Thursday, August 2, 2012

to save your own heart

"The people need poetry that will be their own secret
to keep them awake forever
and bathe them in the bright-haired wave 
of its breathing"

~ Osip Mandelstam

Have you read the poem titled, "The Secret" by Denise Levertov?

I've been sitting with the mystery that is poetry this week, the secrets of light, and today will be the last full day of it.  Tomorrow I will be pulled back to work, to family, to housekeeping.  It's the traveling back and forth between realms that can be exhausting.

My entire adult life has been spent arranging things so that there are weeks like these past couple, where I can write, create.  And so that ordinarily there are at least intermittent pockets of time to be creative.  It's meant giving up things, all sorts of things, some nameable, some not.  Others I'm sure give up far more, and some maybe less.  

I finished reading Clarice Lispector's A Breath of Life last night. Even though it was incomplete when she died in 1977, there's no doubt that it's a miracle. 

"What I'm writing is an intense and basic work, foolish like certain experiences that don't collaborate with the future and are therefore useless."

"I wanted to write luxuriously. To use words that would shine wet and glistening and were pilgrims."  

"Sometimes writing a single line is enough to save your own heart." 

{all above quotes, Clarice Lispector from A Breath of Life}

If C.L. were writing in Canada at this very moment in time, let's pretend that were possible, and tried to get this or any of her books published - it wouldn't happen.  Which is weirdly quite a heartbreaking thought, at least it's heartbreaking for me. 

She wrote to save her own heart, maybe, she wrote to save future hearts.  How grateful I am that she found the courage to write luxurious words to save her heart, my heart.

The Mysteries Remain

by H.D.

The mysteries remain,
I keep the same
cycle of seed-time
and of sun and rain;
Demeter in the grass,
I multiply,
renew and bless
Bacchus in the vine;
I hold the law,
I keep the mysteries true,
the first of these
to name the living, dead;
I am the wine and bread.
I keep the law,
I hold the mysteries true,
I am the vine,
the branches, you
and you.


  1. What a thought: "If C.L. were writing in Canada at this very moment in time, let's pretend that were possible, and tried to get this or any of her books published - it wouldn't happen." I've thought this quite often lately, re-reading (for instance) The Alexandria Quartet, and realizing that it wouldn't fit a marketing plan these days. Or Woolf -- I can hear the puzzlement in the publishing assistant's voice: "But where is the narrative arc?" Yet how important these books are to me and how grateful I am that someone took a chance. But it also makes me fear for the future, that the strange and quirky books won't find homes...

  2. thanks for this Theresa. and yes. the narrative arc. exactly.

    i went the amazon/createspace route for Hive because i don't think the quirky books often find homes in the present. at least i had no luck. i kept hearing this from publishers: "this is EXACTLY the kind of book we should be publishing,however, unfortunately....etc etc etc." too disheartening. or 2 on a committee would love it but the third would hate it and it had to be unanimous. blargh.


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