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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in poetry
(en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses-The Eloquence of Calliope

This is the second posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series

The Muse, Calliope is the oldest of the Muses and according to the Theogony of Hesiod was foremost of the muses. Holding this preeminence, suggested her creative gifts were many with specific association with music and song and is often depicted playing the harp in early art work. In many mythological tales, Calliope is the mother of the Bard and player of the lyre, Orpheus. Calliope’s gifts of eloquence and music moved through her child Orpheus, considered to be the greatest musician and poet of Greek mythology having the ability to stir the emotions of God and man, alike into passive acquiescence.  

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Pact 

at thirteen I asked give me this

every day of my life

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PantheaCon Book Purchases

Although I’ve been trying to lighten up the bookshelves in my home by donating some books to Pagan libraries, loaning out many (which seldom seem to return home), and simply putting some books I’ve read “in circulation,” such as leaving them at my gym or giving them to someone else to read with no expectation of getting them back.  However, that doesn’t mean a bibliophile such as me has ceased buying books altogether.  In spite of limited funds for non-essentials, I do consider books to be essential to my life, so I still buy them, albeit much more selectively than I’ve done in the past.  I especially tend to purchase books of poetry, even more especially if I know the poet, and/or anthologies in which their work is published.  I feel strongly about supporting the arts as much as we can; this is one of my ways of supporting the arts.

I returned home from PantheaCon with only two new books; I restrained myself. 

One is Gus diZerega’s Fault Lines: The Sixties, the Culture Wars, and the Return of the Divine Feminine.  I’ve been reading parts of earlier iterations of this work, and, having lived a life that fits into the title, I’m eager to read it when I don’t have plenty of reading piled up that pertains to projects I’m working on.  The cover is jarring, perhaps as it should be considering the subject matter, but it’s not appealing to me.  As they say, “you can’t tell a book by its cover.”

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Meditations on Hávamál, 44-47
A few more verses in my ongoing translation of the Viking poem of gnomic wisdom --

 

44.
Veiztu, ef þú vin átt,
þann er þú vel trúir,
ok vill þú af hánum gótt geta,
geði skaltu við þann blanda
ok gjöfum skipta,
fara at finna oft.
You must know, if you would wish to have a friend
Who would be true to you
And from whom you would have good in exchange,
Share your thoughts with him,
And exchange gifts,
Fare often to find him.
 

The verses recognise the exchange that is necessary to feeding a good friendship. While the focus on gifts may seem a bit mercenary to modern readers, we have to take into consideration just how much gift giving has changed: we take it lightly because it is very easy to pick up something from a shop. In the Middle Ages, where survival was much more precarious, any surplus was precious. Giving it away showed great favour. Of course we understand the need to find a like mind with whom we can share our truths, hopes and fears. By such means do we knit relationships that last.
 
45.
Ef þú átt annan,
þanns þú illa trúir,
vildu af hánum þó gótt geta,
fagrt skaltu við þann mæla
en flátt hyggja
ok gjalda lausung við lygi.
If you have such another one --
He you trust little --
Yet you wish to get goodwill from him, too,
Fair shall you be in speech with him
But cunning in thought
And repay his deceit with lies.
 

As the great military strategist Sun Tzu observed, it's best to keep friends close -- and enemies closer. The High One agrees that it's best not to tip your hand to those who wish you ill, but continue to speak pleasantly to them as long as possible in the hopes that you might glean something useful from their conversation or thoughts. Though they may also conceal their intentions, often enmity betrays itself in non-verbal ways, too.
 
 
46.
Það er enn of þann
er þú illa trúir
ok þér er grunr at hans geði,
hlæja skaltu við þeim
ok um hug mæla;
glík skulu gjöld gjöfum.
Thus ever further with the one of whom
He whom you trust ill
And about whom you have suspicious mind,
You should laugh with him
And speak around your thoughts;
For with like coin should you repay a gift.
 

