A Long Road on the Raven Coast

The Florilegia Project #4:
Imbolc & Candlemas

Sparklet from Barbara Crooker’s poem “Listen”
A Long Road on the Raven Coast

1.

In the beginning is the land 
and the land has no beginning. 
God, how did it ever come to you 
to invent Time—that enticing world 
of suspended disbelief?

Hurry ruins saints as well as artists:
the constant din, empty words and machine noises.
I want silence again, and vast blue skies;
flowers that will echo the sunrise,
patterns of stunning weather on the holy mountain.
And some floating bits of emotional thistledown.

Life is a blue coal. 
A sliver of orange in the mouth. 
Cut hay in the nostrils, a shimmer of terns, 
the pale scent of wild garlic. The solution 
to gravity and a single shape.

2.

In my heart: the road,
and the wild hawk of the mind. 
The wilderness
of being human, 
and the silence we call God, 
who does not know how 
to be absent.

I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep. 
I send them out 
into this daily silent rhythm of the tide, 
blessed beyond reach of language.
For that which is soundless within you
remains a mystery. And mysteries break
the patterns we impose upon the world. 

3.

I know the night lives inside you, 
seedbed of the self.
Infinity comes in different sizes, 
canonized by their beauty
and their strength. 
Each one could be set in gold.

What seems to you lastingly delightful? 
How valuable it is, in these short days. 

So express yourself by what you choose 
to admire and support. 
Let God and the world know 
that you are grateful. 
So that how can you not move over, 
to leave a little space for them?

4. 

Nuance is a dare, a dialogue 
of love and of choice. 
The wisdom of God
in its rich variety.
Fortunately
there's no magic spell. 

I am learning now

to see in the dark. 
And how to gather morning.
And that music mediates 
between silence and language.
And this: I've got the good sense at last 
not to come in from the rain. 
Sparklet from an old Oxford University exam question…

Imbolc and Candlemas are two different holidays, but there’s overlap.

Imbolc, also (St.) Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic celebration of spring that carries both Christian and ancient pagan significance, and is also broadly embraced by the modern pagan community.

Candlemas is a kind-of-obscure Christian festival that (I had to look this one up) commemorates the day his parents presented the infant Jesus at the Temple. More familiarly (to me, anyway) it’s the end of the liturgical season of Epiphany.

The two holidays co-occur; this year Imbolg is Saturday the 1st of February, and Candlemas is Sunday the 2nd.

In sparkling celebration, my found poem is…still pretty wintry, both in imagery and in theme. Which is fine; the seeds of everything are contained in their opposites anyway. The title comes from a poem by David Whyte, and every other word from an essay, song, poem, or story by someone else who isn’t me.* With an exception this time: for clarity and flow, I’ve added a few joining words like “and,” switched one singular for plural, and occasionally changed “this” to “the” or vice versa.

*Sources are here and here, and include Thomas Merton, Erling Kagge, Martin Laird, Molly Fisk, Terri Windling, Sarah Maitland…

2 thoughts on “A Long Road on the Raven Coast

  1. This is beautiful.

    David Whyte. I’m so conflicted. I’ve read so many of his lines here and there, and people have come into the store asking about him. So I looked him up, and I see him leading all these high dollar retreats all over the world. It really bummed me out. First, “leisure activities for rich people.” Second, I’m really chafed anymore about this kind of activity, people flying all over the world for a certain kind of experience (see the First) while the world burns in their wake. Where is the peace and love in that?

    But he’s probably a decent enough guy in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You raise a conflict that’s strong in my heart too, Chris. I love Whyte’s poetry. It’s such essential connective tissue: between parts of myself, between me and others, between the various human worlds that inhabit our one earth. And also I feel SUCH a resistance to this other part of his public image: corporate retreats, expensive walking tours, etc.

      Profit-worship capitalism is terrible for everyone. It tends to corrupt what is beautiful and good by monetizing it, and I worry that’s some of what’s at work here. Also, though, one cannot live by poetry alone, usually, but if Whyte can make a living from it, and meanwhile sow the seeds of poetry and of connection in thousands of hearts along the way, that seems to the good.

      I keep thinking about Ursula LeGuin’s line: “how you play is what you win.” I see in that the flying all over the world and embracing corporate culture, and it sits uneasily. Though maybe Whyte is also playing in some deeper way we’re missing here, that has a value we aren’t seeing.

      It’s a good tension to hold, I think.

      Like

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