I BEGAN WITH EMOTION

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I began with emotion

And what does emotion know?

Emotion is the result

Of thinking that is slow,

So an anxious mind

Has a feeling the world’s unkind—

What’s thought killed by what’s felt.

And there I saw you, with a sad face,

And said hello. Isn’t the world an emotional place?

I didn’t hear a word you said.

I wish love were music instead.

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14 Comments

  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 5, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    The last line is jeweled. It should be in italics.

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 5, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    the word “should” in my comment was meant to be in italics; otherwise the comment reads like I am blind to changes in typescript or I am one of those annoying people who make suggestions of things that have already clearly been done and dusted, as if they were something only just thought of. Nothing worse than being told to do something you have already done. Always happened to me on the job and when the supervisor knew (knew in italics) I had already taken care of it and in a most speedy accurate manner.

  3. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 6, 2016 at 3:06 am

    I hear this as piano music, a kind of combination of Janacek and Sinding (The Diary Of One Who Disappeared by Janacek and Sinding’s crystalline songs)

    GOD ON HIS LONG TREK RECOGNIZED

    is the gold of His tears remembered
    slipping from the sun
    from distant clouds

    from everyone
    from leaves the colour of honey
    is He letting go

    of all he knew of us
    before the rainbows set in
    or can He be a friend

    to us
    who turn the other way
    as night can turn to snowblind day

    where it is continuing to snow
    and cover our tracks so
    that it’s needless looking back

    and we can’t hear Him in
    the arctic winds, His colours
    brandishing weeping weeping

    in the borealis
    for it is no dawn yet.

    mary angela douglas 5 january 2016

  4. thomasbrady said,

    January 6, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Ah, Janacek! I once owned a recording that was so haunting and lovely, given to me by a Czech writer—just a casual acquaintance—when I was at U. Iowa, working for the International Writing Program.

    I put “should” in italics for you, Mary.

  5. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 6, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Thank You! I never realized before how essential italics could be; kind of a weird realization.

  6. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Haunting and lovely really does encompass the feeling in Janacek. I never felt sad listening to his music, though I couldn’t understand why not. Its in a consoling register, thread of loss but how can that even be.

    How was it working for the International Writing Program? (in 50 words or less, that part’s a joke.) Every time I write “haha” it has a hollow ring even though I don’t intend it to; I wonder if this would happen in other languages.

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I guess what I wanted to ask without the digression was, did you find it rewarding working with the International Writing Program at the time you were there? Was it what you thought it would be?

  8. thomasbrady said,

    January 6, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Paul Engle, who started the famous Iowa Writer’s Workshop, had quit that and now his baby as an elderly but still robust and outgoing gentleman with a Chinese novelist he married, was the International Writing Program at Iowa.

    30 writers from all over the world came to Iowa City every fall semester; room and board and translators and they also had money to travel about the U.S. It was a very well-funded program. I think it was a gift from the U.S. government to Paul for helping to launch the Writing Program era (with the New Critics) to fight communism.

    I drove the writers around in a van and partied with them in Iowa City, making them feel comfortable in their temporary home. And I got to know Paul a little. It was a fantastic job.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      January 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks very much for the story. I have been through Iowa, a long time ago and traveled all over with some friends. I grew so attached to those little towns all over the place the beautiful fields and silos, the miniature downtowns and even the water towers. Later I found out that some of my ancestors had lived there for a time and then were heartbroken when they had to move on. I wondered then, was I feeling their nostalgia, too? When I hear Copeland’s Appalachian Spring somehow I am always reminded of the feeling I had in Iowa. I loved that movie The Straight Story with Richard Farnsworth which was et in Iowa. I realize Iowa City is a cultural center and not a dusty little town but still there is such an aura, an idealistic farmland kind of aura shimmering over that state I believe will always be there. I’m glad it developed, however, it developed, that writers from all over the world saw even one corner of beautiful Iowa.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        January 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm

        I SAW IN EFFIGY THE PRAIRIES

        I saw in effigy the prairies
        as if nothing had ever been
        but that expanse under starlight;

        carnation pink the light of afternoons; that
        tint of the prairie rose
        I wanted so to live in

        when I was young.

        water towers waver in sunlight;
        the silos too.
        and through the miniature downtowns

        the first snows fly and
        the squared off town squares shine.
        and was this mine? and is it true that

        soon husking will be done and one
        by one the little farms blink out like
        ruddy stars we remember

        in the long grasses?
        everything passes.

        but I see, as in a glass
        or in snow panes of the white frame houses
        with the well shingled roofs

        built against inevitable storms

        some self effacing loveliness I cannot be torn from,
        eternal heartache born of the wind and sun
        that the wagon wheels,

        move on.

        mary angela douglas 7 january 2016

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          January 7, 2016 at 7:15 pm

          WHAT WAS IT

          was it the ice storm?
          or the whole Kaleidoscope shattered-
          and we’re on the floes of colours

          shifting apart.
          soon it will be dark, we
          crooned to the little houses

          floating by and then
          the skies will leave off weeping.
          this is the kingdom down again

          my friend said sleeping,
          lost in the shade.
          and lost is the white the gold

          oh the Dome of very heaven
          as we wondered, growing smaller,
          out of Time:

          will the vines creep round

          us now or will we remember how
          to spell the right word at the
          critical moment?

          or will we write in chalk on
          an unforgiving moon
          this is the tune the way we played it

          little bird little bird
          in your nightfall of pearls.
          when no one heard.

          mary angela douglas 7 january 2016

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 7, 2016 at 4:59 am

    THEY GAVE TO YOU A RING OF TIN

    they gave to you a ring of tin
    a shoe of stone
    no happy end

    a face to shine
    on no one there
    a hill to climb

    that was despair
    and who will mend
    what they will tear

    and sing to you
    a lovely air
    and play and strum

    when they are through
    with all the hurt
    they’ll do to you

    as if it never came to pass
    that you were wretched in the blast
    and had no cloak or gloves to warm

    yourself when coming to such harm
    o they gave you a ring of tin
    and kept the gold for all of them

    but there is One above who knows
    and He is lovely as the Rose
    and grieved for you

    before you came
    and loved the beauty of your name
    my child he cried

    because he knew
    each wounding thing that they would do
    and on the Cross he bled and died

    that you might find the bright Spring tide
    and learn to laugh at misery’s face
    and find your Home within His grace.

    and so I wrote this little song
    that you might feel so free from wrong
    and feel your heart so sweet within

    and live again.
    and live again.

    mary angela douglas 6 january 2016

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      January 7, 2016 at 5:03 am

      should be 6 january 2016, not 2015. A Feast of the Epiphany poem that actually goes with the picture at the top of the page, a little, I think.

  10. maryangeladouglas said,

    January 7, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    WHEN POPPIES MANTLED THE SKIES

    now poppies mantled the skies
    I’ve got to close my eyes,
    said Dorothy I am so tired

    how can I go on
    in my blue and white dress
    oh let me rest

    but something sighed
    to her a different word
    in a snowy language

    she had never heard.

    let me go then
    I am going home
    said Dorothy

    in a largo of emeralds

    hardly recognized
    by her musician friends.
    a little world depends on it.

    or else, it ends.

    mary angela douglas 7 january 2016


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