I have only to contemplate myself; man comes from nothing, passes through time, and disappears forever in the bosom of God. He is seen but for a moment wandering on the verge of two abysses, and then is lost.
If man were wholly ignorant of himself he would have no poetry in him, for one cannot describe what one does not conceive. If he saw himself clearly, his imagination would remain idle and would have nothing to add to the picture. But the nature of man is sufficiently revealed for him to know something of himself and sufficiently veiled to leave much impenetrable darkness, a darkness in which he ever gropes, forever in vain, trying to understand himself.
It was language I loved, not meaning. I liked poetry better when I wasn't sure what it meant. Eliot has said that the meaning of the poem is provided to keep the mind busy while the poem gets on with its work -- like the bone thrown to the dog by the robber so he can get on with his work. . . . Is beauty a reminder of something we once knew, with poetry one of its vehicles? Does it give us a brief vision of that 'rarely glimpsed bright face behind/ the apparency of things'? Here, I suppose, we ought to try the impossible task of defining poetry. No one definition will do. But I must admit to a liking for the words of Thomas Fuller, who said: 'Poetry is a dangerous honey. I advise thee only to taste it with the Tip of thy finger and not to live upon it. If thou do'st, it will disorder thy Head and give thee dangerous Vertigos.
Ik weet niet
of er woorden bestaan
die de geur van je huid
kunnen vangen, het beweeglijke
licht in je ogen, de warmte
die in me opspringt zodra
je me aanraakt, het rulle
gevoel van je haar
aan mijn vingertoppen,
de bloemblaadjestere huid
van je oogleden tegen
Als daar woorden voor waren,
kon ik alles snel
vastleggen op papier
voor als je er niet bent
(en dat is dikwijls).
The more formidable the contradiction between inexhaustible life-joy and inevitable fate, the greater the longing which reveals itself in the kingdom of poetry and in the self-created world of dreams hopes to banish the dark power of reality. The gods enjoy eternal youth, and the search for the means of securing it was one of the occupations of the heroes of mythology and the sages, as it was of real adventurers in the middle ages and more recent times. . . . But the fountain of youth has not been found, and can not be found if it is sought in any particular spot on the earth. Yet it is no fable, no dream-picture; it requires no adept to find it: it streams forth inexhaustible in all living nature.
Trying to protect his students' innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.
And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.
The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
"How far is it from here to Madrid?"
"What do you call the matador's hat?"
The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom on Japan.
The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,
while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.
Nothing Stay Forever"
"Nature’s first green is gold,
"Her hardest hue to hold.
"Her early leaf’s a flower;
"But only so an hour.
"Then leaf subsides to leaf.
"So Eden sank to grief,
"So dawn goes down today.
"Nothing gold can stay.