Friday, November 18, 2016

Moonlight Musings










The Call
By ElizabethCrawford

       I

God handed a pen
to the prophet,
said, “Thou shalt write
until you come
to the end of words.”

The prophet, a would
be, dreamy-eyed poet,
cried, “But, what if
there is no end?”

God smiled, said,
“That would be
good.”

      II

So, the prophet
who would be a poet, wrote
through long dark night
into day, and the next,
’til the pen ran out
of ink.

Brought it to God
said, “This pen
has run dry,
but the words
have found no end.”

And God said,
“Wring the darkness
from within,
let it drop into a bowl,
mix it with tears
from your very soul,
and then write, until
you come…”

“to the end of words,”
whispered
the prophet/poet

And God said,
“Amen.”

      III

So, the prophet
who would be a poet,
became a hermit.
Made her way
through dank caves
of her inmost being,
found old wounds
that made her cry,
pried them loose
and used these truths
to find still more
words.

God came to visit,
asked, “Have you found
it yet?”

And the prophet
who would be a poet,
but was now a hermit
said, “No, but I have found
many other things.”

“Ahhh,” said God,
“what have you found?”

The hermit showed God
her aloneness.
The prophet showed God
her personal truths,
and the poet showed God
a feather from a small
speckled hen, and a pebble
from the beach, that had found
its way into her sandal.

God told the hermit
of spending an eternity,
alone in a dark black void,
before Creation.

God told the prophet
that truths are guides
meant only to point toward,
perhaps eventually reveal
a final destination.

Then God took up
the feather, touched it
lightly to the pebble,
and the pebble cracked
in half. God gave the halves
of the pebble to the prophet
and the hermit, then touched
the feather to the poet’s lips,
before giving her that object.

God said, “These are sacred
treasures. Keep them always,
and be mindful.”

And the poet joyfully whispered,
“Amen”


Copyright © Elizabeth Crawford 2010


Elizabeth is well-known to us here through her participation and sharing, and as the subject of some of Sherry's wonderful features. Her writing is always a joy to read, I'm sure you'll agree, as well as deeply thoughtful.

Here is the brief bio she kindly provided me with:

Although the call to write came at a young age (four or five), Elizabeth didn’t actively start writing until her late thirties. And when she did, it wasn’t with any great desire to be published, but rather to explore the mystery of being Elizabeth. She had found the cheapest form of therapy in pen on paper, often finding answers, as well as resolution, between the margins of a single page. The tools and techniques of writing poetry allowed her to step away from the immediate moment, and to explore that moment from different angles, often finding understanding. But poetry also brought her some of the richest experiences of her existence: including being involved with a Grammy Nomination, which later allowed for a late in life career change to teaching at the University from which she had graduated, as well as most of the Fine Art schools in the area where she lived. 

This remarkable poem seemed to me so profound, I thought it worth musing upon – and the musings I share with you are not mine but Elizabeth's own. Even in the bio notes above, she begins by describing poetry as a call, which seems to be the crux of the matter. 

She further expanded on the idea of a calling, and on this poem in particular:

The poem is a piece of what is called Mythopoesis, derived from Mythopoeia, meaning the making of Myth. The word was coined by J.R.R. Tolkien after he had a rather heated argument with Sinclair Lewis. Lewis strongly believed that myths were total falsehoods, and misleading at best. Tolkien went home, after the argument, and wrote the poem Mythopoeia, in which he defended the artists, including poets, of any generation who create myths using their art and figurative language to enlighten their generation about the ongoing development of the individual psyche and the state of being human.

The poem itself is based in symbolism, as are most myths. Its characters are symbols. The three human characters are the three elements, I believe, which are necessary to anyone who explores their own creative potential. The Hermit is the Heart (emotional) aspect of the individual, while the Prophet represents the head, or mind, of that single person. The Poet, or Artist, is the voice of the soul being expressed. God, of course, is the Higher Power and represents the spiritual aspect of Life’s journey.

In Scripture, and other ancient writings, the human heart and mind are often said to be made of stone-like substance that must be softened by the Spirit of truth. Feathers are a symbol of truth because they are light enough to drift on a breath of wind, yet strong enough to carry the weight of a life wherever it needs to go. Thus, in the poem, the feather cracks the pebble in half and those halves are given to the mind and heart of the single individual. The feather is given to the Poet (Artist) to encourage the further exploration of the spiritual truth that brings completion and wholeness to the entire individual. 

I believe that Creativity is a built-in healing element within each of us. And, also agree with Joseph Campbell, the leading mythologist of the past century, when he tells us that the only task for the individual is to find and follow his/her bliss. That bliss is the creative element within our own psyche. The means of expressing our truth. A truth that eventually allows us to recognize the truth and falsehoods to be found in the world around us. 

What do you think, poets?
  • Is poetry a calling for you? Even a sacred calling? Or is it rather a delightful game or hobby? (It is what it is; no right or wrong. I'm just curious.)
  • Do you find that Creativity is a healing element within you?
  • Is bliss the true sign of our purpose, our calling? 
  • Is it indeed the means of adhering to our truth?  And can adhering to our own truth really enable us to discern what else is true and what is false?

