Steps Toward a Community of Poets

 

“It is very unfortunate,” said Klingsohr, “that poetry has a particular name, and that poets constitute a particular class. It is not, however, strange. It arises from the natural action of the human spirit. Does not every human being strive and compose at every moment?”
— Novalis, Heinrich von Ofterdingen

 

Poetry Night / Celebration of the 250th Birthday of Novalis

On May 7, 2022, the Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities of the School for Spiritual Science in North America met by Zoom for another Poetry Night. You will find the poetry and the readings of the poetry on this page.

 

Literary Arts & Humanities

The group dedicated this evening to the poet Novalis, and we started the meeting with a fragment “Ars Literraria” by Novalis that you can find in Das Allgemeine Brouillon, available in English as Notes for a Romantic Encyclopedia (trans. by David Wood, SUNY Press, 2011).

ARS LITTERARIA. Everything that a scholar does, says, speaks, suffers, and hears etc. must be an artistic, technical, and scientific product, or some such operation. He speaks in epigrams, he acts in a play, he is a dialogist, he lectures on treatises and sciences—he relates anecdotes, stories, fairy tales, novels, he perceives poetically. If he draws, he draws sometimes as an artist, sometimes as a musician. His life is a novel—and that’s why he sees, hears, and reads everything precisely in this manner.  In short, the true scholar is the completely developed human being—who bestows on whatever he touches and does, a scientific, idealistic and syncritistic form.

— Novalis

This fragment seems especially apt for our work in the Section. We will return to it in future meetings, especially in those meetings in which we continue our discussions of the meaning and mission of the Section. For more on the history of the Section, click this sentence.

“Stone Soup” photo by Bruce Donehower

 

Original Poetry Read During the Meeting 

I did not include translations or poems shared by the meeting members who read the verse of favorite poets.  These favorite poets included DH Lawrence, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Seamus Heaney, and RM Rilke. I did include the original translation of a poem by Novalis.

All original poems and translations are ©2022 by the signed poet or translator.

 

Poems by Daniel Davis (California)

st. bride’s day

daffodils
spread along their slope by so many springs
the sun above the sky loses its offerings
for green stems’ gains gives yellow blooms’
chalices lifted and petals low, also, widened.

along the paths below the way rooted bulbs grow
‘neath the trees’ still barren arches’ reach and throw.

raise, my eyes, in praise to the sky’s blue its due
but subtle neck, lower like old palmer prayers anew
like the stem, like the chalice, even,
like the daffodil, like earth itself—given

already, now, await another spring another spread— thou,
great sun on past the sky’s high shelter, allow
daffodils, thy light gained, grown, gowned st. bride’s day—
hallow’d.

homage to novalis

simple vetch
distinguishes
itself
among the other weeds
along a road in the ditch and
through the big corner field
by its blue flower.

(weeds flower—
once used for feed for flock
or human hunger’s simple need—
as it were).

watch it hover if held by stronger stems
else crawl into green cover spring strew
out the old pod that, ripened, grew
once the sun’s thirst for the new
spurred the blue burst true if to
no other purpose but its hue.

watch hover one with the sun
fade, fade to night’s claim
secure there as love would have us here:
how each leaf, stem and seed knew
the sun’s dry breath like the rain.

(who’s the fellow changed his name to fallow?
the blue flower a-ramble a god a home allow)?

blue flower determine yourself to seed—
dense hue solve to night’s appearance.

TMNT* hollywood movie hermetic** blues

Nova Lisa, Nova Lisa, you have named you
You’re so like someone with your mystic smile
Is it only ’cause you’re lonely who can blame you?
For that Nova Lisa strangeness in your smile?

Do you smile to tempt a lover, Nova Lisa?
Or is this your way you chide your broken heart?
Many dreams she brought to your doorstep
They just lie there and they die there

Are you warm, are you real, Nova Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?
(are you sad ‘cause Leo’s taken up your part?)

Do you smile to tempt a lover, Nova Lisa?
Or is this your way you chide your broken heart?
Many dreams she has taken to your doorstep
They just lie there and they die there

Are you warm, are you real, Nova Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely lovely work of art?
(are you sad ‘cause Leo’s taken up your part?)

Nova Lisa, Nova Lisa? do you really smile at all at all?

