Noble Dreams

Noble Dreams

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#1 Sun 18th Dec 2011 07:34 am

Registered: Thu 15th Jan 2009

Refusing Heaven

Jack Gilbert is called by many as "the last GREAT POET". I sincerely hope he is not the last, but he is by far and away most wonderful. Just look at the name of his most recent book. "Refusing Heaven", is a play on his love affair with our wonderful planet with all it's wrinkles and pains and hurts. A sample -

A Brief for the Defense

by Jack Gilbert

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies

are not starving someplace, they are starving

somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.

But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.

Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not

be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not

be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women

at the fountain are laughing together between

the suffering they have known and the awfulness

in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody

in the village is very sick. There is laughter

every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,

and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.

If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,

we lessen the importance of their deprivation.

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,

but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have

the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless

furnace of this world. To make injustice the only

measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,

we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.

We must admit there will be music despite everything.

We stand at the prow again of a small ship

anchored late at night in the tiny port

looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront

is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.

To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat

comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth

all the years of sorrow that are to come.

-Jack Gilbert

from his book Refusing Heaven … amp;sr=1-1

and one of his fans left this
Gilbert is not a workshop poet, let alone politically correct in any way. He writes to live and not to get tenure. He's overlooked these days; he's old, out of step, and has never published often. Maybe that's the fate of masters who have written poems that can save your life, like this one:

Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

I've read some women critics who are first bothered by his focus on women, as if he used them as stepping stones to God. Most don't. Gilbert's a little like Robert Graves, who found women in all their humanity the heart of a heartless world. He's a poet of sharp-eyed praise. Read him: he may be the last great poet.

HOPE is the thing with feathers   
That perches in the soul,   
And sings the tune without the words,   
And never stops at all        Emily Dickinson



#2 Sun 18th Dec 2011 09:01 pm

Tom Paine
Tom Paine
Registered: Fri 1st Feb 2008

Re: Refusing Heaven

You're in a minority here, SW. 
You're literate.

Be Well,



#3 Sat 24th Dec 2011 05:52 am

Registered: Thu 15th Jan 2009

Re: Refusing Heaven

Be well also, TP.

But I don't consider myself in the minority for being literate, just in the minority for being in love with life, and I think that comes with age. My heart grows more tenderized each day. I have never even been able to finish reading War and Peace so how could I be literate?

May all good things find you in the coming new year.

HOPE is the thing with feathers   
That perches in the soul,   
And sings the tune without the words,   
And never stops at all        Emily Dickinson



#4 Sun 25th Dec 2011 02:12 am

From: New Mexico
Registered: Wed 14th Jan 2009

Re: Refusing Heaven

I hope and expect this coming year to be full of surprises.
May It Be Wonderful For All Of Us.

We Are One.



#5 Sun 25th Dec 2011 06:43 am

Registered: Sun 27th Jan 2008

Re: Refusing Heaven

Charles wrote:

I hope and expect this coming year to be full of surprises.
May It Be Wonderful For All Of Us.

Happy Everything to Everybody!!

A Wonder-Full Time for All : ) : ) : )

"Let Your Spirit Soar!"



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