POETRY OF THE SPIRIT
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Nature destroys as often as it inspires or creates, and it destroys cruelly and indiscriminately. Shelley uses nature as his primary source of poetic inspiration. At the same time, although nature has creative power over Shelley because it provides inspiration, he feels that his imagination has creative power over nature. It is the imagination—or our ability to form sensory perceptions—that allows us to describe nature in different, original ways, which help to shape how nature appears and, therefore, how it exists.
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Thus, the power of the human mind becomes equal to the power of nature, and the experience of beauty in the natural world becomes a kind of collaboration between the perceiver and the perceived. Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis. An exquisite perk of my deep dive into classical Persian poetry in search of Rumi has been Attar, the 12 th -century poet whose sly renderings of Sufi thought into verse was a great influence on him.
As in most cases involving translating Persian poetry, Dick Davis soars, too. Dear hoopee, welcome! Attar used this wide-open space to his advantage. Both are wise and very sure of themselves. To the delight—or exasperation—of translators, Rumi was fond of another challenge hard-wired into the circuitry of Persian: the third-person pronoun may refer to he, she, it, or God. Is the poem to a man, a woman, or God? He gets his points across by telling tales with morals often as perplexing as Zen koans. He is a cosmic GPS as he encourages the winged souls on a pilgrimage through the seven valleys of the Way, from the first Valley of the Quest to the final Valley of Nothingness.
The holy grail turns out to be a pun: thirty birds make it all the way, and the name of the divine shimmer they are seeking—Simorgh, a phoenix popular in Iranian mythology—breaks down into si-morgh, meaning thirty birds. Spiritual poetry in the medieval era is always expressing a religious tradition, no matter how extreme or with however much transcendence. The notion of being spiritual without being religious would not have computed for either Attar or Rumi.
Many of the tales the hoopee unspools are shocking: a pious Muslim sheikh falls in love with a Christian lady and converts to her faith; pilgrims on the way to Mecca insult God. Several of the passionate love stories are between men. John of the Cross. Willis Barnstone. This sixteenth-century verse by a Spanish saint was the standout poem of my teenage years.
I used to have dreams of wandering in the dark night tailored to its verses. I suppose the traditional Catholic imagery dipped in pain and blackness appealed to me as to some punk rockers of my era, such as Patti Smith.
How did the poet create such a powerful effect? The beating of her heart was heard to fill The pauses of her music, and her breath Tumultuously accorded with those fits Of intermitted song. Sudden she rose, As if her heart impatiently endured Its bursting burden; at the sound he turned, And saw by the warm light of their own life Her glowing limbs beneath the sinuous veil Of woven wind, her outspread arms now bare, Her dark locks floating in the breath of night, Her beamy bending eyes, her parted lips Outstretched, and pale, and quivering eagerly. His strong heart sunk and sickened with excess Of love.
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He reared his shuddering limbs, and quelled His gasping breath, and spread his arms to meet Her panting bosomshe drew back awhile, Then, yielding to the irresistible joy, With frantic gesture and short breathless cry Folded his frame in her dissolving arms. Now blackness veiled his dizzy eyes, and night Involved and swallowed up the vision; sleep, Like a dark flood suspended in its course, Rolled back its impulse on his vacant brain.
Roused by the shock, he started from his trance-- The cold white light of morning, the blue moon Low in the west, the clear and garish hills, The distinct valley and the vacant woods, Spread round him where he stood. Whither have fled The hues of heaven that canopied his bower Of yesternight? The sounds that soothed his sleep, The mystery and the majesty of Earth, The joy, the exultation?
Poems of the Spirit: a selection of poems, edited by Luke Hankins
His wan eyes Gaze on the empty scene as vacantly As ocean's moon looks on the moon in heaven. The spirit of sweet human love has sent A vision to the sleep of him who spurned Her choicest gifts. He eagerly pursues Beyond the realms of dream that fleeting shade; He overleaps the bounds.
Were limbs and breath and being intertwined Thus treacherously? Lost, lost, forever lost In the wide pathless desert of dim sleep, That beautiful shape! Does the dark gate of death Conduct to thy mysterious paradise, O Sleep? Does the bright arch of rainbow clouds And pendent mountains seen in the calm lake Lead only to a black and watery depth, While death's blue vault with loathliest vapors hung, Where every shade which the foul grave exhales Hides its dead eye from the detested day, Conducts, O Sleep, to thy delightful realms?
This doubt with sudden tide flowed on his heart; The insatiate hope which it awakened stung His brain even like despair.
