Lisel Mueller Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Lisel Mueller. Here they are! All 38 of them:

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How swiftly the strained honey of afternoon light flows into darkness and the closed bud shrugs off its special mystery in order to break into blossom: as if what exists, exists so that it can be lost and become precious
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless, our chances of being alive together statistically nonexistent;
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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What luxury, to be so happy that we can grieve over imaginary lives.
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Lisel Mueller
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Late Hours" On summer nights the world moves within earshot on the interstate with its swish and growl, and occasional siren that sends chills through us. Sometimes, on clear, still nights, voices float into our bedroom, lunar and fragmented, as if the sky had let them go long before our birth. In winter we close the windows and read Chekhov, nearly weeping for his world. What luxury, to be so happy that we can grieve over imaginary lives.
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Lisel Mueller
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You shall not twist my bones into a star’s shape, nor plant my hair as roots for the dreams of the living; and if you open my heart and run your poet’s fingers over its walls and cushions you will find it is like yours, dark.
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Lisel Mueller
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Someone was always leaving and never coming back. The wooden houses wait like old wives along this road; they are everywhere, abandoned, leaning, turning gray.
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Lisel Mueller
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I search the language for a word to tell you how red is red.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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What happened is, we grew lonely living among the things, so we gave the clock a face, the chair a back, the table four stout legs which will never suffer fatigue.
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Lisel Mueller
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I thought if only we could go on and meet again, shy as strangers.
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Lisel Mueller
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When I am asked how I began writing poems, I talk about the indifference of nature.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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My husband says spring will be early. He says this every year, And every year I disagree. He needs me, the dark side of the planetary equation. Together we make the equinox.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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How I would paint happiness Something hidden, a windfall, A meteor shower. No- A flowering tree releasing all its blossoms at once, and the one standing beneath it unexpectedly robed in bloom…
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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. . .because we had survived sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, we discovered bones that rose from the dark earth and sang as white birds in the trees Because the story of our life becomes our life Because each of us tells the same story but tells it differently and none of us tells it the same way twice . . (from, Why We Tell Stories)
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Lisel Mueller (The Private Life: Poems (Louisiana Paperbacks; L-73))
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There are Mornings" Even now, when the plot calls for me to turn to stone, the sun intervenes. Some mornings in summer, I step outside and the sky opens and pours itself into me as if I were a saint about to die. But the plot calls for me to live, be ordinary, say nothing to anyone. Inside the house, the mirrors burn when I pass.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Tears The first woman who ever wept was appalled at what stung her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Saltwater. Seawater. How was it possible? Hadn't she and the man spent many days moving upland to where the grass flourished, where the stream quenched their thirst with sweet water? How could she have carried these sea drops as if they were precious seeds; where could she have stowed them? She looked at the watchful gazelles and the heavy-lidded frogs; she looked at glass-eyed birds and nervous, black-eyed mice. None of them wept, not even the fish that dripped in her hands when she caught them. Not even the man. Only she carried the sea inside her body.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Now in the thriving season of love when the bud relents into flower, your love turned absence has turned once more, and if my comforts fall soft as rain on her flutters, it is because love grows by what it remembers of love
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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In winter we close the windows and read Chekhov, nearly weeping for his world. What luxury, to be so happy that we can grieve over imaginary lives.
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Lisel Mueller
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By the time I arrive at evening, / they have just settled down to rest; / already invisible, they are turning / into the dreamwork of the trees….
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Lisel Mueller
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Whatever was bound to happen in my story did not happen. But I know there are rules that cannot be broken. Perhaps a name was changed. A small mistake. Perhaps a woman I do not know is facing the day with the heavy heart that, by all rights, should have been mine.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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What happened is, we grew lonely 
living among the things,
 so we gave the clock a face,
 the chair a back,
 the table four stout legs
 which will never suffer fatigue. We fitted our shoes with tongues
 as smooth as our own
 and hung tongues inside bells
 so we could listen 
to their emotional language, and because we loved graceful profiles
 the pitcher received a lip,
 the bottle a long, slender neck. Even what was beyond us
 was recast in our image;
 we gave the country a heart,
 the storm an eye,
 the cave a mouth
 so we could pass into safety.
