paradoxes and a poem

There are times when one's own paradoxes surge to the surface. One can see hyper-responsibility alongside a kind of blind carelessness (blind, because it does not name itself, and only becomes apparent after the fact); one can see immense strength alongside an insecurity where three harsh words can crumble one's inner resources. And so on.
Claiming paradoxes, and understanding them, has always been a mystery to me. It seems that most people bury these paradoxes, so it is not as if one can go out and find a tonne of literature on the topic. It is as if we want to hide from ourselves our disparities.
But I remember long ago hearing the promise that if one addresses one's coarser side, one has the chance to finally smooth it out. So I seek people who are not afraid to say who they are - because it requires so much courage. I seek people who are courageous, in the hopes of cultivating my own.
And this reminds me of all those years ago, when I was becoming a young adult, and when I began to wonder about the deeper meaning of writing, of composing. I remember I met Clare, who said of her name: "It means clarity, in French, so I seek through my poems to reach clarity." What a novel idea, I thought! She played me a recording of her reading a poem of how one can come into oneself again when listening to whale song; a poem of seeking those whales in the night, of hearing them, of returning indoors to a warm cup of tea - something about womanhood, coming out of the darkness, and then, combined with her voice, the actual whale song she had recorded that night.

I wrote recently about how perhaps there is a crucial difference in how men and women approach their writing; I wonder if it may be that at certain times in history this becomes apparent, if whether it is not even necessary to name it at more peaceful times. But what I want to write about now is how many times I have encountered women, and now I count myself among them, who seek a form of healing through poetry. By writing that, I do not necessarily mean individually confessional poetry.
Ultimately, if we succeed in taking the world into ourselves, we can write about the experience of being human, and address those issues we all face. Such as rites of passage (where are they in our age!), or resolving the extremes within ourselves.
The thing about our age is that thanks to the development of Epicureanism through philosophers like Hume and right through the postmodernists, a system of thought has entered into the mainstream that accepts that life is chaotic. It accepts that there are no universal values, no universal system of meaning. The resulting challenge I think poetry ought to address in this climate is the reestablishment of unity, in order to heal - because healing does, after all, mean wholeness.
The other day, I received a poem from somebody I do not know, but to whom I had written first, as she writes a lively and rich blog. It was Wendell Berry's Healing, which I had never read. The poets I was exposed to during my undergrad years were very different, which is a whole other topic for conversation: the topography of poetry. Anyway, this poem is one of the most beautiful I have come across in a long time. And in that gesture, of being sent a poem from a distant soul, I remembered again that aspect of poetry I so crave: the personal touch, how poems come to one through people.
I suspect this was the magic of the bard in days past, but call it what we will, there is something so special about exchanging words related to topics that are deeply meaningful to us, in terms of how we are living our lives. I would love it if you would link back to this post with a topic that is meaningful to you, or to a favourite poem. In closing, - oh yes, and I am done, for now, with renovating my blog - here are a few lines of Healing:
Good work finds the way between pride and despair.
It graces with health. It heals with grace.
It preserves the given so that it remains a gift.
By it, we lose loneliness:
we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us;
we enter the little circle of each other's arms,
and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance, (...)

Elements: paper: pugly pixel; needlework: minitoko.
Poem excerpt in photo: Rilke's Torso of Apollo.

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