Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Timely Reflection

I generally stay away from politics in this space since I'm more concerned here with music, poetry, the arts, and philosophy. But the following quotation struck me forcefully in light of recent news:

"Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace." —Spinoza

A timely convergence of my philosophical preoccupations with current events.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Wonder of Appearance

"What seems paradoxical about everything that is justly called beautiful is that it exists." Walter Benjamin
"[T]his paradox—or, more simply, the wonder of appearance—was always at the center of all his concerns." Hannah Arendt on Walter Benjamin

I've been re-reading Benjamin's Illuminations. It's must reading for anyone interested in 20th-century cultural and intellectual history but also very interesting and...illuminating in its own right. Those of you familiar with my poems will understand why the above quotations are especially meaningful to me.

I've updated the links column. Web Nymph has ceased; in its place I've added a banner link to elbo.ws, a very comprehensive and popular aggregator. Check it out!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Poem Before Bedtime

I seem to do most of my best writing in two places: on the bus to and from work and in bed before going to sleep. The former is good for observations, initial drafts, and getting a rhythm going; the latter is quiet reflective time to cultivate the deeper implications of the intial draft and concentrate on elements of craft and language. Sometimes it begins and ends late at night, as in this case:


How gentle
this breeze with
its faint scent
of rain to come
yet does it portend
storm that will break
and wake me later
when I go to
crank the window
shut will I stand
in sublime fear and
wonder watching lightning
thunder crashing like
shellfire in the courtyard
and when it diminshes
leaving softer rain
and again a gentle
breeze what is
if anything

May 4, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Benefits of Insomnia

Failing to Sleep

In the dark
I am already thinking
of the first gray light
perceived through half
opened eyes wondering
which bird will be
singing first perhaps
a Carolina wren calling
teakettle teakettle then tiring
of that and demanding kettletea
or possibly a robin tolling
the morning with precise notes
or maybe that teasing
familiar complex melody—
cardinal?—and then
I’m thinking about God
or some frustrating
conversation and the next
thing I know it is morning
and I must have slept
and the gray light
is turning pink and
birds are singing.

Many thanks to Naomi for her very insightful and helpful comments on an earlier draft of this poem.