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Lisel Mueller
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I will not return to a universe of objects that do not know each other, as if islands were not the long lost children of one great continent
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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What happened is, we grew lonely living among the things
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Necessities 1 A map of the world. Not the one in the atlas, but the one in our heads, the one we keep coloring in. With the blue thread of the river by which we grew up. The green smear of the woods we first made love in. The yellow city we thought was our future. The red highways not traveled, the green ones with their missed exits, the black side roads which took us where we had not meant to go. The high peaks, recorded by relatives, though we prefer certain unmarked elevations, the private alps no one knows we have climbed. The careful boundaries we draw and erase. And always, around the edges, the opaque wash of blue, concealing the drop-off they have stepped into before us, singly, mapless, not looking back.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Heartland Now that we’ve given our hearts away With the bric-a-brac, we want them back. Now we look for them secondhand, Someone else’s, in the old songs, The slowly unfolding novels We never had time for. Hearts That taught themselves to fly; …overstuffed hearts, still leaking Downy secrets like feathers. We want someone to say, β€˜I give you my heart’, meaning, β€˜Summer and winter’, meaning β€˜All my time in the this world’…
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Why We Tell Stories I Because we used to have leaves and on damp days our muscles feel a tug, painful now, from when roots pulled us into the ground and because our children believe they can fly, an instinct retained from when the bones in our arms were shaped like zithers and broke neatly under their feathers and because before we had lungs we knew how far it was to the bottom as we floated open-eyed like painted scarves through the scenery of dreams, and because we awakened and learned to speak
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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at home the bookshelves connected heaven and earth.
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Lisel Mueller
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Still, when your truthful eyes, your keen, attentive stare, endow the vacuous slut with royalty, when you match her soul to her shimmering hair, what can she do but rise to your imagined throne? And what can I, but see beyond the world that is, when, faithful, you insist I have the golden key-- and learn from you once more the terror and the bliss, the world as it might be?
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Sometimes, When the Light" Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles and pulls you back into childhood and you are passing a crumbling mansion completely hidden behind old willows or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks and giant firs standing hip to hip, you know again that behind that wall, under the uncut hair of the willows something secret is going on, so marvelous and dangerous that if you crawled through and saw, you would die, or be happy forever. Lisel Mueller, Alive Together: New and Selected Poems. (LSU Press October 1, 1996)
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Monet Refuses the Operation" Doctor, you say that there are no halos around the streetlights in Paris and what I see is an aberration caused by old age, an affliction. I tell you it has taken me all my life to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels, to soften and blur and finally banish the edges you regret I don’t see, to learn that the line I called the horizon does not exist and sky and water, so long apart, are the same state of being. Fifty-four years before I could see Rouen cathedral is built of parallel shafts of sun, and now you want to restore my youthful errors: fixed notions of top and bottom, the illusion of three-dimensional space, wisteria separate from the bridge it covers. What can I say to convince you the Houses of Parliament dissolve night after night to become the fluid dream of the Thames? I will not return to a universe of objects that don’t know each other, as if islands were not the lost children of one great continent. The world is flux, and light becomes what it touches, becomes water, lilies on water, above and below water, becomes lilac and mauve and yellow and white and cerulean lamps, small fists passing sunlight so quickly to one another that it would take long, streaming hair inside my brush to catch it. To paint the speed of light! Our weighted shapes, these verticals, burn to mix with air and changes our bones, skin, clothes to gases. Doctor, if only you could see how heaven pulls earth into its arms and how infinitely the heart expands to claim this world, blue vapor without end.
