Scott Cairns, Sharon Olds, Mark Harris, Karel van den Oever, Christoph Wilhelm Aigner


De Amerikaanse dichter, librettist en essayist Scott Cairns werd geboren op 19 november 1954 in Tacoma, Washington. Zie ook alle tags voor Scott Cairns op dit blog.


Adventures in New Testament Greek: Nous

You could almost think the word synonymous
with mind, given our so far narrow
history, and the excessive esteem

in which we have been led to hold what is,
in this case, our rightly designated
nervous systems. Little wonder then

that some presume the mind itself both part
and parcel of the person, the very seat
of soul and, lately, crucible for a host

of chemical incentives—combinations
of which can pretty much answer for most
of our habits and for our affections.

When even the handy lexicon cannot
quite place the nous as anything beyond
one rustic ancestor of reason, you might

be satisfied to trouble the odd term
no further—and so would fail to find
your way to it, most fruitful faculty

untried. Dormant in its roaring cave,
the heart’s intellective aptitude grows dim,
unless you find a way to wake it. So,

let’s try something, even now. Even as
you tend these lines, attend for a moment
to your breath as you draw it in: regard

the breath’s cool descent, a stream from mouth
to throat to the furnace of the heart.
Observe that queer, cool confluence of breath

and blood, and do your thinking there.



Draw Near


For near is where you’ll meet what you have wandered
far to find. And near is where you’ll very likely see
how far the near obtains. In the dark katholikon
the lighted candles lent their gold to give the eye
a more than common sense of what lay flickering
just beyond the ken, and lent the mind a likely
swoon just shy of apprehension. It was then
that time’s neat artifice fell in and made for us
a figure for when time would slip free altogether.
I have no sense of what this means to you, so little
sense of what to make of it myself, save one lit glimpse
of how we live and move, a more expansive sense in Whom.


Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)

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Scott Cairns, Sharon Olds, Mark Harris, Karel van den Oever, Christoph Wilhelm Aigner


De Amerikaanse dichter, librettist en essayist Scott Cairns werd geboren op 19 november 1954 in Tacoma, Washington. Zie ook alle tags voor Scott Cairns op dit blog.


Another Road Home
After Stevens

It was when he said expansively There is
no such thing as the truth that his thick thumbs
thickened and his lips, purple as grapes,
further purpled. When I also spun such
spinning facilities as these, my own
vines ripened with what I hoped might prove

more promising fruit. Yios mou, set the large
man’s handsome books aside and sit with me
on the airy balcony beside our kind
and loving Father Iakovos. Truth may
prove to be no such a thing as matter
for our mulling; still, this evening spread out

before our mountain, above our mountain tea
suggests in its late, cypress-scented air
a pressing density, a wine-like, whelming
cup, ksinómavro—deep and dark, substantial.
And the road? Meandering, manifestly
inconclusive, and for that reason not
so likely to ferment blithe disregard.



Early Frost

This morning the world’s white face reminds us
that life intends to become serious again.
And the same loud birds that all summer long
annoyed us with their high attitudes and chatter
silently line the gibbet of the fence a little stunned,
chastened enough.

They look as if they’re waiting for things
to grow worse, but are watching the house,
as if somewhere in their dim memories
they recall something about this abandoned garden
that could save them.

The neighbor’s dog has also learned to wake
without exaggeration. And the neighbor himself
has made it to his car with less noise, starting
the small engine with a kind of reverence. At the window
his wife witnesses this bleak tableau, blinking
her eyes, silent.

I fill the feeders to the top and cart them
to the tree, hurrying back inside
to leave the morning to these ridiculous
birds, who, reminded, find the rough shelters,
bow, and then feed.


Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)

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Scott Cairns, Sharon Olds, Mark Harris, Karel van den Oever, Christoph Wilhelm Aigner, Alan Tate


De Amerikaanse dichter, librettist en essayist Scott Cairns werd geboren op 19 november 1954 in Tacoma, Washington. Zie ook alle tags voor Scott Cairns op dit blog.


A Word
For A.B.

She said God. He seems to be there
when I call on Him but calling
has been difficult too. Painful.

And as she quieted to find
another word, I was delivered
once more to my own long grappling

with that very angel here — still
here — at the base of the ancient
ladder of ascent, in foul dust

languishing yet at the very
bottom rung, letting go my grip
long before the blessing.


Idiot Psalms


     A psalm of Isaak, whispered mid the Philistines, beneath the breath.

Master both invisible and notoriously  
                     slow to act, should You incline to fix  
                     Your generous attentions for the moment
                     to the narrow scene of this our appointed
                     tedium, should You—once our kindly
                     secretary has duly noted which of us
                     is feigning presence, and which excused, which unexcused,
                     You may be entertained to hear how much we find to say
                     about so little. Among these other mediocrities,
                     Your mediocre servant gets a glimpse of how
                     his slow and meager worship might appear
                     from where You endlessly attend our dreariness.
Holy One, forgive, forgo and, if You will, fend off  
                     from this my heart the sense that I am drowning here  
                     amid the motions, the discussions, the several
                     questions endlessly recast, our paper ballots.


Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)

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Advent (Scott Cairns)


Bij de vierde zondag van de Advent


Weihnachtsmarkt Am Hof in Wien door Emil Barbarini, z.j.




