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Riven

posted May 21, 2012, 7:47 PM by Jamie Washam

 

 

 

Poet Christian Wiman stopped writing poetry for almost three years. The break intensified, after a cancer diagnosis, its subsequent hospitalizations, surgeries and a bone marrow transplant.

"I had gone for years without writing before I got sick, so it seems like the illness jarred me into writing. That's true and not true, because I had several other dramatic things that happened in my life at that time, including falling in love with the woman that is now my wife," he observed.[1]

"If you can give shape to despair -- that's one thing poetry is so good at -- if you can give shape to despair, it can give you a way to manage that despair even if it doesn't ameliorate it," Wiman said.

He broke his years of silence on the page with this poem revolving around “a kind of an Old Testament word meaning broken, sundered, torn apart.” The word? Riven.

Here is his return to poetry:

“Every Riven Thing[2]

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made 
sing his being simply by being 
the thing it is: 
stone and tree and sky, 
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made, 
means a storm of peace. 
Think of the atoms inside the stone. 
Think of the man who sits alone 
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made 
there is given one shade 
shaped exactly to the thing itself: 
under the tree a darker tree; 
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made 
the things that bring him near, 
made the mind that makes him go. 
A part of what man knows, 
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.



[2]  “Every Riven Thing” is from the book Every Riven Thing  by Christian Wiman. Copyright © 2010. 

 

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