Thursday, September 14, 2006

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #39

Here is a fascinating poem, in prose form, by the Norwegian poet Rolf Jacobsen. What interests me about this poem is that even though it comes out of a totally different country and a totally different mindset, it reads just as if it were an excerpted passage from someone like Jack Kerouac or Thomas Wolfe... pointing towards a universality of experience in human beings, specifically, the experience of a sense of communion with total strangers in our unspoken longings and yearnings for passionate release from the humdrum of daily existence.

Also of interest to me (and probably ONLY to me!) is the fact that, at the time I read this, I just happened to be in the process of composing my own poem about passing through a town (my chosen method of transportation happened to be a car, not a train, unfortunately) and ruminating on the hidden hurts and hopes within its residents... coincidence, I suppose, but certainly I was in a frame of mind to really appreciate Jacobsen's powerful observations. The line about "unseen wells of power" intrigues me to no end... every soul is just such as "well," and yet so many remain untapped... one wonders along with Jacobsen what indeed would happen if more of us had the courage and opportunity to express those yearnings we all hear echoing within the chambers of the heart. Ours might just be a world transformed.

Transformed into what, however, I cannot pretend to know...


Express Train

Express train 1256 races alongside hidden, remote villages. House after house wanders by, pale gray, shivering. Rail fences, rocks and lakes, and the closed gates.

Then I have to think in the morning twilight: What would happen if someone could release the loneliness of those hearts? People live there, no one can see them, they walk across rooms, in behind the doors, the need, blank-eyed, hardened by love they cannot give and no one gets a chance to give them. What would rise higher here than the mountains -- the Skarvang Hills -- what flame, what force, what storms of steady light?

Express train 1256, eight soot-black cars, turns towards new, endlessly unknown villages. Springs of light behind the panes, unseen wells of power along the mountains -- these we travel past, hurry past, only four minutes late for Marnardal.

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