Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings |
a total stranger one black day
knocked living the hell out of me--
who found forgiveness hard because
my(as it happened)self he was
-but now that fiend and i are such
Wendell Berry |
You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
and suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly
that you were about to escape,
and that you are guilty: you misread
the complex instructions, you are not
a member, you lost your card
or never had one.
And you will know
that they have been there all along,
their eyes on your letters and books,
their hands in your pockets,
their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful,
they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
then such light as you have made
in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked, say to them:
"I am not ashamed.
" A sure horizon
will come around you.
The heron will begin
his evening flight from the hilltop.
Gary Fincke |
When magpies die, each of the living swoops down
and pecks, one by one, in an accepted order.
He coaxed my car to start, the boy who’s killed himself.
He twisted a cable, performed CPR on
The carburetor while my three children shivered
Through the unanswerable questions about stalled.
He chose shotgun, full in the face, so no one stepped
Into the cold, blowing on his hands, to fix him.
Let him rest now, the minister says.
Let this be,
Repeating himself to four brothers, five sisters,
All of them my neighbors until they grew and left.
Let us pray.
Let us manage what we need to say.
Let this house with its three hand-made additions be
Large enough for the one day of necessity.
Let evening empty each room to ceremony
Chosen by the remaining nine.
Let the awful,
Forecasted weather hold off in east Ohio
Until each of them, oldest to youngest, has passed.
Let their thirty-seven children scatter into
The squabbling of the everyday, and let them break
This creeping chain of cars into the fanning out
Toward anger and selfishness and the need to eat
At any of the thousand tables they will pass.
Let them wait.
Let them correctly choose the right turn
Or the left, this entrance ramp, that exit, the last
Confusing fork before the familiar driveway
Three hundred miles and more from these bleak thunderheads.
Let them regather into the chairs exactly
Matched to their numbers, blessing the bountiful or
The meager with voices that soar toward renewal.
Let them have mercy on themselves.
Let my children,
Grown now, be repairing my faults with forgiveness.
© Gary Fincke
More great poems below...
Margaret Atwood |
The rest of us watch from beyond the fence
as the woman moves with her jagged stride
into her pain as if into a slow race.
We see her body in motion
but hear no sounds, or we hear
sounds but no language; or we know
it is not a language we know
We can see her clearly
but for her it is running in black smoke.
The cluster of cells in her swelling
like porridge boiling, and bursting,
like grapes, we think.
Or we think of
explosions in mud; but we know nothing.
All around us the trees
and the grasses light up with forgiveness,
so green and at this time
of the year healthy.
We would like to call something
out to her.
Some form of cheering.
There is pain but no arrival at anything.
The Bible |
“Do not enter into judgment with your servant;
For before you no one alive can be righteous.
“O Jehovah, do not in your indignation reprove me,
Nor in your rage correct me.
For your own arrows have sunk themselves deep into me,
And upon me your hand is come down.
There is no sound spot in my flesh because of your denunciation.
There is no peace in my bones on account of my sin.
For my own errors have passed over my head;
Like a heavy load they are too heavy for me.
My wounds have become stinky, they have festered,
Because of my foolishness.
I have become disconcerted, I have bowed low to an extreme degree;
All day long I have walked about sad.
“Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
“May you purify me from sin with hyssop, that I may be clean;
May you wash me, that I may become whiter even than snow.
“Conceal your face from my sins,
And wipe out even all my errors.
51:5, 7, 9.
“Happy is the one whose revolt is pardoned, whose sin is covered.
Happy is the man to whose account Jehovah does not put error,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
My sin I finally confessed to you, and my error I did not cover.
I said: ‘I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah.
And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.
A S J Tessimond |
We being so hidden from those who
Have quietly borne and fed us,
How can we answer civilly
Their innocent invitations?
How can we say "we see you
As but-for-God's-grace-ourselves, as
Our caricatures (we yours), with
Time's telescope between us"?
