“Via Negativa”

Lady Nyo's Weblog

Kohut-Bartels-BOP-4

(Painting by Jane Kohut-Bartels)

 

Winter is the perfect channel

To carry Via Negativa,

No static

Just Silence, Stillness

And the Dark.

On this path,

We sit in contemplation,

No answers,

No struggle,

empty as an eggshell.

This time is colored by little outside;

A flash of darting cardinal

Like a stream of blood

racing past our eyes,

The sound of a falling limb

our eyes searching the skies,

The moaning of the wind

bustling around limbs,

And the rattle of skeleton- bones

Of the attic haunts.

And yes, Death,

As Winter brings

To those who succumb to frigid winds,

And those lost from shelter.

We spiral into the Darkness,

Where we barely draw breath,

Conserve our energy,

And stare outside at

A blank palette.

Stilling ourselves,

We draw closer to low fires,

Scratch our dried skin

Like monks in  hair shirts,

And, with time and patience–

spiral back into…

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THE HUNGRY GODDESS (by Fay Symes)

Rising on a trail of fire
To touch the stars
The manchild cradled
In his husk of steel goes forth;
His rendezvous – the goddess
Shrouded close in silver mist,
The lady moon.

Dark visored, heavy shod,
He walks upon her breast,
Seeking from each particle
The secrets of eternity
In Time’s grey dust
That hugs her body like a shroud.
He drags his toe and heaps
The moondust deep,
And knows her beauty
Is as priceless as his dreams.

He falters, life-breath leaking
From a vent in clouded mist,
He falls and clutches at the stones,
Her garments sliding through his
Heavy fingers
Like the spilling of his life.
Grey dust is now his shroud,
Her breast his pillow
In his dreamless sleep.
The goddess slumbers, satisfied.
Her call is answered,
She is conqueror
Not vanquished, as forever
She embraces him in her cold arms.

(from) NEW YEAR’S MORNING (by Helen Hunt Jackson)

Each sunrise sees a new year born

A man praying in the River Ganges at sunrise

Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year’s morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE (by W. B. Yeats)

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, and a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

A Glance at the Poetry of EMILY DICKINSON

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

This “nobody”, this voluntary recluse, who chose loneliness (perhaps after her one love, a married protestant minister, moved thousands of miles away, to San Francisco), preferred to avoid people who “talk of hallowed things aloud, and embarrass my dog“.

It might be lonelier
Without the loneliness …

It probably would. Though perhaps at times she regretted it:

This is my letter to the world
That never wrote to me …

In Hunger, she speaks of “persons at the windows“, seeing herself as an outsider, hungry, looking in – but preferring hunger, although sometimes she may dream of going back:

My business? Just a life I led …

But who can go back? Mostly now she looks beyond the present. In an early poem, she writes:

Who has not found the heaven below
Will fail of it above …

Did she find heaven below? Perhaps not in her immediate surroundings, but she shows the mystical, pantheistic tendencies (we find the same in Blake, for instance, and Wordsworth) of one who does indeed find heaven here in this universe.

My river runs to thee:
Blue sea, wilt welcome me?

But when I think of Emily Dickinson, the first thing that comes to my mind is the odd, outstanding, perfect line, the sort of line that truly does make one sigh and say “That is poetry”. Lines such as:

I like a look of agony,
Because I know it’s true …

Or this two-line description of a man:

A face devoid of love or grace,
A hateful, hard, successful face …

Or this, on the scientific doubting Thomas:

Split the lark, and you’ll find the music …

Or these, on Death:

I heard a fly buzz when I died

The blond assassin passes on,
The sun proceeds unmoved

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me …

Or this, from the poem Charlotte Bronte’s Grave:

Oh, what an afternoon for heaven,
When ‘Bronte’ entered there! …

Oh, what an afternoon for heaven when ‘Dickinson’ entered there!