Thursday, February 20, 2014

God Is Applauding

God Is Applauding

God is applauding our every act,
but He hides that reality from most,
until we can understand more about
real love. 

          I discovered the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay for the first time last night after reading that Mary Oliver visited Steepletop, the home of the late poet Edna St. Vincent Millay at age 17, befriended her sister, Norma, and eventually lived there for seven years, helping to organize Millay's papers. Oliver went on herself to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, greatly inspired by Millay's work. Of coincidence (or perhaps serendipity), Steepletop is also where she met her life partner of over forty years, photographer Molly Malone Cook.
         After Cook's death, Oliver released a memoir entitled Our World, in which she writes: "Watching the intensity and openness with which she dealt with friends, and strangers too, taught me what real attention is about. Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness -- an empathy -- was necessary if the attention was to matter. M. had this in abundance, and gave away freely. She taught me to see. In all our time together we were rarely separated. We were talkers - about our work, our pasts, our friends, our ideas ordinary and far-fetched. We would often wake before there was light in the sky and make coffee and let our minds rattle our tongues. We would end in exhaustion and elation. Not many nights or early mornings later, we would do the same. It was a forty-year conversation."
            There are many ways to understand more about real love, and a good way would be...real love is a conversation you don't want to end. Or perhaps, more powerfully, a conversation without an end.

Love Is Not All
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; 
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink 
And rise and sink and rise and sink again; 
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath, 
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; 
Yet many a man is making friends with death 
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. 
It well may be that in a difficult hour, 
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, 
Or nagged by want past resolution's power, 
I might be driven to sell your love for peace, 
Or trade the memory of this night for food. 
It well may be. I do not think I would. 

Somewhere Only We Know (2004), Keane 

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