The Beautiful Pauses and the Beautiful Changes
Okay, that post title sounds like an episode from Doctor Who. Or do I just create opportunities to allude to Doctor Who? Worse, am I using Doctor Who to lure unsuspecting readers into reading poetry? Of course not. So, I found a great book at a good house sale on Saturday. All those college/grad school poets under one cover: Hopkins and Frost, Auden and Eliot, cummings and Roethke. The modern poets. Well, they had been. Here's a poem by May Sarton I wish I'd written. I found it last summer, hand-lettered and framed, at a bookstore in Gloucester, Massachusetts, too pricey for me to buy. But it moved me so much that I scoured around for her collected poems and sent it out as my 2011 Christmas letter. But since she'd written it during October, it makes good sense to read now. Good advice: Read it slowly. (And at least twice.) That's how we do.
The Beautiful Pauses
--May Sarton from A Private Mythology (1961-1966)
Angels, beautiful pauses in the whirlwind,
Be with us through the seasons of unease;
Within the clamorous traffic of the mind,
Through all these clouded and tumultuous days,
Remind us of your great, unclouded ways.
It is the wink of time, crude repetition,
That whirls us round and blurs our anxious vision,
But centered in its beam, your own nunc stans
Still pivots and sets free the sacred dance.
And suddenly we are there: the light turns red,
The cars are stopped in Heaven, motors idle,
While all around green amplitude is spread—
Those grassy slopes of dream—and whirling will
Rests on a deeper pulse, and we are still.
Only a golf course, but the sudden change
From light to light opens a further range;
Surprised by angels, we are free for once
To move and rest within the sacred dance.
Or suddenly we are there: in a hotel room,
The rumor of a city-hive below,
And the world falls away before this bloom,
This pause, high up, affecting us like snow.
Time’s tick is gone; softly we come and go,
Barefoot on carpets, all joyfully suspended,
And there, before the open morning’s ended,
The beautiful pause, the sudden lucky chance
Opens the way into the sacred dance.
I write this in October on a windless morning.
The leaves float down on air as clear as flame,
Their course a spiral, turning and returning;
They dance the slow pavane that gives its name
To a whole season, never quite the same.
Angels, who can surprise us with a lucky chance,
Be with us in this year; give us to dance
Time’s tick away, and in our whirling flight
Poetry center the long fall through light.
There's another "beautiful" poem I wish I'd written. It's by Richard Wilbur and it's called "The Beautiful Changes." I can't put it up here because of copyright restrictions. But you can Google it. It just might make you happy.