Seth Braverman, a Poet
Rocky Mountain National Park
the father’s voice: did you see it? at the beach, did you see what I took you to see?
the son’s eyes fill with water.
as surely as we get the Y chromosome from our fathers, so we also get the I chromosome from our fathers, or, rather, the eye chromosome. it is through our fathers we are given the gift of sight, and in so seeing, our own identity, our I, is formed. they are given then the task of teaching us how to see, to show us many great and baffling things with which to learn to look. they take us to discover the ocean or a sunrise, so beautiful that we go dumb and nearly blind. and when we do regain our speech, we simply say, “help me to see,” realizing all we’ve yet to learn, that endless sea. and sight still baffles our fathers, or they are no longer fit to teach. or they are dead or dying. if that time comes, as for some it surely will, it is we who must then take our fathers by their age-ed, hardened hands to discover, once again, the mysteries of light in the hush before dawn.
Listen! I will be honest with you;
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes;
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d—you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction, before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you;
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you.
– Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
And a poet said, “Speak to us of Beauty.”
The tired and the weary say, “beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
But the restless say, “We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.”
All these things have you said of beauty.
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
[B]eauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, Beauty (abridged)
(from Let Your Life Speak)
The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year’s growth demolished by the blade.
I have plowed my life this way
Turned over a whole history
Looking for the roots of what went wrong
Until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.
Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons–
The farmer plows to plant a greening season.
Words are vain, reject them all –
They utter but a feeble part.
Hear thou the depths from which they call,
The voiceless longing of my heart.
– George McDonald, Phantastes
I love to feel the daily turning of the pages,
the sentences unwinding like string,
and when something really happens,
I walk out to the edge of the page
and, always the student,
make an asterisk, a little star, in the margin.
– excerpt from Cliche by Billy Collins
Nick Logie likes Billy Collins because he’s honest. I agree with him there, but I’m sure we both have plenty of additional reasons.
On the day that ugliness is perfected in rubble
and blood, beauty and the love of beauty will
still be praised by those well paid to praise it.
– Wendell Berry, Given Poems, 2003 VII
If you fail to see a problem,
(Which I find hard to believe)
Or if you’re hanging on from branches
Licking honey from the leaves you say
“The hopelessness of living, the childishness of suicide”
But there’s a call to love my brother
That can never be destroyed however much you talk,
However well you talk you make a certain sense
It’s still only stupid talk, however much I strut around,
However loud I sing the Shining One inside me won’t say anything,
Oh, to want one thing!
Purity of heart is to want one thing.
All I want is to want one thing.
Such beauty and simplicity do I rarely find. One place I always find it is in mewithoutYou. This is from a song called “Leaf”.