I will say a resounding yes to all of the above! How lucky I was to be called to poetry at an early age. It's been a powerful call and has sustained me through all my life experiences, including the sad and traumatic. Yes, it is a way I heal myself, over time. And I have always felt that I cannot (and must not) lie in my poetry – though creating fictions is a thing I sometimes do. (We are talking truth rather than facts, and fiction can certainly reveal truths.) Finding my way to my own deepest truth has not always been quick or easy, but poetry has always helped me do so.

So how about you? Elizabeth and I would love to read your comments. We are likely to respond, too, so do come back and check.

I'll leave you with one last question: What role do you see for poetry  – including your own – in troubled times?



****************************

Yes I know – I said I would only post fortnightly now. But I got my internet problems fixed, finally. Let me tell you, it takes up a lot more time and energy being disconnected than connected! Also, on my weeks off I missed doing this. So I'm back to every Friday. Only I do like the flexibility of having no set schedule, and surprising you (and maybe myself). So you'll be getting 'I Wish I'd Written This', 'The Living Dead', 'Thought Provokers' and 'Moonlight Musings' in no particular order. I hope you enjoy!

23 comments:

  1. I will come back and write more when I'm feeling a little less joy that's welling over in tears. This is from the poem itself. I've read the rest and say yes, but there's more to say because those are the right questions. Thank you both.

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  2. Thank you, Susan. In this time of conflict and unrest, it is beyond sweet, to know that my words brought tears of joy to another. That knowledge brings joy to my deeply troubled heart, soul, and mind. And can only reinforce my own convictions. I impatiently look forward to your response to those questions. Much gratitude,

    Elizabeth

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  3. Add thank you, Rosemary. This poem has always meant a great deal to me, because of the way in which it came to be written. I am putting the finishing touches on my first book and this piece serves as the preface. I love the questions you created, and look forward to hearing all the replies from the other poets. We may have found a rallying point, yes?

    Elizabeth

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  4. How wonderful to see you shine here Elizabeth - thank you both. How very lucky we are that you found the calling and shared it with us. So very precious - and not just the words. May it always be - truly

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    1. Thank you, Jae Rose. As far as the Calling goes, perhaps it stands out for me because it came so seemingly late. I always think of myself as 'catching up', not much more than an advanced beginner. I keep telling myself "it's been thirty plus years". Bout time I start listening, lol.

      Elizabeth

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    2. Sometimes the best things take time xo

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  5. Yes, to all the questions. Thank you both for a "wonder-full" post and a "wonder-full" poem, from a "wonder-full" poet. Elizabeth has amazed me from the first poem I read of her's.

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    1. Ah, Annell, what a wonderful thing to say. But I feel the same way, having watched you begin and grow, and then creating your own unique style and voice. I like the fact that you said yes to all the questions. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.

      Elizabeth

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  6. I think this is my favourite Friday feature - and favourite poem of Elizabeth's - yet. I drank it down like an elixir, saying, Yes! Yes! Yes! To every line. Wow, my friend. Such a poem and perfect for the preface of your book.

    Rosemary, what a glorious feature. Sigh. I am replete.

    The stone and feather symbolism is especially enthralling and I love your explanation, Elizabeth.

    Poetry in troubled times.........as poets, we reflect the times we live in. We give voice to what others may be feeling, and aid in understanding. Poetry in such times as these can be a source of activism, a rallying cry, a plea to consider grave issues, and those who need our help. A poem can be a refuge, a source of hope and inspiration, a catalyst for change, a rallying cry. At the very least, it can bear witness, and try to increase awareness and understanding. Or it can simply give voice to our own angst, and thus strike a spark in others.

    A wonderful Friday discussion, my friends. I will be back later to read more..........

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    1. Oh, thank you for those inspiring words about what poetry can be! You have covered it very thoroughly, and it is good to be reminded of the many ways it can work. I asked that question, as part of another discussion I was having with Elizabeth, in which I said, 'We do what we can. And we CAN write.' Then I started wondering, is that really effective? You have answered me well!

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  7. Thank you, Sherry, for your ongoing encouragement and support. Your enthusiasm always lifts me up. And I applaud and embrace your thoughts on poetry and the place it can and does hold within our world. Yes, I believe we all, as poets, must speak into our current world situation, in whatever way or means that we are able. I am so grateful that this community exists and that you, Sherry, are one of its shining lights.

    Elizabeth

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  8. What a wonderful poem share, Rosemary and Elizabeth. If I wrote specifically about this poem I would go on and on. Suffice it to say the "Amen" at the end says it all!

    As for your questions, I used to think poetry was some kind of calling, but lately I think the calling aspect has lost its way.

    For me, I don't think creativity is a healing element at the moment, though I did at times in the past. At the moment creativity is more catharsis for me than healing.

    As far as bliss goes, I don't get it. I cannot think of a way that I would associate bliss with my poetry.

    Yes, poetry for me is adhering to my truth. And the poems of this nature are those I most identify with.If I don't find a poet's truth in his/her poem, why would I want to read it!

    Great feature!

