Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy
cathy_edgett

Stanley Kunitz Poem -

Stanley Kunitz was born in 1905.  He celebrated his 100th birthday this year.  I love this poem, "The Layers."

I have walked through many lives
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes. 




Stanley Kunitz gardens and writes poetry, and they really are one and the same for him.  His book "The Wild Braid - A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden" is a marvel.  I choose one section to share.  Over years, his work created gardens from sand dunes.

"an image that flows"

    On some level, when I was looking at the sloping sand, I had a vision of my garden as it is now, certainly in terms of its composition, structure, and form. 
    What I wanted was to heighten the image of a garden that seems to have taken over a steep hillside, something at rest and in motion at the same time.
    The colors of flowers have different vibrations, akin to what Rimbaud spoke of when he referred to the colors of vowels.  Rimbaud was one of my very early influences, so that would be a natural alliance here in this garden.  There is an internal motion, a sense of timing arising out of the nature of this particular garden, of the plants growing and blooming and fading and falling away.  And there is the natural motion that comes from the wind itself.             (I love that - "And there is the natural motion that comes from the wind itself.")
    There are so many expressions of what we call "beautiful."  The sand dune that was originally there had a beauty of its own, with its reminiscence of the great dunes along the borders of the sea in Provincetown, but this was not suitable for a domesticated situation.  The plan was to bring the wild beauty of the dunes into a different context and transform it into a habitat teeming with organic life.
    When I'm away from the garden, the image I have of it is an image that flows.  Mainly I don't picture it as individual plants, but as a multitude.




Perhaps that is what I was trying to say in the post before this.  Though I am an individual, and I love my solitude, I am also a multitude.
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