Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last Day of National Poetry Month

"You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything.
The darkness that comes with every infinite fall
And the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
And are raised to the rank of prince
By the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are the faces
That do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
As they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
To dive into your increasing depths
Where life calmly gives out its own secret."

This poem was given to me years ago by someone trying to convince me to read Rilke. He was successful. I don't know the name of this poem. The last stanza says very much what the Stanley Kunitz poem in the sidebar says. The depths of life hide much, much more.

On a slightly different subject: I saw a documentary yesterday called Boy Interrupted about a boy who showed signs of depression and/or bipolar disease as early as age five. He committed suicide at 15; his father's brother had had the same disease and killed himself at 21. It was a sensitive, probing film, there was a little talk of brain studies and almost none of genetics. The question that remains is about the depths of the mind and that so much is yet unknown despite the various "advances" -- the technological understanding.
Unlike Rilke's line, when life gives out it's secret it is not always "calm." Sometimes, for some people, despite how they are cared for by those around them, the secrets in the depths are too painful to bear and what sad excuses exist for medications are both inadequate and cruel.

I gave a ride home to an older gentleman who spoke of a grandson who committed suicide last winter, a promising, brilliant young man who had had no symptoms of mental distress that his family had seen. The grandfather, who is partly handicapped and live in an assisted living community, said he felt he was more deeply affected by the loss than the young man's mother. Perhaps, in a way he was, as he has fewer other distractions and a closer personal relationship with death. ... Negative notes on which to end a celebration of poetry but good poetry covers the spectrum and speaks to whatever comes up in the randomness of our experience as I have attempted to say with comments about the poems this whole month.

2 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- I feel your poetry coverage for this month was so enlightning for me. Today's poem was, again, great. Thanks for making me realize that there are excellent works out in the world waiting for discovery.

June Calender said...

Thank you, Barbara,for being such a regular reader and commenter!