I am horrendously busy. To the point where every minute, I should have added about 50 more priceless words of wisdom to the project I am working on. Of course, at this point, I feel compelled to blog. You see, the urge to blog is extremely high when the whole world is waiting at your door – to be handed IP (important papers) and VID (very important documents). So instead of being overtly creative, I decide to podcast some more poetry. This wonderful poem is from the collection, Refusing Heaven.
We now bring you Jack Gilbert’s Failing and Flying. Click here to listen to me reading it.
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
On the other side of the island while
Love was fading out of her, the stars
Burning so extravagantly those nights that
Anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
Like a visitation, the gentleness in her
Like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
Through the hot stony field after swimming,
The sea light behind her and the huge sky
On the other side of that. Listened to her
While we ate lunch. How can they say
The marriage failed? Like the people who
Came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
And said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
But just coming to the end of his triumph.
The Myth of Icarus is perhaps a story to warn people from hubris. Or edging close to the world of Gods. But in Icarus, we see that the free-fall may offer joy to some. That while the movement of a “fall” is downward, it needn’t necessarily be something takes away from an experience. The “fall” instead is the sum total of rejecting heaven and its comforts. It is, in fact an acceptance of one’s fragility. A celebration even.
Love isn’t a contract. Sometimes, it ends. As do some of its manifestations. But we fall in love
nor not for the promise of enternity, but for the promise of exhilaration. For the promise of memories. The end of love then, is not failure. It is the rejection of safety and divinity. An acceptance of how the most beautiful things are necessarily mortal. And must be enjoyed in solitude. Here’s Slate’s interesting take on Jack Gilbert’s poetry
No other poet I know captures so well a mind torn between the pleasures of austerity and the fecund, intoxicating powers of abundance. What Gilbert is searching for, poem after poem, are the ideal circumstances where the two intersect, and privation becomes a form of richness, a sharpening of the attention. He is often called a poet of loss, but his poems of loss describe bereavement with a strange relish.
Why exactly am I reading poetry when I have MIW (More Important Work) to do? Because poetry is hypnotic sometimes. Especially a familiar poem. It crashes, wave after wave in some sequence of repetition that I don’t quite bother to decode. In the middle of this hypnotic read, my mind calms a bit. I return to my world, knowing that another can be refused. And reclaimed tomorrow.
PS – If you liked this – please do drop a comment. Encouragement is always welcome. (Somewhat like Ogden Nash’s advise on babies – A bit of Talcum, is always Walcum.)