Friday, January 21, 2011

Dread and Bliss

"The person who has not, in a moment of firm resolve, accepted—yes even rejoiced in—what has struck him with terror—he has never taken possession of the full, ineffable power of our existence. He withdraws to the edge; when things play out, he will be neither alive nor dead.

To discover the unity of dread and bliss, these two faces of the same divinity (indeed, they reveal themselves as a single face that presents itself differently according to the way in which we see it): that is the essential meaning and theme of both my books (The Sonnets to Orpheus and The Duino Elegies).

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Wasp Dreams

Awake, thirsty, hungry, I fly
from parchment nest through woods
to the porch where I feasted last night
on shreds of barbecued chicken thigh.

Seeking, now, a morning meal
I blunder heedlessly, hapless
into sticky woven threads
strung between porch and post

both wings held fast—web sways
who’s this? wrapping me, spinning me
swaddling me tight in silky sheets
bound, secure, attentively embraced

her mouthpart—painless—a spider’s kiss
i liquify, am drunk, a dreadful bliss.

You can listen to this sonnet here:

  Wasp Dreams by Dan Gurney 


Sabio Lantz said...

Rilke was a deep inspiration for me as I left Christianity. He agreed with my heart which said that truth is deeper than religious formulas.
Here is a link for readers to learn more: Rainer Maria Rilke
This sonnet passage was beautiful.

But I had to look up "sonnet" (wiki). I am a literature ignoramus ! :-)

Ah, cute, it seems that "sonnet" means "little song", but became a rigid structure (a form) of:

(1) Lines: 14 lines (you got that)

(2) Rhyme:
a-b-a-b; c-d-c-d; e-f-e-f; g-g;
but you have
a-b-c-a ; d-e-f-g; h-i-j-k; l-l

Did you break the rules or is 14 lines all that counts. 'Cause I want to try writing one, but would love to know the contest's parameters! (smile)

Fun sonnet, btw.
But I am starting to worry about your morose spider world! (smile)

Sabio Lantz said...

On a serious note. I loved the theme in both your choice of Rilke and your sick poem of the non-duality of nirvana and samsara. How true, how true. How important!

Ruth said...

Have you read today's Rilke yet? :) Just wait. ("If I Cried Out.")

How interesting to pair this Rilke theme with a wasp's dream! Fascinating contemplation of dread-bliss. It reminds me of James Dickey's poem, "The Heaven of Animals." (He is more famous for writing "Deliverance" - novel and screenplay.) Are you familiar with the poem? I like it, though I disagree with what he says about animals not having souls:


Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.

steven said...

there's a really nice tie in from this piece with today's rilke dan - as you likely know. the dance between aspects of choice, well it's life with all its echoes into the worlds we pass through. i really like the writing dan. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Sabio thank you for your comment. I'm pleased you noticed the rhyming!

There are many, many forms of the sonnet. What all sonnets share is the quality of having 14 lines.

In languages that rhyme more easily you'll see more rhyming in sonnets. From the pens of writer better endowed than moi you'll see more rhyming. Some forms pay attention to the syllabic count of each line as well.

These days if you're the poet, you get to make up the rules. In my "rule" book, a sonnet must have 14 lines of at least six but fewer than 12 syllables, and rhyme as much as possible, both end rhymes and internal rhymes.

Based on your Etheree, I'll bet you'll write some tasty, gutty sonnets. I hope you'll try. There's a poet under the cloak of this philosopher named Sabio.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Ruth! I must confess to reading ahead a bit in both the Rumi and Rilke texts. Wasp Dreams grew out of the selections for Jan 21 and also March 29 in Rilke.

I am so grateful for your blogs, all three of them. They've got my Muse speaking up after a period of quiet.

Thank you for sharing the Dickey poem. I had not read it before. I'm with you in regard to not dividing animals from humans. I'm not sure what a soul is, exactly, but if humans have souls, I would suspect that animals have souls too, even bugs.

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you steven. The tie in was not accidental in the sense that I've been reading ahead in the book that Ruth and Lorenzo are serializing on their blog. I'm really loving their blogs and the discussion in the comments sections of them. It's like a poetry seminar online. How lucky we are to have found it.

George said...

I love and relate to these Rilke words, Dan. A great choice, and as Ruth says, wonderfully paired with your fine poem.

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, George. Rilke is fairly new to me and I am finding what he has to say quite interesting. I'm not quite sure yet where he fits in the mental chorus of sages whom I consult, but he seems like he's going to join the ensemble.

Elisabeth said...

'A spider's kiss', Dan. Such loaded words. Wow, when I put these words together with the video of the spider and its prey, I cringe. It's survival of the fittest alright and I must not anthropomorphise but I can't help but feel sorry for the wasp.

At least the words provide some comfort.

I'm pleased to meet you, Dan.

Dan Gurney said...

I'm pleased to meet you, Elisabeth. A spider's kiss, yes. Perhaps a spider's kiss will send the wasp off on a long night's sleep in a waspy or spidery heaven.

Reya Mellicker said...

Rilke is one of my all time big ole heroes.

Hey - (another topic) - did you see this TED talk in which the guy plays Bohemian Rhapsody on a uke?

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Reya. He's new to me, I feel like I'm still getting acquainted. Are you visiting the Rilke blog based on the Year with Rilke book? It's great.

On the other topic, thanks! I had not seen that (don't follow, but do like TED talks) and I do like it. I know Jake from my Mighty Uke video. I think I'll share that video on my Kindergarten Blog.