More on dealing with those you do not trust. Working environments may offer the best modern analogue to the situation. We all have co-workers with whom we don't trust -- and who may return the favour. The verses suggest that is the wisest course -- repaying false coin with false coin -- but it rubs against our modern notions of directness and honesty. For most of us, that honesty has only social costs. Yet how many people find it easier to be polite to someone they dislike intensely than to plainly state their antipathy? We're not always as honest as we like to think we are.
 
47.
Ungr var ek forðum,
fór ek einn saman,
þá varð ek villr vega;
auðigr þóttumk,
er ek annan fann,
maðr er manns gaman.
Young was I once,
I traveled on my own,
When I found myself astray;
Rich I thought myself
When I found another soul --
A human is human pleasure.
 

While the poet uses the word 'maðr' it's clearly used in the general sense of a person, not gendered specifically. While many of us choose to cherish solitude, imagine a world like the vikings where being alone put your survival at risk. There is not simply the joy of companionship here, but the recognition of the interdependence of community. Consider too the uncertainty of travel without modern maps -- let alone the specifics of satellite navigation. To run across another human when you have traveled on your own for a considerable space of time -- even if you're young and hearty -- must surely be a welcome sight.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    More, more, more! And now I want you to record them all.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Oh, now there's an idea. With kantele music... Hmmmm....

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Giving birth to myself...

Soft belly
no longer bearing children
I am pregnant with myself
ripe with potential,
possibility, power
I incubate my dreams
and give birth to my vision...

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Meditations on Hávamál, 40-43
Here are a few more stanzas in my ongoing project examining the verses of Hávamál, the medieval Norse gnomic verses of wisdom and advice, copied down in Iceland centuries ago.

 

40.
Féar síns,
er fengit hefr,
skyli-t maðr þörf þola;
oft sparir leiðum,
þats hefr ljúfum hugat;
margt gengr verr en varir.
 

 

When he has gained wealth enough, a man ought not suffer a need for more. Oft saved for the hated what was meant for the loved; many things go worse than expected.
 

 

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  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thanks!
  • Wendall Mountain Runner
    Wendall Mountain Runner says #
    Well thought perspective, thank you. Inspires me to go through the archives and read your other entries.
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Everything I need to know about life I learned from the Hávamál. More, more! Thanks, Laity.

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Perspective's Pupil

This poem was written years ago, when a Capricorn was a large part of my life. Now, I have a new Capricorn housemate; this time, it is for you, my dear Celeste.

Capricorn

Damp, hard ground.

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At the end of 2012, I looked over what I had read the previous year and came up with a list of Literary Discoveries. Considering how much I have read this year -- novels, novellas, anthologies, short stories, essays, longer works of philosophy and history and spirituality -- continuing the tradition seemed like a good idea. And, just like the previous list, not all of these titles were published in 2013 (though most were); I just discovered them this past year.

So, in no particular order, here is my 2013 edition of Literary Discoveries.

1) I read Reza Aslan's No god But God several years ago, and found it to be a well-written introduction to and overview of the theology and history of Islam; this is the book I recommend to anyone looking for a basic primer on the subject. So, when Aslan released Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth I decided it was worth checking out, even though I have very little interest in the development of Christianity -- actually, let me amend that. I find some of the early Christian sects which were later deemed heretical to be interesting, and I've studied the fall of Classical Paganism even though it makes me angry. So, I was curious as to Aslan's conclusions about the carpenter from Nazareth. I won't spoil it for you. Suffice to say, the book was well-researched and engaging, and I highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in Middle Eastern history, the Age of Augustus, or the history and evolution of Judaism.

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On to Something


I am the letter and you are the hot wax.
I am the needle and you, the dancing midget.
We stuff our mouths – breadcrumbs and magpies.

I am the girl in the blue gown
Who has lost her eyes to the prick of a needle
She thought was a jewel.

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Meditations on Hávamál, 31-34

Here are a few more stanzas in my ongoing project examining the verses of Hávamál, the medieval Norse gnomic verses of wisdom and advice, copied down in Iceland centuries ago.


31.
Fróðr þykkisk,
sá er flótta tekr,
gestr at gest hæðinn;
veit-a görla,
sá er of verði glissir,
þótt hann með grömum glami.

