Friday, August 22, 2014

when happiness comes, unasked

Extracts from Wendell Berry's 27 part "Window Poems."

"Window. Window.
The wind's eye
to see into the wind.
The eye in its hollow
looking out
through the black frame
at the waves the wind
drives up the river
whitecaps, a wild day,
the white sky
traveled by snow squalls,
the trees thrashing,
the corn blades driven,
quivering, straight out."

"The window is a form
of consciousness, pattern
of formed sense
through which to look
into the wild..."

"Look in
and see him looking out.
He is not always
quiet, but there have been times
when happiness has come
to him, unasked."

"The window is a fragment
of the world suspended
in the world, the known
adrift in mystery.
And now the green
rises. The window has an edge
that is celestial,
where the eyes are surpassed."

I suppose it's not at all surprising that there are a number of poems composed at a window, looking out, looking inward,

You might know Carl Sandburg's, "At a Window," or Joseph Brodsky's, "I Sit by the Window."

The American poet, Donald Hall, begins an essay, titled "Out the Window," like so:

"Today it is January, midmonth, midday, and mid-New Hampshire. I sit in my blue armchair looking out the window. I am eighty-three, I teeter when I walk, I no longer drive, I look out the window. Snow started before I woke, and by now it looks to be ten inches; they say we might have a foot and a half. There are three windows beside me where I sit, the middle one deep and wide. Outside is a narrow porch that provides shade in the summer, in winter a barrier against drifts. I look at the barn forty yards away, which appears to heave like a frigate in a gale. I watch birds come to my feeder, hanging from clapboard in my line of sight. All winter, juncos and chickadees take nourishment here. When snow is as thick as today, the feeder bends under the weight of a dozen birds at once. They swerve from their tree perches, peck, and fly back to bare branches. Prettily they light, snap beaks into seed, and burst away: nuthatches, evening grosbeaks, American goldfinches, sparrows . . ."

Read the entire essay here.

I pray to the ray from the window-pane

by Anna Akhmatova

I pray to the ray from the window-pane –
it’s pale, thin, and straight.
All morning I was silent,
My heart – split in two.
The copper of my wash-basin
Is green with verdigris,
But sunlight plays there,
How joyously.
So simple it is, so innocent,
In evening quiet,
Yet in this bare shrine,
It’s a gold celebration,
A consolation, I find.

The window, looking out, has always been a consolation for me. I empty myself, ask nothing, receive. How many times, in this way has happiness come?

Well, and because of the dog, thank goodness, I also walk out, every morning.

The path along the grey fence and the field you'll see below (and you've seen it many times in photos here) is one I can feel from my study window, the one I'm glancing up and out as I write this. One house is between our house, and the field beside the highway.

I'm wishing you a long gaze out a favourite window today.....and all calm things......

1 comment:

  1. I have a small book of selected poems written by Anna Akhmatova but have not read this one before, it's beautiful. Thank you. xo


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