These Mountains, They Have No Word For Ocean

philip-levine These mountains, they have no word for ocean.I share this poem as my offering of gratitude for the life and poetry of Philip Levine (1928-2015).

These mountains, they have no word for ocean

The New York Times has provided an eloquent obituary.

These mountains, they have no word for ocean. National Public Radio shared Levine’s recitation of his poem “What Work Is,” a poem for which he is well-known.

These mountains, they have no word for ocean. Philip Levine first appeared in my world in 2010, when I enjoyed his poem “My Fathers, The Baltic.”

These mountains, they have no word for ocean. While Philip Levine is usually associated with Detroit, he lived in the San Joaquin Valley for many years, and wrote this poem about this place. It appears in the book “News of the World.”

PachecoLakePachecoPass These mountains, they have no word for ocean

Our Valley

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a whiff of salt, call it our life.

I have added some music by Brian Eno to this poem. So long, Philip Levine. We behold you with love and gratitude. Without you, we might not know that these mountains, they have no world for ocean.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

The Back Of The Hand To Everything

mary-oliver The back of the hand to everything.There are 240 Google results for the exact phrase “I love Mary Oliver.” There are 6 Google results for the exact phrase “I hate Mary Oliver.” That pretty much tells you what people think about this 20th-and-21st Century American poet.

The back of the hand to everything

I read her book “A Thousand Mornings” slightly over a year ago. I believed that some of the poems in that book would come in handy in conveying certain feelings here. That time has now come.

This poem should be construed as an interlude of sorts in my contemplation of the New Message from God revelation “The Race to Save Human Civilization,” received in 2009 in Aleppo, Syria. This poem paints a picture of the disrupted climate and violent storms mentioned in the revelation.

It didn’t behave
like anything you had
ever imagined. The wind
tore at the trees, the rain
fell for days slant and hard.
The back of the hand
to everything. I watched
the trees bow and their leaves fall
and crawl back into the earth.
As though, that was that.
This was one hurricane
I lived through, the other one
was of a different sort, and
lasted longer. Then
I felt my own leaves giving up and
falling. The back of the hand to
everything. But listen now to what happened
to the actual trees;
toward the end of that summer they
pushed new leaves from their stubbed limbs.
It was the wrong season, yes,
but they couldn’t stop. They
looked like telephone poles and didn’t
care. And after the leaves came
blossoms. For some things
there are no wrong seasons.
Which is what I dream of for me.

When I contemplate the Great Waves of Change, the difficult times ahead, I recall that line from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The back of the hand to everything.” I believe nature will try to muddle through, pushing out new leaves from stubbed limbs. But will it be enough?

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

It Takes A Village Of Ations

ations It takes a village of ationsMany people have either heard or read something created by the American artist Shel Silverstein (1930-1999). Perhaps you’ve heard Johnny Cash sing the Shel Silverstein song “A Boy Named Sue”. Maybe you cried when you got to the end of “The Giving Tree.” Maybe you stopped crying when you got to the end of “The Missing Piece.”

It takes a village of ations

I am in need of Shel Silverstein’s creativity and happiness now. The Free School of the New Message from God is currently studying the revelation “The Race to Save Human Civilization.” I have already written of the unusual circumstances under which this revelation was received. It is one of two revelations to be received in the city of Aleppo, Syria. I plan on writing a post about this teaching, but now I am in need of poetry to even approach the subject. I recalled this poem by Shel Silverstein as I pondered. It appears in the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

If we meet and I say, “Hi,”
That’s a salutation.
If you ask me how I feel,
That’s consideration.
If we stop and talk awhile,
That’s a conversation.
If we understand each other,
That’s communication.
If we argue, scream and fight,
That’s an altercation.
If later we apologize,
That’s reconciliation.
If we help each other home,
That’s cooperation.
And all these ations added up
Make civilization.
(And if I say this is a wonderful poem,
Is that exaggeration?)

It takes a village of ations, to make a civilization. Do we need altercations? So it would seem. But we need a vigorous reconciliation to quickly follow every vigorous altercation. Of such I dream. I dream that we will help each other home. And I mean that, without exaggeration!

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Streaming And Creeping In The Gathering Darkness

WilliamStafford Streaming and creeping in the gathering darknessAmerican poet William Stafford (1914-1993) wrote a poem about a gathering of the gone or endangered species of the earth.