Wise he thinks himself to be,
The guest who takes to sneering at [another] guest.
He doesn't know,
The one who mocks at meals,
Though he scoffs noisily.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks!
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    This...this, a thousand tomes over. Brilliant, as usual. May I quote you in my essay/introduction on retribalizing the West?
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Of course, of course! I'd be delighted.

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The Autumnal Equinox is almost upon us. In anticipation of the change of season, some Autumnal haiku...

b2ap3_thumbnail_Autumn-Haiku.jpg

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Sometimes

 Sometimes things don't go, after all,
 from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
 faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
 Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

 A people sometimes will step back from war,
 elect an honest man, decide they care
 enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
 Some men become what they were born for.

 Sometimes our best intentions do not go
 amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
 The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
 that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.

~ Sheenagh Pugh
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  • Peggy
    Peggy says #
    I agree completely! We need to step back--any action on our part will only exacerbate this situation.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Beautiful poem; are you Sheenagh, HecateDemeter? I suppose that when the UN drafted the law against any nation ever again using c
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    All hail saint Obama, and all his supporters.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_beltanycover.jpg

Title: The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales

Publisher: Triskele Media Press

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Shirl: *blinks innocently* Yeah, okay; some kind of anniversary edition of Eternal Haunted Summer is a good idea. Just a matter o
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    ...maybe the timing would be better now for someone else to release a similar project. It's five years later, and a LOT of pop cul
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Oh, honey, I'd love to. But after the financial drubbing I (and Llewellyn, too) took on this book http://www.amazon.com/The-Pagan-

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My Edge

Since opening this space a few weeks ago, I have been thinking more consciously about our journey to The Edge. I am grateful to have the space here to share how the light shines upon it for us all.

See, for much of my life I did not know what an “edge” was, or what expansive, fertile possibilities lay just beyond it. I did not know what type of path I would cut or even what tools I would need to access the raw, vulnerable parts of myself; eventually laying the groundwork upon the true self which would be born anew. I felt alone. I felt incapable of being able to come from a place of authentic expression. I had no idea what gifts I could offer this world.

Life was lived "safely" based on clean edges, organized processes, and a sense that I was doing the “right thing” with the barometer being the acknowledgement of those around me. I followed all of the "rules" and defined happiness by living up to others’ expectations. All the while there was a churning inside, an acidic buildup of knowing I was not dancing to my own rhythm. I was trying my damndest to be the “perfect” daughter, wife, mother, career woman, community serviceperson. Forget rhythm when living a life of constant white noise.

Oh, I was still in there, present with small pieces of it, definitely not all of it, a walking-dead from what I can now ascertain. I was superficially happy, not deeply satisfied. I was seeking a “something” to fill my hollow and was incredibly imbalanced internally. The external world was starting to show the stress of not being able to keep the charade going much longer.

The first of many lurches showing me a brighter reality hit me the day I found out my daughter had chosen me to carry her into this world. I did start to wake up that day, but it would be a long time before I had the courage to act. The next few years were spent still trying to play in the white noise, yet the core had started to break down. I was ready to exit stage left. I was ready to be done with all of the bullshit and move on.

Yet I had a child to raise. Her birth was my rebirth. She opened me up in profound ways and served as my grounding wire that first number of years as I learned how to stand again. I still felt alone, untrustworthy, unqualified, yet there was a spark which had been lit from within and She reminded me of that every single day.

The question remained though: how was I supposed to raise a child if I didn’t even know how to raise myself from the dead? The edge was slippery at times, but I learned to listen to the internal voice, to trust the compass. That journey began more than 12 years ago and every step has been a true blessing. Life continues to improve, become more joyful, more fulfilling, more honestly my own to claim in this lifetime.

See, The Edge is the familiar unknown. It is an invitation to remember who we are. It is about discovering our internal truths and then manifesting them into brilliant existence! My own familiar unknowns have shown me how deeply nourishing and joyful life can be! My edge has shown me I am here to love, nourish and support others from an incredibly deep space. BUT! If I am not loving, nourishing, and supporting myself, then what do I have left to give? The equation is simple, as is the life I am living. And I envision it to become easier and much simpler as time goes on.

