I am surrounded by Crown Island,
a weave of rock and sand; the waves
lap against me, sizzling white strings.
Come said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.
In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.
By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born, conceal’d or unconceal’d the seed is waiting.
Lo! keen-eyed towering science,
As from tall peaks the modern overlooking,
Successive absolute fiats issuing.
Yet again, lo! the soul, above all science,
For it has history gather’d like husks around the globe,
For it the entire star-myriads roll through the sky.
In spiral routes by long detours,
(As a much-tacking ship upon the sea,)
For it the partial to the permanent flowing,
For it the real to the ideal tends.
For it the mystic evolution,
Not the right only justified, what we call evil also justified.
Forth from their masks, no matter what,
From the huge festering trunk, from craft and guile and tears,
Health to emerge and joy, joy universal.
Out of the bulk, the morbid and the shallow,
Out of the bad majority, the varied countless frauds of men and states,
Electric, antiseptic yet, cleaving, suffusing all,
Only the good is universal.
Over the mountain-growths disease and sorrow,
An uncaught bird is ever hovering, hovering,
High in the purer, happier air.
From imperfection’s murkiest cloud,
Darts always forth one ray of perfect light,
One flash of heaven’s glory.
To fashion’s, custom’s discord,
To the mad Babel-din, the deafening orgies,
Soothing each lull a strain is heard, just heard,
From some far shore the final chorus sounding.
O the blest eyes, the happy hearts,
That see, that know the guiding thread so fine,
Along the mighty labyrinth.
Song of the Universal
Walt Whitman, from Book XVII: Birds of Passage, Leaves of Grass, Project Gutenberg
Imagining Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) addressing this issue,
I considered his thoughts pertaining to all matters,
expressed in his poetry.
Archival, public domain photographs of Toronto Island found on Wikimedia Commons.
Painting by Arthur Cox (1840 – 1917) Toronto from the Island, 1875 (Public Domain), Toronto Public Library
A 1907 postcard of a Toronto Ferry Company ferry crossing the bay from the city of Toronto to the Toronto Islands, (Public Domain) Halton Hill Public Library
Hanlan’s Point Hotel and Regatta, 1907, (Public Domain) photo: William James, City of Toronto Archives
Milkman, Toronto Islands, 1944, Public Domain
Photo of Main Street (below), Centre Island, Toronto, 1944, Souvenir Folder of Toronto Islands, Photogelatine Engraving, Ottawa, Ontario (Public Domain)
The majority of Toronto residents living on Toronto Island were evacuated in the 1950s to make room for parkland.
The source for the pterodactyl jet was a generic, uncredited image.
Soon a sun
Leonard Cohen is singing
Cascade in waves
Against the windowpane
in the morning,
at the end
Amazed and amused
Into a mirror,
Of dark port rum
Clay vessels in the song
Clay vessels in the shadow
Lullaby on his most recent album Old Ideas
The planet is a little outraged girl
With its days without dolls and its eyes without pupils
Her bundle awaits on a strange train platform
Next to millions of sadnesses without reply
A train that will carry to the tomb her gloveless heart
A plucked nib on my chest, this is the world
Stone hole, empty gap
All the chalices converge on my blood
I am a fountain positioned to offer
But the wound passes through the mouth of the poem
Abandonment resists the sky
And rattles the soul of the earth.
Or perhaps, is God dead?
Why do they, my eyes, look at them inside?
And why do they inside these beings look at my eyes?
No one but the Absolute answers.
Crystal and steel I am, but everyone sees the sword
And no one could imagine my crystals in shards
I will resist in an armour of poetry
I will resist swinging from the murmur of the stars
I will resist perched on the peek of a blade of grass
Attached to this moon of snow sailing through the mists
Who stare at me from the branch of the tree, that they cradle.
I can still open my hands to Those about me
I will not die without seeing that in the bundle Christ sings
I will not die before the compass foretells an epiphany.
Cristina Castello is an Argentinian poet and journalist now living in France. Her work is committed to peace and beauty against all social injustices. Her poems are always a commitment to the dignity of life, beauty and freedom. They have been translated into several languages. Her books include, Soif, (L’Harmattan 2004); Orage, (Bod 2009),Ombre (Trames 2010) and “Le chant des sirènes” / “El canto de las sirenas” (Chemins de plume, 2012).
Pierre L’Abbe is a Toronto translator, publisher, ebook designer and author of both poetry and short story collections.
You walk home from the dance
Thinking of the girl you met
Wearing an orange dress
If she would love you
If you tied yourself
To the wing
Of a small plane
Cars drive slowly crunching snow
You think of human pyramids
You see the tree on the horizon
& plan a filmic strategy
She spoke with an accent
Pronouncing the titles
By her favourite artist
Influenced by somebody
Wooden spoon dripping honey
You foray out into the world:
At the library
Summoning the gods
of the Dewey Decimal System.
Last night the street was quiet with softly falling snow, not too cold, and it took me back to something that may or may not have happened.
I remembered being young & swirling ribbons of sticky, amber honey & trips to the library.
And walking home late at night considering both the terrible and the hopeful & being puzzled by the odd flash of invisible magic charging the air.
The NASA space photo used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
The goldfish found online, no photographer credited.
The street scene I snapped with my phone.