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Creative Blooms 1: Distance from others, closeness to self.

 
 

 
 
In his Nobel lecture, Ceslaw Milosz quotes Simone Weil: “Distance is the soul of beauty.” What does she mean; how deeply have her words influenced this great poet? Can you feel that somewhere over the edge of knowing — something hovering, emanating at the horizon-line of knowing? Is it a taste, an image? Distance so distant becomes intimate and this is a great human mystery.

just please how to forgive spring rain
 
 
dense fog . . .
I dream walk
my sense of I
 
 
spring dawn
I put on
my gender
 
 
 
[Michelle Tennison, Haiku 2014;
Kala Ramesh Living Haiku Anthology 2009;
David Lanoue Haiku 2014]

In Tennison, the plea in “just please how to forgive,” a beseeching of internal, reflective speech — is a commentary on an unknown situation, distant from the reader. The distance of poetry, yet with intimacy and immediacy of feeling, as emotions are engaged. The double‑dream-within-a-dreamscape in Ramesh focuses on the mystery of interiority, the unknown quality of self. The choice of environment as “dense fog” creates an exacting, mirror‑like parallelism between internal and external worlds. Lanoue’s “spring dawn” posits a non‑/trans gender identity as an origin‑point of conscious awareness, prior to habitual determinations.

Please freely comment on these below (as well as those above) using the Reply Box at the bottom of the page:

Her eyes full of waves not breaking the black geometry of crows
 
 
creeping twilight
the weight of the latchkey
around my neck
 
 
to seed darkness where a star might go
 
 
 
[Sara Winteridge
Annie Juhl
Lorin Ford] [all from Moongarlic E-zine 0 May 2013]

 
 
Creative Blooms will appear every other Tuesday. Three poems will be provided with commentary, and an additional three offered for creative interaction by our readership. With every third installment, Gilbert will introduce a largely unknown Japanese poet, translated into English with annotations, for the first time. We look forward to a lively discussion of these fascinating and challenging poems.

Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Tohta Kaneko Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. In his Nobel lecture, Ceslaw Milosz quotes Simone Weil: “Distance is the soul of beauty.” What does she mean; how deeply have her words influenced this great poet?

    i relate to this….as with the passage of time….removing oneself to a different place….distancing from the event….i am able to see the clear essence and write about it in a pure state. by transcending the experience. (not being held back or tied to the confides, controls, and censureship)

  2. It is very late here, and it has been a tiring day, but I cannot say good night without writing a little on Kala Ramesh’s poem:

    What fascinates me is that the two I-I seem like barricades, there is a limit to the dream walk, only so much is possible, like this:

    dense fog…III dream walk my sense of III

    I have had to use the triple repetition, since I cannot bold the letter- I
    .
    .

    dense fog…I||dream walk my sense of I
    .
    .
    dense fog… I dream walk my sense of||I

    The —-double pipe — symbol shows how – I – is both a limiting factor and also the place of beginning for the dream walk.
    .
    .
    In the voice of the narrator:
    .
    .
    The second double pipe symbol is a barricade, a fence like thing, a limiting factor. It makes me realise that the dream walk can extend to only so much of a distance. it is a hazy realisation. When I cross over the double pipe, there is no more dense fog or dream walk, I have heralded myself into self-realisation…
    .
    .
    dense fog…I dream walk my sense of || I
    .
    .
    The beginning of introspection is always unclear, confusing and it takes a certain resilient courage to walk into that which seems obvious but is more like a fog , what am I stepping into, where am I going? The expression – dream walk – is very apt here:
    .
    dense fog…I || dream walk my sense of I

    Ok folks, zzzzzzzzz

  3. Hello Prof, and thank you for Creative Blooms.

    if a poem resonates with me, it is the David Lanoue poem. Not because gender is such an expansive subject, but because gender is what we choose for ourselves.

    I realise that in this evolving world, my gender roles are organic. I am good at fixing shelves and reading manuals. The gender I wear by virtue of my birth is not a product or byproduct of social programming. Being a woman is natural but not easy. It is not a toggle. I feel it every time I resist the urge to run away from conflict. Or speak with conviction, without fearing rejection.

    I like how the poem opens up possibilities;

    If gender is a term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female, then the poem reads differently.
    It addresses the issue of sexual orientation.

