Saturday, November 22, 2008

BardBliss: Li-Young Lee

Rosie cat demonstrating her annoyance
at all the photos of Lilly.

I once read an interview with the poet Li-Young Lee in which he spoke of the poet's calling being very much like that of a monk. This resonated with me, sounded very true from my own experience.

To reach the poetry that may be residing and waiting within you, there is a vast amount of cultivation that must be tended to. This includes much silence and sitting still and listening and watching. A sort of praying, really.

But then I wonder if not all of us are called in one way or another to a life more closely resembling that of a monk or poet?

Here is one poem by Li-Young Lee. I recommend reading anything by him you can get your hands on.

Pillow

There's nothing I can't find under there.
Voices in the trees, the missing pages
of the sea.

Everything but sleep.

And night is a river bridging
the speaking and the listening banks,

a fortress, undefended and inviolate.

There's nothing that won't fit under it:
fountains clogged with mud and leaves,
the houses of my childhood.

And night begins when my mother's fingers
let go of the thread
they've been tying and untying
to touch toward our fraying story's hem.

Night is the shadow of my father's hands
setting the clock for resurrection.

Or is it the clock unraveled, the numbers flown?

There's nothing that hasn't found home there:
discarded wings, lost shoes, a broken alphabet.

Everything but sleep. And night begins

with the first beheading
of the jasmine, its captive fragrance
rid at last of burial clothes.

1 comment:

Kavindra said...

Oh thanks so much! I love Li Young Lee, and didn't know this particular poem. He's so good that it actually hurts to read him sometimes.