[the lyric poet] always says “I” and sings us through the full chromatic scale of his passions and desires – (Nietzche)
Think what you will of Nietzche, he goes overlooked as a poet – and I don’t mean his actual poems but more the spirit with which he approached his writing. Like the quote above shows, the big N had a way with the aphoristic insight, a lyric way of understanding the world that showed in everything he said.
It is in this spirit that I started this blog a year ago.
Along with having a place for people interested in my work to find me and connect, I wanted a forum with which to share some of what feeds me creatively with fellow readers and writers.
In the past year, I have shared not only poems I admire but other things as well (philosophy, songs, etc.) that have stirred me and made me think – always with an eye towards how it relates to poetry, the writing of it, the spirit of it.
I recently admitted to fellow poet and blog buddy Miriam Sagan that only now, a year later, have I begun to understand what an ever-evolving animal a blog can be. The Influence has more and more come out of my notebooks, out of my thoughts on a given week. This approach feels right.
This blog, ultimately, is a reader’s blog. The enthusiasm that drives me to share is that of a reader, and what insights I stumble upon are due to reading well. I hope to continue appealing to the reader in all of you.
Lyric poetry is often defined as short and personal. In many ways, our very lives can be defined as such. Reading is where these two worlds – where many worlds – meet.
Here are three poems from Vikram Seth’s book Three Chinese Poets – translations from the work of Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu. Each poem in its own way pays attention to the short and personal world we live in.
Birdsong Brook – Wang Wei
Idly I watch cassia flowers fall.
Still is the night, empty the hill in Spring.
Up comes the moon, startling the mountain birds.
Once in a while in the Spring brook they sing.
In the Quiet Night – Li Bai
The floor before my bed is bright:
Moonlight – like hoarfrost – in my room.
I lift my head and watch the moon.
I drop my head and think of home.
Thoughts While Travelling at Night – Du Fu
Light breeze on the fine grass.
I stand alone at the mast.
Stars lean on the vast wild plain.
Moon bobs in the Great River’s spate.
Letters have brought no fame.
Office? Too old to obtain.
Drifting, what am I like?
A gull between earth and sky.