Monday, November 07, 2005

Another Week of Class

Another Personal Essay class tonight. This week we went for short-short essays. We were assigned to read "The Hurricane Ride" by Bernard Cooper which was really wonderful. We also read "My Face" by Robert Benchley, "Essays in Idleness" by Kenko, and "Asthma" by Seneca. I didn't much like the Kenko piece which was more personal journal than essay, but Benchley writing about growing old and not recognizing his face in the mirror was humorously done and Seneca was very readable. Montaigne read Seneca and I can see the appeal. I might have to read more of him. The writing assignment was to write a one page essay--double spaced--and make it complete and polished. I was worried at first, how can I write a complete essay in around 250 words? Yikes! But recently I picked up Rumi again. He had been sitting beside my bed with a bookmark in the same place for almost a year. He writes fairly short poems in sort of couplets (they aren't really couplets, but that's the best I can describe them) and packs them with meaning. Here's an example from the beginning of a poem called "The Core":

Whoever planted this apple orchard hid it in a mist of language, though some fragrance comes through. Keep your nose subtle and clear for that. Coarse companions can clog you with mucus, so that you forget what's concealed in word-fog
And then I saw this one page essay I had to write is more like a poem, an essay haiku. So I will be taking my essay haiku to class tonight and see how it goes. Meanwhile, I will leave you with a complete Rumi poem to contemplate:
The Ground's Generosity Remember: prayer gets accepted no matter how impure: like that of a woman in excessive menstruation, her asking dense with blood, so your praise is full of blood ties, full of how attached you are. That tangle of limited surrender is the human mire. We're sodden in bodiness, where the clearest sign of grace is that from dung come flowers, from the bulbous sludge, buds and then sweet pears. The ground's generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty! Try to be more like the ground. Give back better, as a rough clod returns an ear of corn, a tassel, a barely awn, this sleek handful of oats.