A Bit of Irish In Honor of the Day: Poet John O’Donohue’s “Beannacht” … a blessing

The Irish poet and writer, John O’Donohue (1956-2008) was as moved by the landscape of the soul as he was by the landscape of his country with its Celtic spirituality. An ordained Catholic priest, he eventually left the priesthood, but he never abandoned the mystical roots of his Christianity. He was a Hegelian philosopher, did doctoral work on Meister Eckhart, was fluent in Irish and German, was an environmental activist, and wrote several best-selling books (both nonfiction and poetry). His most notable work was Anam Cara:A Book of Celtic Wisdom. (Anam Cara meaning soul friend.)

    Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition.”

blessthespacebetweenlrgNo one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

~  John O’Donohue, The Inner History of a Day, excerpt from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

normal_saint_patricks_day_Shamrock_Pipes

Against the Evidence, I Live By Choice ~ David Ignatow

41jATvIjAMLI was reminded of David Ignatow (1914-1997, American poet and editor) yesterday when I read Luke Prater’s poem about the death of a fly, Calvin’s God, which is well done.

In his poem Luke mentions Ignatow, who wrote I Killed A Fly.

I’m thinking Ignatow has a spare and direct style that is worth studying, especially if you are serious about your own poetry. Here is a sample of his work from a favorite collection. There are a number of people who read here who will relate to this, a good Sunday night read.

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AGAINST THE EVIDENCE

by David Ignatow

As I reach to close each book
lying open on my desk, it leaps up
to snap at my fingers. My legs
won’t hold me, I must sit down.
My fingers pain me
where the thick leaves snapped together
at my touch.
All my life
I’ve held books in my hands
like children, carefully turning
their pages and straightening out
their creases. I use books
almost apologetically. I believe
I often think their thoughts for them.
Reading, I never know where theirs leave off
and mine begin. I am so much alone
in the world, I can observe the stars
or study the breeze, I can count the steps
on a stair on the way up or down,
and I can look at another human being
and get a smile, knowing
it is for the sake of politeness.
Nothing must be said of estrangement
among the human race and yet
nothing is said at all
because of that.
But no book will help either.
I stroke my desk,
its wood so smooth, so patient and still.
I set a typewriter on its surface
and begin to type
to tell myself my troubles.
Against the evidence, I live by choice.

© poem and cover art, Wesleyan Poetry Series, used here under fair use