    Or
    that the equality afforded by the conjugal bed at night… no longer exists at dawn. At dawn, one is the man, the other the wife, and subjugation takes on an entirely new meaning, it is still cold on a spring morning, it is the beginning of a relationship, and all good relationships take time to mature …
    On a personal level though,
    when I fall asleep, my sleep is no different from that of any other person. My breath is a reflex action. ( Don’t question me about my dreams and gender, it is beyond the scope of this response and I am sticking on to the obscure logic of mine in the given context of the poem…a woman thought, pure and not influenced by male thinking of any kind … )

    I wake up being me, a woman and social programming kicks in, I put on the percolator, except on the weekends…yawn, goodnight good people. Equality is measured in the good sleep of a tired head, 🙂

    Cheerios

  4. to seed darkness where a star might go

    .
    lorin ford

    our stars are dying….our constellations may loose their identities…

    how nice it would be… to be able to replace them, in the same place they were, in a quick moment, like a light bulb, or like that toy…the light brite…with little pegs.
    on a larger format in a zen way
    this can also be metaphor about life/death/reincarnation, all things that will happen…(but with uncertainty/ unpredictable/ of time/place) of all/anything that is living,

    1. I love this Wendy: “”all things that will happen…(but with uncertainty/ unpredictable/ of time/place) of all/anything that is living,””

      How true

      I am still playing with the poem. See:
      .
      .
      to seed darkness/ where a star might/ go
      .
      .
      to seed/ darkness where/ a star might go
      .
      .
      to seed darkness/ where a star might go

      and so on


      fun poem and deep, I find it soothing when the pauses generate a positive read, it is dark otherwise…

      is it not a nice read when we see the darkness seeded make the star seem to shine brighter?

        1. What do you mean by – stress of the poem – Wendy? Can you help me understand better?

          Do you mean scansion? I go by beats which is how it is traditionally done, because Japanese is a tonal language … right?

          For me every reading is another page in the book of the poem. Do you mean the tension in there, the story and the conflict element? For me this is an open poem, which is why the pauses we fit in as the reader, change the poem for us… is that a good thing or a bad thing…I wonder

          1. Tonal emphasis in English, by changing the rendition ?
            Aaah ok. It needs many voices from one voice box or many voices , interesting
            Does the varied pause do anything ?

  5. creeping twilight
    the weight of the latchkey
    around my neck
    .
    Annie Juhl

    *
    i believe this could be the “switch of roles” where a more common picture could be the parent waiting for a child to come home and now it’s later than the expected time….but here the child is at home alone… worried that the parent hasn’t returned to make dinner/ etc…..a sign of the times/ when either both parents have to work/ or a single parent is out working.

  6. spring dawn
    I put on
    my gender
    .
    David Lanoue

    though it was published in 2014, we don’t know when it was written.
    today’s definition of “gender” is different then yesterday’s.

    and though this can be seen as the trans coming out…..it can also be seen as how the trans may need to cover up his trans at times.

    I put on
    my gender……
    in this poem of david’s…..i feel the detachment of the outer-self clothes/attire and mindset, ( like putting on a mask)…..that the trans might feel as they get ready for monday-friday/9-5/ public workday survival at a time when he may not be allowed to show outside what he feels inside….as the sun will be coming up soon.

  7. The Weil quote ends a passage of Gravity and Grace that reads as follows and thus gives meaning to
    the quote:

    “A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is essentially
    anonymous about it. It imitates the anonymity of divine art. In the same way the beauty of the world
    proves there to be a God who is personal and impersonal at the same time and is neither the one
    nor the other separately.

    The beautiful is a carnal attraction which keeps us at a distance and implies a renunciation. This
    includes the renunciation of that which is most deep-seated, the imagination. We want to eat all the
    other objects of desire. The beautiful is that which we desire without wishing to eat it. We desire that
    it should be.

    We have to remain quite still and unite ourselves with that which we desire yet do not approach.
    We unite ourselves to God in this way: we cannot approach him.
    Distance is the soul of the beautiful.”

    She goes on to write:

    “In everything which gives us the pure authentic feeling of beauty there really is the presence of God.
    There is as it were an incarnation of God in the world and it is indicated by beauty.
    The beautiful is the experimental proof that the incarnation is possible.
    Hence all art of the highest order is religious in essence. (That is what people have forgotten today.)
    A Gregorian melody is as powerful a witness as the death of a martyr.”

    I feel a strong connection with both Milosz and Weil due to my Polish ancestry and to living as a
    Roman Catholic. While Milosz lived as a Catholic, Weil was strongly attracted to the Catholic faith as
    the very sacrament of the beautiful and, loving and desiring with all her being, she chose to keep her
    distance and thus renounce it, denying herself the graces that would flow into her.

    Weil’s words deeply influenced Milosz. He had experienced both Nazism and Stalinism and was
    caught up with the notion of “historical necessity”, which was used to justify human suffering on a
    previously unheard-of scale. In common with the Manichaean heretics, he inclined to the belief “that
    the world is ruled by necessity, by evil, and yet still find hope and sustenance in the beauty of the
    world. History reveals the pointlessness of human striving, the instability of human things; but time
    also is the moving image of eternity.”

    *
    just please how to forgive spring rain

    Tennison’s poem engages the reader very personally and impersonally in that all too common plea
    for the grace to forgive and, in the mere act of supplication, the gift of spring rain.