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Lisel Mueller (Second Language: Poems)
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What can I say to convince you the Houses of Parliament dissolve night after night to become the fluid dream of the Thames? I will not return to a universe of objects that don’t know each other, as if islands were not the lost children of one great continent. The world is flux, and light becomes what it touches.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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In the Thriving Season In memory of my mother Now as she catches fistfuls of sun riding down dust and air to her crib, my first child in her first spring stretches bare hands back to your darkness and heals your silence, the vast hurt of your deaf ear and mute tongue with doves hatched in her young throat. Now ghost-begotten infancies are the marrow of trees and pools and blue uprisings in the woods spread revolution to the mind, I can believe birth is fathered by death, believe that she was quick when you forgave pain and terror and shook the fever from your blood Now in the thriving season of love when the bud relents into flower, your love turned absence has turned once more, and if my comforts fall soft as rain on her flutters, it is because love grows by what it remembers of love.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Necessities 1 A map of the world. Not the one in the atlas, but the one in our heads, the one we keep coloring in. With the blue thread of the river by which we grew up. The green smear of the woods we first made love in. The yellow city we thought was our future. The red highways not traveled, the green ones with their missed exits, the black side roads which took us where we had not meant to go. The high peaks, recorded by relatives, though we prefer certain unmarked elevations, the private alps no one knows we have climbed. The careful boundaries we draw and erase. And always, around the edges, the opaque wash of blue, concealing the drop-off they have stepped into before us, singly, mapless, not looking back. 2 The illusion of progress. Imagine our lives without it: tape measures rolled back, yardsticks chopped off. Wheels turning but going nowhere. Paintings flat, with no vanishing point. The plots of all novels circular; page numbers reversing themselves past the middle. The mountaintop no longer a goal, merely the point between ascent and descent. All streets looping back on themselves; life as a beckoning road an absurd idea. Our children refusing to grow out of their childhoods; the years refusing to drag themselves toward the new century. And hope, the puppy that bounds ahead, no longer a household animal. 3 Answers to questions, an endless supply. New ones that startle, old ones that reassure us. All of them wrong perhaps, but for the moment solutions, like kisses or surgery. Rising inflections countered by level voices, words beginning with w hushed by declarative sentences. The small, bold sphere of the period chasing after the hook, the doubter that walks on water and treads air and refuses to go away. 4 Evidence that we matter. The crash of the plane which, at the last moment, we did not take. The involuntary turn of the head, which caused the bullet to miss us. The obscene caller who wakes us at midnight to the smell of gas. The moon's full blessing when we fell in love, its black mood when it was all over. Confirm us, we say to the world, with your weather, your gifts, your warnings, your ringing telephones, your long, bleak silences. 5 Even now, the old things first things, which taught us language. Things of day and of night. Irrational lightning, fickle clouds, the incorruptible moon. Fire as revolution, grass as the heir to all revolutions. Snow as the alphabet of the dead, subtle, undeciphered. The river as what we wish it to be. Trees in their humanness, animals in their otherness. Summits. Chasms. Clearings. And stars, which gave us the word distance, so we could name our deepest sadness.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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Scenic Route Someone was always leaving and never coming back. The wooden houses wait like old wives along this road; they are everywhere, abandoned, leaning, turning gray. Someone always traded the lonely beauty of hemlock and stony lakeshore for survival, packed up his life and drove off to the city. In the yards the apple trees keep hanging on, but the fruit grows smaller year by year...
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Lisel Mueller
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O brave new world, that hath such people in it Soon you will be like her, Prospero’s daughter, Finding the door that leads you out of yourself, Out of the rare, enameled ark of your mind, Where you live with the gracious and light-footed creatures That thrive in the glaze of your art and freedom.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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this body is home, my childhood is buried here, my sleep rises and sets inside, desire crested and wore itself thin between these bonesβ€” I live here.
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Lisel Mueller (The Private Life: Poems (Louisiana Paperbacks; L-73))
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Moon Fishing" When the moon was full they came to the water. some with pitchforks, some with rakes, some with sieves and ladles, and one with a silver cup. And they fished til a traveler passed them and said, "Fools, to catch the moon you must let your women spread their hair on the water β€” even the wily moon will leap to that bobbing net of shimmering threads, gasp and flop till its silver scales lie black and still at your feet.” And they fished with the hair of their women till a traveler passed them and said, "Fools, do you think the moon is caught lightly, with glitter and silk threads? You must cut out your hearts and bait your hooks with those dark animals; what matter you lose your hearts to reel in your dream?” And they fished with their tight, hot hearts till a traveler passed them and said, "Fools, what good is the moon to a heartless man? Put back your hearts and get on your knees and drink as you never have, until your throats are coated with silver and your voices ring like bells.” And they fished with their lips and tongues until the water was gone and the moon had slipped away in the soft, bottomless mud.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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How swiftly the strained honey of afternoon light flows into darkness and the closed bud shrugs off its special mystery in order to break into blossom: as if what exists, exists so that it can be lost and become precious
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together)
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HOW I WOULD PAINT THE BIG LIE Smooth, and deceptively small so that it can be swallowed like something we take for a cold. An elongated capsule, an elegant cylinder, sweet and glossy, that pleases the tongue and goes down easy, never mind the poison inside.
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Lisel Mueller (Alive Together: New and Selected Poems)