Thursday, October 9, 2008

An Incantation

Hi, Everybody!

Today’s poem is by Octavio Paz:

Wind and Water and Stone
by Octavio Paz
The water hollowed the stone,
the wind dispersed the water,
the stone stopped the wind.
Water and wind and stone

[Rest of poem removed because it’s probably still in copyright]

Wow. Sounds like an incantation, doesn’t it? Well, check out the following:

He knew the arteries of fire, and the beat of the great heart. He knew what to do. It was in no tongue of man that he said, “Be quiet, be easy. There now, there. Hold fast. So, there. We can be easy.”

And he was easy, he was still, he held fast, rock in rock and earth in earth in the fiery dark of the mountain.

That’s from a story by Ursula K. Le Guin, and it’s a scene where a wizard steps into a mountain and gentles it, stopping an earthquake and (as it happens) imprisoning himself therein forever. When I reviewed the story, I wrote of that exact passage, “Here, at the story’s climax, the elegantly simple prose reaches through eloquence to become, for one sentence, incantatory.”

Tolkien once observed that once you could say, “The grass is green,” you had the power to work magic, to imagine things otherwise, to say, “The sun is green” or “The grass is orange.” So this connection between spells and poetry is very basic and goes right back to the roots.

All best,


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