Friday, August 19, 2011

Poetry Friday: Orange Oil in Darkness

 The useful part
of things is elegance --
in mathematics, bridges.

Even in hedges
of ripe persimmons
or mandarin oranges,

elegance solves
for the minimum possible,
then dissolves.

The art is what is extra:
a fragrance penciled in,
or long division's inescapable remainder.

Not quite unplanned for,
more the unexpected, impractical gift.
Not the figures traced

in the bridges' stanchions,
but the small
and lovely sounds they make in the wind.

Who drew that in?
Who could have?
For years now I've mistaken

art for beauty,
but it is not beauty.
Art lives in a plenitude more iro,

more empty, less demanding.
Art doesn't care,
except in moments of despair.

Those it lets pass, recognizing weakness.

-- Jane Hirshfield

Above:  Manhattan Bridge in Rain, Study II, Stephen Magsig

More Poetry Friday at Dori Reads.

5 comments:

Doraine Bennett said...

Lovely poem, and a beautiful pairing with the artwork. I especially like these lines in the middle:

The art is what is extra:
a fragrance penciled in,
or long division's inescapable remainder.

Not quite unplanned for,
more the unexpected, impractical gift.
Not the figures traced

in the bridges' stanchions,
but the small
and lovely sounds they make in the wind.

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

Rodak said...

I like her, although I don't completely agree with the sentiment expressed in this particular poem.

Pentimento said...

You may know that she's a Zen Buddhist, and I think the austerity of the Buddhist sensibility informs her aesthetics. I also think a lot of her poetry (including this poem) is about grief and loss, and about an elaborate aesthetic strategy for managing them. What do you think?

Pentimento said...

Thank you for hosting, Dori!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Oh, gosh! I love this!

I've been thinking a bit about elegance lately (in fashion rather than art or engineering--although one can say that fashion is one hybrid of art and engineering), and I feel that I read this poem at just the right time.