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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"...and I was singing this song to you:"

i carry your heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

~ e. e. cummings ~

(Image via )

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RIDMYCOCOON 2/16/2012 11:49AM

    Just Lovely emoticon

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CRYSTALJEM 2/15/2012 8:02PM

    Beautiful poem, beautiful song. Thank you for adding another special part to my already wonderfully full day.

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JUST_BREATHE08 2/14/2012 10:51PM

    Awesome Poem!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!
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BRIGHTSPARK7 2/14/2012 10:23PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Happy Heart Day Mahalakshmi!

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2BMYOWN 2/14/2012 9:29PM

    Beautiful. Just plain beautiful.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 2/14/2012 8:42PM

    Happy day to be love in expression emoticon

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/14/2012 8:30PM

    Que rica!

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SUNNY332 2/14/2012 7:12PM

    I love the song and the poem but not as much as I love you.

I have been blessed by your friendship.

Hugs, Sunny

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FRANCESCANAZ 2/14/2012 5:41PM

    Besos y abrazos amiga. emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 2/14/2012 1:40PM


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JESPAH 2/14/2012 11:10AM

    I didn't know this song. Thank you for it.

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    Happy valentines day beautiful!

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PEACEFULONE 2/14/2012 10:10AM

    Perfect for Valentine's Day!

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WATERMELLEN 2/14/2012 9:43AM

    That ee cummings is on my fridge . . . a fave!

Happy Valentine's Day!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DDOORN 2/14/2012 8:20AM

    Perfect thoughts for Valentine's....!


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KALIGIRL 2/14/2012 8:18AM

    'the root of the root....'
Namaste my friend.

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EOSTAR_45 2/14/2012 7:51AM

    Lovely. Happy Valentine's Day!

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DAISY443 2/14/2012 7:41AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon Happy Valentine's Day, dear friend!

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Playing for Change: LOVE IN ACTION -- my kind of Valentine!

Monday, February 13, 2012

World-renowned musicians Baaba Maal and Toumani Diabate at the music school opening in Kirina, Mali (Habib Koite was also there)
My good friend CRYSTALJEM posted a poignant blog today, "The Best 5 Minute Cry Ever"...and I know just what she means because for no apparent reason my eyes well up with tears every time I watch the latest video from one of my favorite organizations, Playing for Change. And today was no exception --

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I love music with every fiber of my being...and in the first years of Playing for Change I remember talk of the dream of starting music schools in Africa. And I deeply resonated with the idea of change...and peace...through music! And now OMG -- LOOK! It has become a reality! This is SO exciting. And Mark Johnson, Playing for Change Co-Founder, the white fellow you see in the above video, is obviously SO happy.
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Roger Ridley, Santa Monica, CA

This awe-inspiring cover by Roger Ridley, et al, of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" was my introduction to Playing for Change those many moons ago and this was the song that "transformed Playing For Change from a small group of individuals into a global movement for peace and understanding."

Isn't this what feeling the love is REALLY all about? Happy Valentine's Day Kirina, Mali!

Mark Johnson with a young friend, is a Grammy-winning producer/engineer and award-winning film director whose visionary concept a decade ago became the driving force behind Playing for Change. His work was recently spotlighted in a profile on the PBS series "Bill Moyers Journal," he has also been a keynote speaker at the United Nations, TED Global, and the University of Michigan Martin Luther King Day Celebration, as well as the Million Dollar Round Table.

I just noticed this winning opportunity to help spread PFC's love with a click of the mouse -- give the Valentine's Day gift that keeps on giving!

More on the $50,000 grant we can vote on for PFC:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLASALLE 2/16/2012 5:16PM

    YOU were also MY introduction to "Playing for Change." Bowing down in gratitude, as always, for all that you share. xoxoxo

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FRANCESCANAZ 2/14/2012 9:16AM

    Happy Valentines Day to you amiga mia!

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    As you know, they are coming to our little community soon. We had them booked for last month, but the tour was cancelled and I was so disappointed, but am now thrilled at the opportunity to see them after all....they are an amazing, amazing force. And I am sure their combined spirit and energy and will fill the hall with blessings.

You know you are welcome if you choose to make the trip!

