Building the Earth

Building the Earth

Thoughts on ’ Building the Earth’
Most people would admit to hoping that the world will be a better place because they have been in it.
Some people, perhaps most of us, desire to grow into the people love calls us to be.

So where do we look for ideas on how to build the world, the earth or the cosmos? Of course, we look
to people we have known who have made a difference in our lives – our faith leaders and heroes,
people in our families and communities and people whose books we have read. Their stories have allure
for us and tell of allure in other people’s lives that helped people become who they were called to be.
Our experience tells us that love heals wounds and is also alluring to us as we grow towards building
new things.

One of my heroes is the Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin. He talks about ‘Building the Earth’ in his book
of the same name and in many other of his books. Here are some quotations I have collected over many
years from lecture notes and books about and by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

‘We are one, after all,
You and I.
Together we suffer,
Together we exist
And forever will
Recreate each other.
Everything is sacred.’

‘The most telling and profound way of describing the evolution of the universe would undoubtedly be to
trace the evolution of love.’
‘Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.’
‘Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the
energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have created fire.’
‘Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come
into being.’
‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human
experience.’
‘It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.’

I wrote a little poem about what ‘allurement‘ feels like to me. We feel the pull of being drawn to
someone or something because there may be something we will do together with someone else or with
a group that will help ‘build the earth, ’as Tielhard de Chardin puts it. My poem is ‘This One’ and ‘Este.’
It is on pages 26 and 27 of Poems~Poemas.~

The Fist Poem of My Adult Life I Chose to Keep and Why I Am Glad I Did.

The Fist Poem of My Adult Life I Chose to Keep and Why I Am Glad I Did.

On The River
On land good dialogue is difficult.
Seasons tell us when to rest and when to grow.
The river is the place for easy flow.
Flotsam and jetsam float on by.
The daystar and night stars light our way.
Huck and Jim were friends
on the river.

I offer this poem, which I wrote in 1982, not because I think it is a good poem. I offer it because it came
to me and has stayed with me. I hope some poems come to you and stay with you. I hope you honour
your insights.

I took a course in American Literature when we lived in Northern Ontario. After reading and being
smitten with Mark Twain’s novel, Huckleberry Finn, I had some thoughts and feelings about the novel’s
two main characters, Huck and Jim. They were close friends but their social relationship and power in
the community were not equal. Sometimes I identified with Huck and sometimes with Jim.
Jim, who in the story believed he was still an enslaved person, was naïve and gullible but was also
honest and sweet in his friendship with Huck. Huck treated Jim badly and got away with it because he
was a white boy. He painted Jim blue which humiliated Jim. He tied Jim up and sometimes threatened
to ‘turn Jim in’ because Jim was thought to be a runaway.

But, Jim was blessed with natural intelligence. He knew that a storm was coming because of the way
the birds were behaving. He recognized the two main fraudulent characters in the story, the King and
the Duke, and knew it was best to stay away from them. Jim was stalwart in his friendship with Huck.
He was a good friend. When the two boys were together on the river in the raft, just the two of them,
they were both sweet and respectful of each other, good friends.

The boys’ friendship issues were more or less resolved at the end of the story. Jim had been given his
freedom by Miss Watson and had not known it. Huck did eventually leave. He ‘lit out for the
Territories. ’It was something he had thought about and talked about.

My two ongoing questions about the story are: What and where are ‘the Territories’ in people’s stories?
And, are Huck and Jim forevermore connected because of their love for each other?

I remember that the structure of metaphysical poems is in this order:
remembrance, understanding and will.

Many poems are loosely structured in this way. For me, ‘the Territories’ in Mark Twain’s novel could
represent understanding or, in more modern terms, consciousness. ‘The Territories’ could be Huck’s
understanding that he will need space and movement in the world if he is going to’ grow’ into his true
adult self.

In the case of my little poem, ’Witness’ and ‘Testiga’ on pages 22 and 23 of Poems~Poemas, the ‘will’
part of the structure of the poem would be my vowing to remain open to whatever newness I witness.
The insight is the importance of the freedom to be open to what is new.

Diamonds and Sutras – a Sestina Poem

Diamonds and Sutras – a Sestina Poem

DIAMONDS AND SUTRAS: A Sestina, written June 21, 2013.

‘Diamonds and Sutras’ is in Poems for the Journey.
Read my tutorial on how to write a Sestina here. I hope you will enjoy it.

Some people make their fortunes finding diamonds.
Others practice knowledge of the sutras.
Everyone loves listening to stories.
Many forget their worries watching baseball.
I wonder how we all live into surrender
know that all shall be well beyond space and time.

In a game with rules and the mystery of time-
out, played in an open field shaped like a diamond,
playing together requires a kind of surrender.
Commentary for this could be based on the sutras.
Long afternoons richly spent focused on baseball
bring on dreams and become the stuff of stories.
From the beginning I read our children stories.

