Sunday, February 17, 2013

you are marvellous

"I am going to try speaking some reckless words,
and I want you to try to listen recklessly." 

- Chuang Tzu

I thought it would be interesting to compare two poems, or just to let them resound in each others' company. The first is by Charles Bukowski:


by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

{There's a neat version on YouTube of Tom Waits reading the poem here}

And here's a poem by Ellen Bass:


by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

{There's an interview with Ellen Bass here.}

These are poets who have known darkness, grief, and who yet say yes, to life, to the light.

It's good to sit with such poems, to pass them on to those who might need them. To say, softly, to someone who needs to hear it:  you are marvellous.

Meanwhile, bread, that light. (Again).

And the traditional end of a blog post - the random dog photo.  This is Ace on the floor of my study. The light has found him, and I hope it finds you today. Or that you find it - for I've noticed in the afternoon that he goes seeking for a patch of sunlight, has an instinct for it, and lies down so that his paws are in the beams. 


  1. Beautiful poetry. I love the light filled photos you paired with them.

  2. Yes I've felt that "obesity of grief" when my mother died.
    "everything you’ve held dear
    crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,"
    Yes, yes. but there is light when we blow away the ashes and seek it out (not unlike Ace).

    Love your images, as always. I'm particularly smitten with the one of Ace and of that one of the broken croissant.
    I'm excited to be going to Edmonton for a few days to visit with my adult son. 4 more sleeps as kids say.

    1. Thanks Diane - I too liked that line 'the obesity of grief.' I hope it's warm weather for you when you're here!

  3. Hello, I recently discovered your blog and also recently ordered or book CALM THINGS... I love your images and words and poetry here.

    1. Thanks so much for dropping in, and for ordering Calm Things. Very kind!


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