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April 24th, 2005

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11:49 pm - The Abyss
When I die, someone insist this is read at my funeral.


Is the stair here?
Where's the stair?
'The stair's right there,
But it goes nowhere.'

And the abyss? the abyss?
'The abyss you can't miss:
It's right where you are--
A step down the stair.'

Each time every
There always is
Noon of failure,
Part of a house.

In the middle of,
Around a cloud,
On top a thistle,
The wind's slowing.


I have been spoken to variously
But heard little.
My inner witness is dismayed
By my unguarded mouth.
I have taken, too often, the dangerous path,
The vague, the arid
Neither in nor out of this life.

Among us, who is holy?
What speech abides?
I hear the noise of the wall.
They have declared themselves,
those who despise the dove.

Be with me, Whitman, maker of catalogues:
For the world invades me again,
And once more the tongues begin babbling.
And the terrible hunger for objects quails me:
The sill trembles.
And there on the blind
A furred caterpillar crawls down a string.
My symbol!
For I have moved closer to death, lived with death;
Like a nurse he sat with me fo weeks, a sly surly attendant,
Watching my hands, wary.
Who sent him away?
I'm no longer a bird dipping a beak into rippling water
But a mole winding through earth,
A night-fishing otter.


Too much reality can be a dazzle, a surfeit;
Too close immediacy an exhuastion:
As when the dor swings open in a florist's storeroom--
The rush of smells strikes like a cold fire, the throat freezes,
And we turn back to the heat of August,

So the abyss--
The slippery cold heights,
After the blinding misery,
The climbing, the endless turning,
Strike like a fire,
A terrible violence of creation,
A flash into the burning heart of hte abominable;
Yet if we wait, unafraid, beyond the fearful instant,
The burning lake turns into a forest pool,
The fire subsides into rings of water,
A sunlit silence.


How can I dream except beyond this life?
Can I outleap the sea-
The edge of all the land, the final sea?
I envy the tendrils, their eyeless seeking
The child's hand reaching into the coiled smilax,
And I obey the wind at my back
Bringing me home from the twilight fishing.

In this, my half-rest
Knowing slows for a moment,
and not-knowing enters, silent,
Breaing being itself,
And the fire dances
To the stream's

Do we move toward God, or just another condition?
By the salt waves I hear a river's undersong,
IN a place of mottled clouds, a thin mist morning and evening.
I rock between dark and dark,
My soul nearly my own,
My dead selves singing.
And I embrace this calm--
Such quiet under the small leaves!-
Near the stem, whiter at root,
A luminous stillness.

The shade speaks slowly:
'Adore and draw near.
Who knows this--
Knows all.'


I thirst day. I watch by night.
I recieve! I have been received!
I hear the flowers drinking in their light,
I have taken consel of the crab and the sea-urchin,
I recall the falling of small waters,
THre stream slipping beneath the mossy logs,
Winding down to the stretch of irregular sand,
THe logs piled like matchsticks.

I am most immoderately married:
The Lod God has taken my heaviness away;
I have merged, like the bird, with the bright air,
And my thought flies to the place by the bo-tree.

Being, not doing, is my first joy.

("The Abyss" Theodore Roethke)

(1 comment | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 25th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC)
I will infact read it for you.

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