Dear July, seven & eight: yes or no, or maybe

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Dear July,

Another poem for you. Tuesday’s poem was William Stafford’s ‘A Ritual to Read to Each Another’ (see below). All the poems I’ve been reading so far have been by women, so I thought I’d try and balance things out a little by reading a male poet.


There are so many lines in this poem that echo... even if I feel like I need to sit with it for a while longer to fully ‘get it’ – if that’s even something worth trying to do. I’m reminded of John Keats words on understanding poetry:
‘A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore; it’s to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.’
(I think this exact quote actually comes from the film Bright Star – really beautiful, albeit devastating film, if you can get over the silly hats. But it sounds like something – or the whisper of something – Keats would have said somewhere in his letters.)

So: luxuriate in this poem (sidenote: sometimes when other people post poems, I skip them out because they take too much effort to read. But really: don't do that. Read this ones a few times. Carry it about in your pocket. It's worth it). What stands out to you?


A Ritual to Read to Each Another
William Stafford

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give --yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.



Pictures from yesterday: the light in our kitchen, sun on a walk around the village, light in the lounge (reflecting twinkle lights around the windows and illuminating a slither of the bookcase in my brother's room). It wasn’t #hottestdayoftheyear kind of heat – like last Wednesday – but it was warm enough to hang my bed-sheets outside and have the window open most of the day (promptly shut, of course, when a bee tried to get in. I'm imagining bugs will be mentioned a number of times this month. It’s an issue, July. You’re a nice month, but if you could do something about all the bugs that come with you that’d be great.)

(p.s. By the by... I’ve made a writer’s page on Facebook. If you’d like to like it I’d like that. You can find it: here.)

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