Last night I was reading All The Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner. It’s an amazing novel, literate and deep.
So I was clicking my Kindle along contentedly, having a cup of tea, when I came upon this passage:
“I was beginning to comprehend it then, and I have not repudiated it now: that love, not sin, costs us Eden. Love is the carrier of death — the only thing, in fact, that makes death significant. Otherwise it is … a simple interchange of protein.”
Oh dear, I thought, a hit. A palpable hit. It’s going to cause a poem. What I wrote is not really on point, more tangential. But I wonder, if love gives death its meaning, then what gives love meaning? Isn’t it the soul alive, aware of itself with respect to life? And isn’t the soul on a restless journey? And where is it trying to go?
To My Soul
I say to my soul child hush,
you have caused enough pain.
Be still and watch the birds.
See how they disappear
at sundown, looking for home.
Or maybe they carry it with them
in ways that we cannot even,
being human, comprehend.
Be still and know that God Is
so we are not, and if trees
can stand for a thousand years,
you can sit for a moment,
drinking water in the shade.
My soul will only misbelieve
and long for the rhythm of oceans,
how the storm comes bringing
the destruction of change.
Still, quietly, I sit here
and wait for forgiveness.
Tonight I found this quote on a friend’s poetry blog. I read it years ago and had forgotten it, but remembered somehow. I would have guessed the idea of “I say to my soul …” was from Rumi, or maybe Antonio Machado. Maybe so, but here it is in Eliot. The subconscious learns.
“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
— T.S. Eliot
To My Soul by Kyle Kimberlin is licensed
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