Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012)

Death?  It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.


When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.


Only a death like that.  A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.


Only a world like that.  To die
just that much.  And to live just so.
And all the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.


*


W. Szymborska, from "I'm Working on the World," in Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, trans. Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh (Harcourt, 1998), p. 4

The Will of God

by Jessica Powers (1905-88)




Time has one song alone.  If you are heedful
and concentrate on sound with all your soul,
you may hear the song of the beautiful will of God,
soft notes or deep sonorous tones that roll
like thunder over time.
Not many have the hearing for this music,
and fewer still have sought it as sublime.


Listen, and tell your grief:  But God is singing!
God sings through all creation with His will.
Save the negation of sin, all is His music,
even the notes that set their roots in ill
to flower in pity, pardon or sweet humbling.
Evil finds harshness of the rack and rod
in tunes where good finds tenderness and glory.


The saints who loved have died of this pure music,
and no one enters heaven till he learns,
deep in his soul at least, to sing with God.




(1951)


*


Jessica Powers, The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, eds. Regina Siegfried and Robert Morneau (Sheed & Ward, 1989), p.19