Thursday, March 20, 2014

at intervals a sweetness appears

“there isn't enough of anything
as long as we live. But at intervals
a sweetness appears and, given a chance

- Raymond Carver

This morning I've taken the Selected Poems of Francis Ponge off my shelf. It's been a while. It's a book that meant quite a lot to me earlier on. 

He was the French poet who wrote about things, who wrote what he sometimes called 'proems' - prose poems. In the introduction to the work, there's this:

"all poems, he reflects, should bear the title "Reasons for living happily."

In "Memorandum" he writes:

"Astonishing that I can forget, forget so easily and for so long every time, the only principle according to which interesting works can be written, and written well. This is doubtlessly because I've never been able to define it clearly to myself in a conclusively representative way." 

He goes on:

"You have first of all to side with your own spirit, and your own taste. Then take the time, and have the courage, to express all your thoughts on the subject at hand (not just keeping the expressions that seem brilliant or distinctive). Finally you have to say everything, simply, not striving for charm, but conviction."

- Francis Ponge (italics are in the original)

Francis Ponge again from Fauna and Flora:

"The beauty of fading flowers: the petals writhe as though exposed to fire: which is what actually happens: a dehydration. They writhe so as to reveal their seeds. They have decided to give them a chance, a clear field."

This is what it is to write, too, to make art. One is exposed to the fire and all you can do is give your words a chance, give them a clear field.

And then, yes, at intervals, a sweetness appears.

When you're in that spot, it feels that it will last forever, but of course, it won't.

This is when you need to remember, side with your own spirit, have courage.

There are a thousand reasons for living happily.


  1. i keep finding little exquisite haikus in what you write.

    side with your own spirit
    have courage
    there are a thousand reasons for living happily.



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