March 18 – Denise Levertov & David Whyte —> “the mineshaft of passion, ” “the well of grief”

Monday, 2019  two poems for angry times
Anger does best when I can bring it to stillness, when an anger’s source in grief becomes accessible to me.   There’s lots of anger in the land these days and on our campus. We are living a ritual of grief as we send our companion Sally Baker on her deepest and final journey.  Here are two poets who frequently grace this list, writing their way into healing and sacred sorrow.   Try reading them, but not both right in a row; put pauses in between to let the words seep into your day.

Have a blest week here in mid-March and the 2nd week of  Christian Lent.

john sj

Post # 1   David Whyte  “The Well of Grief” 

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,

     the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.

David Whyte b. 1955

Post  # 2  Denise Levertov  “the Mineshaft of passion”

And the poet–it’s midnight, the room is half empty, soon we must part–
the poet, his presence
ursine and kind, shifting his weight in a chair too small for him,
quietly says, and shyly:
“The Poet
never must lose despair.”

Then our eyes indeed
meet and hold,
All of us know, smiling
in common knowledge–
even the palest spirit among us, burdened
as he is with weight of abstractions–
all of us know he means
we mustn’t, any of us, lose touch with the source,
pretend it’s not there, cover over
the mineshaft of passion
despair somberly tolls its bell
from the depths of,

and wildest joy
sings out of too,
the scales of its laughing, improbable music,
grief and delight entwined in the dark down there.

Denise Levertov
b. October 1923  d. December 1997

from: “Conversation in Moscow” in Freeing of the Dust

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