Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two poems & thoughts jotted down

I was going through a bunch of poems I've collected, and re-reading this one it seems to me that one of the concepts Yeats is evoking is that of the meaning-generality from the Tibetan Buddhist ontology. In particular the lines: "I would have touched it like a child /But knew my finger could but have touched /Cold stone and water." This goes along with the last verse, which could possibly be a description of the meaning-generality of the same waterfall from the perspective of the woman with him.

Also the implications of the "law of heaven" he invokes seem to question reality in a way that is not dissimilar to the things I have been studying in my Tibetan Buddhist Reason & Debate class. There's a lot to more unpack there, but I'll leave it for now. Oh, and another poem I found below this one...

Towards Break of Day by William Butler Yeats

Was it the double of my dream
The woman that by me lay
Dreamed, or did we halve a dream
Under the first cold gleam of day?

I thought 'there is a waterfall
Upon Ben Bulban side,
That all my childhood counted dear;
Were I to travel far and wide
I could not find a thing so dear.'
My memories had magnified
So many times childish delight.

I would have touched it like a child
But knew my finger could but have touched
Cold stone and water. I grew wild
Even accusing heaven because
It had set down among its laws:
Nothing that we love over-much
Is ponderable to our touch.

I dreamed towards break of day,
The cold blown spray in my nostril.
But she that beside me lay
Had watched in bitterer sleep
The marvellous stag of Arthur,
That lofty white stag, leap
From mountain steep to steep.


I think I need to read the following poem about 100 more times, but my initial reaction was to think about emptiness, or selflessness. It has a Taoist feel to it in some respects, but I think especially in light of the end that it might almost be a visualization of a conception of selflessness in the Buddhist sense.

What Any Lover Learns by Archibald MacLeish

Water is heavy silver over stone.
Water is heavy silver over stone's
Refusal. It does not fall. It fills. It flows
Every crevice, every fault of the stone,
Every hollow. River does not run.
River presses its heavy silver self
Down into stone and stone refuses.

What runs,
Swirling and leaping into sun, is stone's
Refusal of the river, not the river.

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