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BLUEBIRDSFLY 2/13/2012 10:15PM

    Oh Maha, I bow down in gratefulness. Music has returned to the children of Africa. May it feel their young hearts with joy.
Thank you, Maha. emoticon

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2WHEELEDSHARON 2/13/2012 9:17PM

    I love Mark Johnson's perseverance. He's one of those people who pull me out of my self contained bubble. The women and I will have a great time honoring this tomorrow during our celebration!

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/13/2012 9:04PM

    WOW.....ABSOLUTELY WOW!!! It's like discovering a million Robert Johnsons out there and connecting them through technology to create masterpieces that would never have been conceived of before!!

What a great concept....I'll do what I can to spread the word!

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WATERMELLEN 2/13/2012 9:02PM

    Important inititive, for sure!

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EMRANA 2/13/2012 7:48PM

  You were my introduction to Playing for Change ~ love them! Thanks for sharing again.

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2BMYOWN 2/13/2012 7:19PM

    This is awesome, Maha, thanx for sharing this with us!

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DDOORN 2/13/2012 6:20PM

    Such a wonderful organization! It is terrific to see good people out there doing good, inspired work!


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DAISY443 2/13/2012 4:44PM


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KALIGIRL 2/13/2012 1:18PM

    Wonderful emoticon for posting!

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    so amazing!!!

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_RAMONA 2/13/2012 11:22AM


{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Compassionate action starts with seeing yourself when you start to make yourself right and when you start to make yourself wrong. At that point you could just contemplate the fact that there is a larger alternative to either of those, a more tender, shaky kind of place where you could live. --Pema Chodron
Upon waking this morning with the joy of Kitty Rama at my feet, I first completed the pleasant ritual of preparing a cup of delicious coffee. Next, with coffee in-hand, I came to see what had arrived in my InBox. Pema Chodron's words first greeted me via
Then I went on to revel in lovely goodies and notes from exquisite SparkFriends. Finally I opened this morning's Panhala offering, an amazing poem by Wendell Berry.

Today offers me a blank slate (well, not really if ya' wanna' get technical, but kind of...) and I'm determined to move ahead step by "grounded-and-balanced" step, holding myself accountable for how I use the precious moments. It has been a rough week. Wednesday saw profound interpersonal difficulties, which brought on extreme behaviors like binging, when I stopped tracking that day. Yesterday was difficult, but I did track food. I haven't been exercising this week, but that is changing today, with strength training at the very least. These small steps are the tiniest tip of the iceberg of loving self-care. But I will persist.

"I can no other answer make but thanks, And thanks, and ever thanks," dear friends for our connectedness through it all. We're in this struggle together, seeking the worthy goal of wellness of body, mind, and spirit. Could we be on a better journey together?

Though at first reading, Berry's poem seemed somber, repeated readings of it moved me to a place of joy and near ecstasy, as well as deep insights about the week's challenges:


All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

~ Wendell Berry ~
(The Collected Poems, 1957-1982)

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I would be terribly remiss if I didn't lead any who don't know of Wendell Berry, truly a great treasure, to him... American man of letters, academic, cultural and economic critic, and farmer; a prolific author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays; an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a recipient of The National Humanities Medal:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EXOTEC 3/22/2012 1:24PM

    "Grounded and balanced," amen. It gives me great peace and delight to be a part of this magical reality, and (strangely enough) to know that I, and it, will turn with the wheel of time. There will be a new reality IMO, just as magical as this one.

Thank you so much for your inspiring blog.

In other philosophies, there are directives to "first do no harm", and "if you harm none, do what you will." A revelation to me, from an outside source, was that "none" INCLUDES ME! I am also responsible to do no harm to myself, in addition to no harm to other living things (so far as I can accomplish). I had never seen it in that perspective. I now hold that firmly in my mindfulness. Harm none. Take care of myself, and do the right things - healthfully, nutritionally, compassionately, spiritually.

It's put a whole new twist on my place and perspective. A learning and an improvement, I hope!

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PEACEFULONE 2/14/2012 10:08AM

    Dear Maha,
From that "shaky place" where I live I thank you.
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May your life be blessed as you have blessed so many!
Thanks for sharing, your blogs always inspire.
Peace to you, Elaine

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2BMYOWN 2/13/2012 7:17PM

    Love it, Maha, thanx for posting this!

