Thursday, May 19, 2005


In this morning's Guardian, several prominent writers, thinkers, and scientists share their thoughts about faith. They range from unique testaments of belief to a rather poetic description of agnosticism. This, from Jeanette Winterson, about"living in the largeness" particularly spoke to me:

If the religions agree on anything, it's that God is not containable and finite, and that what we know is always very partial and biased. So I am looking for something outside of all that. Part of our challenge and our glory is to live in that largeness.

And speaking of living in the largeness, one of our greatest living poets will turn 100 this summer. Stanley Kunitz may need a walker to get around; his speaking voice may be too weakened to permit public readings. A personal assistant might even feel compelled to stop him in the middle of an interview with a reporter from the New York Times to ask if he's feeling afraid. But the poems go on: vigorous, mighty of voice, intrepid as ever. In honor of his impending birthday, I wanted to print my favorite one here.
But Kunitz has penned so many transcendent poems, choice was impossible. Thus, I made my pick based in part on brevity:


The word I spoke in anger
weighs less than a parsley seed,
but a road runs through it
that leads to my grave,
that bought-and-paid-for lot
on a salt-sprayed hill in Truro
where the scrub pines
overlook the bay.
Half-way I'm dead enough,
strayed from my own nature
and my fierce hold on life.
If I could cry, I'd cry,
but I'm too old to be
anybody's child.
with whom should I quarrel
except in the hiss of love,
that harsh, irregular flame?