Monday, December 08, 2003

Some Lines from a Poem by Robert Hass

An extraordinarily beautiful poem. Please go forth and buy his book.

Faint Music

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.

When everything broken is broken,

and everything dead is dead,

and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,

and the heroine has studied her face and its defects

remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,

as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves

has lost its novelty and not released them,

and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,

watching the others go about their days--

likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears--

that self-love is the one weedy stalk

of every human blossoming, and understood,

therefore, why they had been, all their lives,

in such a fury to defend it, and that no one--

except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool

of poverty and silence--can escape this violent, automatic

life's companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,

faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.


It's not the story though, not the friend

leaning toward you, saying "And then I realized--,"

which is the part of stories one never quite believes.

I had the idea that the world's so full of pain

it must sometimes make a kind of singing.

And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps--

First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.

--Robert Hass

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