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Friday, August 26, 2011

Poem: Petty sorrows of the ego

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Petty sorrows of the ego

Night craves them like a tongue its wine.
Moon’s eye bleaches the pillow

where bare I lie, my head a stone,
my mouth a hasp, dry.

Sweet grapes of specious self
long eaten, velvet skins split

and empty beneath the bed-attire,
with opal shadows, gone by morning.

Small sacrifice: the tiny deaths of what
I wanted, never got, and didn’t require.


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Poetry should be heard.




54 comments:

erin said...

god, i hold my head it is so perfect. and yet it feels barren, every line wrung out. how can that be then? the wringing out of the ego? and then what husk are we left with? and why would i ever defend the ego!

perhaps i should be careful what i strive for? i don't know. you (always) turn me in careful circles. i like it.

xo
erin

The Solitary Walker said...

I like your subtle and sensitive use of rhyme, half-rhyme, alliteration etc. in this, Ruth. And the way the very physical shape of the poem resembles a bed or a pillow or a concave wine glass. Perfection!

missing moments said...

Lovely Ruth. I so love that last line. How true, isn't it!

Nelson said...

The colorless photo fits perfectly, the bleaching out of what is otherwise an idyllic scene.

Yes, it's way too easy to be deceived by what I think I want, and letting it go is harder than I want it to be.

Very, very provocative, Ruthie.

steven said...

there are so very many small sacrifices lost in the space between who we are and who we wish to be. guilt -framed by how we wish to perceive ourselves. steven

Grandmother said...

"Small sacrifice: the tiny deaths…" Our egos know so little when it comes down to it.

Maureen said...

One of your best, I think, Ruth. Thank you for including the audio, too.

Marcie said...

'I wanted..never got..didn't require'. Such a perfect way to describe the sorrows of the ego. Beautifully penned - as always!

hedgewitch said...

This is one of those that will be read and reread and live there with the reader forever--unforgettable, sparse, and every word where it belongs for the most results. Just a genius piece, Ruth, full of clarity and soul.

who said...

it's a wonderful poem, and it is a really good example of why reading words in silence and only in our minds will often not reveal all that the thoughts are capable of communicating. It is crazy how sometimes there is more depth to the thoughts then even the person who thinks them, is consciously aware of.

and the shrinking portions of all thoughts shared that remains unheard and unknown of consciously, is exactly that of what some envision when their thoughts are of the concept of the divine.

or more simply stated, the portions that remain in constant contact with all realms, so that anything and everything that shares the same space, but not necessarily simultaneously always remains an open channel for communication which also means communicating with things that do exist simultaneously but in an alternate space of synchronized time.

amy@ Souldipper said...

Had I received what I thought I needed, I would have been short-changed.

So centered on self, yet so unable to know what riches to request.

jen revved said...

This poem startles the soul up, prompts it to spread its wings, recognizing its counterpart. How very delicately yet strongly and bravely wrought: stunning.

Thank you, Ruth, for your generous comments on my poem yesterday...xxxxj

Susan said...

Amen.

Old 333 said...

Excellent! No more to be said. except: Thanks for the poem.

Loring Wirbel said...

Shedding layers of self for sleep. How utterly perfect.

Miss Jane said...

"sweet grapes of specious self"
I really enjoyed that line and this whole poem was lovely delicious in the mouth and mind.

Friko said...

My nights rarely come to quite so philosophical an ending. Regrets have a nasty habit of surviving into daylight.

Perhaps I need to keep your lines by me, to remind myself of the trifles which were never required.

J.G. said...

I bow to your talent. If only I could write like this . . . the perfect marriage of meaning and technique. Thank you.

Ruth said...

erin, we are trained, so very well, to strive for what builds us in the wrong ways. It starts young, at home and all around. How can an individual unlearn that, and study instead the inner, silent ways of the soul that long to be listened to? I feel this has been my work these last years, and maybe will always be.

Thank you for reading, and feeling, so much.

Ruth said...

Robert, thank you for your close attention to this poem, and seeing and hearing those bits of play. I especially appreciate you noticing the shape of the poem as pillow or wineglass or bed, which I did not plan or see. I love poetry for its economy and potential!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Reena. I've learned, and am still learning, the truth of that line the hard way. Thankfully, it is getting easier.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Nelson.

I appreciate your comment about the photo, which I took a few years ago, but have never posted. I focused more on the lush and vibrant sun-filled grapes at the time.

I am amazed at how what is in my head is a reality other than what is evident outside it, and bringing the two together can be painful. Very slowly, I think I'm learning. Very slowly. But I do see progress!

Ruth said...

Thank you for your punned response, steven. I set myself up for perfection and much else. The story is far different than how I perceive it, though I keep looking and hoping for more than glancing glimpses.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mary. Our egos know little, it's true! But so vehemently they know that little.

Ruth said...

Thanks for that, Maureen. And thanks for listening, which I so enjoy doing to your poems too.

Ruth said...

Thanks much, Marcie. Do be safe in the storm. I hope you keep your power.

Ruth said...

Hedgewitch, thank you for such kind words about this poem, I'm amazed by them.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Dusti. I love following your thoughts into no-thought, or beneath-thought. Oh it's true how much is unsaid, unspeakable, of and from and about the realm of the divine they inhabit, or contain. Our words are not what is real, yet we experience the visible and invisible through them, because of them! It is truly, truly mind blowing. This is what I love about poetry (or any poetic language, in a non-fiction book or essay, or novel, play), and art, design and music, the ways they open us to human experience unlike, but also like, our own. And then there is Nature, from which we get restored.

shoreacres said...

