Saturday, May 16, 2015

on friendship and love






Such a friendship has no model but itself, and can only be compared to itself. It was not one special consideration, nor two, nor three, nor four, nor a thousand; it was some mysterious quintessence of all this mixture which possessed itself of my will,  and led it to plunge and lose itself in his, which possessed itself of his whole will, and led it, with a similar hunger and a like impulse, to plunge and lose itself in mine.  I may truly say lose, for it left us with nothing that was our own, nothing that was either his or mine.


~ Montaigne
from Essays of Michel de Montaigne



In any true love - a mother's for her child, a husband's for his wife, a friend's for a friend - there is an excess energy that always wants to be in motion.  Moreover, it seems to move not simply from one person to another but through them toward something else.  ("All I know now / is the more he loved me the more I loved the world" - Spencer Reece.) That is why we can be so baffled and overwhelmed by such love (and I don't mean merely when we fall in love; in fact, I'm talking more of other, more durable relationships): it wants to be more than it is; it cries out inside of us to make it more than it is.



~ Christian Wiman
from My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

Friday, May 15, 2015

we say







We say release, and radiance, and roses,
and echo upon everything that's known;
and yet, behind the world our names enclose is
the nameless: our true archetype and home.

The sun seems male, and earth is like a woman,
the field is humble, and the forest proud;
but over everything we say, inhuman,
moves the forever-undetermined god.

We grow up; but the world remains a child.
Star and flower, in silence, watch us go.
And sometimes we appear to be the final
exam they must succeed on. And they do.



~ Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by Stephen Mitchell
photo by Carsten Meyerdierks

Monday, May 11, 2015

well of darkness





If each day falls
inside each night,
there exists a well
where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim
of the well of darkness
and fish for fallen light
with patience.




~ Pablo Neruda
from The Sea and the Bells
translated by William O'Daly
with thanks to Love is a Place


Sunday, May 10, 2015

on another's sorrow




Wiping all our tears away.
O! no never can it be.
Never never can it be.
Can I see anothers woe,
And not be in sorrow too.
Can I see anothers grief,
And not seek for kind relief.

Can I see a falling tear
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear,
An infant groan an infant fear-
No no never can it be.
Never never can it be.

And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small birds grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear—

And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infants tear.

And not sit both night & day,
He doth give his joy to all.
He becomes an infant small.
He becomes a man of woe
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not, thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy maker is not by.
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy maker is not near.

O! he gives to us his joy,
That our grief he may destroy
Till our grief is fled; gone
He doth sit by us and moan




~ William Blake
from The Complete Poetry and Prose
of William Blake




Friday, May 8, 2015

you can go






There is a place you can go
where you are quiet,
a place of water and the light

on the water. Trees are there,
leaves, and the light
on leaves moved by air.

Birds, singing, move
among leaves, in leaf shadow.
After many years you have come

to no thought of these,
but they are themselves
your thoughts. There seems to be

little to say, less and less.
Here they are. Here you are.
Here as though gone.

None of us stays, but in the hush
where each leaf in the speech
of leaves is sufficient syllable

the passing light finds out
surpassing freedom of its way.




~ Wendell Berry
from Sabbaths 1998, VII




Thursday, May 7, 2015

lost







Stand still.

The trees ahead and the bushes beside you 
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.




~ David Wagoner
from Collected Poems 1956-1976
with thanks to Love is a Place


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

the look of its landlord






For in this house, everything
has the look of its landlord.

While the hand moves
the shadow must follow.
Since the shadow gains its substance
from the hand
it has none of itself,
That which derives existence
from something else 
how can we say
it truly exists?

It has a name, yes,
but is not that existence
which subsists through God.



~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes



Some thought that all these loves were copies of 
our love for the landlord.


~ C.S. Lewis 
from God in the Dock

that crookedness is straightness itself





They asked al-Hallaj, "To which religious School do you belong?
he answered, "God's own."

