Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Galway Kinnell: Wait, for now

Galway Kinnell

    With posts on the centennials of John Berryman and Dylan Thomas (two, really, if you count the one on his fudged age) a third (or fourth) threatens to veer into Too Much Poetry (not that I believe such a thing exists, but the desires of the readership must be considered).
     Still, when I heard about the death of Galway Kinnell, I had to mention the poem of his that my co-author, Sara Bader and I reprint in our literary companion to recovery, that the University of Chicago Press is publishing in 2016. Not only do we use most of "Wait" to convey the healing power of time in our chapter on the role of time and recovery, but the chapter is called "Wait, for now," the opening line from the poem. 
     Kinnell wrote the poem for a student who was considering suicide after a love affair gone awry. It begins:

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now? 

  Good advice. Kinnell promises that life will become interesting again, from minor accoutrements like gloves, to buds that open early, to the very quality of pain itself. I'd reprint the entire poem, but many websites already do that, and if nothing else, writing this new book has made me keenly aware of copyright law. You can find it online easily enough.

     The concluding stanza begins:
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.   
    True, and a good thought to tuck into your pocket for future use. I've known people who've failed to grasp that essential point: whatever bad is happening right now will pass if you only let it, and life will get better once again. Not understanding that leads to tragedy, for them and everyone they know.  I was grateful that Galway Kinnell wrote this poem, and grateful he allowed us to use it in our book, and wanted to pass his timeless sentiments along.

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