Monday, 11 March 2019

This Poet's Prayer

The exiled poet's words fell between concrete cracks
To incubate in darkness for unnumbered days
No one to count time passing
No one to add up the word-truth of the man
Who wept himself into his grave



You were well and truly buried

O how we now shiver in this biting cold

But today unearthed
Your remains gleam in a certain kind of light
A heap of warm embers glowing

May they now grow hotter and burn within the bones
Of the living
May they now raise the dead to new life

~ From the top of my ruins I say only this ~

Bless, O Lord,  those bones with your unquenchable fire
To burn and burn

["I regret only this perhaps,
That I shall not be given my own grave,
Such as I have requested from my friends.
So what? Have I missed anything on this earth
With Words? I have waited for everything until
My heart is broken as great organs break.
This too - who knows? - will happen to my grave." *]

[[And so it did **]]

* Cyprian Norwid, A letter from America, 10 April 1853

** On 24 September 2001, 118 years after his death in France, an urn containing soil from the collective pauper's grave where Norwid had been buried in Paris' Montmorency cemetery, was enshrined in the "Crypts of the Bards" at Wawel Cathedral. The cathedral's bell heard only when events of great national and religious significance occur, resounded loudly to mark the poet's return to his homeland. 

Please let the Discourse Begin *

I read a poem by Cyprian Norwid today that so reminded me of one I wrote years before discovery the supreme genius of Norwid. His poem is called 'A Meeting'. The title of my poem 'The Power of the Word' comes from the title of an academic conference on poetry that I attended, which deeply depressed me.

A Meeting

Rubbish is swept away and every chair
In the vast hall is dusted. Great men come in,
Sit down with a scrape like swords sheathed, and then
They announce - what? That all of them are there.
And they sit and they sit – until somewhere
In the world a madman discovers steam,
A mediocre artist nails down a sun-ray,
And some untutored dentist with supreme
Skill saves man from his supreme agony.
The Academies keep silent – all the members there. **


The Power of the Word
The academy is gathered Suited, ageing men going grey Growing into texts, so bending And swaying like overbearing trees And those listening, lost in the forest The frost settling on the ground The cold biting, the dark deepening

The care is only for ideas 
Those of self and others who have threaded Thought-waves of a similar ilk Into a silver-surfaced mirror reflecting The one image of manifold unafraid Man's folly Singular Wisdom waited a while and then left, weeping As she locked the door to protect those on the outside

* 'End of discourse' is a phrase used by Norwid at the end of his poem Bagatelle (1) 

** 'Cyprian Norwid - Poems - Letters - Drawings' translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz