Splittings


“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”

picture of poet Adrienne Rich

from The Dream of a Common Language, Adrienne Rich

1.

My body opens over San Francisco like the day –

light raining down      each pore crying the change of light

I am not with her     I have been waking off and on

all night to that pain     not simply absence but

the presence of the past      destructive

to living here and now      Yet if I could instruct

myself, if we could learn to learn from pain

even as it grasps us      if the mind, the mind that lives

in this body could refuse      to let itself be crushed

in that grasp     it would loosen      Pain would have to stand

off from me and listen     its dark breath still on me

but the mind could begin to speak to pain

and pain would have to answer:

We are older now

we have met before     these are my hands before your eyes

my figure blotting out      all that is not mine

I am the pain of division      creator of divisions

it is I who blot your lover from you

and not the time-zones or the miles

It is not separation calls me forth      but I

who am separation      And remember

I have no existence      apart from you

 

2.

I believe I am choosing something now

not to suffer uselessly     yet still to feel

Does the infant memorize the body of the mother

and create her in absence?     or simply cry

primordial loneliness?      does the bed of the stream

once diverted      mourning       remember the wetness?

But we, we live so much in these

configurations of the past      I choose

to separate her     from my past we have not shared

I choose not to suffer uselessly

to detect primordial pain as it stalks toward me

flashing its bleak torch in my eyes     blotting out

her particular being     the details of her love

I will not be divided      from her or from myself

by myths of separation

while her mind and body in Manhattan are more with me

than the smell of eucalyptus coolly burning      on these hills

 

3.

The world tells me I am its creature

I am raked by eyes     brushed by hands

I want to crawl into her for refuge     lay my head

in the space     between her breast and shoulder

abnegating power for love

as women have done      or hiding

from power in her love     like a man

I refuse these givens      the splitting

between love and action      I am choosing

not to suffer uselessly      and not to use her

I choose to love      this time      for once

with all my intelligence.

 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


By

T S Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma per ciò che giammai di questo fondo
Non tornò vivo alcun, s’i’ odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair –
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin –
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all –
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all –
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all –
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet – and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” –
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.”
That is not it, at all.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor –
And this, and so much more? –
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous –
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Porphyria’s Lover


Porphyria’s Lover

By ROBERT BROWNING

 

The rain set early in tonight,

The sullen wind was soon awake,

It tore the elm-tops down for spite,

And did its worst to vex the lake:

I listened with heart fit to break.

When glided in Porphyria; straight

She shut the cold out and the storm,

And kneeled and made the cheerless grate

Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;

Which done, she rose, and from her form

Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,

And laid her soiled gloves by, untied

Her hat and let the damp hair fall,

And, last, she sat down by my side

And called me. When no voice replied,

She put my arm about her waist,

And made her smooth white shoulder bare,

And all her yellow hair displaced,

And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,

And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,

Murmuring how she loved me — she

Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavor,

To set its struggling passion free

From pride, and vainer ties dissever,

And give herself to me forever.

But passion sometimes would prevail,

Nor could tonight’s gay feast restrain

A sudden thought of one so pale

For love of her, and all in vain:

So, she was come through wind and rain.

Be sure I looked up at her eyes

Happy and proud; at last I knew

Porphyria worshiped me: surprise

Made my heart swell, and still it grew

While I debated what to do.

That moment she was mine, mine, fair,

Perfectly pure and good: I found

A thing to do, and all her hair

In one long yellow string I wound

Three times her little throat around,

And strangled her. No pain felt she;

I am quite sure she felt no pain.

As a shut bud that holds a bee,

I warily oped her lids: again

Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.

And I untightened next the tress

About her neck; her cheek once more

Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:

I propped her head up as before,

Only, this time my shoulder bore

Her head, which droops upon it still:

The smiling rosy little head,

So glad it has its utmost will,

That all it scorned at once is fled,

And I, its love, am gained instead!

Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how

Her darling one wish would be heard.

And thus we sit together now,

And all night long we have not stirred,

And yet God has not said a word!

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I passionately agree!


 

The Passion of Ayn Rand

Image via Wikipedia

 

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube. indecisiveness ”
— Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)

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The prologue to Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Eleven Minutes’


The prologue to Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Eleven Minutes’

“This poem and even the book is a must-read, guys! And this section of my blog- Nerdy SheWolf Suggests is actually to force y’all to read some great literature that I am touched by”
— Tame SheWolf

HYMN TO ISIS, third or fourth century BC, discovered in Nag Hammadi


For I am the first and the last

I am the venerated and the despised

I am the prostitute and the saint

I am the wife and the virgin

I am the mother and the daughter

I am the arms of my mother

I am barren and my children are many

I am the married woman and the spinster

I am the woman who gives birth and she who never procreated

I am the consolation for the pain of birth

I am the wife and the husband

And it was my man who created me

I am the mother of my father

I am the sister of my husband

And he is my rejected son

Always respect me

For I am the shameful and the magnificent one 

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Kahlil Gibran’s poem On Joy and Sorrow


KHALIL GIBRAN

“This is Khalil Gibran’s poem on JOY AND SORROW. You must read him. A poetic philosopher, he’s a genius on life.”
—Tame SheWolf

Khalil GibranImage via Wikipedia
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

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Kahlil Gibran’s poem ON WORK


KHALIL GIBRAN

“This is Khalil Gibran’s poem on work. You must read him. A poetic philosopher, he’s a genius on life.”
—Tame SheWolf

Then a ploughman said, Speak to us of Work. And he answered, saying.
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, 
and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, 
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, 
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, 
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead 
are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

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What I Have Lived For


The Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography

“I LOVE IT!! This is something I would like to share it with you all. It’s a must read! I wish I had written this, so truly I do!” 

-Tame She Wolf

What I Have Lived For
Three passions,
 simple but overwhelmingly strong,
have governed my life:
the longing for love,
the search for knowledge,
and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
These passions, like great winds,
have blown me hither and thither,
in a wayward course,
 over a great ocean of anguish,
 reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first,
 because it brings ecstasy –
ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed
all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy.
 I have sought it, next,
because it relieves loneliness—
that terrible loneliness in which
 one shivering consciousness
looks over the rim of the world
into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss.
 I have sought it finally,
because in the union of love I have seen,
in a mystic miniature,
the prefiguring vision of the heaven
that saints and poets have imagined.
 This is what I sought,
and though it might seem too good for human life,
 this is what–at last–I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
 I have wished to understand the hearts of men.
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power
by which number holds sway above the flux.
A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge,
so far as they were possible,
led upward toward the heavens.
 But always pity brought me back to earth.
 Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart.
 Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors,
helpless old people a burden to their sons,
 and the whole world of loneliness, poverty,
 and pain make a mockery of what human life should be.
 I long to alleviate this evil,
but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life.
 I have found it worth living,
 and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.