423b2e
423b2e

8.03.2012

silence




There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house -
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.


~ by Billy Collins


xxx

21 comments:

Relax Max said...

Love the poetry, love the hands. I like pictures of weathered hands. Mother Theresa's hands. Dorothea Lange's photos of dustbowl women's hands. And I've broken the night's silence with my whispery typing.

Oh, please! leave the post visible...

red dirt girl said...

Hi Max,

Waxing poetic in the waning moonlight I see. I like weathered hands too.

Billy Collins ... I wasn't always a fan, but I've come around to appreciate him. How could I not ?? His laud worthy credentials and six figure, 3 book deal with Random House has placed him a poet above all other poets.

Maybe I am jealous.

I do like this poem, though. Have more thoughts on silence I might post later this week.

xxx

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Very emotive writing. Sad though.

red dirt girl said...

Hi Cosmo .... sad. I'm not feeling it. Maybe I am. I don't know. I'm in a rather tumultuous state at the moment. I'm having a hard time pinning down my emotions.

When I read Silence, it feels calming to me. A moment to slow down and be quiet. Listen.

Don't quite know what else to say.
xxx

Adullamite said...

"The silence of a woman....."


No that's too far......

soubriquet said...

Ah, bless her little cotton socks!

When the Red Dirt Girl and I first met, it was over poetry, we've debated so much about poems and poets over the years.
When we met, Billy Collins? Oh no. she did not like Billy Collins. He was anathema to her. I argued for him, sent her examples of poems I felt were worthy, and she, to her credit, grudgingly conceded that he wasn't all bad. But hey, his six figure, 3 book deal? no, he was commercial, a sell out.

And now this. This poem, RDG, is a gem, and if you hadn't been willing to reconsider, the poet's name alone would have kept you away from its beauty. I recall, in early days, we discussed T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets', and I told you how aspects of the poem resonated for me, "the still point of the turning world" would be my motto, my slogan, my feeling of inner stillness, my position of quiet observation within the midst of chaos.
And this poem, Billy Collins, this poem says it so clearly. The stillness amid chaos. The immeasurable moments which resonate, the turning points, the hinges of destiny.

I should print this poem and hang it on my wall, I should sit in quiet zen, watch a waterfall, its roar and thunder a product of infinite moments of stillness. I should whisk green tea into a froth. Watch the bubbles on its surface form patterns, pop and regroup, look below the surface, in the ages-deep bowl, dive down into the silence, quell the turmoil within, sip. Seize the moment.

The image, a faceted tea-cup, its inner, thrown symmettry contrasted by the wire-cut faceted exterior, textured edges, a green, semi-matt glaze, showing a slow gravitational molted slide, a frozen moment of time, created in heat that mirrors the volcano. Chaos. Turning forever, yet still. Old hands. Gnarled skin. Scars that tell of a life lived, a nd here, a cup, tea, a moment that stretches back to childhood, forward to ? And the moment. Now. fleeting. forever. All time, past, present, future, entwined.

What the poem says to me is that whatever, no matter how much is happening, there is always the chance to grasp a moment, a moment of silence. Of contemplation. Between the vases fall and the crash, there's a moment between the gunshot and the bullet's strike.
There's a moment. Always a moment, of silence. Take the moment, take it into yourself. Use it for your own calm. Use it when around you is frenzy, use it when the situation is intolerable.
Use it when someone says something to you, and your blood flares, hot. There's a moment, that can stretch into infinity, when you have a choice, when the response is not inevitable, when you can fly between atoms, and choose your own path.

goatman said...

Or the breaks between spoken words, the never noticed background of speech; or the sky pattern between the tree limbs; or the white page parts between the letters; the space between thoughts . . .
Nice to be reminded.

red dirt girl said...

Soubriquet! ~ shall I always be remembered for past faux pas? So maybe I STILL think Billy has sold his soul for commercial success. But this is a great poem, one I would happily jot down in a diary, if I kept one, to go back to.

And you both make a valid point - of locating stillness and silence amidst chaos and noise. From what I have been reading about silence - absolute silence which can be achieved in NASA's anechoic chamber - disturbs us humans to the point where those who enter the chamber cry to be let out after only a few minutes.

The closest I believe I've ever come to the purity of silence was on a 'discovery dive' of about 10 to 12 feet under the sea. The noise that thundered in my head was the panicked breaths I took, the thumping of my heart; I heard my blood rushing in my veins. These things combined with the infinite sight line horizontally into the deep, where light did not pass, completely freaked me out.

My career as Jacques Cousteau's dedicated assistant ended there and then. Give me noise .... blessed noise!

I do have problems with sensory overload and working in a mall environment exacerbates this - so I find myself trying to find quiet elsewhere - in the car rides - no radio. At home, no television or music. But noise still abounds in the sounds of motors, and whirring fans, and air con and barking dogs, water in pipes ...

The problem, though, is that the thoughts in my head are too loud and fast moving despite the stillness I try to seek in my physical state.

Another blog post .....

xxx

red dirt girl said...

goatman - those are quite poetic thoughts you express. I like the pauses between words ... though as a woman I tend to give those pauses significant meanings. The pauses between thoughts .... I think I'd have to take up yoga to achieve those. You almost have a poem there - definitely a beginning ...

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Adullamite ~ Over time I am less and less convinced of the 'misogynist' persona you tend to adopt. Has some lassie broken your heart in your past?? She didn't deserve you, you know. Beneath the gruff is a heart of gold.

xxx

goatman said...

For me, deep in a Missouri cave was the ultimate in silence. Then turn off the miners' lamp and be in total darkness also.
What an experience.

gz said...

beautiful poetry...and cup

Anonymous said...

I suppose these moments of silence do occur around me, but I don't perceive them. I perceive only constant panic. What I would give, though!

Hi mule friend!

bulletholes said...

Funny that youve grown to like him. recently I come across a poem of his, and by the third line I can tell its him, and he is doing whatever it is that you call what he does, which seems to be about the same thing he did his last poem I read, and I've grown to dislike it, mostly.
He is like the Barry Manilow of poetry.

red dirt girl said...

goatman - no drip drip dripping in that cave ?? So how long did you last in absolute silence before you wanted to scream?

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Hi gz!
If anyone can appreciate the two, it is you :)

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Hi Dave ~ my heart goes out to you. I do understand how you feel. I feel a bit of it myself. I bet running is a sort of active silence for you ...

xxx

red dirt girl said...

COWBOY!! yeahhh!! a voice of dissension. Careful - I didn't say I like him, I said I've come to appreciate him. I DO like this poem quite a bit. Will I run out and purchase a Billy Collins book? No. And you've said it so much better than I ever could ... the Barry Manilow of poetry. That says it all!! LOL.

xxx

red dirt girl said...

ps. Cowboy - I do think that Collins' poetry is quite 'accessible' to a population that normally does not enjoy poetry. Which is part of his success ....

xxx

bulletholes said...

I watched this Sunday morning on PBS...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mlXyT3X5Fc

red dirt girl said...

cowboy - LOL! That was cute. And he's accessible to a much larger population than I originally imagined...WOOF!

xxx