I greatly enjoy the poetry of Andrew O. Dugas. Today, I found this lovely memorial tribute on Haiku Andy’s twitter feed to poet Galway Kinnell. I had not heard of his passing until now. Thank you, Andy, for commemorating Galway Kinnell’s life and work with a haiku.
“the great poet’s death —/
in a high mountain valley/
I once shook his hand”
In memory, I am sharing my two favorite poems by Galway Kinnell.
I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry — eating in late September.
The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak
The man splitting wood in the daybreak
looks strong, as though, if one weakened,
one could turn to him and he would help.
Gus Newland was strong. When he split wood
he struck hard, flashing the bright steel
through the air so hard the hard maple
leapt apart, as it’s feared marriages will do
in countries reluctant to permit divorce,
and even willow, which, though stacked
to dry a full year, on being split
actually weeps—totem wood, therefore,
to the married-until-death—sunders
with many little lip-wetting gasp-noises.
But Gus is dead. We could turn to our fathers,
but they help us only by the unperplexed
looking-back of the numerals cut into headstones.
Or to our mothers, whose love, so devastated,
can’t, even in spring, break through the hard earth.
Our spouses weaken at the same rate we do.
We have to hold our children up to lean on them.
Everyone who could help goes or hasn’t arrived.
What about the man splitting wood in the daybreak,
who looked strong? That was years ago. That was me.
You can hear recordings of Galway Kinnell reading some of his own poems at the eponymous website Galway Kinnell: http://galwaykinnell.com
He reads: Oatmeal, First Song, The River That is East, Middle of the Way, The Fossils, Going Home By Last Light, A Night in the Ruins, and After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
He published many of his poems in books listed at the end of the biography at Poetry Foundation Org. Some of these ebooks (some only in DAISY format) were found at the online free library OpenLibrary.org :
He reads: The Essential Rilke, Imperfect thirst, Poems: body rags : mortal acts, mortal words -the past, When one has lived a long time alone, The avenue bearing the initial of Christ into the New World 1946-1964, The book of nightmares.
I hope you explore his poetry, so that you will have memories of this American poet’s fine art words too.