Poems by Philip Thatcher (British Columbia)

From Above
after F. R. Scott

That is when you see it
how water pervades this land

From a single propeller Beaver low
over Johnstone Strait, over the
sounds and inlets reaching into
sheer coastal rock before touching
down so deftly
on the Kingcome River

Coming out of Inuvik, the Mackenzie Delta
below a maze of ponds, channels
a labyrinth of passage and dead ends
looking for that Ariadne thread
as westward the east slope of the
Richardson Mountains marks where
the last ice age came to a stop

Flying west from Fort Simpson to the
South Nahanni River and its falls,
above the myriad lakes below
and eastward from Yellowknife
into Nunavut, then west again over
lake upon lake, the blue of each
alight at the ending of the day

Rising out of Cape Dorset and looking
north into Baffin Island, lakes spreading
across the wet earth, into the wet earth
northward, southward
three million of them
configuring this land

On the night flights high above
an inkling of the Voyageur canoes
that once travelled far below,
the long stretches of opening water
and the portages well known,
sensing down into the darkness
how water holds this land together
how water prepares the way
into this land and away from it

An early spring flight westward over
the Davis Strait. Below, a mesh of ice
breaks south toward Newfoundland
as its bergs begin to emerge
and a flight eastward through
a long summer night, from the north
side of the plane
At the horizon
the mouth of a great river empties
into what lies beyond the horizon
Above its flow the sun that does
not set floods open
spills down
into the long summer night
an effulgence of water
an intimation of fire

Eddies

The eddies are where the river
comes to itself

In mid-current
movement is all; in the act of
moving, movement asks for nothing
but the act. In mid-current there
are no questions, no doubts
no second thoughts

The eddies
are where the river can curve back
upon itself, hesitate, breathe both ways
and re-gather itself

In the eddy
straight lines dissolve in the re-curving
of the river, until the current finds itself
breaks loose and moves onward

The eddies are where there can be
forethought, an after thought
and a second chance

Poems by Nicholas Morrow (Washington)

UNCHARTED SEA

Past and future stand face to face,
adjusting the matrix with truth and grace,
Sophia retreating to winter’s womb
to emerge as a beacon and morning star,
with beauty a gift and reward to be earned,
sculpting the cosmic script for becoming,
another chapter for the annals of soul.

Given the task of becoming human
we navigate through storm and season
destined for a golden dawn sure to come,
with love’s Michaelic staff held high,
lighting the way for all to follow,
embracing the task and forging our freedom,
with courage from the depths of heaven drawn,
life sustained by the Sun that in Earth abides,
for we have one by one been chosen
and as one from one have come,
one forevermore until seasons cease to be
and Love is seated upon her thrown,
Jupiter rising as a second sun
in the midst of cosmic night,
flooding the spheres with transformed light.

Oh my, how will it be
when metamorphosis has run its course
and we take our places at heaven’s gate,
human beings in finer forms of physicality,
surrendering gravity for light born faculties of levity,
reaching the summit with our trials complete,
wheels within wheels turning,
pendulums in perpetual motion,
periphery to center to periphery again,
still point at extremes with a portal between,
as time, past and present vanish,
mirrored in every human heart and mind,
in gaze and recognition,
when You and I in another lifetime meet
to explore Love’s uncharted sea.

ANTIDOTE

How is it with war and hate
that they dominate our destiny
and what antidote could turn the tide,
what thought rend the veil and set us free?

What tactic and demise do we meet
hidden behind the mask of truth
supported by wealth, fame, and authority,
that mark us doomed from birth?

Is it our subtle, sensitive minds
and our nature to believe and trust
that goodness will overcome evil
and transform fear, greed, and lust?

Is it the deeds we perform day to day
with courage, generosity, and compassion,
that offer our adversaries alternatives
while realizing our goals and mission?

When it comes to war and hate
nothing worth having remains in the end,
but when embraced face to face
the adversary becomes an ally and friend.

The dynamics of war and identity
lives in every human being,
in every artist with imagination,
in every deed, thought, and feeling.

What is the source of war and hate
unless it is fear of loss and rejection
that sees ownership and pride as a goal
with freedom and soul as a victim?

Does not the demise of war
begin with identifying the enemy,
and the mastery over hate
with naming the source of enmity?

The antidote then is clear and concise
with birth and death the decisive answer
for in death identity is consumed
and birth brings hope for the future.

