Friday, February 06, 2015

Poetry Friday -- Found Poem

In a recent Brain Pickings article about Mark Strand, this quote stood up in front of me, shot its sleeves, straightened its tie, and announced, "I'm here. I understand that your OLW for 2015 is notice? Well, I've arrived to wallop your brain with a new take on attentiveness."

We’re only here 
for a short while. 
And I think it’s such a lucky accident, 
having been born, 
that we’re almost obliged to pay attention. 

In some ways, 
this is getting far afield. 
I mean, we are – 
as far as we know – 
the only part of the universe that’s self-conscious. 
We could even 
be the universe’s 
form of consciousness. 

We might have come along 
so that the universe could 
look at itself. 

I don’t know that, 
but we’re made of the same stuff that stars are made of, 
or that floats around in space. 

But we’re combined in such a way 
that we can describe 
what it’s like to be alive, 
to be witnesses. 
Most of our experience is that of being a witness. 
We see and hear and smell other things. 

I think being alive is responding.

(line breaks are mine)

Wow., right?

When you click over to the article, there is a for-real Mark Strand poem at the end, and as you read or scroll through to get to it, don't you admire how Maria Popova uses art from children's books to illustrate her post?

Liz has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Elizabeth Steinglass. I hope to be able to make the rounds this week. Life has expanded my one square inch to give me a smidge more breathing room than last week!


  1. WOW! I'll say! And it makes a terrific found poem! I loved the way you broke the lines and stanzas! I'm printing this one out! Thank you for starting out Friday so beautifully.

  2. Love Brain Pickings and love what you've done here!

  3. I'm so happy you found the poem within the words. "Most of our experience is that of being a witness." How true!

  4. Yes to being witnesses! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  5. You did a wonderful job of noticing the poem in this. Love it! I've saved and shared it. Thanks :-)

  6. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Hurrah for observations and awareness!

    Happy Friday, everyone!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your attentiveness with us! What a great way to bring those words to poetry.

  8. Yes, wow. We're here to be the universe's form of consciousness?! Then we need to do a better job.

  9. WOW! Excellent.

  10. Yes, WOW! WOW! What a cool thing to put your own line breaks in an article to make it a poem.

  11. Echoing all the WOWs. Missed this particular BP article, so thanks for pointing us to it. Love your found poem -- how you astutely "noticed" a poem in that quote.

  12. "Most of our experience is that of being a witness.
    We see and hear and smell other things.
    I think being alive is responding."
    Yep! And your response to this article/poem is profound. =)

  13. Wonderful quote--and your line breaks make it resonate even more.

  14. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Love the way you've found a poem in those words, especially setting off the last line. Made it more profound.

  15. Anonymous8:04 AM

    Beautiful, Mary Lee. "Obliged to pay attention" indeed! I love Brain Pickings and try to read as many posts as I can, but missed this one. Thanks for sharing it today.

  16. Well, good morning to you too! Thanks for opening my eyes.

  17. If your "noticing" is this precise already in Feb., what an insightful year lies ahead! Thanks for sharing with us.

  18. Yes! Wow, indeed. Love the punch of that last line, Mary Lee.

  19. Love this so much! How clever of you to find the poem in the prose.

  20. Maria Popova is Love. I often go on emergency trips to the library because of Maria Popova's Brainpickings posts. Thank you so much for sharing the poem in its entirety here today. :)

  21. This is lovely. And I agree with every word of it!

  22. Mary Lee you have artfully taken pause here at just the right places to make me stop to reflect-

    that we’re almost obliged to pay attention.


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