My favorite poem. What 's yours?

Joseph Campbell formulated what became his most quoted dictum, "Follow your bliss" in the decade before his death. Join this conversation to explore this idea and share stories.

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Post by A J » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

My favorite bits and pieces from TS Eliot's Four Quartets:

from Burnt Norton

Time present and time past
Are both present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present,
All time is unredeemable
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose- leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we folllow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotus rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool,
The a cloud passes, and the pool was empty,
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, said the bird; human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

from East Coker

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie--
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.
... There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
For the knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.

from The Dry Salvages

I do not know much about gods, but I believe that the river
Is a strong, brown god--sullen, untames, and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognized as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then, only a problem confronting the builder of bridges,
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities--ever, however, implacable,
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant--
Among other things--or one way of putting the same thing;
That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavendar spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened.
'Fare forward, you who think you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the habour
Receding, or those who will disembark
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.
Men's curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint--
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all,but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses, and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is

from Little Gidding

...You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity,
Or carry report. You are here to knell where prayer has been valid.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right(where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.



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Post by nandu » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am


TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Frightening...and prophetic?

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
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Post by kalona » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

As of today, I am new to this site and must say that I've found all of these poems/poets quite illuminating (as Herr Weyers' favorite poet so aptly put it). I don't know that this fits in so well with these other poems; however, I do feel it goes along perfectly with Mr. Campbell's "follow your bliss." Unfortunately, I do not know who should be credited for it. I saw it once, several years ago, and haven't been able to find it anywhere since; truthfully, I don't even know if I'm quoting it correctly, but this is the gist of it. If anyone else knows, please, do tell.

"If you bring forth what is in you, you will sing."
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Post by Vissi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Welcome, kalona,

For me, your poem does fit beautifully and is a wonderful explanation for why we sing. <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif"> I hope you will enjoy participating in the conversations here.

Peace, love, joy,
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thanks for joining in and welcome, Kalona - thanks, as always, for saying welcome, Vissi.

Kitsch or Kunst? Doesn't matter for me, cause I simply love it - High on a Rocky Ledge by Louis "Moondog" Hardin. That man wasn't a singer or author or kind of boring whatsoever, but an ARTIST.....

....Even if he may look a bit like a hobo:


... and also, just like Campbell, a wonderful example for something new to grew up upon a prolific exchange between European and American culture from my viewpoint (he has started in Kansas, continued in New York, and ended in Germany):

High on a rocky ledge lives a Mädel, Edelweiß.
She has a shadow, lovely as lace, and cold as ice.
High on a rocky ledge, I pledged my love to her.
Every time I climb up to Paradise.
How many times I´ve been up to see her, goodness knows, huffing and puffing, dressed in the warmest climbing clothes.
How many dabces would be taken in my hopeless pursuit of the Schnee-Mädel-Edelweiß.
Then spoke a spirit, "If you would win your Lady Love, There´s only one way: fall to your death from high above.
You will begin to grow in snow beside the one You have waited for to be mated with."
Now, I´m an Edel, vice to my Mädel, Edelweiß.
Dying to be with her wasn't any sacrifice.
We´re so deliriously happy on your ledge where I pledge my love to my Lady Fair.
You who are climbing breathless to see me and my love.
Snow flowers growing fonder on Lover´s Ledge above.
If you´ve the yen to pluck, then pluck us both, for we who have lived as one, wish to die as one.
(Mädel = girl
Schnee = snow
edel = noble
weiß = white
edelweiß = noble-white, Snow-white)

Kalona, do you know that story from the Michael Toms interviews with Joseph Campbell? (Published as An open Life (book summary), The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell (4 tapes) and also available as a complete series of records for radio broadcasting at Michael Toms' ) - Campbell is talking here about a typical mythological and also psychological story (never really understood the difference!) about missing the song of life, sung by a bird in a forest. Once we have listened to that song, we have to sing it ourselves: "If you bring forth what is in you, you will sing", as a wise person used to day...!
Kunst, Symbole, Mythologie

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Post by kalona » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Thank you, Vissi & Martin, for the warm welcome. And thanks, Martin, for the introduction to Mr Hardin(yes, he appears to be anything but boring). I actually purchased the interviews with Michael Tom's for my husband's birthday; I have yet to listen to them. My husband is the one who first introduced me to Campbell ~ I was truly enlightened. I have always been prone to "follow-my-bliss" without calling it precisely that, but I no longer feel guilty about it. Anyway, enough of my yammering.....Ciao
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Post by HeathWater » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I think this is a great poem.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or Rather - He passed Us -
The Dews grew quivering and chill -
For only Gossamer, my Gown -
My Tippet - only Tulle

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Emily Dickinson

Respectfully,<br>Heath Carter
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Post by Vissi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am


Welcome and thank you for adding sweet Emily's song to this embarrassment of poetic riches. I look forward to your contributions and hope you will enjoy your participation here.

Peace, love, joy,
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Post by Robert G. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

God's World

O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart. Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay


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Post by chemicalx » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

So hard to pick just one, but I will choose the one that has deep meaning for me both in the words of the poem and also in the warm memories it brings of childhood when my father would recite it to me on a quiet afternoon in the garden:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

--William Wordsworth
"The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on."<br>--Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed
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Post by ShantiSong » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

The Day Is Done

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

- The Day Is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Starry Night over the Rhone, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Musée d'Orsay, Paris

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Post by Mark O. » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

by Rumi...

Sometimes I forget completely what companionship is.
Unconscious and insane, I spill sad energy everywhere.
My story gets told in various ways: a romance, a dirty joke, a war, a vacancy.

Divide up my forgetfulness to any number, it will go around.
These dark suggestions that I follow, are they part of some plan?
Friends, be careful. Don't come near me out of curiousity, or
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Post by ronda » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didnt he danced his did.

Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed (but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his greif
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then) they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day amyone died i guess
(and noone stoopedbto kiss his face)
busy folk buried themnside side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men (both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowingand went their came
sun moon stars rain

e e cummings (1940)
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Post by Waka » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

HAHAHA I love these forums. I find so so many things I am thinking about on here. I did a report on the poem anyone lived in a pretty how town by cummings for english. It seems like the universe just likes to say "Hi I'm still here"
Better than a thousand useless words is one word that gives peace.- Buddha<br>Let yourself be free. :-)
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Post by NathanGear » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I was at Big Sur for 3 days last week. Was planning on doing a bit of writing. Was just mesmorized by the ocean... who could think of writing? Although I did get down:

Prometheus performs his magic
Tonight - a fire!
Unlike Sequoia which was too damp


Looking at the swirls in the stream
I thought the lesson of this trip was going to be chaos
Instead, it's motion


Trickle down hydrology works
Trickle down economy doesn't


Seagulls in slow motion flight
barely making progress
against the strong wind


A scrub jay requested tax for the coastal view
strip of bread - I declined
__ ______

and I lose my sandwich
This last one I wrote at home. Maybe 2 weeks ago:
Fragmented remains
mosquito's wax tomb
Overhead bats navagate the cool summer 2am

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