Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mystics from a Different Angle

Today is the birthday of Edward Hirsch, who wrote one of my favorite contemporary poems that explores mysticism. I like it because it comes at the topic from a different--and breathtaking--angle. That's what I like my poems--those that I write and those that I read--to do, to make me see a topic in a way I would never have thought about seeing it, in a way that my rational brain would never discover without the help of poets and mystics.

I'm Going to Start Living Like a Mystic

by Edward Hirsch

Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
and walking across the park in a dusky snowfall.

The trees stand like twenty-seven prophets in a field,
each a station in a pilgrimage — silent, pondering.

Blue flakes of light falling across their bodies
are the ciphers of a secret, an occultation.

I will examine their leaves as pages in a text
and consider the bookish pigeons, students of winter.

I will kneel on the track of a vanquished squirrel
and stare into a blank pond for the figure of Sophia.

I shall begin scouring the sky for signs
as if my whole future were constellated upon it.

I will walk home alone with the deep alone,
a disciple of shadows, in praise of the mysteries.

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