After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises …
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
— Jorge Luis Borges, from ‘You Learn’, translated by Veronica A. Shoffstall.
How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird which flies out of its ashes,
that for a man
as he goes up in flames, his one work
to open himself, to be
— Galway Kinnell, section 7 of ‘Another Night in the Ruins’ from Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin 1982).
Beauty is an intangible thing; can not be fixed on the surface, and the wear and tear of old age on the body cannot defeat it. Nor will a ‘pretty’ face make it, for ‘pretty’ faces are often dull and empty, and beauty is never dull and it fills all spaces.
— Robert Henri, from The Art Spirit (J. B. Lippincott Co., 1923)
What the world spoke today
was not the world
but what I thought of it.
Six days of rain.
Through my blurred slice of window
I saw a fragment of what
there is to see.
How small I am.
How large to notice
that space among spaces.
— Chris Kennedy, from ‘Occlusion in Long Rain’ in Ploughshares (Winter 1986)
O swallows, swallows, poems are not
The point. Finding again the world,
That is the point, where loveliness
Adorns intelligible things
Because the mind’s eye lit the sun.
— Howard Nemerov, closing strophe to ‘The Blue Swallows’ from The Blue Swallows (University of Chicago Press, 1967)
A grab of poetry found at the excellent blog apoetreflects.