Library of Congress
While daylight held The sky, the Poet kept mute conference With his still soul. At night the passion came, Like the fierce fiend of a distempered dream, And shook him from his rest, and led him forth Into the darkness. Red morning dawned upon his flight, Shedding the mockery of its vital hues Upon his cheek of death. He wandered on Till vast Aornos seen from Petra's steep Hung o'er the low horizon like a cloud; Through Balk, and where the desolated tombs Of Parthian kings scatter to every wind Their wasting dust, wildly he wandered on, Day after day, a weary waste of hours, Bearing within his life the brooding care That ever fed on its decaying flame.
And now his limbs were lean; his scattered hair, Sered by the autumn of strange suffering, Sung dirges in the wind; his listless hand Hung like dead bone within its withered skin; Life, and the lustre that consumed it, shone, As in a furnace burning secretly, From his dark eyes alone.
The cottagers, Who ministered with human charity His human wants, beheld with wondering awe Their fleeting visitant. The mountaineer, Encountering on some dizzy precipice That spectral form, deemed that the Spirit of Wind, With lightning eyes, and eager breath, and feet Disturbing not the drifted snow, had paused In its career; the infant would conceal His troubled visage in his mother's robe In terror at the glare of those wild eyes, To remember their strange light in many a dream Of after times; but youthful maidens, taught By nature, would interpret half the woe That wasted him, would call him with false names Brother and friend, would press his pallid hand At parting, and watch, dim through tears, the path Of his departure from their father's door.
At length upon the lone Chorasmian shore He paused, a wide and melancholy waste Of putrid marshes. A strong impulse urged His steps to the sea-shore. A swan was there, Beside a sluggish stream among the reeds. It rose as he approached, and, with strong wings Scaling the upward sky, bent its bright course High over the immeasurable main. His eyes pursued its flight'Thou hast a home, Beautiful bird! And what am I that I should linger here, With voice far sweeter than thy dying notes, Spirit more vast than thine, frame more attuned To beauty, wasting these surpassing powers In the deaf air, to the blind earth, and heaven That echoes not my thoughts?
For sleep, he knew, kept most relentlessly Its precious charge, and silent death exposed, Faithless perhaps as sleep, a shadowy lure, With doubtful smile mocking its own strange charms.
The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry
Startled by his own thoughts, he looked around. There was no fair fiend near him, not a sight Or sound of awe but in his own deep mind. A little shallop floating near the shore Caught the impatient wandering of his gaze. It had been long abandoned, for its sides Gaped wide with many a rift, and its frail joints Swayed with the undulations of the tide. A restless impulse urged him to embark And meet lone Death on the drear ocean's waste; For well he knew that mighty Shadow loves The slimy caverns of the populous deep.
The day was fair and sunny; sea and sky Drank its inspiring radiance, and the wind Swept strongly from the shore, blackening the waves. Following his eager soul, the wanderer Leaped in the boat; he spread his cloak aloft On the bare mast, and took his lonely seat, And felt the boat speed o'er the tranquil sea Like a torn cloud before the hurricane.
As one that in a silver vision floats Obedient to the sweep of odorous winds Upon resplendent clouds, so rapidly Along the dark and ruffled waters fled The straining boat. The waves arose.
Higher and higher still Their fierce necks writhed beneath the tempest's scourge Like serpents struggling in a vulture's grasp. Evening came on; The beams of sunset hung their rainbow hues High 'mid the shifting domes of sheeted spray That canopied his path o'er the waste deep; Twilight, ascending slowly from the east, Entwined in duskier wreaths her braided locks O'er the fair front and radiant eyes of Day; Night followed, clad with stars.
On every side More horribly the multitudinous streams Of ocean's mountainous waste to mutual war Rushed in dark tumult thundering, as to mock The calm and spangled sky. The little boat Still fled before the storm; still fled, like foam Down the steep cataract of a wintry river; Now pausing on the edge of the riven wave; Now leaving far behind the bursting mass That fell, convulsing ocean; safely fled-- As if that frail and wasted human form Had been an elemental god. At midnight The moon arose; and lo!
A cavern there Yawned, and amid its slant and winding depths Ingulfed the rushing sea. The boat fled on With unrelaxing speed. Sleep and death Shall not divide us long. Daylight shone At length upon that gloomy river's flow; Now, where the fiercest war among the waves Is calm, on the unfathomable stream The boat moved slowly.
Spirit Poems - Poems For Spirit - - Poem by | Poem Hunter
I' the midst was left, Reflecting yet distorting every cloud, A pool of treacherous and tremendous calm. Seized by the sway of the ascending stream, With dizzy swiftness, round and round and round, Ridge after ridge the straining boat arose, Till on the verge of the extremest curve, Where through an opening of the rocky bank The waters overflow, and a smooth spot Of glassy quiet 'mid those battling tides Is left, the boat paused shuddering. Shall the reverting stress Of that resistless gulf embosom it? Now shall it fall? The ghastly torrent mingles its far roar With the breeze murmuring in the musical woods.