GOSSAMER WINGS

Some of us wonder as we wander,
“Where are we going and what is our destination?”
It may not be clear but it seems we are going somewhere
and many of us have a goal and destination in mind
or even a plan of how to get there and what it will be like.
Some imagine completion to be a pause, an interlude,
before new goals are imagined and embraced,
on the road again, engaged in occupations and projects
that day by day, months or years seem endless,
and even if there is life after death is it a destination
or is there more?

Novalis, dear poet, scribed these thoughts for us to ponder,
“Where are we going then? Always towards home.”
Thus we wonder as we wander what it will be like
when we arrive at this destination called home
and then are we done, finished, satisfied?

Picture the people, places, things, times, and events
at some point in your past and imagine yourself there.
Remember your goals, hopes, dreams, and situation.
Now you are here. Did they unfold as you planed?
Are you home yet or still homeless or returning,
or is home with you and you never left?

Is it the destination that matters
or the getting there that gives life meaning,
or more poignant, is death a destination
and once dead is rebirth the goal
and if attained are we not back to the primal wondering,
smiling at the thought and rolling in wit,
with mystery an adventure elucidating the future,
the home that is destination and point of departure?

Do you get the point or do you care?
While you contemplate this,
may I suggest that you live life to its fullest,
lit up with possibility and love along the way,
eventually emerging from the chrysalis
with gossamer wings of wonder and delight,
or maybe you already have.

Poems by Roger Rindge (California)

New Zealand, 1942: An Die Musik

Schubert’s been up since dawn,
Digging patiently, lifting one stone
After the other. Who knows
Where this new path will lead? Only that
One hundred seventy years later,
One wants to bring him bread,
Or good dark coffee with strudel;
Lift off his glasses and kiss him thanks.

The fields are full of streambeds
He’s laid out; and some nights,
When he ventures into the city,
The bricks and paving-stones
Ache to have been touched by his hands.
He’s been hearing all along,
And long before that;

He merely traces the windings
Of his ear and follows. If someone
Should sing later, fine. What he leaves
Are places where living water
Might flow: a course of waiting.
So that if Ferrier or Schwarzkopf
Opens her throat, the countryside’s
Restored, the city is fed for one more night.

Or if a high school girl, at the Athenaeum
In Wellington, tries out her barely-shaped
Voice, the melody just managing
To be recognizable: it’s never
Forgotten, the nourishment
Returns to her, to us; and fifty years later
The springs inside still well.

Sometime In Late Autumn

On the bridge in Leipzig, at twilight,
The woman meets with a stranger.
She’s only twenty. No one told her
What would happen. Woman or man,
The stranger gives her something,
Through hands or heart, into her eyes,
And she is filled deeper than soul’s joy.

She said she knew then she was loved
In the way she’d be loved after death.
So, in the five months of her dying,
Others took comfort from her: there was
Nothing left they could give her;
There was nothing she could show them, but that.

Was she standing, or walking alongside,
When it happened? Perhaps the stranger
Asked her what she was thinking,
What troubled her: was it what would
Happen to her child? Maybe
No words were exchanged at all.

Probably she just looked up, some quiet
Wave lifting her head a little.
Others have. Others have walked before,
Two or three, bereft, and someone
Came up to them. Bridge made of stone,
And all the other voices
Were disappearing. Bread
Crumbling into the water. Maybe then,
Maybe some hours later, she knew who it was.

Poems by Peter Rennick (Arizona)

Legendary Valentine

There must be a library hidden somewhere
Like the ruined one in Ephesus
Or in the invisible City of Kitezh
Hovering above the yellow lake
Where the history of feeling is kept
Piled high with manuscripts and scrolls
Ranks of scribes hard at work
Passing one dead language
Into another living text
The annals of rage alone
Must take up several walls at least
With their tedious commentaries
Until you come to the crypt
Where a small bejeweled book
Illuminates itself in an alcove
Its one word love unread inside

Proven Valentine

This spring’s miracle is just
That the yellow swallowtail
Came back to my yard
And made me a man again
Despite my warring nature
Who watches for such things
As proof of a god so small
He must be the last of his kind
With just enough light left
To stumble into wings
Or else he is just the first
Of many angels who make it across
That invisible abyss
We who would not come to him
So he must come to us


Novalis Valentine

And to know this all
Is just a reflection in the mirror
Before which another you is standing
The first great trial
To remove the veil
And feel yourself as world
As multiple discreet
Particles of light
Looking back across
The dark ravine
At that other self
You left behind
Who waits for you
His eyes straining
Into the void searching
For your star to stir

Poem by Friedrich von Hardenberg, Novalis (Saxony); from Heinrich von Ofterdingen, chapter 3, “Atlantis” (trans. Bruce Donehower)

Down many a rugged thorny path
Strides Poet in tattered robe,
He slogs through flood and deep morass —
Sans help, sans friend . . . alone.