Those were the final innings of every bedtime.
My own childhood was enriched by the game of baseball.
It was lovely to spend that time focused on diamonds.
Now I’m writing poems and reading the sutras.
Batting and running help me balance surrender.

Lack of balance leads to uncentered surrender.
Practice and play take us home again to our stories.
Some things can be explained best through the sutras.
A practice of love is active over time.
Many assume that all of us are diamonds.
Groups of three can remind us of more than baseball.

Evenings spent under the stars watching baseball –
with overtime the splendid surrender
to freedom from clocks — a treat as rare as diamonds —
replay in my heart as memory that has become story.
One day I’ll write a poem about the time
when ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’ became my sutra.

Playing is more precious even than sutras.
Plenty has come to me through games like baseball.
Nothing moves more relentlessly than time.
Now I gather my strength for what seems like surrender
while praying and paying close attention to stories
about lives of fire and ice brighter than diamonds.

Our grandchildren now play baseball on diamonds.
We make up sutras to help them with surrender —
enrichment for us and our stories over time.

How to Write a Villanelle Poem

How to Write a Villanelle Poem

‘The Way Things Are Is Large,’ is a villanelle in Poems for the Journey p.19. I like writing poems that have some form. It helps get me started with words on the page. Two strong lines about things the poet cares deeply about give energy for finding the other lines. For a while this poem was called ‘Earth Suffused With Light,’ when I saw it again I knew to go back to this original title, ‘The Way Things Are Is Large.’ Hope people try this and have fun with it. The lines can be one very silly and one serious.

VILLANELLE FORM

A, REFRAIN 1
B
A, REFRAIN 2
A
B
A, REFRAIN 1
A
B
A, REFRAIN 2
A
B
B. REFRAIN 1
A
B
REFRAIN 2
A
B
A, REFRAIN 1
A. REFRAIN 2

How To Write a Pantoum

How To Write a Pantoum

There are three pantoums in Poems ~ Poemas:

  • ‘Wind Whispers,’ p.10, ‘El viento susurra,’ p.11
  • ‘Far Traveler,’ p.30, Un viajero lejano,’p.31
  • ‘East Says,’p.52,’ El este dice,’p.53

Here is the pantoum ‘East Says:’

East Says

East says set the second half of life aside for ecstasy.
What better prospect than to be a dancer?
Some say St. Paul was reading in the roadside shade
I have begun to feel the urge to drown my books.
What better prospect than to be a dancer?
Wind is handing out invitations at the door.
I have begun to feel the urge to drown my books.
Retreats are being offered in wild-mind.
Wind is handing out invitations at the door.
Some say St. Paul was reading in the roadside shade.
Retreats are being offered in wild-mind.
East says set the second half of life aside for ecstasy

‘East Says’ is a pantoum. Pantoums can be fun to write. I find them fun to write because
of the repeating lines. I also like that the first line of the poem is the same as the last line.
Here is the outline of the form from Ron Padgett’s The Teachers & Writers Handbook of
Poetic Forms.
”The Western version of the pantoum is a poem of indefinite length made up of stanzas
whose four lines are repeated in a pattern: lines 2 and 4 of each stanza are repeated as
lines 1 and 3 of the next stanza.
line 1
line 2
line 3
line 4
line 5 same as line 2
line 6
line 7 same as line 4
line 8
line 9 same as line 6
line 10
line 11 same as line 8
line 12”
Have fun!

How To Write a Sestina

How To Write a Sestina

It is fun and easy to write a sestina. There are two sestinas in Poems for the Journey: ‘Waves,’ p.11 and ‘Diamonds and Sutras, ’p.15.

The sestina form allows the poet to get lines up on the screen and then play around with the words that come before the end word in every line. During a period of ‘writer’s block,’ a sestina can help writers have something to work with.

It is fun and easy to write a sestina and the form allows the poet to put something up on the computer screen and play with the words. In a time of writer’s block a sestina can sometimes help the writer have something to work with.

Sestina is a verse form with six unrhymed sestets (six line stanzas), each with the same set of final words arranged in different order. The sestina concludes with a three-line stanza that incorporates all six repeated words.

Choose six words with energy for you. Two or three of the words will have less energy than the other words and that is good. Once you have written the first stanza you are on your way.

You can either mix up the six words in each stanza or follow this form.

1 st stanza: 123456
2 nd stanza: 615243
3 rd stanza: 364125
4 th stanza: 532614
5 th stanza: 451362
6 th stanza: 246531

Write a final three line stanza with one of the core words in the middle of each line and another at the end. Read my poem, Diamonds and Sutras which is an example of a sestina.