Friday, May 24, 2013

Openings: A Glosa in Honor of Wendell Berry


This is a glosa, a poetry form that Sam Peralta has challenged us to write for dVerse Form For All night. He explains it well--essentially, it's 4 stanzas, 10 lines each, the 6th, 9th, and 10th lines rhyming. And, most important, each last stanza line is taken from a cabeza, a 4-line heading that is borrowed from a favorite poet one wishes to honor. I'm pretty late getting this out, since I wasn't sure I would have time today to read and comment. It could have turned out better (I was rushing! something I am opposed to in this poem!!), but it is something I can work with later on. 


Openings

I walk in openings
That when I’m dead will close.
Where the field sparrow sings
Will come the sweet wild rose.

            (Wendell Berry, Sabbath Poems, 1990, IV)

When I was younger
I liked to force my way
Through the woods. The most
Tangled path made me
Feel brave, lording my
Superior wits against Nature, cutting
My way through wildness.
Imagine my surprise, now
That I’m finding
I walk in openings,

Slowly, taking only those steps
Freely offered by the way.
It’s a different kind
Of bravery—non-combative,
Even doubtful. In openings
I am exposed,
Seeing and being seen
By things that live on
The shadow-boundary that’s imposed,
That when I’m dead will close.

And there is a
Hushed joy even in that
Which makes life
A hymn to limitation,
A song of surrender, like
The murmur of wave-rings
Circling out from a thrown stone.
The light rain has begun
To fall in the opening
Where the field sparrow sings

Her single trilled note
To the graying sky.
I am still. A single
Step would feel
Like blasphemy, like breaking
Faith with those
Whose lives are entwined
With mine, soon not to be.
Yet, after we all die and decompose
Will come the sweet wild rose.



31 comments:

  1. Rushed job it might be - yet wonderfully written.

    Oh the joy of the innocence of childhood when life is a mountain to be climbed, fearless, and then as we approach twilight we begin to descend that mountain, know caution and step slowly and (hopefully) wisely...

    Anna :o]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anna--yes, it does no good to learn to step slowly if not also wisely!

      Delete
  2. This is beautifully composed Nico, no awkward lines at all ~ I like the turn of hushed joy in the third verse, the reverence for the nature is sharp with field sparrow singing ~

    A gem to read this afternoon ~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Grace--it's good on occasion to burst out exuberantly, but the older I get the more I value the hushed joy.

      Delete
  3. So beautiful, Nico... the images and sounds. I especially like:

    In openings
    I am exposed,
    Seeing and being seen
    By things that live on
    The shadow-boundary that’s imposed,
    That when I’m dead will close.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Laurie--those lines were inspired by a different Berry poem, where he writes "Then what is afraid of me comes / and lives a while in my sight."

      Delete
  4. really a very cool glosa man....i can relate to walking through the thickest woods and now finding yourself in openings...and the exposure of that is def a different kind of bravery...smooth flow...lovely words man...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brian--I'm glad you could relate!

      Delete
  5. This walk in the wood talking about ageing the memories of younger days, the openings, the joy of birds singing and ultimately death... and a then the rose. a circle of life poem that really talked to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bjorn--some people find it easier to meditate on the Big Issues in a cloister or darkened room. I've always found my thinking is clearer by being outdoors. Clearer to me, anyway, which isn't saying much!

      Delete
  6. oh wow...from forcing the way to honoring and taking only what the path offers us freely...what a change of thinking...what growth...what wisdom...very cool nico

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Claudia--I'm still just learning.

      Delete
  7. A hymn, a surrender - you have written the bones of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Paige--it's up to all of us to flesh it out.

      Delete
  8. Good grief! If this is a rushed job, I can barely imagine what you'd have come up with if you'd taken more time! : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rowan, you are very kind.

      Delete
  9. Yes, Paige has said exactly what I would say...you have written down the bones of it! "A single step would feel like blasphemy, like breaking faith..." You have so many rich images to select from but these phrases have stuck with me and I find myself going back to read and re-read. You have done some sweet justice to your glosa, I'd say.

    http://thepoet-tree-house.blogspot.ca/2013/05/table-for-four.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks S.E., I'm happy you liked it.

      Delete
  10. Nico, the last stanza is amazing! loved the whole poem, but the last one just stood out to me. great choice of words, wonderful imagery. very well crafted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Miriam--I guess I was finally getting warmed up by the last stanza!

      Delete
  11. Nico, this is absolutely my favorite so far. It reads like a meditation on life for me and I'm definitely going to look up this poet who inspired you. The name is familiar but my memory isn't the best anymore. Anyone who read me from time-to-time knows that my favorite contemporary poet is Mary Oliver, and this feels like something she would write. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Victoria--I hope you will look him up. Of all living writers he has influenced me the most. His work is deeply rooted in place, and intently aware of the glory of Nature.

      Delete
  12. You know how successful this poem was? It reminded me again of the joys of Wendell Berry, that I hadn't opened up any of his works in a very long time, and that I should - I really should - read him again. And that, my friend, is the amazing thing about a tribute poem; it takes the light reflected on you by an honoured poet, and shines it back, and that light is re-reflected so that it burnishes once-read verses once again. And your poem is wonderful, taking the kernel from Berry's quatrain, and finding in it something more, a meaning not anticipated by Berry, speaking of the changes within us all as we grow old - and yet while different, both speaking of the wonder of quietude. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sam--this is high praise indeed.

      Delete
  13. Bravo from me too. :) I'm not well acquainted with Berry, but I love the way you have blended the cabeza so beautifully into your own lines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rosemary--he's been writing what he calls "Sabbath Poems" for a very long time (since the 1970s at least). On Sundays he often takes walks through the woods, then writes about what he sees or thinks about. He is, to me, a kindred spirit!

      Delete
  14. Wendell Berry is very special. And you must be too, to have written this hymn to nature and the natural cycle of our lives.
    New fan here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lydia--he's special indeed. Me, not so much, but thanks!

      Delete
  15. this is beautiful. you transformed those lines—entwined them—quite exquisitely. I like your change from the first to second stanza...the way your bravery has transformed over time. oh, but the last two stanzas....breathtaking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks RMP--in many ways, my poetry is an unconscious glosa to Berry's work.

      Delete
    2. Not unconscious--now that would really be something!--I meant unintended, just something that happens due to long acquaintance with his work.

      Delete