    *
    dense fog . . .
    I dream walk
    my sense of I

    Ramesh’s poem explores the hard problem of consciousness with a very astute use of sound and
    language that makes the distant for an instant intimate.

    *
    spring dawn
    I put on
    my gender

    Lanoue also explores the nature of identity as his persona wakes anew from the subconscious realm
    of dreams to reassume the trappings of his day to day public self.

    *
    Her eyes full of waves not breaking the black geometry of crows

    I admire the jarring contrast in Winteridge’s poem between her eyes full of the deep and gentle
    poised beauty of “waves not breaking” and her eyes not breaking a harsh and hard black geometry
    of crows.

    *
    creeping twilight
    the weight of the latchkey
    around my neck

    Juhl’s conveys a sense of menace hidden in the unknown and an awareness of the comforting weight
    of the latchkey around her neck anchoring her in reality.

    *
    to seed darkness where a star might go

    Ford’s poem also conveys a desire to people the unknown with something familiar lest the vast
    darkness overwhelm.

  8. creeping twilight
    the weight of the latchkey
    around my neck
    .
    Annie Juhl
    .
    We all have responsibilities, and should feel ‘the weight of the latchkey’ more so now than ever.
    Ever since man realised the benefits of keeping certain herding animals, clearing ground and manipulating nature for his own purpose, has never looked back, and this is where we are today. Not only have we ravaged the flora and fauna, some actually kill for pleasure, we have also used up the vast amount of fossil fuels. We have taken what we waned when we wanted. Even now with all the talk, absolutely nothing has changed, yes a few have altered their lifestyle, but so few.
    This ‘creeping twilight’ has come sooner than we thought? No, it’s just been ignored, totally, and still is. Climate change has always been and always will be a part of Earth’s way. We have, no doubt, exacerbated this in such a short time and to reverse this will be no short term event.
    This is a massive issue, and if each of us makes a small change within the way we live, and take note of the destruction of our own, nearby, environment, whether large or small, no matter where we live in the world, band together and make a difference. Throwing vast amounts of money at this problem is not the way, give nature a chance and she will repair the damage. We live in an instant world, a, lets see it now mentality, NO, Nature knows best and she must be allowed to repair the damage we have all had a hand in. Having seen this prosses in my own environment is a rewarding experience, yet, only to witness a re scaring by mindless behaviour well ‘not on my watch’ this will be stopped.
    This is a weight we should all be feeling, that twilight is well and truly over the horizon.
    .
    Thank you for reading.

  9. As haiku are ‘one breath poems’ I’ll present my thoughts to mirror this, as I read them, even thought so much more can be said in depth about the verses presented.
    .
    just please how to forgive spring rain
    .
    Michelle Tennison
    .
    I feel, here, the author has presented a verse, asking for a way to forgive, almost pleading, and an effect, needing to feel the cleansing effect of a fresh spring rain.
    .
    dense fog…
    I dream walk
    my sense of I
    .
    Kala Ramesh
    .
    In this verse I see a person going through the thought process of how life could be, entering into a personal dream of being able to be the person they could be, and able to achieve their full potential if encouraged, ‘dense fog’ through no fault of their own and by others intervention don’t have the opportunity to fulfil those dreams, even though they have ability and know the sense of ‘I’
    .
    spring dawn
    I put on
    my gender
    .
    David Lanoue
    .
    In days gone by we conformed to what we thought was the norm. In todays enlightened world we can be the people we want to be, without hinderance or leave, and not worry about what other may think or say, well, that’s the way it should be.
    ‘spring dawn’ could we be putting on the gender we want to be for that particular moment in time, a wonderful thought, on times we feel strong and defensive, another frail and vulnerable.
    .
    her eyes full of waves not breaking the black geometry of crows
    .
    Sara Winteridge
    .
    I think we’re on a natural adventure with this, the unblinking eye, if we do, we’ll miss something special.
    The amazing geometric shapes crows produce in flight.
    Then there’s the underworld regarding crows, this connection between heaven and earth, an association with the Welsh goddess Morrigan, amongst others.
    This is a deep one, and encourages deeper reading 🙂
    .
    creeping twilight
    the weight of the latchkey
    around my neck
    .
    Annie Juhl
    .
    The sense of responsibility of this verse has an oppressive feel, and could relate to many instances, but this one, firstly, comes to mind-
    A child coming home from school and having to caring for siblings while parents are still at work?
    I have many more thoughts on this one, some which are hard to think about.
    .
    to seed darkness where a star might go
    .
    Lorin Ford
    .
    Some seeds need light to develop while others find it inhibiting. Could this be the development of something earthly, or the birth of new stars, I’d like to think it is the latter.
    .
    I found this session invigorating and thought provoking.
    I look forward to others thought and also the next collection of verses.
    And hope to add my humble thoughts, once again.
    .
    Thank you.

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