Songbirds and nuclear reactors and the horrible beauty of the world

March 14th, 2011

How does one write poems in the middle of something like this? What good, really, are my words now? How do we make the words meaningful in the face of disaster – although, if we are already following the injunction to “write as if you are dying” the words should never be trite, the words would always be weighed against the horrible beauty of the world.

The horrible beauty of the world. I have refilled the bird feeder and the blue tits and the great tits are back, swooping down from the branches of the willow tree, pecking at the feed sticks, flitting away – those bright little song birds I am so happy to have lured to our patio. Meanwhile, entire villages are wrecked and gone – entire villages of the dead and missing. Radiation is leaking out of several reactors – and how does a sentence like that even exist? – leaking poison and here I am watching my songbirds – that’s the horrible beauty of the world, that these two things exist at the same time, that it is our duty to see both of them, to take them both in.

Stare at the horrible images. Watch the songbird out the window. Hold these two things simultaneously in your heart.


5 Responses to “Songbirds and nuclear reactors and the horrible beauty of the world”

  1. Sarah @ Bringing up Baby Bilingual on March 23, 2011 4:51 pm

    No words….

    But I do want to let you know that your family’s profile is up on my blog here: http://babybilingual.blogspot.com/2011/03/profile-swiss-german-and-more-with.html

    (just in case you didn’t get my email last week)

    Please let me know if you have any edits!

  2. jacque brogan on March 23, 2011 5:47 pm

    This made me cry. It reminded both me and my daughter of how we felt when we left Hawaii a week or so ago. I am actually a Stevens scholar, among other things (as well as a poet), starting early retirement from the University of Notre Dame, moving back to Austin, Texas. I too am constantly struck by the horrible contradictions of being alive, especially now in the early 21st century……I have only read two of your entries now. Just wondering where you are. Thanks for what I have read here so far! JB

  3. Christina on March 31, 2011 3:10 am

    This was so beautifully, poignantly put…. I heart your writing so very much…

  4. Betsy on March 31, 2011 3:50 pm

    This was beautiful! Thank you.

  5. Jennifer on April 10, 2011 9:38 am

    Hi, Jacque, thanks for stopping by and reading – I’m in Switzerland outside of Bern and I met your daughter “in real life” as they say once when she lived in Switzerland.

    You’re a Stevens scholar, how interesting! I’m working my way through the Selected Poems (the Serio edition) now – I’m badly read in my Stevens but working to correct it. Thanks for commenting and I hope you stop by again.

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