Sunday, November 26, 2006

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #43

***TST would like to wish a very happy FIRST birthday to Jane Charlotte!!! Ad multos annos and much love, little one!***

Here is another terse, minimalist poem that packs a profound wallop, much like Jean Foillain's stunning "Music of Spheres" (POTW #22, back in January of thie year). This one comes from the Polish poet Anna Swir. Czeslaw Milosz was a huge fan; in fact, he published a lot of her work into English... so that gives you some indication of the talent at work here. If somehow reading this little gem doesn't convince you of that already.

I myself have always viewed the sea as something worthy of awe, or even "fear" in the Biblical sense of the word... I believe it was Saint Augustine who said "no man can look at the sea and not be reminded of God," or something to that effect.Well, I'm not sure if Swir was thinking of God at all in this poem or not, but she certainly draws our attention memorably to an important reality: the utter smallness and insignificance of man in the face of nature's mysterious, and often terrifying, power. And yet brilliantly, in that last line, she reminds us of our privileged place in the created order of things.

*******

The Sea And The Man

You will not tame this sea
either by humility or rapture.
But you can laugh
in its face.

Laughter
was invented by those
who live briefly
as a burst of laughter.

The eternal sea
will never learn to laugh.

2 comments:

Mutt Ploughman said...

First of all, thanks a lot for the shout-out to my daughter Jane, who I personally can't believe is 1 already. Fortunately, aside from a cold, she is in good health, has great spirits and gives our whole family a lot of joy, including her big sister, who is as into her as anyone.

Second, this poem certainly does seem to capture part of that great mystery that you get literally swallowed up in when you confront the ocean in person. I don't know what it is, but there's no other place in the world you can get the same feeling you do when standing on the shore and taking in all that water.....it is truly incredible. The poet is right: you don't get the impression that you can ever associate laughter with the sea, as if its business is too grave for that. It's the fact that the poet had the creativity to touch on this notion that makes little writings like this so worthwhile.

Aura McKnightly said...

Happy birthday to the 'Famous' Jane.

That's an old Arc Angels tune.

Here's the thing with the ocean...

It's a whole other world under that surface. One world on land...other world under the surface of the ocean.

...and you don't want to laugh at something you can't see. Under the ocean, that is...

Two worlds...one planet.