Saturday, January 15, 2011

Elephant Rocks

By Kay Ryan,
Current poet laureate of the United States.

Here and there,
at the edges and marges,
a bit of an elephant surfaces-
a dome and a dip, a haunch
or an aspect of head-
some worn-away soft and yet
angular hump of the
shambling elephant armature,
up through the earth - a bump
or a knob with the elephant signature.
The ancient, implacable creature
comes ambling back; a bulge
reemerges, that sober, that
giveaway gray. The dirt
rubs away from a treasure
too patient and deep to be lost,
however we've hurt, whatever
we've done to the beasts,
whatever we say.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Photo Credit: google images


By Kay Ryan

As some people age
they kinden.
The apertures
of their eyes widen.
I do not think they weaken;
I think something weak strengthens
until they are more and more aware of it,
like letting in heaven.
But other people are
mussels or clams, frightened.
Steam or knife blades mean open.
They hear heaven, they think boiled or broken.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress Blog


By Kay Ryan

Whatever must be learned
is always on the bottom,
as with the law of drawers
and the necessary item.
It isn't pleasant,
whatever they tell children,
to turn out on the floor
the folded things in them.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Photo credit: Christina Koci Hernandez  

If The Moon Happened Once

By Kay Ryan

If the moon happened once,
it wouldn't matter much,
would it?

Once evening's ticket
punched with a
round or a crescent.

You could like it
or not like it,
as you chose.

It couldn't alter
every time it rose;

it couldn't do those
things with scarves
it does.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Photo Credit: Google Images. 

How A Thought Thinks

By Kay Ryan

An thought is dumb,
without eyes, ears,
opposable thumb,
or a tongue.
A thought lives
underground, not
wholly moleish
but with some
of the same
The amazing thing
is that it isn't helpless.
Of all creatures
it is the most
random eater.
Caring only for travel
it eats whatever
roots, ants, or gravel
it meets.It occupies
no more space
than moles. We know it
only by some holes
and the way
apparently healthy notions
topple in the garden.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.

All Shall Be Restored

By Kay Ryan

The grains shall be collected
from the thousand shores
to which they found their way,
and the boulder restored,
and the boulder itself replaced
in the cliff, and likewise
the cliff shall rise
or subside until the plate of the earth
is without fissure. Restoration
knows no half-measure. It will
not stop when the treasured and lost
bronze horse remounts the steps.
Even this horse will founder backward
to coin, cannon, and domestic pots,
which themselves shall bubble and
drain back to green veins in stone.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.


By Kay Ryan

Connections lie in wait-
something that in
the ordinary line of offenses
makes offense more great.
They entrap, they solicit
under false pretenses,
they premeditate.
They tie one of
your shoelaces
to one of a stranger,
they tie strings to purses
and snatch as
you lean down, eager
for a little something gratis.

Ryan, K. (1996). Elephant Rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


By Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920

Our Deepest Fear

By Marianne Williamson
(Quoted in Nelson Mandela's Inauguration Speech)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Williamson, M. (1992). A return to love: Reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brief Poetry Bibliography

Ginsberg, A. (1986). White shroud: Poems 1980-1985. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Oates, J. C. (1996). Essential Dickinson. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Peircy, M. (2009). The crooked inheritance. New York, NY: Knopf.
Ryan, K. 1996). Elephant rocks. New York, NY: Grove Press.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Refuge Prayer

By Thich Nhat Hanh

I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning
and to help relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon.
I vow to live simply and sanely,
content with just a few possessions.
I vow to let go of all worry and anxieties in order to be light and free.

From The Chanting Book. Plum Village, France.

Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille

de Mille precedes the Graham quotation with: "The greatest thing she ever said to me was in 1943 after the opening of Oklahoma! when I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha. I remember the conversation well. It was in a Schrafft's restaurant over a soda. I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.

According to Agnes de Mille: text "I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. ... I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be." Martha said to me, very quietly,

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.

de Mille, A. (1991). Martha: The life and work of Martha Graham. New York, NY: Random House.

"Go Outside; Enjoy the Sun and all Nature"

By Anne Frank

Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you. Beauty remains,even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance.

Centering Technique

In a recent KPLU Fresh Air interview (March 10, 2008) with Lorin Maazel, 78-year-old conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro Maazel described his suggestions for preparing for the physical and emotional rigors of conducting:

Take a deep breath
Take 60 seconds to relax every muscle of your body
Take a deep breath

Have the following conversation with yourself: What I do here is of no consequence; I am a servant. I will do this job with enthusiasm, exhilaration and focus.

When asked if he used the above technique prior to his recent concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, he stated that the above technique is used by students and young professionals-and that because the above technique is second-nature to him, he no longer needs this external exercise.

Born: March 6, 1930 - Neuilly (Paris), France

The conductor Lorin Maazel was born in France of American parents. He was brought up and educated in the USA. His possession of absolute (perfect) pitch and photographic memory were discovered when he was four years of age. His musical studies began the next year with violin and piano. He also studied conducting in Pittsburgh with Vladimir Bakaleinikoff. At the age of seven, he was invited by Arturo Toscanini to conduct the N.B.C. Symphony, and subsequently led the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in summer concerts at Lewisohn Stadium. In 1939, at the age of nine, he conducted the Interlochen Orchestra at the New York World's Fair, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in the Hollywood Bowl, sharing a program with Leopold Stokowski. He made his Cleveland Orchestra debut on March 4, 1943, at a pension fund concert in Public Music Hall.

At the age of sixteen, Lorin Maazel entered the University of Pittsburgh to study languages, mathematics, and philosophy. While a student, he was a violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, served as apprentice conductor during the 1949-1950 season, and organized the Fine Arts Quartet of Pittsburgh. In 1951 he studied baroque music in Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship, and began conducting leading European orchestras. In the summer of 1952, he conducted the Cleveland Summer Orchestra (Cleveland Pops) in two concerts at Public Hall.

Lorin Maazel was the first American and youngest conductor to conduct at Byreuth. He has conducted throughout Europe, Australia, North and South America, Japan, the former Soviet Union, at most international festivals and opera houses including Salzburg, Edinburgh and Lucerne, the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Paris Opera, and Covent Garden. He has appeared with all the major symphony orchestras including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra.

Lorin Maazel began his tenure as the fifth Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra at the beginning of the 1972-1973 season, a position he held for ten years. During his tenure in Cleveland, he appeared with the orchestra in some 700 performances, made seven international tours with the orchestra: The opening week of the Sydney Opera House in Australia (1973), Japan (1974), Latin America (1975), Europe (1976 and 1979), Mexico City (1977), and the Orient (Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, 1978). He brought opera back to Severance Hall in 1974 with the performance of Richard Strauss, Elektra.

From September 1982 to 1984, Lorin Maazel was General Manager and Artistic Director of the Vienna State Opera. He was the first American to hold that position. He is currently the Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Among his many decorations, awards, and recording prizes are the Comander's Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Legion of Honor of France, and the Commander of the Lion of Finland. He has also been awarded the title of Ambassador of Good Will by the United Nations. He was named an honorary life member of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1985 when he conducted its 40th Anniversary concert. He has received ten Grand Prix du Disque awards.

The Serenity Prayer

By Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.