Improvisation on Lines by Isaac the Blind
Only by sucking, not by knowing,
can the subtle essence be conveyed—
sap of the word and the world's flowing
that raises the scent of the almond blossoming,
and yellows the bulbul in the olive's jade.
Only by sucking, not by knowing.
The grass and oxalis by the pines growing
are luminous in us—petal and blade—
as sap of the word and the world's flowing;
a flicker rising from embers glowing;
light trapped in the tree's sweet braid
of what it was sucking. Not by knowing
is the amber honey of persimmon drawn in.
An anemone piercing the clover persuades me—
sap of the word and the world is flowing
across separation, through wisdom's bestowing,
and in that persuasion choices are made:
But only by sucking, not by knowing
that sap of the word through the world is flowing.
- Peter Cole
I’ve grown fascinated with the incantatory powers of the villanelle lately. How meaning shifts and slides through its cadences and sonorities, how images collage and morph and nudge each other as they cascade down toward its final couplet.
I like the surprise of this one’s ideas and that first slightly uncomfortable line that then repeats into familiarity and clarity. What do you think of Cole’s offering here, his exploration of how words and sensory experience interact?
I’m also in a springtime mood, and this one seems to complement the blissful intensity of this warm, clear morning in the Pacific Northwest…
What are you reading or writing, poetry-wise, this week? Share it with us in the comments or by link to your post.