The Ordinary and the Glorious
It’s mid-October, and after days of snow, we’re now back to Autumn. “The huge summer has gone by,” goes the poem by Rilke in the Stephen Mitchell translation. Let’s begin there:
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.
Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days.
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.
Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.
Rob and I went on a bit of a photo walk on Sunday morning, starting with the site of the old museum and Government House in Edmonton. In the park there is a Korean Pavilion, and a Ksan totem pole. There was frost on the ground, and the air was cold, so we didn’t linger. Still, it felt good to be out in the sun and to see a few golden leaves, a few signs of the autumn that it feels like we missed, buried in snow as it’s been.
If I were a more organized person, I would share this next poem with photos of an orange, but you’ll see there’s the mention of a walk in the park, which will have to do. I needed the poem, to remind me about the happiness found in ordinary things.
by Wendy Cope
At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.
And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.
The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
In the next poem, we might consider October as a truce. It refers to Kannazuki, the month when there are no gods. They’re off at the annual general meeting. So we can relax, the boss is away.
Let’s be glad we exist. Let’s eat an orange.
October, Month Without Gods
by Juan Antonio Gonzalez-Iglesias
The Japanese think this is the month-without-gods.
They celebrate it this way. They don't alliterate October
with gold falling from the fragile trees,
or with revolutions that changed history.
October, like a truce. Like an absence of everything
that exceeds limits. May it be for us
liberation. Because now they don't exhibit
the relentless naked gods of summer,
the too many gods, and so much remains
for the child of winter to be born,
and our sight doesn't reach any further, from this
month of distances, month of far aways,
imperfect, attained, fortuitous. If only it would be
like this for us. Without the eight million
gods that hide in the city or in the forest,
the scales coincide with our statures.
Let us be carried away by our premonitions.
Let us write things with small letters.
Let us celebrate October for its absence of gods.
Let us enjoy its name because it is only a number
in a truncated series. And forgotten. It is October.
We have thirty days all to ourselves.
And while we’re relaxed, let’s remember that we are surrounded by what is glorious.
All That Is Glorious Around Us
by Barbara Crooker
is not, for me, these grand vistas, sublime peaks, mist-filled
overlooks, towering clouds, but doing errands on a day
of driving rain, staying dry inside the silver skin of the car,
160,000 miles, still running just fine. Or later,
sitting in a café warmed by the steam
from white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,
watching the red and gold leaves race down the street,
confetti from autumn's bright parade. And I think
of how my mother struggles to breathe, how few good days
she has now, how we never think about the glories
of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs,
simple as the journey of water over a rock. It is the nature
of stone / to be satisfied / writes Mary Oliver, It is the nature
of water / to want to be somewhere else, rushing down
a rocky tor or high escarpment, the panoramic landscape
boundless behind it. But everything glorious is around
us already: black and blue graffiti shining in the rain's
bright glaze, the small rainbows of oil on the pavement,
where the last car to park has left its mark on the glistening
street, this radiant world.