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CRYSTALJEM 2/13/2012 9:34AM

    You are a wise woman. Showing compassion to ourselves is sometimes one of the hardest things to do. Thank you for sharing. CJ

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1HAPPYWOMAN 2/13/2012 1:29AM

    Bless you, Maha. Bless your tender efforts toward self-care, self-awareness and loving kindness.
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    emoticonEnjoyed the gentle reminder to keep on taking care of ME! It's an uphill kind of thing, dontcha think?! We CAN, over and over again! YES! WE CAN!!!

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DDOORN 2/12/2012 10:34AM

    Thank you for introducing me to Mr. Berry's familiar with the name, but haven't read anything until this lovely poem!


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PENNYAN45 2/11/2012 9:30AM

    Let us all "bow to the mystery."

And may your days ahead bring you peace, my friend.


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FRANCESCANAZ 2/11/2012 9:13AM

    Te amo amiga. Te amo de verdad!

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JESPAH 2/11/2012 9:08AM

    Sweet, as ever.

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JUST_BREATHE08 2/11/2012 6:19AM

    Absolutely emoticon !!! emoticon once again.

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RIDMYCOCOON 2/10/2012 9:52PM

    I'm speechless :)

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WATERMELLEN 2/10/2012 8:30PM

    "A patient willing descent": not sombre.

Thank you. As always.

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PUDLECRAZY 2/10/2012 5:08PM

    Always lovely to start a day with the words and wisdom of Pema, and I always love the choice of poetry that you chose to share.

Sending love.

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2WHEELEDSHARON 2/10/2012 3:08PM

    We have self esteem group today. Thanks for prepping me:)

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DAISY443 2/10/2012 2:13PM

    As always, you bring me things that brighten my day!

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BLUEBIRDSFLY 2/10/2012 2:03PM

    How beautiful. Thank you, Maha. emoticon

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ABURRIS2 2/10/2012 1:58PM

    "...without haste or regret..."

blessings on your day and beyond, my friend

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    Berry..another favorite of mine :)

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On receiving the Nobel Prize....

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Can't resist more on Szymborska...just ignore it if you don't grok it or have time for it...or, better still, read it on the dreadmill!

God (and goddess) knows that I KNOW that this is a wellness site. "They" also know that poetry is part-and-parcel of my wellness, as is sharing it with my that's what this is, a heart sharing:


Every other year, it seems, the Nobel Prize in literature goes to an obscure European writer, full of hard consonants and solemn purposes, whom we all agree to honor for a day and forget all about right after.

This list of the Great Obscure is long, but the bright exception to it is the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, who won the Nobel in 1996. Szymborska is not merely a great writer, like many others; she is a necessary writer, as necessary as toast. Every month, it seems, I give to someone a copy of one of her books and get for her work, in response, not mere admiration or respect but eyes alight with delight, recognition, laughter and that special kind of happiness that comes from seeing a small truth articulated as a sharp ironic point, an emotion given a shape neither all too familiar nor all too abstract.

No one could possibly have chosen a worse time to arrive on the planet, or a harder place to arrive. Born in 1923, and spending most of her life in the Polish city of Krakow, she survived the Second World War as a railroad worker, and then spent the long years of the Russian occupation as one of the more discreet kinds of dissident.

Yet her exposure to the pain of history did not turn her into a poet of history in the usual sense. She lived through some horrible times, but rarely wrote about them directly. Her experience, instead, deepened her commitment to the belief that the poetic impulse, however small its objects, is always saner than the polemical imperative, however passionate its certitudes.

Her poems take small subjects and make much of them. In her poetry, a child about to pull a tablecloth from a table becomes the type of every scientist beginning an experiment; a visit to the doctors, with its stripping down and piling on of clothes, a metaphor for all we go through in the company of the odd mechanisms of our naked bodies; she ponders the onion's many layers, and the inner life of Hitler's dog.

In the poem that I used for the epigraph for my own latest book, she writes all about the range of human difficulties, over time, that make the decision to have a child impossible at any moment. We just can't do it, it's the wrong time; and yet, we do. (Read "A Tale Begun.")

