Analysis of Louise Bogan’s Knowledge

by Louise Bogan

Now that I know
How passion warms little 

Of flesh in the mould,
And treasure is brittle,––

I’ll lie here and learn
How, over their ground,
Trees make a long shadow
And a light sound.


Thomas Gray’s poem, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” ends with the following lines, “Since sorrow never comes too late, / And happiness too swiftly flies. / Thought would destroy their paradise. / No more; where ignorance is bliss, / 'Tis folly to be wise.” If you suffer an obsession, like I do, with Adam and Eve you can easily place the pair in your own narrative where after they have eaten the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge they would lament what they had given up: innocence for knowledge, just as Gray’s poem does. But when one has taken a bite and it dawns on one that the previous state was superior to the present, how does one carry on? In his 1709 poem, An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope states “A little learning is a dangerous thing / Dr…

Photography: Mel Chin: All Over the Place an Exhibition at the Queens Museum

Operation of the Sun, 1987 From Funk and Wag A to Z, 2012 Presence of Tragedy, 1988 Flint Fit, 2017 (in collaboration with Tracy Reese)
Mel Chin: All Over the Place exhibiting at the Queens Museum, April 8th through August 12th 2018.
--- JAO 

Between the Pages of Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke VIII

“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing”
(Rainer Maria Rilke. Letters to a Young Poet. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. NY: Modern Library, 2001, p. 83-84).

All of Rilke’s letters in his Letters to a Young Poet are deeply beautiful. And though my current favorite is the seventh chapter, I find the eight chapter not less profound. It is as if the chapter attempts a summary of all that have been said in the previous letters. There are so many passages in this letter worth considering and I will be using some of them to support the chosen quote above––which seems the thesis of the letter. For this commentary, my interest is merely to explore a little furth…

Opinion: Reflections on Freedom

What if one rises to the day asking what will you teach me today? Then spends the seconds of the day like a student, learning: how the heart beats; how pride bows low, forehead to earth, in love; how the colors of pain paints suffering’s steps towards wisdom; and how peace sits always at the door of intellect, patiently waiting to illustrate calm. And you know with all your being that there is more than you see, more than you understand and truth shines brighter than any star and all there is in a today is simply to ask for help, to be led to where you ought to go and for the strength to muster another step towards that which you are in truth. To know without doubt that the sun is your friend; the air is your friend; the trees are your friends; the birds are your friends; the earth is your friend; the oceans and seas are your friends; and the heart of every human being––whether she knows it or not––is friend. How does one step into such a day? Is it by saying this is who I am and wha…

A Commentary on Rumi's Poem, The Road Home

The Road Home
by Rumi º 

An ant hurries along a threshing floor with its wheat grain,
moving between huge stacks

of wheat, not knowing the abundance all around. It thinks its
one gray is all there is to 

love. So we choose a tiny seed to be devoted to. This body, 

one path or one teacher. Look 

wider and farther. The essence of every human being can see,
and what that essence-eye takes 

in, the being becomes. Saturn. Solomon! The ocean pours 

through a jar, and you might say it 

swims inside the fish! The mystery gives peace to your
longing and makes the road home home.

º From The Soul of Rumi 
  Translated by Coleman Barks

Home is where the heart is” says Pliny the Elder. Hence in other to find one’s home one must know one’s heart, and to be at home is to rest where one’s heart rests. But in Coleman Barks’ translation of Rumi’s poem, “The Road Home,” interest sits on the path towards discovery and union with the heart. Here Rumi seems to be saying that one may also f…