(by Billy Collins)
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
(by P.K. Page)
If we’ll but give it time, a work of art
‘can rap and knock and enter in our souls’
and re-align us — all our molecules —
to make us whole again. A work of art,
could, ‘had we but world enough and time,’
portray for us — all Paradise apart —
‘the face (we) had/before the world was made,’
or, to compound the image, vivify
Plato’s invisible reality.
But is there time enough? This turning world
we call our home, or notre pays — could
become inimical to humankind —
humanunkind as cummings might have said —
in fewer years than I have walked this earth.
So, what is there to tell you? Only this.
‘Imagination is the star in man.’
Read woman, if you wish. And though we are
trapped in the body of an animal,
we’re half angelic, and our angel ear,
which hears the music of the spheres, can hear
the planet’s message, dark, admonishing,
as the archaic torso of Apollo
admonished Rilke, ‘You must change your life.’
Art and the planet tell us. Change your life.