Monday, April 24, 2006

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #30

Here are two absolutely exquisite little snippets of poetry from one of America's foremost living poets, Galway Kinnell. The first is a complete poem... and the second is only the first stanza of a much longer poem, but is so beautiful in and of itself, and so meaningful to those of us who have small children, I had to include it here.

These poems are so well crafted, it seems to me any extra commentary from me could only mar them. Wondrous word-paintings such as these, that penetrate swiftly past the brain to the heart (where they belong), require no further elucidation. To the second little fragment here, I can only add my own weak but fervent "Amen."



On the tidal mud, just before sunset,
dozens of starfisheswere creeping. It was
as though the mud were a sky
and enormous, imperfect stars
moved across it as slowly
as the actual stars cross heaven.
All at once they stopped,
and, as if they had simply
increased their receptivity
to gravity, they sank down
into the mud, faded down
into it and lay still, and by the time
pink of sunset broke across them
they were as invisible
as the true stars at daybreak.

Stanza 1 from
Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight


You scream, waking from a nightmare.

When I sleepwalk
into your room, and pick you up,
and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me
as if clinging could save us. I think
you think
I will never die, I think I exude
to you the permanence of smoke or stars,
even as
my broken arms heal themselves around you.

1 comment:

Mutt Ploughman said...

Duke, love the new poems. I don't really know anything about the poet, which is one of the things I really like about the series: seeing if the poet is someone well known who I admire, or someone brand new whose work I knew nothing about. Sometime, I'd like to know the process about how you make your selections. You keep it versatile each time. I sure hope other people are checking these poems out.....

Two very different subjects for these selections....what is great about poetry about nature for me is the way these writers look at what we all have seen from time to time and turn it into something wondrous. I mean, I don't know if I have ever been on a beach full of starfish, but I know what it would look like, and yet, Kinell finds away to turn the sight into something practically mystical, filled with God' grandeur. What a great service poets do for us with words. As for the second poem, the idea that our children heal us even as we hold them and attempt to provide assurance to soothe their fears is profound and a hundred percent true. I've been here almost as many times as you have, although not quite; and it's amazing how just the need and dependence of my daughters gives me inspiration and motivation for life. Their innocence is a blessing that is hard to put into words, but this poet somehow has. Great poems.