Roll Call

Red Wolf came, and Passenger Pigeon,
the Dodo Bird, all the gone or endangered
came and crowded around in a circle,
the Bison, the Irish Elk, they waited
silent, the Great White Bear, fluid and strong,
sliding from the sea, streaming and creeping
in the gathering darkness, nose down,
bowing to earth its tapered head,
where the Black-footed Ferret, paws folded,
stood in the center surveying the multitude
and spoke for us all: “Dearly beloved,” it said.

Red Wolf. Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

The IUCN Red List reports the red wolf as critically endangered. It was extinct in the wild, but recently reintroduced in the United States.

passenger pigeon. Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

They say there were once as many as 3 billion passenger pigeons. Audubon Magazine reports that the passenger pigeon was hunted into extinction by 1914.

dodo bird. Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

The scientists say the dodo became extinct around 1690. The animals that Europeans brought to the dodo’s habitat had a taste for dodo eggs.

American bison. Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

The bison came close to extinction in the 19th century, but is now merely “near threatened.”

Irish-Elk-Skeleton. Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

The Irish Elk vanished around 7,700 years ago.

polar-bear-hero Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

The polar bear is currently listed as vulnerable, as the future size and quality of its habitat is uncertain.

black-footed-ferret Streaming and creeping in the gathering darkness

The black-footed ferret is listed as endangered, making a comeback from being extinct in the wild.

The music is a portion of the Irish tune “Limerick’s Lamentation,” performed by Patrick Berry.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

My Sentence Was A Thousand Years Of Joy

Robert Bly. My sentence was a thousand years of joy.I remember purchasing the Robert Bly poetry book “My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy” in the summer of 2005. Robert Bly had me at the title of the book. The exclamation point of the book is the poem “Stealing Sugar from the Castle.” The title of that poem would later become the title of the book of Robert Bly’s poetic life of 63 years.

My sentence was a thousand years of joy

Robert Bly has not only written many poems over his long career, but he has translated poems from a number of different cultures and languages. “Stealing sugar from the castle” is his image for his efforts at poetic translation. I share this poem as a valentine to those who are translating the New Message from God from its original language of English, to the languages of the world.

We are poor students who stay after school to study joy.
We are like those birds in the India mountains.
I am a widow whose child is her only joy.

The only thing I hold in my ant-like head
Is the builder’s plan of the castle of sugar.
just to steal one grain of sugar is a joy!

Like a bird, we fly out of darkness into the hall,
Which is lit with singing, then fly out again.
Being shut out of the warm hall is also a joy.

I am a laggard, a loafer, and an idiot. But I love
To read about those who caught one glimpse
Of the Face, and died twenty years later in joy.

I don’t mind your saying I will die soon.
Even in the sound of the word soon, I hear
The word you which begins every sentence of joy.

“You’re a thief!” the judge said. “Let’s see
Your hands!” I showed my callused hands in court.
My sentence was a thousand years of joy.

 

Normally I would recite this poem, but I have something even better, Robert Bly’s recitation of his poem, accompanied by music and video provided by filmmaker DJ Kadagian.

The translators currently do their work in relative obscurity. But I believe that one day, they too will say, like Robert Bly, “My sentence was a thousand years of joy.”

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

I Seek To Be A Fragment Of Life’s Heart

Khalil Gibran. I seek to be a fragment of life's heartDuring our meeting with the translators of the New Message from God on the fourth Day of the 2014 Encampment, a gentleman shared a poem. Not only that, but he shared some things before reciting this poem that demonstrated that the poem was an expression of his experience. I recall writing in my notebook, “This is THE poem of the Encampment.”

I seek to be a fragment of Life’s heart

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) was a Lebanese poet, artist and writer. The book “The Prophet,” containing this poem, was published in 1923. The Prophet is currently in its 163rd printing, and has never gone out of print. I believe it could be reasonably said that this is a book which has touched the heart of the world.

Then said Almitra, “Speak to us of Love.”
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Let these be my desires. I seek to be a fragment of Life’s heart.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Less Fussing, More Living

American poet Mary Oliver. Less fussing, more livingI have started what I hope will become an annual custom for me. It is a custom of reading a book on Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, 2012, I read the book Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah. I have shared four stories from that jewel-box of wonder since then.

Less fussing, more living

On Christmas Day, 2013, I read the book A Thousand Mornings by American poet Mary Oliver. I have shared two Mary Oliver poems so far, one of them coming from A Thousand Mornings. I will most likely share a few more before all is said and done, like this one.

Good-bye Fox

He was lying under a tree, licking up the shade,

Hello again, Fox, I said.

And hello to you too, said Fox, looking up and not bounding away.

