Epigraphs have always fascinated me. A writer nods to another writer, acknowledging lineage. A writer tries to give the flavor or essence — or perhaps the source — of a piece of writing. Or maybe she just can't resist sharing a great quote. Here are epigraphs I've used for books, poems, etc.
EPIGRAPHS TO BOOKS:
To The Bright Logic of Wilma Schuh:
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
—Leonard Cohen, "Halleluja"
Beneath the story of cause and consequence
Another story is pointing another way.
—Carl Dennis, "Not the End"
To End into Opening: six sestinas and their humble companion poems:
It never ends, this dire need to know,
This need to see a diagram unfold
In silent angles, drawing in the sand,
This need to see a diagram achieve
Among the mica flakes and granite-crumbs,
This need to fill the universe with sand,
And all in play, with everything in play…
To Return to a Meadow:
Nothing could stifle my inner certainty that a shining point exists where all lines intersect.
Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,
that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.
To All the Difference: poems of unconventional motherhood:
How else can one write but of those things which one doesn't know, or knows badly?
Epigraph to the Preface of All the Difference: poems of unconventional motherhood:
"The nearest, inmost things are the most arduous to seize."
—Richard Sieburth, writing on Friedrich Hölderlin's Hymns and Fragments
EPIGRAPHS TO POEMS IN ECHOES AND LINKS:
To "Assignment: Ekphrasis"
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.
—Ariel, Shakespeare's The Tempest
To "Theater of Cruelty"
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
—T. S. Eliot
If someone were to fall into intimate slumber, and slept
deeply with Things--: how easily he would come
to a different day, out of the mutual depth.
--Rainer Maria Rilke
To "Recognition: Work of the Lovers"
And turn towards my chamber, caught
In the cold snows of a dream.
—William Butler Yeats
To "On Curved Earth"
in the sense of
I don't mean that much can be explained.
Clarity in the sense of silence.
To "In the Late Afternoon, September"
The ghosts swarm.
They speak as one
loves you. Each
has left something
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
To "Just Home in Bed"
The people who sleep with their socks on,
day is over to them, adoring and abandoned.
To "Dark Myth Left Empty"
Here was, prepared against his death, the dark myth he left empty.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
Strictly speaking, God does not love anyone.
To "Grinding the Lens"
Each creature must
himself, you were sure, grind the lens
through which he perceives the world.
To "Out of the Violin"
"What seems so far from you is most your own."
—Rainer Maria Rilke
To "For All My Cherished Suicides"
I forgive you everything and there is nothing to forgive.
To "Time and Again"
We come too late for the gods and too early for Being.
To "Blades Cutting Upward through Density toward Sky"
"What we like determines what we are..."
To "The Work"
...this werk asketh a ful greet restfulnes...
—Cloud of Unknowing
To "Meditation Opposing Flight"
The point of the nail is applied to the very center of the soul
and its head is the whole of necessity
throughout all space and time.
at the nail's point the hammer-blow