The inspiration for most of the poems in Autumn Grasses was a daily engagement calendar that features the art of Japan — screens, hanging scrolls, painted silks, wood-block prints. In the dynamic stillness of this new visual field, Margaret Gibson steps away from the merely personal — “No one’s home” — to write poems that dip and swoop with the unguarded ease of birds in flight, verse as fluid and seamless as the movement of day to night, season to season. Trusting the power of unknowing, of imagination, these poems are delicate reminders of English-based forms filled with the spirit of Zen.
Autumn Grasses is both elegant and spontaneous, vivid and wise. Gibson’s rapt engagement with Japanese art has produced swift insight, detail that dazzles, a voice that can range from the serene to the earthy, always with a commitment to seeing each thing as it is, entering each moment with presence and zest.
In fields of bush clover and hay-scent grass
the autumn moon takes refuge
The cricket’s song is gold
Zeshin’s loneliness taught him this
Who is coming?
What will come to pass, and pass?
Neither bruise nor sweetness nor cool air
knows the way
And the moon?
Who among us does not wander, and flare
and bow to the ground?
Who does not savor, and stand open
if only in secret
taking heart in the ripening of the moon?
“Autumn Grasses” published in Autumn Grasses: Poems by Margaret Gibson. Copyright ©2003 by Margaret Gibson. All rights reserved.
Margaret Gibson is the author of ten books of poems including Long Walks in the Afternoon, a Lamont Selection; The Vigil, a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry; and One Body, winner of the Connecticut Book Award in Poetry and one prose memoir. A native of Virginia, she lives in Preston, Connecticut.
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