Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dog-Eared Pages, Underlined Sentences (#2)

“There are of course additional reasons to read poems, and reasons to learn to read them well even if they may seem at times to be written in a baffling or unnecessary code. One is, you will feel less lonely. In the company of the world’s poems a reader discovers that the terrain of a life, its core griefs and core exhilarations, are not traversed entirely alone. Others have cut paths through the same thickets, found passes through the same mountains. This evidence of companionship may sometimes bring practical assistance along the way, at other times it may only help the walking feel less hard. At still other times, though, a poem can become the single point of light in a vast darkness—a small, infinitely distant, and yet still-sufficient star to steer by.”
-Jane Hirshfield, from “Telescope, Well Bucket, Furnace: Poetry Beyond the Classroom”

“We will discover that God made not only the parts of Creation that we humans understand and approve but all of it: “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” And so we must credit God with the making of biting and stinging insects, poisonous serpents, weeds, poisonous weeds, dangerous beasts, and disease-causing microorganisms. That we may disapprove of these things does not mean that God is in error or that He ceded some of the work of Creation to Satan; it means that we are deficient in wholeness, harmony, and understanding—that is, we are “fallen.””
-Wendell Berry, from “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”

“As if to say that all boundaries are necessary evils and that the truly desirable condition is the feeling of being unbounded, of being king of infinite space. And it is that double capacity that we possess as human beings—the capacity to be attracted at one and the same time to the security of what is intimately known and to the challenges and entrancements of what is beyond us—it is this double capacity that poetry springs from and addresses. A good poem allows you to have your feet on the ground and your head in the air simultaneously.”
-Seamus Heaney, from “Something to Write Home About”

“But writing itself is one of the great, free human activities. There is scope for individuality, and elation, and discovery, in writing. For the person who follows with trust and forgiveness what occurs to him, the world remains always ready and deep, an inexhaustible environment, with the combined vividness of an actuality and flexibility of a dream. Working back and forth between experience and thought, writers have more than space and time can offer. They have the whole unexplored realm of human vision.”
-William Stafford, from “A Way of Writing”

“People do want to, and I include myself in this, hide behind some kind of comforting illusion and it’s not because they’re stupid, it’s not because they’re less fully alive, it’s just that they’re terrified and need reassurance that they have some control over what’s happening to them, or that there’s some kind of, oh I don’t know, some kind of purpose to things that often feel as if they have no purpose. That all suffering can be redeemed. And so I have respect for people’s resistances to the truth [laughs]. Because I feel it in myself, but the job of poetry is partly to resist that resistance, and look at the world, the best and worst it has to offer, as unflinchingly as possible. And if poetry transforms experience into beauty, it has to be the kind of beauty that doesn’t falsify the reality that it’s pretending to represent.”
-Alan Shapiro, in an interview with RATTLE

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