Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chet Raymo

"Briefly It Enters, And Briefly Speaks"
by Chet Raymo

"A few months ago, I shared here the so-called Song of Amergin, traditionally the first poem written in Ireland.
    "I am the wind on the sea,
    I am the ocean wave,
    I am the sound of the billows,
    I am the seven-horned stag…"

…and so on. The poem is pre-Christian, druidic, pantheistic. The "I", as I understand it, is the mysterious, all-pervading power afoot in the landscape called neart in Celtic tradition, to which the gods were simply a way of giving a human face. Neart is unknown and unknowable, but sensed everywhere. The "I", as I read the poem, is also the reader (or auditor!) of the poem, the human perceiver who is at one with all that exists.

Yesterday I came across a poem by Jane Kenyon, who I have written about here, that seems to be in conscious homage to The Song of Amergin.
    "I am the blossom pressed in a book,
    found again after two hundred years...

    I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper...

    When the young girl who starves
    sits down to a table
    she will sit beside me...

    I am food on the prisoner's plate...

    I am water rushing to the wellhead,
    filling the pitcher until it spills...

    I am the patient gardener
    of the dry and weedy garden..."

…and so on. You can read the entire poem here.

Here, too, I think, is the ambiguous "I"- the pantheistic neart, the poet, and the reader of the poem. This is what we all seek, is it not? A sense that everything is holy, and that we are inexplicably part of it, even in a world that is sometimes broken and painfully cruel.”

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