Sore and vexed, with lowered head,
He travels, deeply sighing,
With trembling steps, as if he dreads
His path will end in dying.

“To me has come a mournful fate.
Despised, I wander free; —
Delight and peace are what I gave,
But none shared gifts with me.

“Human life and human world
These I bless and praise!
And yet my gift, my poet’s word,
Is coldly thrust away.

“They calmly let me take my leave
Like springtime. Wander on!
Not one of them will sigh or grieve
When spring has sadly gone.

“They long for fruit, but spurn the tree
From which the harvest falls.
I sing a heaven all can see
But no one heeds the call.

“With gratitude I feel the might
Of magic on my lips.
Embrace me, spirits! Bind me tight
To love, my pledge and kin!

But no one hears this sad complaint,
This voice from distant lands.
Will any heart — for pity’s sake! —
Smile warmly? Lend a hand?”

His cheeks are damp, he falls asleep
In high grass softly swaying,
A hovering spirit, high and deep,
Draws near, like heartfelt praying.

“Forget your former pain and grief,
Discard the empty chalice.
What you did once in hovels seek,
You’ll find inside a Palace.

“Fame and fortune, these await.
Your tortured course is ending.
A myrtle-wreath shall crown with grace.
Behold! It is descending.

“To glory that surrounds a throne
A loving heart feels summoned.
Step upward, Poet! Claim your home!
You are the King’s beloved!”

With hasty steps and eager pace
From dreamland comes the poet:
Beneath the trees, to palace gate,
Arriving ere he knows it.

The walls stand firm like hardened steel
But poetry finds no hindrance.
Swiftly love and pain reveal
The child beyond the entrance.

Love holds them in a tight embrace,
But clang of armor frightens.
They flee to refuge, a darkened place,
Where love and passion heighten.

Here timidly they hide away,
Fearing the monarch’s ire.
They wake at every dawn of day
To pain and keen desire.

Hope is the poet’s whispered balm
To sooth young mother’s pains.
When lo! Attracted by their song,
The monarch finds the cave!

The princess pleads; proffers her boon:
A grandson with golden hair!
Chastened, they await their doom,
But anger fades to air.

Songs and affection ease and sooth
The heart of Father-King.
They sweetly calm his angry mood —
Harmony in all things!

Measure for measure love repays
What love before has taken.
Atonement, kissing! Have your day!
Let heavenly joy awaken!

Spirit of Poetry! Come! Descend!
Embrace true love, your sibling.
The prodigal daughter homeward wends
To greet her father: King!

He holds with joy his greatest treasure,
Child / Madonna: two in one.
And yielding all to love’s sweet pleasure,
Embraces Poet as his son.

Poem by Gayle Davis (California)

NOVALIS SINGS THE BLUES

She meant everything –
But left you
To sing
The Blues in the Night

Your Orphic Blues –
a blue torch-flower bouquet.
Over there
the bridegroom carries the torch.
For Her –
a processional that illumines our darkness

Your torch –
passed on to us!
To all romantics
who –
For Love
would venture death’s Chthonian threshold
Eleusis

Poems by A. Roz Mar (Arizona) (Read by Bruce Donehower at the poet’s request)

Red Robed Heart

Red robed heart wears the King’s golden crown in
Queen’s domain.
Listen deeply silent,
listen well.

Solar rhythm beats the heart, the horse’s hoofs of Destiny.
At birth’s beginning
hearts travail restlessly, attunes on forgiveness, renewing.

Listen well, a soul’s return
sounds deeply silent,
the clarion bell the heart’s enchantment.

Ice Sparkles

Ice sparkles,
see there the lively spark of “I”
on snowy ground,
a mirror.
a world,
the sun in a snow flake,
speaks the Moon.

Summer Love

A Dream Brother,
far off lands,
a Water Lover, creative hands.
Silver cape of Uri’el turns an Autumn’s gold
to meet the dragon warrior on the meteoric road.
Who am I but a grain of sand
on a shore of golden souls,
love’s ray out to strangers
glad to know.

 

 

 

 

Written by Admin
May 08, 2022