Tag Archives: Home

Moods of Light in Iceland and Canada

What if the Earth were a sphere, continually focussing the sun into moods of light, like these in Breiðafjörður in November, with a very low solar angle…borgarfjordurwater

… or these in Okanagan Lake, between the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains on the North Eastern Pacific Shore, in December (today!)?p1420577

To know how the planet was feeling, we would need to gather information globally and integrate it into a unified image.p1420581

With arts and sciences of dissection, we wind up talking about the arts and science of dissection, which does the planet no good at all, nor us. Let’s not forget the Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson, who saw his task as reducing the complexity of surfaces to elements the eye could see before the mind, and then the construction of technologies that the eye, not the mind, could think with. Things like this:

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Of course, he kept the mind busy at the same time, which is always polite. Following his principle, are two eye-poems for your eye, which I showed you yesterday. They are not word poems:

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Jökullsárlón

And because we are hospitable here and like company, here’s something for your mind. It is not an eye poem.p1320233

Kirkjubærjarklausstur

Book poems and mind poems are different things again. Poetry, though, ah, that’s a thing of the world.

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Kirkjubærjarklausstur

It is our home, but would we not be blind to call it our own? Let us just give praise.

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Kirkjubærjarklausstur

And thanks.p1390341

Breiðafjörður

And help with the braiding …

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Solheimajökull

… and the weaving of the fibres of this poem …

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Rushes in Lower BX Creek, Okanagan Lake

… together.

Hefted and Haunted and Home

Here’s a word Gunnar knew well, in his bones. It’s one that is worth bringing back into the language: heft. Its modern form indicates a weight, or heaviness, weighed by hand. No scale required. You lift a thing to get its heft, that kind of thing.

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Fair enough, but that’s not the only heft there is. Today I’m getting ready to introduce my book The Art of Haying, to the Edmonton Poetry Festival.

Haying Cover

I’m thinking about being hefted, here on the Canadian prairies, so far from home. I’m thinking of an older word, hæft: a bondage, an imprisonment, a chaining to a thing. That’s the one I want. This is a word still used to talk about sheep who have become hefted, or bound, to a mountain. They need no fences to keep them to it, because the mountain and the sheep are one.

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There is a modern meaning for this word as well. It’s haft, as in the haft, or handle, of an axe, which has that weight that one hefts. In German, it’s die Haft. A rough translation is: imprisonment. This haft was, originally, similar to the English. The English might have been the handle one gripped and the weight one felt as an extension of one’s body, as if one had moved out into it and was free, but this German was the grip of a hand on a person, as felt by that person, abstracted into the grip of a leg iron or the grip of the law, and transferred to the loss of freedom that grip entailed.

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This is the way I look at nationhood, away from my beloved volcanic rock. I suspect it’s how Gunnar felt, away from the East Fjords.

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I’ll tell you, though. The sheep didn’t look at it that way. Really, it’s only a modern way of thinking: the deprivation of the individual of free movement without boundaries. Boundaries can be liberating. Even horses aren’t particularly perturbed.

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The old meaning, to be hefted to a mountain, is similar to another English word, haunt. To be haunted is to be home, to have your spirit so identified with a place that even after death you cannot leave your haunt, or home. It has nothing to do with ghosts. It’s a love of place. I love this place.

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It brings me great joy. I haunt it. I am hefted to it. But I’m fine with the modern meanings as well: I am haunted by it; I am in haft. I feel its grip. I give myself to it. I am bound.

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The new words are great for the new world. For the things the world has forgotten and is trying to remember through us, the old ones still live. If you ever wonder about that, just ask the neighbours.

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Home on Earth

I made it! I went to a farm near the end of a valley in a remote part of Iceland, and found my way home. I now have two homes on this earth. Just look at them both in this spring full of light. First, my home in the middle of the North Atlantic …
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Spring in East Iceland (Skriðuklaustur)

And then my home in the volcanic sea inland from the North Eastern Pacific …

biggreenhillSpring in the Okanagan (Bella Vista & the Commonage)

Same sun, such different light. It’s so good to be home on this Earth. In celebration, I am posting this today as well on my blog about my volcanic sea, www.okanaganokanogan.com. Bless bless!