyond the time I should have driven to the North Hills to pick up the pill I generally take at 9 am, so I throw caution to the wind with two more treasures:

"Variations On The Word Love"

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.
Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.

- Margaret Atwood

by Edwin Markham

He drew a
circle that shut me
out —Heretic, rebel,
a thing to flout.
But Love and I
had the wit to win:
We drew a
circle that
took him in!

Oh, and this one. Sigh. I read this to him once after a fight. It kept us together a little longer, a few more weeks. How do you define love, anyways? It's pretty damn ineffable. So I'll finish with the Bard.

"Sonnet 116"

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

T, I lost you. May I find myself and love again, once upon a time, happily ever after, Your L.


Joke said...

Sometimes things long forgotten are the landmarks by which we must navigate uncharted territory.


PJ said...

All of the things and people we experience in life are what make us who we are.

Sarah Louise said...

J, that is so philosophical!

PJ, I am learning this.