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Friday, February 18, 2011

Pearl Square and Everywhere

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Pearl Square and Everywhere


How does light sweep
a room, from a tallow candle,
and the room remain cold?

the worn marble floor,
beneath muted statuary

O powerless
the body, in its bone and fat

in this wind
where winter meets spring

on a concrete square
in the center of town

where we sleep!
and dreams are swept

up by the nightwatchman
into his black hole

just as the lights
are beginning to be lit





Listen to a podcast of this poem here.




48 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

May the flame remain, Ruth, even if the candle is guttering. I believe in that small but resilient flame.

Ruth said...

Me too, Robert.

Susan said...

I feel bad that you're sad, little Ruthie. Your sadness made a beautiful piece of poetry. ((hugs))

Ruth said...

O Susie, thank you. Sadness is a meager thing to wield, I'm afraid.

Love you.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

What a beautiful morning offering, Ruth. It seems to unite heart-and-hope-stirring goings-on in farflung parts of the world with the bated breath and inner thoughts of an early morning riser out Michigan way ... I find the ending, with the dreams being swept up by the night watchman "just as the lights are beginning to be lit" to be harrowing and yet hopeful at the same time. Remarkable. Like Robert and you, I too believe in small and resilient flames and in the power of many dreamers to overwhelm night watchmen.

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, yes, there is immense hope in me, maybe more than the poem conveys. The poem is a moment, while hope rises. As they say, it's a long night until the dawn. What it will cost to keep the flames alight humbles me. Thank you, for kind words, and for being a hoper.

Ruth said...

Let me add . . .

It's not in the body where hope lives, which is part of what I want to convey in the poem. It is in the spirit, heart, mind, soul.

George said...

This is both beautiful and moving, Ruth. Your images — a worn, cold marble floor, muted statuary, a sense of powerlessness in this wind where winter meets spring, a witness to dreams being swept up into the black hole of the night watchmen — were very similar to the stirrings in my head during the middle of the past night. Beyond this, I can only say that your lovely poem is deeply haunting, especially the last part in which our dreams disappear into blackness "just as the lights are beginning to be lit." We go on, we go on, always dancing between the light and the darkness. Maybe the dance is the only thing that ultimately remains within our control.

Ruth said...

George, I have an immeasurable hope that how we stand with our brothers and sisters around the world matters. I remember Iran a couple of years ago, and how encouraged they were to know others spurred them on toward freedom. I guess in some ways I wish I was there, with them, in the streets. But I also imagine the horror and cost, and I don't take them lightly.

Thank you, my friend.

Char said...

i do feel the thread of hope woven it and the wonder, the struggle

erin said...

"O powerless
the body, in its bone and fat"

It is a still and frightening moment you've drawn, as though there is but one alone in the square and the feeling of desolation is all about in the grey silence. I imagine the nightwatchman to have one of those old metal dustbins, deep and dented. It both strikes down and rises that the lights are just beginning to be lit. Truly vulnerable and beautiful.

If today doesn't hold the hope, there is always tomorrow. And so you see, we've always twice the chance.

xo
erin

Bruce Barone said...

Peace be with you.

Maureen said...

Lovely.

May peace be with you.

Barb said...

Though you write of Bahrain's Pearl Square, your poem resonates with the despair of people everywhere who long for a better life. I don't believe the light you speak of can be completely extinguished. Even if a candle flame flickers, it can light other candles to carry the flame.

Jeanie said...

A lovely poem, one of hope. The tulips are "hopeful" too -- soon we will see them. Very soon.

Terresa said...

This is a gorgeous poem, Ruth. I feel as if your poems are moving in a new direction (or is it just me?), each one more stunning than the last. Maybe it's all the Rilke you've been reading? :)

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Thankfully...it only takes one tiny light to transform darkness.

Margaret said...

and dreams are swept

up by the nightwatchman
into his black hole

just as the lights
are beginning to be lit

I really love this - Sometimes it is too late. But that light that is lit was a direct result of the dreams. So all is not lost, I hope.

