Demarcations

Where is the line between prayer and poetry?  It’s blurred more often than not.  This is why I love Pinsky, Heaney, the Romantics. That very ambiguity is delicious.  I love how my pagan gods hide beneath the rhythms of secularism.

Today, I’d like to share one of my favorite poems by Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.  It’s a wheel poem, a harvest poem, and a musing on cycles, family, and ancestors.  Read it aloud, and taste the words, feast on sounds as they tumble and circle each other. Enjoy.

BIOGRAPHY
Robert Pinsky

Stone wheel that sharpens the blade that mows the grain,
Wheel of the sunflower turning, wheel that turns
The spiral press that squeezes the oil expressed
From shale or olives. Particles that turn to mud
On the potter’s wheel that spins to form the vessel
That holds the oil that drips to cool the blade.

My mother’s dreadful fall. Her mother’s dread
Of all things: death, life, birth. My brother’s birth
Just before the fall, his birth again in Jesus.
Wobble and blur of my soul, born only once,
That cleaves to circles. The moon, the eye, the year,
Circle of causes or chaos or turns of chance.

The line of a tune as it cycles back to the root,
Arc of the changes. The line from there to here
Of Ellen speaking, thread of my circle of friends,
The art of lines, chord of the circle of work.
Radius. Lives of children growing away,
The plant radiant in air, its root in dark.

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2 thoughts on “Demarcations

  1. I’ve also found it very difficult to draw the line between reading / writing poetry and religious practice. They’re pretty much the same for me. Even when I’m reading secular poets (unless their work leaves me cold). Although I guess a non-religious person would hold far stricter demarcations between poetry that covered ‘secular’ matters and those that obviously contain deities or written as prayers etc.

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    • Interestingly enough, I don’t mind reading poems about the gods, or people’s religious experiences–yet if someone other than Rhyd posts the same thing as prose, it can really set me teeth on edge.

      I wonder if our tendency to see the sacred in the everyday is what allows us to make things like secular poetry part of our religious practice?

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