Friday, December 13, 2013

to be able to love this world

I've been reading The Seasons of the Soul, poems by Herman Hesse (well known for his books, Siddhartha and Steppenwolf) translated by Ludwig Max Fischer, 2011. I first came to Hesse because I'd read that my favourite writer, Clarice Lispector, was very influenced by Steppenwolf. I've read poems by him here and there on the internet, but I hadn't picked up the book until a couple of weeks ago. (It's now on the recommended shelf above).

Each section is prefaced by a short prose piece which contextualizes the poems. At one point Hesse is quoted as saying:

"To cut through the charades of this world, to despise it, may be the aim of great thinkers. My only goal in life is to be able to love this world, to see it and myself and all beings with the eyes of love and admiration and reverence..." 

To approach the world with reverence, with love - much more difficult than despising it.

One of the poems that struck me immediately upon reading the collection, was "Now and Then"

Now and then everything feels wrong and desolate,
and sprawling in pain, weak and exhausted,
every effort reverts to grief,
every joy collapses with broken wings.
And our longing listens for distant summons,
aching to receive news filled with joy.

But we still miss bliss,
fortunate fates elude from afar.
Now is the time to listen within,
tend our inner garden mindfully
until new flowers, new blessings can blossom.

 This is a feeling that many of us can relate to, especially we writers, who are always aching to hear good news.

The poem reminds me of one by the Norwegian writer, Olav Hauge, which I've posted before, and here it is again:

This is the Dream

by Olav H. Hauge, transl. Robert Bly

This is the dream we carry through the world
that something fantastic will happen
that it has to happen
that time will open by itself
that doors shall open by themselves
that the heart will find itself open
that mountain springs will jump up
that the dream will open by itself
that we one early morning
will slip into a harbour
that we have never known.

These are times to listen to within. To go inward. An opportunity to cultivate new blossomings, blessings, blissings.

When one is feeling the type of desolation that Hesse speaks of, and oh, have I felt it! one thing I can say, is that afterwards, you look back on all your sadness, the mad and deep contemplations, and see them for the creative balm, the gift, that they were. When you're in it, not so easy of course. 

What is helpful, really, is to give up that dream - that wonderful news will arrive and change your life. That some fabulous agent or publisher is going to call you up and tell you they want to publish every thing you ever happen to write. 

Yesterday was shopping, running errands, getting groceries, making dinner. One of our stops was beside my favourite flower shop. The anemones were $2.50 each. Such a deep and lovely purple. 

It snowed all day, again, and today we're set for the same. 

I'm hoping there will be some beam of sunlight in the next few days so that Rob can take a photo or two of them as well....

They were a wonderful bit of colour on such a dimly lit day, mid-December. Perfect company for my late afternoon cup of tea. 


  1. I've just recently found your blog. It is so beautiful and contemplative. I'm so glad you post most days as your writing and photos are a soothing balm to the transformational chaos that is currently operating in my life at the moment.

    Thank you so much for your reminders to be present.

    With much gratefulness,

  2. I've only just recently found your blog too ... what beauty it holds! Thank you.

  3. I was so into Hesse back in high school (a million years ago) and I devoured his books...but I had no idea he wrote poetry. So thank you for this, I'm heading to the library tomorrow! Love that Hauge poem too.
    Your Anemones are such a gorgeous purple, little works of art. I hope your husband ends up painting them. A very beautiful post Shawna.

  4. Impossibly beautiful, those anemones. Good get for a snowy day. Lovely pix, as usual.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...