know thyself

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Selecting poems to share as National Poetry Month starts to wind down, I also came across a note from a phantom from the past – someone who was startlingly insensitive in the ‘heyday’ of our acquaintance but occasionally comes up with something both sweet and thought-provoking now.

On relationships/sharing space and time with someone: “I think it’s more about understanding the necessity of being able to share and sustain the vital moment-to-moment microbial details with someone, which has nothing to do with the legendary impacts of romantic impressions that soon become questionable – perhaps not finding this in someone is where your ‘incapable’ lies presently. After all, your details are lovely – slow, patient and kind – whether you recognise it or not. One of those sayings that has given me access to a different perspective has been floating over me lately, ‘Above all else, know thyself’.”

And who will guide us back to friendship with and knowing of ourselves? …

 

Impossible Friendships
By Adam Zagajewski

For example, with someone who no longer is,
who exists only in yellowed letters.

Or long walks beside a stream,
whose depths hold hidden

porcelain cups—and the talks about philosophy
with a timid student or the postman.

A passerby with proud eyes
whom you’ll never know.

Friendship with this world, ever more perfect
(if not for the salty smell of blood).

The old man sipping coffee
in St.-Lazare, who reminds you of someone.

Faces flashing by
in local trains—

the happy faces of travelers headed perhaps
for a splendid ball, or a beheading.

And friendship with yourself
—since after all you don’t know who you are.

One thought on “know thyself

  1. Gargoyle 38

    Touched me in that deep in escape way. Had me thinking my college girl friend writing me to remind to the day we had met 50 years before

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