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March 2012

A Poetry Issue

This Month's Contents: What We Are by William Bronk | The Eight Duino Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke | A Loss of Something Ever Felt I by Emily Dickinson | Four Hundred and Forty Beats Per Second by Deborah Westmoreland | Epirrhema by Goethe | Humor | Answer to Question of the Month |

Editor's Note
by Isaac Hill

spiritual magazine Hello all, this is my first time editing the TAT Forum. I've decided to do another poetry issue, as that is my area of expertise, and there are several poems that I've always wanted to see on here but never have. I know poetry can be hard to read sometimes, but it's one of those things that gets more rewarding the more you do it, like following a spiritual path. Poetry can transmit sublime feelings and intuitive knowledge. I think there's something about the left brain trying to find meaning in the dense and jarring language of poetry that allows a different intelligence to manifest. Look for the feeling that enters the body during the reading of a poem, watch it wander and dissipate. Where were you?

What We Are
by William Bronk

What we are? We say we want to become
what we are or what we have an intent to be.
We read the possibilities, or try.
We get to some. We think we know how to read.
We recognize a word, here and there,
a syllable: male, it says perhaps,
or female, talent -- look what you could do --
or love, it says, love is what we mean.
Being at any cost: in the end, the cost
is terrible but so is the lure to us.
We see it move and shine and swallow it.
We say we are and this is what we are
as to say we should be and this is what to be
and this is how. But, oh, it isn’t so.

© William Bronk Online Source.

The Eighth Duino Elegy
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by A.S. Kline

The creature gazes into openness with all
its eyes. But our eyes are
as if they were reversed, and surround it,
everywhere, like barriers against its free passage.
We know what is outside us from the animal’s
face alone: since we already turn
the young child round and make it look backwards at what is settled, not that openness
that is so deep in the animal’s vision. Free from death.
We alone see that: the free creature
has its progress always behind it,
and God before it, and when it moves, it moves
in eternity, as streams do.
We never have pure space in front of us,
not for a single day, such as flowers open
endlessly into. Always there is world,
and never the Nowhere without the Not: the pure,
unwatched-over, that one breathes and
endlessly knows, without craving. As a child
loses itself sometimes, one with the stillness, and
is jolted back. Or someone dies and is it.
Since near to death one no longer sees death,
and stares ahead, perhaps with the large gaze of the creature.
Lovers are close to it, in wonder, if
the other were not always there closing off the view...
As if through an oversight it opens out
behind the other...But there is no
way past it, and it turns to world again.
Always turned towards creation, we see
only a mirroring of freedom
dimmed by us. Or that an animal
mutely, calmly is looking through and through us.
This is what fate means: to be opposite,
and to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever.

If there was consciousness like ours
in the sure creature, that moves towards us
on a different track – it would drag us
round in its wake. But its own being
is boundless, unfathomable, and without a view
of its condition, pure as its outward gaze.
And where we see future it sees everything,
and itself in everything, and is healed for ever.

And yet in the warm waking creature
is the care and burden of a great sadness.
Since it too always has within it what often
overwhelms us – a memory,
as if what one is pursuing now was once
nearer, truer, and joined to us
with infinite tenderness. Here all is distance,
there it was breath. Compared to that first home
the second one seems ambiguous and uncertain.

O bliss of little creatures
that stay in the womb that carried them forever:
O joy of the midge that can still leap within,
even when it is wed: since womb is all.
And see the half-assurance of the bird,
almost aware of both from its inception,
as if it were the soul of an Etruscan,
born of a dead man in a space
with his reclining figure as the lid.
And how dismayed anything is that has to fly,
and leave the womb. As if it were
terrified of itself, zig-zagging through the air, as a crack
runs through a cup. As the track
of a bat rends the porcelain of evening.

And we: onlookers, always, everywhere,
always looking into, never out of, everything.
It fills us. We arrange it. It collapses.
We arrange it again, and collapse ourselves.

Who has turned us round like this, so that,
whatever we do, we always have the aspect
of one who leaves? Just as they
will turn, stop, linger, for one last time,
on the last hill, that shows them all their valley - ,
so we live, and are always taking leave.

A.S. Kline's translation of Rilke's Duino Elegies can be found here.

A Loss of Something Ever Felt I
by Emily Dickinson

A loss of something ever felt I—
The first that I could recollect
Bereft I was—of what I knew not
Too young that any should suspect

A Mourner walked among the children
I notwithstanding went about
As one bemoaning a Dominion
Itself the only Prince cast out—

Elder, Today, a session wiser
And fainter, too, as Wiseness is—
I find myself still softly searching
For my Delinguent Palaces—

And a Suspicion, like a Finger
Touches my Forehead now and then
That I am looking oppositely
For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven—

Four Hundred and Forty Beats Per Second
by Deborah Westmoreland

Before it modulates
an euphonious wave,

Before many vibrations
radiate in one clean sound,

Before our cluttered ears
hear the same sweet note,

There is the hard strike
and the cleared air.

by Goethe

You must, when contemplating nature,
Attend to this, in each and every feature:
There's nought outside and nought within,
For she is inside out and outside in.
Thus will you grasp, with no delay,
The holy secret, clear as day.

Joy in true semblance take, in any
Earnest play:
No living thing is One, I say,
But always Many.
[An epirrhema, in ancient Greek Old Comedy, was an address usually about public affairs. It was spoken by the leader of one-half of the chorus after that half of the chorus had sung an ode. It was part of the parabasis, or performance by the chorus, during an interlude in the action of the play. ~ from Britannica online]



Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door... (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

~Hughes Mearns (1875-1965)

Answer to February's Question of the Month

February's Question: Dear TAT, I have a suggestion for our hip readers regarding the question of the month. At the end of the movie "The Time Machine," three books are discovered missing from George's library shelf. His friend asks the maid: "which three are missing?". These are the three books George has taken into the future with him via his time machine to help the eloi rebuild their society. My question of the month is: "Which three books would you take with you into the future to help improve the human race which has lost it's sense of humanity, knowledge, self, god, history, etc.?" What would you say to them? I am nothing? Nothing exists? Just raise your consciousness and all will be well? My picks:
1. Plato's Republic

2. Best technology/agriculture book I could find

3. History of the world

~ Michael

Answer: "The Zen master Mu-nan sent for his disciple Shoju one day and said, 'I am an old man now, Shoju, and it is you who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book that has been handed down for seven generations from master to master. I have myself added some notes to it that you will find valuable. Here, keep it with you as a sign that I have made you my successor.' Shoju burned it immediately!" ---p. 257 from Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart edited by Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991)


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