Ruth said...

Char, I'm glad you feel hope, here in the poem, and period. We must not let it flicker out.

Ruth said...

erin, yes. The chances are neverending. Hope and peace to you, thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Bruce, and with you.

Ruth said...

Maureen, thank you. May peace be yours too.

Ruth said...

Barb, yes, and when anyone tries to shut out the light, instead the light grows! One thing I love about what I am hearing is how this hope has been growing for years, even though we heard little or nothing about it in the media. What other candles are flickering, unnoticed? Thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jeanie. Those are my Valentine tulips, in my office, which you should come see sometime before they tear it down. No hope for Morrill Hall, I fear. :(

Ruth said...

Terresa, perhaps you're right about Rilke. Rumi too. I suppose I would be a stony heart if I did not absorb Rumi and Rilke while focusing so intently on a daily basis at the blogs. Thanks so much.

Ruth said...

Margaret, I think you are right, the dream-light-dream cycle doesn't die. Sometimes it's even nurtured when someone tries to snuff it out. Thanks so much, my friend.

Gwei Mui said...

Let us hope, let us hope

cathyswatercolors said...

Hi Ruth, The earth is not at rest it seems. From sunspots to demostrations for human rights in the Middle East and here at home in Wisconsin. People first.

Oh said...

"and dreams are swept up by the nightwatchman into his black hole..." you got me with these last lines.

I am so so happy to read here.

And now, for the poscast!

Oliag said...

Nothing changes ...and nothing remains the same....that is what this beautiful poem makes me think ...

I enjoyed the image of "the powerless body, in its bone and fat in this wind where winter meets spring"...especially today where the wind was gusting and bone chilling!

Montag said...

O, powerless the body...
O, magnificent, the soul!
Even Al Hajjaj, the cruel;
the teacher from Ta'if:
the caliph's enforcer,
who sees the blood running
between mens' beards and
their expiring torsos...
even he admires
th'unconquerable soul!

Peter said...

I read how you commented about lights getting stronger when someone tries to shut them out! Yes, that it is what may happen, unless someone blows too strongly! Let's hope for the candles to enlighten the world!

Marcie said...

So much spring warmth here. Lovely -as always!

Sidney said...

A lovely poem.

Ruth said...

Amy, yes, such strength.

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, yes, hand in hand with our brothers and sisters.

Ruth said...

Cathy, such terribly difficult times. The thought the teacher unions might be done in! The world is being made over, and we are going to have to adjust. Respecting people's needs along the way is a monumental challenge.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Oh, for reading, listening, and for your kind, encouraging words.

Ruth said...

Oliag, it was very windy here when I wrote this. Of course these spring weather patterns are all about the warm air meeting the cold air and fighting it out. Thank you for your kind comment.

Ruth said...

Montag, terrible experiment, to test it!

Ruth said...

Montag, terrible experiment, to test it!

Ruth said...

Peter, it seems impossible now for such lights to go out, with the whole world watching. There will be too much pressure, I think! I hope.

Ruth said...

Marcie, I'm glad you found spring warmth here.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Sidney. Peace.

Ginnie said...

I so wonder about the darkness not being able to snuff out the light, sister...even the darkness in our own souls. Do we resonate with 'Pearl Squares' everywhere because we understand the conflict of darkness and light within oursleves?

deb colarossi said...

I'm feeling a sense of shift, of things beginning to unravel in a way still too early to imagine.

I hope hope prevails.

It will.

ds said...

Yes, Rumi and Rilke are having an effect on you. You are becoming greater and greater (larger in soul and mind--and you were already large in those areas). I feel the despair in this poem--the candle lit and the room still cold; the body powerless in its bone and fat. And then the wind blows through, the nightwatchman sweeps the dreams away into his dustbin (i see him in his black suit), but he's also the one who lights the lights, isn't he? And the light of day begins. Sadness to hope. may that candle warm us all.
Thank you.

Loring Wirbel said...

Intriguing, mysterious, and especially good when I hear you read it. Bravo.