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The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain

Wallace Stevens encapsulated the poetry’s strength. It recognizes each person’s artistry and fuels the rhythm of life. Life is a creative process. Our creations anchor us as we sense our way through life with no visible path and markers. We are adventurers in an uncharted space. No one else has lived this before or afterward. In this way, life is a work of art and takes the place of a mountain. We experience it as a deeply sensual, intimate, and creative voyage that comes from deep within our souls.

There is it was, word for word,

The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,

Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed

A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,

Shifted the rocks and picked his way among the clouds,

For the outlook, that would be right,

Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactness

Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,

Recognize his unique and solitary home.

The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm

I slowed down since we arrived in Phoenix. I feel like this when I travel to Spokane. It takes a few days, but eventually I move slower, take time to look around, and smell the proverbial roses.

I read Nicholas Carr‘s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains and found unexpected inspiration. I chose the book as part of the course and dissertation preparation. Carr used poetry to support some of his ideas. He included Wallace Stevens’ poem about immersing one’s self into reading, the solitude found there, and the world that emerges. The author speaks to me as I find calm and solitude.

People commented on the re-blog, Solitude, about a concern for children and an inability to disconnect from digital technologies. I agree and it is partly what motivates me in my dissertation path. Where I teach and learn, I see readers. It is a pastime supported by many families and embraced by many children. Many families limit technology use and television viewing in their homes. Many students play musical instruments, join choirs, and enjoy the arts. It is a concern, but there are examples of children and families mindfully using technology.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

The world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Of Mere Being

Wallace Stevens wrote this beautiful reminder that we each have work to do. I recall something Jon Kabat-Zinn said: “Find a Job with a capital J. Stop doing someone else’s work. Find work that makes you complete.” I paraphrase here. It is easier to be fully present as fulfilled persons.

Thomas Merton and Parker Palmer wrote about the common roots of voice and vocation. I find meaning and completion in the work I do. Somehow, I make the world a better place. As I find my voice, my being made whole and any holes in that being filled. I understand the meaning  of my life’s song  with perhaps no clear meaning to anyone else.

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

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