The dance of joy and grief
For National Poetry Day....

The dance of joy and grief, part II: a meditation on loss

Thumbelina by Lisbeth Zwerger

"Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive."  - Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)

"All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes."  - Cormac McCarthy (The Road)

"[In The Lord of the Rings,] Frodo's quest is a middle-aged man's quest, to lose something and to give something up, which is what you start to realize in your thirties is going to happen to you. Part of the rest of your life is learning to give things up."  - Ellen Kushner (Locus interview)

"It is Story that heals us, that shapeshifts us, that saves us."  - Sylvia V. Linsteadt

Thumbelina by Lisbeth Zwerger

 The paintings today are by the great Austrian book illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger, for Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina.

The video below is "Thought of You," an animation by Ryan Woodward, with music by The Weepies. I've posted it once before, but that was way back in 2011, and it's worth a re-visit.

Thumbelina by Lisbeth Zwerger

Comments

TO ONE LOST

II

It seems you were forever
A feather waiting for the hurricane;
I always expected you
To be there for one moment
And then gone in the next.
But though the wind was strong,
When it came it blew slow
And stole your youth and beauty
And finally your life
Imperceptibly away,
Like a vicious child
With a dandelion clock.

Not really a comment--I think this part of the post might be in error--"The video below is "Thought of You," an animation by Ryan Woodward, with music by The Weepies." Sounds of Silence is the video, And even if the notation was in error, the song seems perfectly apt for this post about loss <3

Ha---how strange...as soon as I posted that comment...the weepies animation came up....and it is so so so so beautiful. (There's lost and now found at work today)

lamentations of loss abound in that sound...
I wrap my aching heart around...
the spirit space that tells me...
everything is love only, all love sea...
and nothing is ever rally lost in that space...

Everything that ever was-still is.

It's early--how I wish I could edit.

Stuart and Michelle, it's National Poetry Day, so your beautiful additions are very timely. Thank you.

Dandelion clock-yes! Is that what it's called in GB, or is that a Stuart-ism?

Jane

Giving Things Up

“Part of the rest of your life is learning to give things up."
- Ellen Kushner

The toy rabbit lost at a highway rest stop.
Name of my first high school boyfriend.
Fourth line of “How do I love thee. . . .”
My youngest son’s telephone number,
the one he’s had for twelve years.
The way to get into the printer.
Where I put my glasses.
My husband dead on the bed,
that fierce intelligence airborne,
like a virus that none of the family caught.

I am used to giving things up,
even the rest of my life, if I have to,
as I will

©2014 Jane Yolen all rights resrved.

Not a Stuart-ism. It's the seed head of the dandelion. Don't you have the tradition in America where children blow on them to tell the time; two blows it's two o'clock; three it's three o'clock and so on? We also have the tradition of wishing on some of the larger seed parachutes...but perhaps that's just my weird family.

Beautiful and sad, Jane. If this was a piece of jewelry it would be gracefully carved from polished jet.

I know WHAT you meant, Stuart, but we just blow on it and sometimes make a wish. But I had never heard of telling time, or it being called a clock.

Jane

These last couple posts. Heartbreaking and true.

I've been dancing the dance of joy and grief for a full year as some personal issues have caused me to go back to the earliest betrayals and pain of my childhood... to revisit these wounds and really allow them their expression, their healing.

I've discovered how important it is to allow the grief in. It seems as though the powers that be that cause, allow, and enable such catastrophic loss and destruction won't allow themselves a breath, a moment to take it in and *feel*. There is damage and pain behind such expression, needing an outlet and only finding one in an unconscious addiction of dominion.

If we could all feel it, this loss, this dance, then there can be lasting change. I believe that.

Let us allow, in our psyches and in our lives, this healing rise up through us, vulnerable, open, quiet and loud, birthed and set free.

With that said, and in honor of National Poetry Day, I'll leave a poem I find to be incredible and fitting for these blog posts:

"Poem for South African Women"

Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
fertile
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world

The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire

And the babies cease alarm as mothers
raising arms
and heart high as the stars so far unseen
nevertheless hurl into the universe
a moving force
irreversible as light years
traveling to the open
eye

And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea

we are the ones we have been waiting for

-June Jordan

A fine old tradition here. In fact the dandelion clock is even listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. At the ripe old age of fifty six I still find myself blowing on them and also making a wish as you do too. Folk magic as deep as the soil and as wide as the sky.

One of the hardest things I faced in the past year was selling my mother's homestead, the place where I grew up with a landscape and character that helped to forge my imagination and interest in writing. My mother is in a nursing home sinking into the middle stages of Alzheimer's. To pay for her care, I had to sell the house and property. Letting go was very grievous but it also enabled me to reflect and take stock of things in my past, my life. Here were my thoughts --


On Selling The House and Property

My jaw line
is the river bank
where speech floats

wordless, washing
against the slim-worn bone.

The wind blows in
with the chant
of owl and crow,

footfalls of deer
in the first snow,

white heron
shrugging its wings,

water trickling
through cracked stone,

and vine leaves
scratching the gate.

Everything I heard, felt
and lived among
growing up. The breadth
of natural things. My voice

is but a shadow
that ripples
beneath theirs

taking in like a woman
takes in-

the sorrow she must hold
and tend in quiet, evening’s corner,
with tears.
_______________
Best
Wendy

Hi Raquel

What a moving and powerful poem!! I love the sense of strength and affirmation in this piece --

The whispers too they
intimate to the inmost ear of every spirit
now aroused they
carousing in ferocious affirmation
of all peaceable and loving amplitude
sound a certainly unbounded heat
from a baptismal smoke where yes
there will be fire..

It's beautifully voiced and goes so well with the theme and content of these wondrous blogs.

Thank you,
Wendy

Hi Jane

You define this essential act or state in life, "giving things up" with such depth and truthful poignancy. Sad but so tangible your lines that they penetrate deeply and touch the mind and heart. I am very moved by this poem and I thank you for sharing it!!

Beautifully Done!
Wendy

Hi Michelle

This verse has such spiritual strength --

the spirit space that tells me...
everything is love only, all love sea...
and nothing is ever rally lost in that space...

and resonates with me personally. I love the perspective here and think you have voiced this with a psalm-like quality.

Thank you for sharing,
Wendy

Thanks both, but even more thanks to Terri for posting, and Ellen for the original quote.

Jane

Hi Stuart

The opening lines drew me right in

It seems you were forever
A feather waiting for the hurricane;
I always expected you
To be there for one moment
And then gone in the next.

and the rest of the poem was extremely touching. And yes, life, a human soul, is fragile. Our vulnerability makes us susceptible to the unrelenting wind. The ending lines offer a perfect image. Thank you for sharing this.

Best
Wendy

Thank you Wendy, though perhaps I should have clarified further, its author is June Jordan. I just read "Passion" and when I came across "Poem for South African Women" I literally wept... though written for the thousands of South African women and children who participated in a protest against Apartheid in 1956, its power, I believe, is contained in its last line-- "we are the ones we've been waiting for"-- meaning, to me, that transformation must come from within first. It was the first thing I thought of while catching up on these blog entries and I had to share. All of "Passion" is highly recommended, too.

Thank you, all of you, for the sharing today. My heart is full. Your words are all a benediction and a requiem.

Typepad (my blogging service) has been having problems today, and posts are doing odd things.

thank you for this exquisitely sharp poignant deep... feeling it today

There's no such thing as coincidence, Jane. For another passing reference to the dandelion clock see the blog of Jackie Morris, a brilliant writer and artist. www.jackiemorris.co.uk/blog

Very, very beautiful Jane. And in your inclusion of lost objects, you've anticipated my next post....

June Jordan is new to me. Thank you for the introduction.

Your thoughtful comment, combined with an unsettling dream I had last night, brought to mind this quote from Louise Erdich's The Plague of Doves

“There are ways of being abandoned even when your parents are right there.”

Heartbreaking, Wendy. And I deeply relate to the imagery and emotion here, though not because I ever had a family home to sell or go back to. But houses and places can shape us, even when we're older, and the sale / clearing out the Endicott West Retreat was like that for me. In subtle ways, I'm steel reeling from it, half a year later, which I didn't expect.

( http://windling.typepad.com/blog/2014/01/dawn-in-the-desert.html )

Thank you for this poem.

What a wonderful community this is. Thank you all for your thoughts and words.

And thank you Terri, so much for that extremely moving and beautiful essay on your impressions and memories of "Dawn In the Desert". I was caught up in the scenery, the poetic shadow of its past and the voice of the writer, the artist, about to leave a place you had called home for a significant number of years. That place in the desert was
very special, I can sense and understand that by your words

"This land has a distinctive, unsettling form of beauty: prickly and soft, harsh and lush, a place of contradictions ...revelations...holding twenty-odd years of my personal history. It's an emotional experience clearing out the ranch -- each drawer, each shelf, each box coated with memories as thick as dust...."

And you are so right, houses/places do shape us and leave us with their spiritual and emotional soul as well as the gifts of wisdom and revelation. I also loved that poem by Mary Oliver which you incorporated beautifully into the memoir. How perfect her guidance is, her outlook. Again, thank for reading my poem and offering such a keen and personal perception of its content. And thank you even more for the inspiring and comforting piece you wrote on leaving Tuscon. It is something I can really, really relate to.

My Best,
Wendy

Thank you, Wendy

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