Saturday, January 05, 2008

Three Poem Re-Drafts

The Garden

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
while praying by the olive tree
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

Take off the difference of the name --
our bliss, our ache, are but the same;
one is fallen and undone,
redemption's in the other one,
but fall and rising make one path,
and mercy is the heart of wrath.

One garden seen in different lights
shines beneath the stars at night
and gleams beneath the rising sun;
one is ended, one's begun,
but one point they are on rounded line,
as first and last are one divine.

Of Eden's light we are bereft,
but Eden we have never left;
it is but hidden from our eyes,
with none the wiser save the wise;
nor does our scale-blind vision see
that Eden is Gethsemane.

There is no difference save the words
and from which side we face the swords
that cut us off from paradise
with light that burns like flame and ice.
Here we are all surely shamed;
here our virtue is reclaimed.

This is wisdom: to know the place
wherein resides the human race.
In our failing it has a name;
another, when it slays our shame;
through our glory, through our sin,
we are where we've always been.

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
praying by the olive tree,
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.


I grow sad when I think of wondrous skies
that have never been seen by human eyes
nor ever painted by artists' hands,
that mightily hang over times and lands
beyond where the reckoning mind can go;
sad when I look to the heavens and know
as another sunrise or sunset begins
that there are, uncaptured by camera's lens,
such skies as this and even more fair,
for which no artist ever did care,
deserving to hang where the Masters are,
more lovely than all their works by far,
deserving love for a million years,
pass unnoticed as they appear
never seen again by human eye.
I grow sad when I think of such vanishing skies.


'Tis true he's not the greatest bard
to grace the human race;
his poems are filled with little lines
that hang in filler-space.
He has a certain fervor,
like a fever in the brain,
that substitutes for music;
thus all his lyrics strain.
And he preaches like a pastor
and lectures all the day;
I'd love to love his poems
but his words get in the way.
He is pompous and pretentious
with a flash of wit thrown in;
his taste is all the former,
which is the prosist's sin.
He likes a good conceit
(as conceited people do!),
writ in vain and empty words
dressed up as clerihew.

Homer is a mountain, Virgil is a road,
Dickinson's a flower while Milton is a spire;
I think that people tell it true
who say Dante is a choir;
but this poet is a napkin
scribbled in a dim-lit bar
before the author passes out
and the barkeep calls a car.

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