Friday, November 23, 2012

Poetry Friday: Jack Gilbert


Many years ago, I was in a small workshop led by Jack Gilbert, a lovely poet who died this month at age 87. He was already frail then, and I tremble to think of him living for years with Alzheimer's. Such a lovely man, so spot-on about what did or did not help a poem be at its best. In honor of him, I'm posting this poem for Poetry Friday. You can read more of his work in his critically-celebrated new COLLECTED POEMS, just out this year, and a fine interview with him about "The Art of Poetry" over at THE PARIS REVIEW.

Horses at Midnight Without a Moon  
by Jack Gilbert 

Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
but the angel flies up again taking us with her.
The summer mornings begin inch by inch
while we sleep, and walk with us later
as long-legged beauty through
the dirty streets. It is no surprise 
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing. 
Our spirit persists like a man struggling 
through the frozen valley
who suddenly smells flowers
and realizes the snow is melting
out of sight on top of the mountain,
knows that spring has begun.
 
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I've posted a little something about leftovers, longing, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ken Burns, Maria Popova, writing, honesty, usefulness, sandwiches and soup over at my other blog (shared with my writers group) at Books Around the Table.

The Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Mary Lee Hahn over at A Year of Reading. Head over there to see what other people have posted.
 

3 comments:

Ruth said...

I thought this poem sounded familiar, and sure enough, I posted it myself last March. My favorite line is "What astonishes is the singing." Thank you for sharing this!

Mary Lee said...

I love the hopefulness in this, even as we enter the dark time of the year.

I had a great time at NCTE -- loved getting to know Julie P. a little bit. Maybe Boston next year?

laurasalas said...

Oh, this whole section:

It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.
We know the horses are there in the dark
meadow because we can smell them,
can hear them breathing.

Stunning--thank you for sharing it, Julie.