In Memoriam – to a Master

The Great Fires

Love is apart from all things.
Desire and excitement are nothing beside it.
It is not the body that finds love.
What leads us there is the body.
What is not love provokes it.
What is not love quenches it.
Love lays hold of everything we know.
The passions which are called love
also change everything to a newness
at first. Passion is clearly the path
but does not bring us to love.
It opens the castle of our spirit
so that we might find the love which is
a mystery hidden there.
Love is one of many great fires.
Passion is a fire made of many woods,
each of which gives off its special odor
so we can know the many kinds
that are not love. Passion is the paper
and twigs that kindle the flames
but cannot sustain them. Desire perishes
because it tries to be love.
Love is eaten away by appetite.
Love does not last, but it is different
from the passions that do not last.
Love lasts by not lasting.
Isaiah said each man walks in his own fire
for his sins. Love allows us to walk
in the sweet music of our particular heart.

Jack Gilbert
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7 thoughts on “In Memoriam – to a Master

  1. seems to be. I’ve been reading a lot of the new releases concerning David Foster Wallace, and Franzen’s memorial address spoke of their years of conversation and correspondence snuggling down into a view of fiction as “a relatively safe space in which to connect at deep levels with others,” communication. How else might we?!

  2. I love the paradox of lyrical lightness and heavy ideas. It’s abstract, yet simple, yet also difficult. Even the concrete nouns are not very particular. It’s really amazing how much he does with the language given these limitations.

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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