The truth has been deeply revealing. It has led to unexpected and miraculous gifts along the way in the form of connecting and learning from others who open their hearts to their edge of familiar unknowns. The following poem was written and performed with one of those beautiful souls, my dear friend John DeLozier. You may also watch a video of the performance here. My cup truly runneth over.

 

The Edge
John DeLozier & Jennifer Mills
Summer Rhythm Renewal, August 2012
 
The Within becomes limitless when I am with you.
A roiling, boiling potential.
 
Through the liquidous center, the tremors of vibration unsettle
  the sediment existence has produced.
An uncontrollable force which can no longer be held within.
 
Truly eyes know nothing yet reveal everything.
 
The pulsing, rhythmic dance begins.
The roiling emotions charged: a supernova state, heartfelt and open!
The sacred seal is broken between the illusion of opposing forces.
 
Suddenly, desolate and lightless as a black hole; nothingness; my mind cannot conceive.
I have gone to my Edge;my toes on the precipice.
 
Are you complete?
Resistant: I hesitate, afraid of the unknown.
My truth unspoken, constricted by the perpetual state of Doubt.
 
Break yourself free from that constraint my friend!
We are bigger than that!
Join me in this leap of faith!
Take my hand.
 
So, the darkness was a shadow, dissipated by our light!
Connected now are we.
This bright-light confusion of the senses fades.
The breath of light returns
  in the Light of Love.
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  • Jennifer Mills
    Jennifer Mills says #
    Heather and Áine, thank you. Isn't this a precious time to connect in with those deeper truths? And my heart goes out to all of
  • Áine
    Áine says #
    What a beautiful way to describe this feeling - I can definitely relate.
  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir says #
    3 This is beautiful, and very much reminds me of my relationship with Loki, thought I think it's true of any good relationship wit

b2ap3_thumbnail_fireflies.jpgA few months back, I discussed some of the best books of or about modern Pagan poetry. I knew at the time that I was missing some important titles (a girl can only read so much and still hold down a job, sadly). Then, I found the recent post on The Wild Hunt that Erynn Rowan Laurie had won the poetry category at the Bi Writers Association annual gala for her collection Fireflies at Absolute Zero. I was already familiar with some of Laurie's work, thanks to her inclusion in Datura and The Scribing Ibis and a few other publications. The award tipped the balance and I immediately ordered Fireflies.

This is where language fails me and I have to resort to "zomg! awesomesauce! squee!"

Fireflies is divided into five sections: Seeking the Spring, Walking to Charlemont, The Night Sutra, Poetics of Desire, and In Cedar Time. The poems vary from the ecstatic to the beautiful to the wondrous to the horrific as they explore the nature of the Gods, the life of a poet, and the impact and purpose of place. I was struck dumb from the opening lines of the very first poem, "Brigid Dreams the Poet":

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Meditations on Hávamál, 23-26

23.
Ósviðr maðr
vakir um allar nætr
ok hyggr at hvívetna;
þá er móðr,
er at morgni kemr,
allt er víl sem var.

The unreasonable man wakes all the night, and ponders over every thing. Thus it is for the man, who when morning comes, finds all will seem just as wretched.

Who doesn't know the restless and often seemingly endless woe of a sleepless night? Those who suffer insomnia feel not only the dull ache of isolation but the fatigue that never seems to end. The ceaseless ache of depression saps energy and hope. There seems to be a bit of blame associated with the idea, juxtaposed with the 'unwise man' verses below, but there is a slight difference in the word choice. Nonetheless, the verse suggests that in this case it's more that one allows stress to take the form of sleeplessness. We know insomnia is more complex than that now.

24.
Ósnotr maðr
hyggr sér alla vera
viðhlæjendr vini;
hittki hann fiðr,
þótt þeir um hann fár lesi,
ef hann með snotrum sitr.