You’re not running away? I said.

Well, I’ve heard of your conversation about us. News travels even among foxes, as you might know or not know.

What conversation do you mean?

Some lady said to you, “The hunt is good for the fox.” And you said, “Which fox?”

Yes, I remember. She was huffed.

So you’re okay in my book.

Your book! That was in my book, that’s the difference between us.

Yes, I agree. You fuss over life with your clever words, mulling and chewing on its meaning, while we just live it.

Oh!

Could anyone figure it out, to a finality? So why spend so much time trying. You fuss, we live. And he stood, slowly, for he was old now, and ambled away.

What’s the New Message from God angle? Step 124 (of 365) of Steps to Knowledge “Today I will not pretend I am happy,” teaches “Knowledge is not a form of behavior. It is an intense experience of life.” Less fussing, more living.

Mary Oliver has spent a lifetime being astonished at nature, and eloquently expressing that astonishment. As we say here in Minnesota, you could do worse. Less fussing, more living.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Only The True Favorites Receive This Longing

alone-with-god Only the true favorites receive this longing.Rainer Maria Rilke is by no means the only poet who writes of the longing for one’s true life. The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi (1207-1273) wrote of this as well. Rumi’s great work, the Masnavi-I Ma’navi (Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning), has taken a while to arrive in the Western world, but I consider it worth the wait. Masnavi was originally a poetic form, but after Rumi, the word became more associated with Rumi’s writings than the poetic form. It is also spelled Mathnavi or Mathnawi. A portion of Book 3 of the Mathnawi (lines 189-197) has been rendered by American poet Coleman Barks as the poem “Love Dogs”

Only the true favorites receive this longing

One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.

“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing
you express is the return message.

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.”

This poem appears in many places, including the book “The Essential Rumi.”

Only the true favorites receive this longing.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Of Such I Dream, My World!

Young Langston Hughes. Of such I dream, my world!This is the second poem by the 20th-century American poet Langston Hughes to appear here. Freedom’s Plow is the first. I’m not sure how this poem escaped my notice until now. It was written in 1926, the year the collection “The Weary Blues” was published. I dream a unified humanity. Little did I know that Langston Hughes was dreaming it too!

Of such I dream, my world!

This poem sings with such hope for a poem written just a few short years after the end of World War I. It was written one year after the death of Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke wrote a letter in 1917 saying “I’m not living my own life…I feel refuted, abandoned, and above all threatened by a world ready to dissolve entire in such senseless disorder.” Though hope was crushed in World War I, hope springs forth once more in the poem of Langston Hughes.

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!

The New Message from God teaches that in our time, all wars reduce to conflicts over resources. Access to resources and control over resources. Langston Hughes envisioned a world where mankind shares the bounties of the earth. Of such I dream, my world!

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Don’t Let Me Forget

Rabindranath Tagore. Don't let me forgetI recalled this poem by Rabindranath Tagore as I contemplated Step 95 “How can I possibly fulfill myself?” of Steps to Knowledge. Here is the portion of Step 95 which sparked a memory:

“Only in fantasy and imagination can you possibly even entertain the idea of fulfilling yourself. There is no fulfillment here, only increasing confusion. As the years progress, you will feel a growing darkness within you, as if a great opportunity has been lost. Do not lose this opportunity to realize life as it truly exists and to receive fulfillment as it is truly offered to you.”

Don’t let me forget

I recall Step 95 having a significant impact on me when I did it in October of 2011. I consider this another step to be addressed in a series of posts, like Step 26, “My errors give birth to my Knowledge,” and Step 51, “Let me recognize my fears so that I may see beyond them.” I am letting Rabindranath Tagore open the discussion. This is a slightly modernized version provided by Robert Bly. The original version is here.

If I am not to meet you again in this life then I want to feel that I have missed the meeting, don’t let me forget, let me feel the pain of it in my dreams and while awake.

As the time passes in the black dust of the body, and I get fat with money, I want to feel that I have gotten nothing out of it all — don’t let me forget, I want to feel the slivers of pain in my dreams and while awake.

When I walk up the steps, exhausted and tense after a long trip, or when I climb into some lonely bed, I want to feel that the long trip is still ahead of me — don’t let me forget, I want to feel the pain in my legs both while asleep and while awake.

When my house is all cleaned, and drinks are set here and there, and I hear people laughing, I want to feel that I haven’t invited you to my house — don’t let me forget, I want to feel the pain of that grief both while asleep and while awake.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.