And I have always been moved and inspired by the text of her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, in which she takes on the "astonishment" of normal life:

"Astonishing" is an epithet concealing a logical trap. We're astonished, after all, by things that deviate from some well-known and universally acknowledged norm, from an obviousness we've grown accustomed to. Granted, in daily speech, where we don't stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like "the ordinary world," "ordinary life," "the ordinary course of events." ... But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone's existence in this world."

That's Szymborska's faith. I have a hard time knowing how I would get through a single ordinary day without her poetry.

More exceptional reading from The New Yorker, Feb 2:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RIDMYCOCOON 2/7/2012 7:42PM

    Powerful views from a grain of sand. Thank you for this :)

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BECOMINGONE 2/6/2012 9:59PM

    You never cease to amaze me with your range of interests and passions. You are a "renaissance" woman in this "modern" world.

As always, love

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GIRANIMAL 2/6/2012 3:17PM

    I heard a piece about her on NPR and I believe it was this very one. Thanks for sharing a piece of you, through her, with us. I am unfamiliar with her work, but I found myself very intrigued by the story. She sounded fascinating. I can see why you'd have an affinity for her. emoticon

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PEACEFULONE 2/6/2012 3:09PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
What more can I say?

Comment edited on: 2/6/2012 3:10:18 PM

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KALIGIRL 2/6/2012 1:35PM

    Here's to a marvelous part of your wellness AND ours!

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IMKFOX 2/6/2012 11:08AM

    Thanks for sharing - hadn't heard of her and I'm glad to know more about her now. I will be on a hunt for more of her writing!

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TAICHIDANCER 2/6/2012 10:34AM

    Love this blog.

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JOANNANOW 2/6/2012 10:31AM

    Thanks for the introduction to a new poet.

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SUNNY332 2/6/2012 9:28AM

    Thanks so much. Her poetry is amazing.

Hope all is well with you. I have been very busy with my Father. He is 90 and his health is declining. Such a difficult time for him.

Hugs, Sunny

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2BMYOWN 2/6/2012 8:11AM

    Thanx for posting this, Maha, it's wonderful.

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GOANNA2 2/5/2012 11:06PM

    Thank you for enlightening me about her poetry. emoticon

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TEENY_BIKINI 2/5/2012 10:31PM


Really cool blog. Thanks. Have a great week, gorgeous.

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JUST_BREATHE08 2/5/2012 9:40PM

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful blogs with all of us!! emoticon

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CARRAND 2/5/2012 6:36PM

    I love poetry, too. Are you familiar with this one?

Wislawa Szymborska
The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to tidy up.
Things won't pick
themselves up, after all.

Someone has to shove
the rubble to the roadsides
so the carts loaded with corpses
can get by.

Someone has to trudge
through sludge and ashes,
through the sofa springs,
the shards of glass,
the bloody rags.

Someone has to lug the post
to prop the wall,
someone has to glaze the window,
set the door in its frame.

No sound bites, no photo opportunities,
and it takes years.
All the cameras have gone
to other wars.

The bridges need to be rebuilt,
the railroad stations, too.
Shirtsleeves will be rolled
to shreds.

Someone, broom in hand,
still remembers how it was.
Someone else listens, nodding
his unshattered head.

But others are bound to be bustling nearby
who'll find all that
a little boring.

From time to time someone still must
dig up a rusted argument
from underneath a bush
and haul it off to the dump.

Those who knew
what this was all about
must make way for those
who know little.
And less than that.
And at last nothing less than nothing.

Someone has to lie there
in the grass that covers up
the causes and effects
with a cornstalk in his teeth,
gawking at clouds.

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WATERMELLEN 2/5/2012 5:56PM

    I hope that you NEVER stop writing your poetry blogs . . . and reminding us that poetry is central to human experience and meaning.

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_RAMONA 2/5/2012 5:03PM

    Ah, Maha... I'm so sorry you've lost such a wonder-FULL friend. Thank you for introducing me to her, and to a bigger world through her.

I never really grieve celebrities, but I always grieve the writers who were my friends and who enriched my life in ways others never could... they plow, without my even knowing it, pathways to my soul.

I'll now be n a quest to know Wislawa better... as I come closer to myself, I find that my life, all life actually, is a finely woven series of small truths sharply etched.

{{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}}

...and I'm intrigued... blog away!

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2WHEELEDSHARON 2/5/2012 2:39PM

    Absolutely lovely. Thanks be for her! And YOU:)

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JESPAH 2/5/2012 1:38PM


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DAISY443 2/5/2012 12:41PM

    Thanks again!

