Tuesday, June 18, 2013

searching for radiance


by Adam Zagajewski

Poetry searches for radiance,
poetry is the kingly road
that leads us farthest.
We seek radiance in a gray hour,
at noon or in the chimneys of the dawn,
even on a bus, in November,
while an old priest nods beside us.

The waiter in a Chinese restaurant bursts into tears
and no one can think why.
Who knows, this may also be a quest,
like that moment at the seashore,
when a predatory ship appeared on the horizon
and stopped short, held still for a long while.
And also moments of deep joy

and countless moments of anxiety.
Let me see, I ask.
Let me persist, I say.
A cold rain falls at night.
In the streets and avenues of my city
quiet darkness is hard at work.
Poetry searches for radiance.

I seek radiance in my backyard, in all its imperfections. I seek radiance in the grey hours, and through bleary eyes. I seek radiance in the middle of the night, awakened from a dream, heart beating like a bird cupped in a hand. If you let it go it might not come back.

Let us persist.

Radiance is easy to find after a good rain. Maybe that's true.

I've placed a couple of Adam Zagajewski's books up on my recommended shelf, above.

He's a poet I deeply admire. There's an interview with him at Poets & Writers that's worth reading.

A short excerpt:

P&W: Your poem “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” speaks to the hope that may persist in the wake of devastation. What role does poetry—particularly lyric poetry—have in this endeavor? Does poetry, with its tiny audience, have the power to restore the mutilated world?

AZ: Of course not in a big, perfectly visible way, but don’t we use the word poetry in two ways? One: as a part of literature. Two: as a tiny part of the world, both human and prehuman, the part of beauty. So poetry as literature, as language, discovers within the world a layer that has existed unobserved in reality, and by doing so changes something in our life, expands somewhat the space of what we are. So yes, it has the power to restore the mutilated world, even if no statistics ever show it.

1 comment:

  1. Radiant post! Thank you and thank you for the Zagajewski poem and reference.


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