The Geology of Norway:

I’m still reading Zwicky. There are no words to describe how heartbreakingly beautiful her poetry is, but here is an excerpt from The Geology of Norway, just to give you an idea – a sense of her voice:


The afternoon blue light in the fjord.
Did I tell you
I can understand the villagers?
Being, I have come to think,
is music; or perhaps
it’s silence. I cannot say.
Love, I’m pretty sure,
is light.
You know, it isn’t
what I came for, this bewilderment
by beauty. I came
to find a word, the perfect
syllable, to make it reach up,
grab meaning by the throat
and squeeze it till it spoke to me.
How else to anchor
memory? I wanted language
to hold me still, to be a rock,
I wanted to become a rock myself. I thought
if I could find, and say,
the perfect word, I’d nail
mind to world, and find
The hand moving is the hand thinking:
what I didn’t know: even the continents
have no place but earth.

Jan Zwicky: The Geology of Norway

from Songs for Relinquishing the Earth (1998)

Jan Zwicky is a Canadian poet, teacher, musician, essayist & philosopher (b 1955). Her dissertation examined a “theory of ineffability,” that is, strategies for discussing the unsayable in art and philosophy. Influenced by philosophers as Plato, Herakleitos, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Simone Weil, Zwicky has established a reputation as a thoughtful, lyrical writer and editor.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. This is very beautiful, thanks for sharing!

  2. schitterend, i couldn’t help myself and ordered a copy of Songs for Relinquishing the Earth. thanks, again, for sharing..

  3. Harold Rhenisch says:

    Have you discovered the poetry and writings of her husband, Robert Bringhurst, yet? He is also a world treasure. Both his poems and his essays are exquisite.

    1. Sigrun says:

      No, I didn’t know – thank you for telling me! Is there any text in particular you will recoomend?

  4. cynthia says:

    I adore this poem and the voice behind it. I’ve ordered a copy of the book as well. Thank you for the introduction!

    1. Sigrun says:

      My pleasure!


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