Reading Poetry as Vocational: Two Quotes and a Poem

Happy World Poetry Day! Here is the first of hopefully many poetry posts, of many forms, from my good friend Jonathan Peasley. Jonathan and I worked together, and of the many things I miss, perhaps the most tangible are the “Mr. Peasley poetry surprises.” Almost once a week, I would find a sheet on my desk; more often than not, it was a poem from Jonathan. It was like receiving a wondrous gift and also a chance to add something more to my commonplace book. Now these poetry surprises enter the world of the “living commonplace book” here on The Common Things:

“If a poet and a pious man should confer and exchange views, the poet would say: ‘All he lives, I say’; and the pious man would know: ‘All he says, I live.’”

-Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone

“The world is a parable. The world, while it unveils, also veils. The sign unveils, but at the same time it veils. And it is only a particular attention which allows us to sense, under or on the other side of this apparently inert fabric, the vibration of a living body lying behind it - not a mannequin, but a living body.”

-Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense

Encounter by Czeslaw Milosz

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon

At dawn.

A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.

One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,

Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going.

The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle

of pebbles.

I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Happy World Poetry Day!

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Jonathan Peasley

didn't know that he loved poetry until he heard Bjork sing "i will wade out" by ee cummings when he was a sophomore in high school. Since then, he has been on the hunt for those who capture in words those lightning flashes of the liminal and sublime that a moment presents. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife, two children, and an idiosyncratic cat and dog. He teaches junior high and high school humanities classes at a private school.

Banner image:

Wind from the Sea, 1947

Andrew Wyeth American, 1917 - 2009