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Meditations on Hávamál, 19-22

Here's the latest round of translations and commentary from my ongoing examination of the gnomic verses of Hávamál, the Sayings of the High One. While many of the verses deal with the magic of the Norse, many of the lines simply offer sage advice on best behaviour, especially when one travels.

19.
Haldi-t maðr á keri,
drekki þó at hófi mjöð,
mæli þarft eða þegi,
ókynnis þess
vár þik engi maðr,
at þú gangir snemma at sofa.

20.
Gráðugr halr,
nema geðs viti,
etr sér aldrtrega;
oft fær hlægis,
er með horskum kemr,
manni heimskum magi.

21.
Hjarðir þat vitu,
nær þær heim skulu,
ok ganga þá af grasi;
en ósviðr maðr
kann ævagi
síns of mál maga.

22.
Vesall maðr
ok illa skapi
hlær at hvívetna;
hittki hann veit,
er hann vita þyrfti,
at hann er-a vamma vanr.

 

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Meditations on Hávamál, 15-18

More in this continuing series on the poem of gnomic wisdom from Old Norse: this entry focuses on courage and wisdom as well as how travel broadens the mind.

15.
Þagalt ok hugalt
skyli þjóðans barn
ok vígdjarft vera;
glaðr ok reifr
skyli gumna hverr,
unz sinn bíðr bana.

16.
Ósnjallr maðr
hyggsk munu ey lifa,
ef hann við víg varask;
en elli gefr
hánum engi frið,
þótt hánum geirar gefi.

17.
Kópir afglapi
er til kynnis kemr,
þylsk hann um eða þrumir;
allt er senn,
ef hann sylg of getr,
uppi er þá geð guma.

18.
Sá einn veit
er víða ratar
ok hefr fjölð of farit,
hverju geði
stýrir gumna hverr,
sá er vitandi er vits.

15. Silent and thoughtful the ruler's child should be and battle-bold. Glad and joyful should each of men be until he suffers his death.

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The ancient world was rich in poetry. The ancient authors who most readily spring to mind were either poets themselves (Hesiod, Virgil, Sappho) or recorders of/commentaters upon others' poetry (Snorri Sturulson). Plus, all those anonymous works of poetic genius (see Beowulf).

The modern Pagan movement is just as rich in poetry. I can't remember when I first began reading and collecting modern Pagan poetry. It was well after I came home to/converted to/embraced Hellenismos. I had plenty of the old authors at hand; everyone from the aforementioned Hesiod, Virgil and Sappho to Bacchylides, Callimachus, Catullus, and an assortment of anthologies. It was with great surprise and delight, then, that I found their modern descendants.

There are poems for feast days, poems for holy days, poems to commemorate special occasions, poems in honor of nature, poems for children, poems for the dead, poems for the Gods. Some of these poems appear in fairly mainstream publications (see Parabola), others appear in highly specialized publications (Mythic Delirium), and still others are self-published on websites or in print and ebook collections.* Some are written by openly Pagan authors for a Pagan audience, while others are written with no particular audience in mind but which do (nonetheless) find a home on Pagan bookshelves.

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Meditations on Hávamál, 10-14

10.
Byrði betri
berr-at maðr brautu at
en sé mannvit mikit;
auði betra
þykkir þat í ókunnum stað;
slíkt er válaðs vera.

11.
Byrði betri
berr-at maðr brautu at
en sé mannvit mikit;
vegnest verra
vegr-a hann velli at
en sé ofdrykkja öls.

12.
Er-a svá gótt
sem gótt kveða
öl alda sona,
því at færa veit,
er fleira drekkr
síns til geðs gumi.

13.
Óminnishegri heitir
sá er yfir ölðrum þrumir,
hann stelr geði guma;
þess fugls fjöðrum
ek fjötraðr vark
í garði Gunnlaðar.

14.
Ölr ek varð,
varð ofrölvi
at ins fróða Fjalars;
því er ölðr bazt,
at aftr of heimtir
hverr sitt geð gumi.

 

10. A better burden can no man carry along the way than great common sense; better than riches in the unknown place for the wretched man.

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