Quote of the Day: Art is the yoga for a deeper understanding of intuition. Li-Young Lee, words of wisdom shared during his poetry reading at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN, Sept. 24, 2012.
He told us that when he was in Indonesia, he looked like the enemy because he is Chinese. Then, when he moved to the U.S. in the early 60’s, a country that was at war with another Asian country, he looked like the enemy. So, he grew up with that feeling, which seeped into his psyche and his writing. He told us about the four selves: We have our public self, the one we show to anyone, even strangers. We have our private self, who we are with friends and family, where we feel a little safer. We have our inner self, the one we know and keep only to ourselves. Then, we have the hidden self, the part of us that is unknown even to ourselves. There are parts of us that we haven’t discovered yet. They might not be revealed to us for a long time. We might find ourselves surprised to discover something. And, I believe, someone on the outside might be that person who sheds light on that hidden self.
Mr. Lee says that the best art, particularly poetry, has elements of all four selves. That’s when it is the truest, when it connects, when it becomes “the yoga that deepens our understanding of our true self, our intuition.” He spoke for just an hour and read two poems, Undressing, and Virtues of the Boring Husband, and I felt like I learned so much and was inspired. Both poems are very personal, have to do with his relationship with his wife, their intimacy and responses to each other. His poetry is sensual and meaningful, filled with vivid images and mind wanderings. Here’s a sample, used by permission from the poet.
So we’re dust. In the meantime, my wife and I
make the bed. Holding opposite edges of the sheet,
we raise it, billowing, then pull it tight,
measuring by eye as it falls into alignment
between us. We tug, fold, tuck. And if I’m lucky,
she’ll remember a recent dream and tell me.
One day we’ll lie down and not get up.
One day, all we guard will be surrendered.
Until then, we’ll go on learning to recognize
what we love, and what it takes
to tend what isn’t for our having.
So often, fear has led me
to abandon what I know I must relinquish
in time. But for the moment,
I’ll listen to her dream,
and she to mine, our mutual hearing calling
more and more detail into the light
of a joint and fragile keeping.
from Li-Young Lee’s book of poetry, Behind My Eyes
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Hey, and you got an autographed book! Very cool.
I’ve always heard that the side no one knows is the one only God knows.
Wow, what a treat! An autographed copy. And, yes, about God knowing that other side.
I’ve found the more free we are the closer we get to the hidden & private self…all these “selves” have a purpose. I’ll remember these thoughts when I write my next poem.
I love the photo…what a thrill! 🙂
Mary, I’m so glad I didn’t miss this! What a beautiful writer, and I absolutely love his concept of the four selves. That really is so true and thought-provoking, especially the hidden self. I have been aware of that concept for a couple years now and find it fascinating. Thanks for the reminder and sharing a new-to-me poet with us.
I have to admit I am *not* into poetry, but gosh, this sounds like a speech/reading/lecture for the ages 🙂
Thanks for sharing and it’s awesome you got the autographed copy 🙂
This is such a beautiful poem. I really loved this.
It sounds like a treat to hear him in person. He has such an amazing background, that I’m sure he has so much to say.
Sounds like a wonderful evening. He taught a workshop Margaret had when we lived in Oregon