Poetry: Eight Distillations

From the illustrations to The Divine Comedy by Gustave Doré. (Detail)

 

Apophatic
He talked of nothingness until it wasn’t.
He bragged his gravity into God.

Convert
What did he learn when he learned of his own bad heart?
That scared and sacred are but a beat apart.

Skeptic
His eyes were open but his heart was shut.
At the edge of every wonder he said But...

Inspiration
The clearest morning is a thing to bear,

he writes, overjoyed, as usual, by despair.

Knowledge
To touch the summit was to learn so much.
Among which:
there are some summits that you cannot touch.

Faith Is Action!
Me and my guillotine dreams:
Every impulse ends in seems.

Via Negativa
He names his love by naming what he hates.
Joy generalizes. Pain individuates.

Apophatic
Why wouldn’t I praise the vacuous black?
The one abundance I could trust was lack.

Published in the February 9, 2018 issue: 

Christian Wiman recently edited Joy: 100 Poems. He teaches at Yale Divinity School.

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