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    emoticon emoticon

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RIP Wislawa Szymborska, one of my favorite poets

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The path to international fame as a poet generally doesn't involve writing short poems about sea cucumbers. Yet for the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, who won the Nobel Prize in 1996 and died Wednesday, the little things -- onions, cats, monkeys, and yes, sea cucumbers -- turned out to be very big indeed.

A popular writer in Poland for many years, Szymborska became a reluctant international literary celebrity after her Nobel win.

Szymborska is an ironist. But in her work, irony becomes playful, almost whimsical. She thinks of the poet as an acrobat who moves, as she puts it, with "laborious ease, with patient agility, with calculated inspiration."

Szymborska's poems generally focus on everyday subjects or situations, and her tone stays firmly in the middle ground. She doesn't rant; she calmly assesses. She's a poet of dry-eyed, athletic precision: an acrobat, as she says, not a powerlifter. Here is how she begins a poem called "Under One Small Star":

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all.
Please, don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.

And the poem concludes:

Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words
then labor heavily so that they may seem light.

Yet if Szymborska's touch is gentle, it can still burn or freeze. Consider her sea cucumber (or "holothurian") poem, which is called "Autotomy." The poem begins:

In danger, the holothurian cuts itself in two.
It abandons one self to a hungry world
and with the other self it flees.

It violently divides into doom and salvation,
retribution and reward, what has been and what will be.

An abyss appears in the middle of its body
between what instantly becomes two foreign shores.

Life on one shore, death on the other.

The sea cucumber can become two parts, one living, one dead. Szymborska compares this to the way in which writers have long argued that when they died, their work would live on — granting them a kind of immortality. But Szymborska is skeptical. She doesn't think anyone exists outside of time, or that writing poetry is a matter of falling on the right side of an abyss. As she puts it in the poem's conclusion:

Here the heavy heart, there non omnis moriar --
Just three little words, like a flight's three feathers.

The abyss doesn't divide us.
The abyss surrounds us.

The ending of the poem could seem grim. After all, she's suggesting that there is, in the end, no way to cheat time. But if that's the case -- if we can't continually evade death -- then this is at least something we all share. It's no surprise that her poem is dedicated to the memory of one of her friends.

Szymborska has now fallen into the very abyss that she wrote about with such understated passion. And yet it's hard not to think that, with all her delicate power, she somehow still walks on air above us.

David Orr's most recent book is called Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LE7_1234 6/25/2012 11:42PM

    Thank you.


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    Thanks, you've introduced me to someone new.

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DARKTHOR 2/7/2012 11:27AM

    Deep words that wash over the consciousness beautifully.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 2/7/2012 1:11AM

    I have been considering the mystery of The abyss today and the process of bringing Presence to it, th egifts that the unknown has for us. Thank you for sharing this exquisite poet with us. I wrote my first ghazal this evening to share with my Poetry circle tomorrow. Last line goes, "Your words penetrate me like light entering the room at sunrise."
Thankyou for these words, Mahalakshmi.

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BECOMINGONE 2/6/2012 10:04PM

    You are so eclectic in your interests. As always, thanks for sharing this piece of yourself.


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2BMYOWN 2/6/2012 8:07AM

    Great blog, Maha, and lots to be said for making the everyday poetic, I think. You're giving me an education just by reading your blogs!

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CARRAND 2/5/2012 6:46PM

    Thank you for sharing.

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WATERMELLEN 2/5/2012 5:49PM

    Maybe the abyss surrounds us . . . maybe not. We cannot know. But finding consolation in the little things helps us remain anchored on our island in the abyss (if it turns out that's where we are) while we can.

Wonderful blog, thanks so much.

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REBCCA 2/5/2012 2:50PM

    "There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges (abyss), and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces."
Herman Melville

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/5/2012 2:09PM

    Thanks very much. I heard that broadcast while I was in Kansas last week and she seemed to write from a joyful heart

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DDOORN 2/5/2012 1:33PM

    Thank you 'Maha, for sharing your poetic heart with those uninitiated such as myself!


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DAISY443 2/5/2012 12:36PM

    Maha, as always, you are insightful and inspiring! Thank you!

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