It is time.
Not to say.
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent. ( -- #7, in TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS, by Ludwig Wittgenstein, c.1922)Morning sounds.
Silences, our desire for them and our desire to fill them, emerge as one of Dunn's motifs in this book. Sometimes the silences are unwanted and elusive, as in "Turning to the Page":I learned there's nothing more shamingDunn's pages are sometimes quiet, but never silent. He concludes this same poem by writing that after turning to this "expected silence of the page," the page replies:
or as memorable as an intimacy
unreturned. And turned, therefore,
to the expected silence of the page
Bring to me, it said, continual proofSuch discourse is the essence of the poems contained in this volume: whether the dialogue is between two lovers, the page and the poet, or the warring factions of one's own psyche, these are poems about the conversations and silences, the stories and transformations at the heart of poetry itself.
you've been alive.
One final silence notable in its breeching here is Dunn's reticence to write poems about 9/11. Dunn's poem "To a Terrorist" from the 1988 book Between Angels was frequently reprinted in the aftermath of the attacks of that day, yet he himself reasoned that it was impossible for the conscientious poet to write a poem about those events without appropriate distance, chronological and psychological. In The Insistence of Beauty, Dunn finally breaks his silence on 9/11 with several poems, including the title poem which invokes in its closing lines the fortifying power of storytelling and poem-making:
When word came of a firemanThis is what we have after everything else, the poet says. A rhythm and a frame. Dunn knows of the passions such rhythms and frames can ignite and inspire, writing in "in the Land of the Salamander,"
who hid in the rubble
so his dispirited search dog
could have someone to find, I repeated it
to everyone I knew. I did this for myself,
not for community or beauty's sake,
yet soon it had a rhythm and a frame.
When we returned to shore, you allowed meThe poems contained in The Insistence of Beauty are indeed about love: of words, of what is lost to the past, of what salvation a new love might bring us. Dunn's poems reveal a mind alive within its own inner-circlings, the transforming power of loss, the fictions that lead to the core of our truths, the possibility and reality of loving another again.
to speak of barracudas and bananafish, knowing
I loved words more than anything I might have seen.
(-- from Stephen Dunn, The Insistence of Beauty, in Literary Review, Wntr, 2005 by R.G. Evans)I remain silent.
In the transforming power of loss.
In the fictions.
In the possibility and reality of loving.