More love

One of the things I so enjoy about my friend Vivian is her keen ability to weave a quote from some famous writer into normal conversation. It makes me feel intelligent and arty, like I’m drinking wine with Picasso and Hemingway in Gertrude Stein’s Paris salon. Except when Viv quotes Tyra Banks from America’s Next Top Model, because then I just feel fierce.
It’s a skill I could never possess because I happen to have a keen ability to forget things shortly after reading them. I inherited this talent from my mother, I suspect, who has seen The Maltese Falcon no less than thirty times and still cannot remember how it ends.
So when I was chatting with Vivian this weekend, and she quoted the line, “More love now than last year,” I had to know more.
“More love now than last year? What a beautiful line! Who said that?”
“I know, isn’t it lovely? Muriel Rukeyser wrote that. She’s one of my favorite poets.”
I repeated the line softly to myself, and said, “I need that to be my new mantra. 2006 is going to be all about ‘More love now than last year.’ It’s perfect – and it can apply in so many different ways. Thanks, Viv!”
Last year, Natasha declared that 2005 would be the year of “Less talk, more action,” so I think this is the perfect progression.
As soon as I got off the phone, I started searching to find the source of this line that Viv had quoted, and discovered that the poem in its entirety is even more perfect than that one line. So although perhaps a bit early for a New Year’s resolution, this is my simple wish for all of us: more love now than last year.
This Place in the Ways
Having come to this place
I set out once again
on the dark and marvelous way
from where I began:
belief in the love of the world,
woman, spirit, and man.
Having failed in all things
I enter a new age
seeing the old ways as toys,
the houses of a stage
painted and long forgot;
and I find love and rage.
Rage for the world as it is
but for what it may be
more love now than last year
and always less self-pity
since I know in a clearer light
the strength of the mystery.
And at this place in the ways
I wait for song.
My poem-hand still, on the paper,
all night long.
Poems in throat and hand, asleep,
and my storm beating strong!
- Muriel Rukeyser

15 Responses to “More love”

  1. Jessica Says:

    Wow, Jen…that is beautiful – and you are right, what a perfect focus for 2006.
    I didn’t tell you during my visit how much I love poetry – I can quote a gazillion poems right off the top of my head (yeah, I’m bragging). Granted, many could be considered “bitter woman” writings but…impressive none the least, huh?
    Also, Miss Viv left a note on my blog saying that maybe she would join us in March (I’ll be there over a weekend – will e-mail you dates). I hope she’s not just teasing me.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    JEN posted: “I inherited this talent from my mother, I suspect, who has seen The Maltese Falcon no less than thirty times and still cannot remember how it ends.”
    LOL, I bet that your mom remembers how it ends.. I mean who can forget Sam Spade looking at the falcon and telling the cop that “it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.” She probably can’t remember why the heck “Precious” killed Archer…and why the gunsel wanted to kick the crap out of Sam Spade….
    (Gosh, I love the word “gunsel.” How can I work that into an everyday conversation?)

  3. Hip Liz Says:

    “Sorry I’m late … some gunsel on the sidewalk wanted a date, so I set him up with oncoming traffic.”

  4. kilax Says:

    That is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  5. jenny Says:

    Jessica: A gazillion? That is impressive! I can only quote a bazillion bitter woman song lyrics, but no poems.
    Anon/Hip Liz: Now you made me go and look up a new word: gun·sel n. (Slang) A hoodlum or other criminal, especially one who carries a gun.
    Learning can be fun!
    Kilax: Hey – my pleasure!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    Thank you for reprinting the whole poem. I hadn’t read it in a long time. Muriel’s right– forward we go with open arms! (Cue: Journey)

  7. The Scarlett Says:

    The Tyra Banks/fierce line made me spray Diet Coke on my monitor.

  8. jaymarie Says:

    i don’t think it is too early to think of a new year’s resolution. let the new year begin now with all the anticipation of christmas and the NEW YEAR. it’s more exciting than setteling into the beginning of jan. and an easier place to start an excellent resolution. (thank you so much for not talking about losing weight – ugh! oops, sorry, didn’t mean to bring it up…)
    hey jenny, here is something to look forward to in jan. i will be visiting WI on dec.20 and moving there around the 7th or so of jan. i’ll be close enough to chicago to stalk you on a regular basis1!!! yeah! (hey, i’d make a really great wing-girl)

  9. shari Says:

    Thank you, Jen. This was perfect for me today.
    What? You weren’t writing just for me??

  10. Cheryl Says:

    Always good to be reminded that way is not just dark but marvelous too. And fierce.

  11. allison Says:

    I love that sentiment. I will add that to the list of sentiments that I, too, will eventually totally forget and refer to as “this one really beautiful saying that I heard once, um, about love and last year” which obviously has more words and is considerably clumsier than the actual prose itself. Kinda’ like this comment.

  12. patricia Says:

    Being able to quote from books would be a much better and less socially cripling skill than being able to recall entire passages from Dirty Dancing or Pretty Woman (among other cheesy movies). I suppose I could go around quoting lines from Pride and Prejudice if, you know, people weren’t sick of those. :sigh: More love in the new year indeed.
    Or in the grand words of Johnny Castle, “Nobody puts baby in the corner.” When you think about it, it’s almost the same thing. What? I said almost.

  13. jenny Says:

    Viv: My pleasure – so glad you gave me my new mantra for 2006!
    TS: Phew! Thankfully, I think the diet kind is less damaging to monitors.
    Jaymarie: Moving to WI in January? Sure you don’t want to rethink that? Bring your long underwear…
    Shari: I write for you and only you.
    Cheryl: Let us never forget our own ferocity.
    Allison: That’s why you need a friend like Viv who will remember all this important stuff for you!
    Patricia: Dirty Dancing could be the best movie ever made. Star crossed lovers, watermelons, pelvic thrusts… it has it all! If Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were in Pride and Prejudice, I might actually agree to read it.

  14. *jill Says:

    You. Are. So. Delightful.
    Thanks for the lovely werds. All of them.

  15. Lushy Says:

    That really is lovely. It’s much better than my mantra of “No more freaks.”