How can we say "you presumed on
The accident of kinship,
Assumed our friendship coatlike,
Not as a badge one fights for"?
How say "and you remembered
The sins of our outlived selves and
Your own forgiveness, buried
The hatchet to slow music;
Shared money but not your secrets;
Will leave as your final legacy
A box double-locked by the spider
Packed with your unsolved problems"?
How say all this without capitals,
Italics, anger or pathos,
To those who have seen from the womb come
Enemies? How not say it?
George William Russell |
My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!
Howard Nemerov |
Some nights it's bound to be your best way out,
When nightmare is the short end of the stick,
When sleep is a part of town where it's not safe
To walk at night, when waking is the only way
You have of distancing your wretched dead,
A growing crowd, and escaping out of their
Time into yours for another little while;
Then pass ghostly, a planet in the house
Never observed, among the sleeping rooms
Where children dream themselves, and thence go down
Into the empty domain where daylight reigned;
Reward yourself with drink and a book to read,
A mystery, for its elusive gift
Of reassurance against the hour of death.
Order your heart about: Stop doing that!
And get the world to be secular again.
Then, when you know who done it, turn out the light,
And quietly in darkness, in moonlight, or snowlight
Reflective, listen to the whistling earth
In its backspin trajectory around the sun
That makes the planets sometimes retrograde
And brings the cold forgiveness of the dawn
Whose light extinguishes all stars but one.
Victor Hugo |
Take heed of this small child of earth;
He is great; he hath in him God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth
Are lights alive in the blue sky.
In our light bitter world of wrong
They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue,
And his forgiveness in their smile.
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes.
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry Paradise
Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
The want that saps their sinless flower
Speaks judgment on sin's ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs,
When God seeks out these tender things
Whom in the shadow where we sleep
He sends us clothed about with wings,
And finds them ragged babes that weep!
Delmore Schwartz |
The riches of the poet are equal to his poetry
His power is his left hand
It is idle weak and precious
His poverty is his wealth, a wealth which may destroy him
like Midas Because it is that laziness which is a form of impatience
And this he may be destroyed by the gold of the light
which never was
On land or sea.
He may be drunken to death, draining the casks of excess
That extreme form of success.
He may suffer Narcissus' destiny
Unable to live except with the image which is infatuation
Love, blind, adoring, overflowing
Unable to respond to anything which does not bring love
quickly or immediately.
The poet must be innocent and ignorant
But he cannot be innocent since stupidity is not his strong
Therefore Cocteau said, "What would I not give
To have the poems of my youth withdrawn from
I would give to Satan my immortal soul.
This metaphor is wrong, for it is his immortal soul which
he wished to redeem,
Lifting it and sifting it, free and white, from the actuality of
youth's banality, vulgarity,
pomp and affectation of his early
works of poetry.
So too in the same way a Famous American Poet
When fame at last had come to him sought out the fifty copies
of his first book of poems which had been privately printed
by himself at his own expense.
He succeeded in securing 48 of the 50 copies, burned them
And learned then how the last copies were extant,
As the law of the land required, stashed away in the national capital,
at the Library of Congress.
Therefore he went to Washington, therefore he took out the last two
Placed them in his pocket, planned to depart
Only to be halted and apprehended.
Since he was the author,
Since they were his books and his property he was reproached
But the two copies were taken away from him
Thus setting a national precedent.
For neither amnesty nor forgiveness is bestowed upon poets, poetry and poems,
For William James, the lovable genius of Harvard
spoke the terrifying truth: "Your friends may forget, God
may forgive you, But the brain cells record
your acts for the rest of eternity.
What a terrifying thing to say!
This is the endless doom, without remedy, of poetry.
This is also the joy everlasting of poetry.
Ingeborg Bachmann |
For why cometh a time,
When you forget yesterday?
Forgot our vows that we made,
And turn and walk away.
How can a heart forget,
The love we once had?
And turn yourself against me,
And make my soul so sad.
