Monday, January 29, 2007

I becomes we except after me

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My Second Arrogance

Neither lonely nor confused, I know the meaning
of this small plant. It offers meek shoots in the face
of a star that would scour the very life from it,
yet it does so, nonetheless. It does not know that
that which feeds it would destroy it. It does not
know that that which seeds it, in turn needs it.

Like a small plant, we root ourselves in hunkered
misbelief that we might someday become an oak,
a bristlecone, a grand edifice of majesty in some
unseen acre of lost forest. And like a small plant
born to a forge fueled by mystery and synthesis,
we seek the terrible sun in spite of ourselves.


The first arrogance is believing one has attained
the treetops for having sprouted. The second, is
knowing this to be utterly true. Grow something
that is not you and tell me different, mother.

Joseph Gallo
January 29, 2007


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1 Comments:

Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

Okay--this piece might have some scratching their heads going: Huh? Here's a brief poeography:

This poem came as a reaction to a piece written by Rilke an reposted below. The title I've had for several years and have used it as a rebuttal to those who have, at one time or another, accused me of arrogance. I came to be fond of responding: "You've no idea what you're talking about; I'm happily past that and into my second arrogance."

Derive from that what you will.
Here's the Rilke poem:

II, 16

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

(Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

February 02, 2007 5:32 PM  

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