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    1. Outside America we are troubled too by recent events, but obviously nothing like the turmoil so many are feeling who live there. Mary, I agree with Elizabeth that catharsis is one form of healing, and hope you will be able to continue writing your way through the horror, whether publicly or privately. Privately because you don't have to censor anything, and it may be healing to just vent, so long as it doesn't impinge on others or cause you greater pain; and publicly, as you have been doing with honesty and dignity, because there may well be others who need your words to help them through their own crisis. If bliss is not in your poetry, I hope there are still places where you may find it now and then.

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  9. Hello Mary, and thanks you for your wonderful words about the poem. As for your answers to the questions? I'm more than aware that there are times when I have felt I had made the wrong choice in choosing to write. One of them was through the current campaign and the election. I would try to write but it swiftly turned to anger, so I'd quit. Then realized that I was really in a grief process. The process comes in four stages and although they can be numbered, we as individuals go through them randomly and can even cycle back through them a few times. They are as follows:
    Denial
    Anger
    Bargaining
    Acceptance
    None of which makes for light and joyous feelings.

    The Call comes, but there is no guarantee that it will always be met with joy and happiness. It is a challenge more than anything else. A challenge to continue, even when we don't want to. Even in the poem, I made sure to add that sometimes responding is just damned hard work.

    Creativity is healing. Catharsis is healing. It is a letting go and moving forward with doubts intact. And writing is always a form of letting go.

    As for the bliss, that's a bit harder to explain. For me, bliss is that sense of being in the right place, doing the right thing, and being the best human being I know how to be. That doesn't mean I will always receive the approval of those around me. And when that approval is not forthcoming, I do get down and wonder why I bother at all. Then have to remind myself that I'm not in it for the approval, except for my own. If I know I have done my best, then the bliss comes back. I get it when I write a truthful poem, or create a beautiful image. It is a mixture of things. A certain sense of joy and lightness that I am doing and being my best.

    Since the election, I've been questioning almost everything I've come in contact with. We are in the midst of upheaval and change. And the world is definitely changing. But that doesn't mean we must be changed by all the hateful things we are seeing and hearing. We can still speak our truths, we can still post our poems, and we can still hope that one person might hear them, stop for a moment and experience something good. And isn't that the real Call we are all responding to? Reaching out to others, helping where we can, and speaking our truth without anger or hatred.

    I think you are feeling what many of us are feeling. I would hope that you continue. You have been a cornerstone in my own online experience, and I know that is true for many others. You have been a safe place for many. Let us be that for you, as well.

    Elizabeth

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  10. Lovely discussion going on in here , my friends, as I get ready to turn in after one more day of living. Smiles. I love Moonlight Musings so much! And this one has been extra=special! Makes me glad to be a poet, an online poet, in a community of kindred souls.

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  11. The poem elevates my spirit and inspires. So do the discussions that follow. Thank you friends. I say a big YES to all the questions Rosemary. I am specially thankful for the third one for I've always believed that Bliss/Truth is the one and only purpose of life and all of us are progressing towards the higher Truth, may be from a lower one. I would like to call a mistake or fear a lower truth. I know night ends making room for dawn. So as poets we must leave our words of 'Day' and words of 'Night', our Truths.

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    1. How beautifully put, Sumana! I love the concept of our Truths including words of Day and words of Night. And perhaps following our bliss may sometimes seem like glimpsing a faint light at the end of a long tunnel; still we need to follow.

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  12. I have just read the last three comments, and they sparked something inside of me. We, this community, is, both literally and figuratively, a twenty-four hour voice. We live in all parts of the world, so our voices are raised both day and night.

    Our Higher Truths are woven into the words we write. May they bring light into the current darkness, and sew love amidst the hatred. Darkness cannot exist without the light that defines it. And love has ever been the only weapon against hate. Love and light always begin at home, right where we live and learn to be the best we can be, or hope to become.

    I guess, in a way, I am Calling out to this community. Challenging each of you to counter whatever darkness you see or hear, with words of light and love. Recognize the fear that fuels both of those negatives and forgive it, then reach out with words to calm that fear. For the next few days, write about your own experiences of light altering darkness, and of love that banished hate. Look into the past, find the stories that spoke of enlightenment that conquered ignorance and write about them. We own a voice, it's time to use it.

    Thank you all,

    Elizabeth

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    1. Elizabeth, I do believe that anything and everything of a positive nature we do affects the whole energy of the planet and the human race. This is a wonderful challenge!

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    2. Thank you, Rosemary. Something got started here. I just finished writing a poem for tomorrow. I figure if I issued the Call, the challenge, then I best do my part. I am willing to offer prompts, on a daily basis, for anyone who wants to join me. We will write of our truths, our light and love through our, and others experiences. Anyone up for that? I will put the first prompt up on Monday at
      http://1sojournal.wordpress.com

      Elizabeth

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    3. Wonderful! Put the link on your facebook and I'll share it widely.

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    4. YES! As always, Elizabeth, you instruct and inspire. We need light - and poetry - now more than ever. Count me in.

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  13. This is a gift to read. I absolutely agree that creativity is healing.

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