You’ve found someone better,
And you’ll leave us behind;
You think you can change your heart,
And erase your troubled mind.
How can you just quit,
And let our love just die?
I’ve done all I know to do,
But you refuse to try.
If I could only be around you,
Our love would live , I bet;
But you want me to stay away,
So you can just forget.
For what has happened to you,
That has torn up your mind?
From the precious girl I once loved,
The one so pure and kind.
I know that you are hurting,
You can’t look at me any more;
I know I can help you,
Heal your heart that’s sore.
I know I’m not perfect,
But I really try to be;
I really truly love you,
That you’ve got to see.
I know I’m no studly man,
Big and tall I’m not;
I don’t have much to offer you,
But all the love I got.
We’ve had our share of problems,
But troubles don’t last long;
If we work together,
From them we can be strong.
Maybe you think you’ve gone too far,
And respect you’ll never get;
But if only you’d just reach out,
Forgiveness can be met.
Don’t give up like other folks,
Just so you’ll fit in;
For God and I believe in you,
And beg you not to sin.
I know that you’re confused now,
And don’t know how to turn;
Just take one step toward me,
And leave your pain to burn.
For I so love you dearly,
I can’t watch you walk away;
Please tell me you love me too,
And that you want to stay.
Derek Walcott |
So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August.
My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.
Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.
She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album.
Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,
she does not come out.
Don't you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly
to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,
so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,
all with not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then
I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.
David Wagoner |
All actors look for them-the defining moments
When what a character does is what he is.
The script may say, He goes to the door
And exits or She goes out the door stage left.
But you see your fingers touching the doorknob,
Closing around it, turning it
As if by themselves.
The latch slides
Out of the strike-plate, the door swings on its hinges,
And you're about to take that step
Over the threshold into a different light.
For the audience, you may simply be
Disappearing from the scene, yet in those few seconds
You can reach for the knob as the last object on earth
You wanted to touch.
Or you can take it
Warmly like the hand your father offered
Once in forgiveness and afterward
Kept to himself.
Or you can stand there briefly, as bewildered
As by the door of a walk-in time-lock safe,
Stand there and stare
At the whole concept of shutness, like a rat
Whose maze has been rebaffled overnight,
Stand still and quiver, unable to turn
Around or go left or right.
Or you can grasp it with a sly, soundless discretion,
Open it inch by inch, testing each fraction
Of torque on the spindles, on tiptoe
Slip yourself through the upright slot
And press the lock-stile silently
Back into its frame.
Or you can use your shoulder
Or the hard heel of your shoe
And a leg-thrust to break it open.
Or you can approach the door as if accustomed
To having all barriers open by themselves.
You can wrench aside
This unauthorized interruption of your progress
And then leave it ajar
For others to do with as they may see fit.
Or you can stand at ease
And give the impression you can see through
This door or any door and have no need
To take your physical self to the other side.
Or you can turn the knob as if at last
Nothing could please you more, your body language
Filled with expectations of joy at where you're going,
Holding yourself momentarily in the posture
Of an awestruck pilgrim at the gate-though you know
You'll only be stepping out against the scrim
Or a wobbly flat daubed with a landscape,
A scribble of leaves, a hint of flowers,
The bare suggestion of a garden.
The Bible |
Bless the Lord, O my soul
And all that is within me
Forgetting not His benefits
Nor forgiveness of iniquity
Bless Him, who brings healing
And redemption to our lives
Crowning us with loving kindness
And with blessings, satisfies.
Scripture Poem © Copyright Of M.
Emily Dickinson |
He strained my faith --
Did he find it supple?
Shook my strong trust --
Did it then -- yield?
Hurled my belief --
But -- did he shatter -- it?
Racked -- with suspense --
Not a nerve failed!
Wrung me -- with Anguish --
But I never doubted him --
'Tho' for what wrong
He did never say --
Stabbed -- while I sued
His sweet forgiveness --
Jesus -- it's your little "John"!
Don't you know -- me?