Our Book Club chose to hold a poetry reading evening
as its final event for 2010. Those in attendance agreed that the evening
offered them an enriching, positive experience through the common thread
to the poems that they shared. The event was so successful that our Book
Group has made this an annual event. Below is a sampling of the poems
read during the Annual Poetry Potluck.
The reading began with this poem by Tao Te Ching
(translated by Witter Bynner):
In the beginning of heaven and earth
There were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter,
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees the core of life
Or passionately sees the surface
The core and the surface are essentially the same
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder,
Prospective Immigrants Please Note
Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.
If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.
Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.
If you do not go through
it is possible
to live worthily
to maintain your attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely
but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost, who knows?
The door itself
makes no promises.
It is only a door.
to Book Group Page
More Poems >
The Uses of Sorrow
by Mary Oliver.
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
A Poem to Anne
by Leonard Cohen
With Anne gone
Whose eyes to compare with the morning sun
Not that I did compare
But I do compare
Now that she is gone
The Little Duck
by Donald C. Babcock
Now we are ready to look at something pretty special.
It is a duck riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
No, it isn’t a gull.
A gull always has a raucous touch about him.
This is some sort of duck, and he cuddles in the swells.
He isn’t cold, and he is thinking things over.
There is a great heaving in the Atlantic,
And he is a part of it.
He looks a little like a mandarin,
Or the Lord Buddha meditating under the Bo tree
But he has hardly enough above the eyes to be a philosopher.
He has poise, however, which is what philosophers must have.
He can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because he rests in the Atlantic.
Probably he doesn’t know how large the ocean is.
And neither do you.
But he realizes it.
And what does he do, I ask you. He sits down in it.
He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity – which it is.
That is religion, and the duck has it.
He has made himself a part of the boundless,
by easing himself into it just where it touches him.
I like the little duck.
He doesn’t know much.
But he has religion.
Published in The New Yorker Magazine,
October 4, 1947