My esteemed elder, Mary Oliver, invites; “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine”. And she may ask in confidence, to all of us, because surely we have all felt the brutal cut of pain through our hearts? Don’t we all have wounds?
I find that neither Oliver or Gibran are offering platitudes. So many times, daily on the news, we are offered vacuous words, rhetorical unrealisable ideals which are meaningless. And poetry, I believe, needs to be a different thing from rhetoric. It needs to be true, and real and lifesaving. As Mary Oliver makes so bold – “For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed.”
Gibran saved my life when I was twenty-one and Oliver warms me through most weeks of the year. My teachers rightly set high bars and I cannot pretend to clear them. Nonetheless I will end with the closing poem from my book Is It Serious? since I don’t have a lot of news. And I send you all the good wishes which are in my heart.
There is a sweet point in my soul
where Joy and Sorrow meet,
where all is one and one is all
successes and defeats.
It is the facing of my fears
It is the dew point of my tears
and after all these years and years,
I stand serene to meet myself
at the sweet point of my soul
where joy and sorrow meet.