I've been away too long - I see your menu has changed! The ginger tea sounds lovely, perfect for a nighttime read.

And that night - what does it crave? Could the night crave sorrows, demand them to maintain its darkness against the bleaching of the moon? Or does it crave sacrifice and death, the splitting of dreams to reveal the husks within?

Whatever the cravings of the night, I am smiling to note how differently the poem would read in French. Those tiny deaths - les petites morts would provide an entirely different context for the other images, making the poem earthy and sensual.

And Roland Barthes would be pleased, believing as he did that every encounter with literature should be une petite mort.

Divya said...

Ruth, I am so glad that i came across this blog.. such a wonderful poem with such wise words.. its tight and no extra flab and straight and sharp.. and so true.. Petty sorrows of our Ego :)

I am Glad and would be visiting again and again now..

Ruth said...

Thank you for reading, Amy. Your statement is quite true, I find. The ego doesn't know what the soul needs.

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot, Jen. And you're welcome.

Ruth said...

Susie :-)

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Peter!

Ruth said...

Loring, I read about G.I. Gurdjieff that his father told him when he was insulted and got angry to let 24 hours pass before acting on his anger. Gurdjieff said he did it, and he never needed to act on his anger, because by the next day, the insult was inconsequential.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Miss Jane. I have had a lot of practice with those grapes and their spent skins.

Ruth said...

Thanks for reading, Friko. I find that the world in my head can be beastly. I wonder why it is easier to believe negative false "realities" than positive ones? We call the latter "delusional" but more of us do the former, I think.

But I think you are talking about real regrets, and all I can say is, maybe there is a story that wants to let go of you.

Ruth said...

J.G., I really appreciate you reading here, and for such a generous comment. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Linda, oh my! That's quite wonderful. I even provided you the environment of the bedroom. Hmm, could your transmutation have been in my subconscious?

Then there's the literary take of Barthes.

I love the idea of a poem being une petite mort. I think that says it all quite nicely, what the standard for a good poem is.

Ruth said...

Welcome and thank you, Divya.

Ginnie said...

For me, Sister, there is no greater sorrow than the "petty" ego. Period! To wake up in the morning and have them gone is the greatest of joys.

George said...

What can I say, Ruth, that I have not already said? How can I find new words to describe how much I admire your work? This new poem is wonderfully spare and cleanly cut from the bone. There is no inclusion of anything nonessential; there is no omission of anything that is critical. Perfect, I say, especially in the last two lines, and wonderfully shaped, both metaphorically and in the literal ways noted by Robert. Just when I think you can't get better, Ruth, you get better.

Arti said...

It's gratifying even just reading the words, but listening to it resonates more. The sounds, the rhymes, many hidden until the next few lines. Your voice is so soothing, I love to hear you read your poems, Ruth. I particularly love the last two lines... good to have them linger after the poem ends. This is a quiet interlude amidst a busy day. Thanks again!

Jeanie said...

I simply don't know how you come up with:

Small sacrifice: the tiny deaths of what
I wanted, never got, and didn’t require.

You never cease to amaze me and I live in awe at your skill and insight as a poet.

Ruth said...

Boots, yes, I know this of you now. Thank you. It is great joy, and freedom.

Ruth said...

George, I pinch myself that something I write would make you respond this way, can it be? It means a great deal to me. To express what is in my soul, and have it resonate in yours feels like first hearing a bell slowly ring in me, then hearing it echo in you. We each have a different timbre, we each need to speak what is inside. I am so grateful for the time I have alone with my soul, to listen.

Ruth said...

Dear Arti, thank you so much for reading, and also listening. I find that my comprehension is not very good when I read, anything really, and usually I have to read everything at least twice. (except with my new kindle, and that is another story) With poems especially, I need to read and reread to get the gist. But when I hear them, comprehension comes more quickly. Also, as you say, you hear the sounds the words are intended to make, the song they sing, and not just the meaning.

I have been saying the last two lines to myself like a mantra lately.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, thank you, my friend. The thing is, I came up with those lines because I have had much practice with them in reality. The difference between what the ego wants, and what the soul wants can be remarkably wide.

annell said...

A beautiful piece, I'm so glad I came today. I liked how you filled the piece with words that represent treasures, and yet it is the little deaths, the things we want and don't need. Brilliant!

Brendan said...

This is such a gem, Ruth. I love the image of ego as a handful of grapes whose essence could only be fleeting, nailed to this or that passing desire. The final stanza is absolutely perfect. Small sacrifice to the speaker, perhaps, though to ego everything personal is everything. (I heard a guy once joke that major surgery was anything he had to have, and minor surgery whatever anyone else needed ....)

Mark Kerstetter said...

I can read this over and over, the language beautiful, your reading excellent. There's a maturity of peace or of acceptance that I can't say I've achieved, but I do admire it.

Margaret said...

...and didn't require. The tiny deaths of what I wanted...

Oh, just splendid!

Lil Coyote said...

i'm glad i was able to read the piece about your father in law first, it led so well into this.
the writing was truly beautiful ruth and the lesson grand. the ego is a hungry beast that cannot be satisfied and it's best to recognize it.
rick

Claudia said...

Wow!