When I was the Forest

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When I was the Forest
by Meister Eckhart

When I was the stream, when I was the
forest, when I was still the field,
when I was every hoof, foot,
fin and wing,
when I was the sky
itself,

No one ever asked me did I have a purpose, no one ever
wondered was there anything I might need,
For there was nothing
I could not
love.

It was when I left all we once were that
the agony began, the fear and questions came;
and I wept; I wept.  And tears
I had never known
before.

So I returned to the river, I returned to
the mountains, I asked for their hand in marriage again,
I begged–I begged to wed every object
and creature.

And when they accepted,
God was ever present in my arms
and He did not say “Where have you been?”
For then, I knew my soul,
every soul has always held Him.

Writing Prompt:
Over the course life, there are things that we lose and things that we  find.
Perhaps we’ve been left and/or we’ve left others at times.
Is there something in your life that was “found” then lost and was there a yearning and then a returning?  Describe it in prose or poetry.

 

At a Certain Point…

“At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea,
to the mountains, the world, Now I am ready.
Now I will stop and be wholly attentive.
You empty yourself and wait, listening.”
by Annie Dillard
from Teaching a Stone to Talk

If a stone could talk, what would it say?

When was the last time you walked by a lake or in the woods,
climbed a mountain (or a hill), waded in a stream,
sat beside a tree?
Contemplated by a river?

Nature is sensual.  So are we.  Nature communicates to us in many ways.  One obvious way is through the senses.  We taste the cold shock of water from a mountain spring.  We touch the rough bark of an old tree.  We are soothed by the melange of nature’s colors when viewing a landscape.  We hear bubbling springs and wind through trees.  We smell fresh air and heady spring blossoms.

Living in the mountains for nearly twenty years now, I have been impressed and imprinted with the natural world that daily surrounds me.  Though the view from my kitchen window is the same, it is always different.  The alternating seasons reference change.

I lived in a big city by the ocean for most of  my life.  Like the mountains, the ocean is a strong presence.  I was, sometimes without realizing it, in daily conversation with the sea.  I took my troubles to the ocean, sat in the sand dunes or clambered over ice plant and down to the beach below.  Every sense was piqued.  And I always felt received and replenished in some way.

Writing Prompt:
What about you?  Take yourself to a nature spot.  Bring your journal and a pen.  Spend some time there.  Sit on a boulder or beside a stream.nature9Ask your questions.  Voice your complaints.  Get quiet and listen…what is nature communicating to you today?

Rilke

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Tribute to Rilke
© by Christine O’Brien

The rose’s petals teach us how to see
through a multitude of eyelids, says he.
Beneath the lids, “oh pure contradiction,
joy of being.”  Jubilation.

“There are no lakes until eternity,”
as we stumble forward into infinity.
“To fall from the mastered emotion” is the way
though we seek rest through the weary day.

His tribute to Holderlin, poet of light,
movement “like the moon…and underneath bright…”
Rilke invades soul countries to retrieve
pure essence of truth, no time to deceive.

The questing seeker that he was, tense with
desire to know the self and crack the myth
which imprisons so many, the unwary
in such depths plummeted, a poet’s quarry.

Extracting from despair as well as from glory
not to be “shut out” from the star’s story.
For we are part of something grander
though we live small lives of misplaced wonder.

Employing the dross of a childhood curtailed
grew a man of soul, the sensitive prevailed.
Opening, then, my own heart to deep sight;
his poetry traverses both depth and height.

“Even here, though, something can bloom”
Lifts the weary from unwarranted gloom
“almost cheerfully with a lightness”
his poetry a beacon towards brightness.

Writing Prompt:
This poem, a tribute to Rainer Maria Rilke, is conversational with some of Rilke’s poetry.
Find a poem that you love and engage in conversation with it, incorporating a line or two into your own poem.  Allow the poet’s lines to lead you into the poem’s
theme and then follow your own train of thought.

Note:  In the poem above, Rilke’s lines are italicized and in purple.

Resisting the Sonnet

This poem celebrates my appreciation of the sonnet–would that make it an ode then? Several years ago, when asked to write a sonnet for a poetry class, I became somewhat resistant.  Was it a concealed poetic aesthetic that surfaced?  Doesn’t a sonnet need a stimulus of high ecstasy to inspire it?  Doesn’t a sonnet require passion to inflame it?  Isn’t a sonnet best when it rises from that depth that then overflows into this beautiful form?  I wrote this sonnet in a passionate response to the instructor’s homework assignment to “write a sonnet”.

‘Ode’ to the Sonnet
© by Christine O’Brien

One cannot demand a sonnet, voila!
It is conjured from the deepest ah ha!
Where’s the reservoir of unwritten poems?
Lying fallow beside unwritten tomes.

Sonnets conspire with sweet words unspoken
asleep in the depths waiting to be woken.
A prince’s kiss, the secret elixir
or is Shakespeare this poem’s fixer?

Loves lost and loves dreamed of afar or near
there lies the inspiration, the silent tear
sliding on to the page, now writer’s ink
connects the poem’s dots, the missing link.

Such inspiration cannot be contrived
the sonnet in its splendor from love derived.

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Writing Prompt:
What are your feelings about this poetic form?  Be honest.  Have you read any sonnets lately?  Have you written one or more?