Well, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas -- everywhere, children eyeing the bright lights and colorful goods, traffic a good deal worse than usual, and most adults in view looking a little puzzled, blinking their eyes against the assault of stammering bulbs and public displays of goodwill. We were all embarrassed, frankly, the haves and the have-nots -- all of us aware something had gone far wrong with an entire season, something had eluded us. And, well, it was strenuous, trying to recall what it was that had charmed us so, back when we were much smaller and more oblivious than not concerning the weather, mass marketing, the insufficiently hidden faces behind those white beards and other jolly gear. And there was something else: a general diminishment whose symptoms included the Xs in Xmas, shortened tempers, and the aggressive abandon with which most celebrants seemed to push their shiny cars about. All of this seemed to accumulate like wet snow, or like the fog with which our habitual inversion tried to choke us, or to blank us out altogether, so that, of a given night, all that appeared over the mess we had made of the season was what might be described as a nearly obscured radiance, just visible through the gauze, either the moon disguised by a winter veil, or some lost star -- isolated, distant, sadly dismissing of us, and of all our expertly managed scene.


Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)


Zie voor de schrijvers van de 21e december ook mijn drie vorige blogs van vandaag.

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Scott Cairns, Sharon Olds, Mark Harris, Karel van den Oever, Christoph Wilhelm Aigner, Alan Tate


De Amerikaanse dichter, librettist en essayist Scott Cairns werd geboren op 19 november 1954 in Tacoma, Washington. Zie ook alle tags voor Scott Cairns op dit blog.



The thing to remember is how
Tentative all of this really is.
You could wake up dead.

Or the woman you love
Could decide you’re ugly.
Maybe she’ll finally give up
Trying to ignore the way
You floss your teeth as you
Watch television. All I’m saying
Is that there are no sure things here.

I mean, you’ll probably wake up alive,
And she’ll probably keep putting off
Any actual decision about your looks.
Could be she’ll be glad your teeth
are so clean. The morning could
be full of all the love and kindness
you need. Just don’t go thinking
you deserve any of it.



Possible Answers to Prayer

Your petitions—though they continue to bear  
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.  
Your anxieties—despite their constant,

relatively narrow scope and inadvertent  
entertainment value—nonetheless serve  
to bring your person vividly to mind.

Your repentance—all but obscured beneath  
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more  
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.

Your intermittent concern for the sick,  
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes  
recognizable to me, if not to them.

Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly  
righteous indignation toward the many  
whose habits and sympathies offend you—         

these must burn away before you’ll apprehend  
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.


Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)

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Scott Cairns


De Amerikaanse dichter, librettist en essayist Scott Cairns werd geboren op 19 november 1954 in Tacoma, Washington. Cairns behaalde zijn Bachelor of Arts aan de Western Washington University (1977), een Master of Arts aan Hollins University (1979), een Master of Fine Arts aan Bowling Green State University (1981) en een PhD aan de Universiteit van Utah (1990). Momenteel doceert hij Engels aan de Universiteit van Missouri en geeft hij jaarlijks gedurende 4 weken in juni workshops schrijven in Griekenland, Op Cairns naam staan zeven dichtbundels, een verzameling van de vertalingen van de christelijke mystici, spirituele memoires, een groot essay over het lijden, en ook is hij co-editor van The Sacred Place (met Scott Olsen), een bloemlezing van poëzie, fictie en non-fictie. Deze won de inaugurele National Outdoor Book Award (Outdoor Literatuur categorie) in 1997. Hij schreef het libretto voor " The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp,", een oratorium gecomponeerd door JAC Redford, en het libretto voor "A Melancholy Beauty ', een oratorium gecomponeerd door Georgi Andreev. Cairns's gedichten zijn verschenen in tijdschriften zoals The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Image, and Poetry en in diverse bloemlezingen.


Idiot Psalms

       A psalm of Isaak, accompanied by Jew's harp.

O God Belovéd if obliquely so,
                     dimly apprehended in the midst
                     of this, the fraught obscuring fog  
                     of my insufficiently capacious ken,  
                     Ostensible Lover of our kind—while
                     apparently aloof—allow
                     that I might glimpse once more
                     Your shadow in the land, avail
                     for me, a second time, the sense
                     of dire Presence in the pulsing
                     hollow near the heart.  
Once more, O Lord, from Your enormity incline
                     your Face to shine upon Your servant, shy
                     of immolation, if You will.


       A psalm of Isaak, accompanied by baying hounds.

O Shaper of varicolored clay and cellulose, O Keeper
                     of same, O Subtle Tweaker, Agent
                     of energies both appalling and unobserved,  
                     do not allow Your servant's limbs to stiffen
                     or to ossify unduly, do not compel Your servant  
                     to go brittle, neither cramping at the heart,  
                     nor narrowing his affective sympathies
                     neither of the flesh nor of the alleged soul.
Keep me sufficiently limber that I might continue
                     to enjoy my morning run among the lilies  
                     and the rowdy waterfowl, that I might
                     delight in this and every evening's intercourse  
                     with the woman you have set beside me.
Make me to awaken daily with a willingness
                     to roll out readily, accompanied
                     by grateful smirk, a giddy joy,  
                     the idiot's undying expectation,  
                     despite the evidence.



Scott Cairns (Tacoma, 19 november 1954)

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