He who limned 
a thousand worlds with paint-
you layabout! - do you expect
He'll use your color or mine?
Our paints and tints
are but opinions and fantasy,
He is colorless
and we must adopt His hue.

Look: a shadow lies crooked upon the ground because the very earth is laid rough; but no, 
that crookedness is straightness itself, for the perfection, the "straightness" of the eyebrow is in its 
sinuous curve.

Only because it is bent
is this piece of wood a bow.

Reality is a sphere: wherever you place your finger,
there is its dead center.




~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

phoenix









Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled,
made nothing?
Are you willing to be made nothing?
dipped into oblivion?

If not, you will never really change.
The phoenix renews her youth
only when she is burnt, burnt alive, burnt down
to hot and flocculent ash.

Then the small stirring of a new small bub in the nest
with strands of down like floating ash
shows that she is renewing her youth like the eagle,
immortal bird.



~  D.H. Lawrence

go deeper







Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.

Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.

Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep living heart.

But say, in the dark wild metal of your heart
is there a gem, which came into being between us?
is there a sapphire of mutual trust, a blue spark?
Is there a ruby of fused being, mine and yours, an inward glint?

If there is not, O then leave me, go away.
For I cannot be bullied back into the appearances of love,
any more than August can be bullied to look like March.

Love out of season, especially at the end of the season
is merely ridiculous.
If you insist on it, I insist on departure.

Have you no deep old heart of wild womanhood
self-forgetful, and gemmed with experience,
and swinging in a strange union of power
with the heart of the man you are supposed to have loved?

If you have not, go away.
If you can only sit with a mirror in your hand, an ageing woman
posing on and on as a lover,
in love with a self that now is shallow and withered,
your own self–that has passed like a last summer’s flower–

then go away–

I do not want a woman whom age cannot wither.
She is a made-up lie, a dyed immortelle
of infinite staleness.




~ D. H. Lawrence
from The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence
with thanks to Love is a Place

Thursday, April 23, 2015

no one home







No one home
Fallen pine needles
scattered at the door.




~ Ryokan
from Sky Above, Great Wind
by Kazuaki Tanahashi


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I have come into this world to see this








I have come into this world to see this: the sword drop from men's hands even at the height of their arc of anger because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound and it is the Beloved's.

I have come into this world to see this: all creatures hold hands as we pass through this miraculous existence we share on the way to an even greater being of soul, a being of just ecstatic light, forever entwined and at play with Him.

I have come into this world to hear this: every song the earth has sung since it was conceived in the Divine's womb and began spinning from His wish, every song by wing and fin and hoof, every song by hill and field and tree and woman and child, every song of stream and rock, every song of tool and lyre and flute, every song of gold and emerald and fire, every song the heart should cry with magnificent dignity to know itself as God: for all other knowledge will leave us again in want and aching - only imbibing the glorious Sun will complete us. 

I have come into this world to experience this: men so true to love they would rather die before speaking an unkind word, men so true their lives are His covenant - the promise of hope.

I have come into this world to see this: the sword drop from men's hands even at the height of their arc of rage because we have finally realized there is just one flesh we can wound.




~ Hafiz
from Love Poems from God: 
Twelve Sacred voices from East and West
edited by Daniel Ladinsky
with thanks to Love is a Place

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

completely empty






Settle down in your room at a moment when you have nothing else to do. Say “I am now with myself,” and just sit with yourself. After an amazingly short time you will most likely feel bored. This teaches us one very useful thing. It gives us insight into the fact that if after ten minutes of being alone with ourselves we feel like that, it is no wonder that others should feel equally bored! Why is this so? It is so because we have so little to offer to our own selves as food for thought, for emotion and for life. If you watch your life carefully you will discover quite soon that we hardly ever live from within outwards; instead we respond to incitement, to excitement. In other words, we live by reflection, by reaction… We are completely empty, we do not act from within ourselves but accept as our life a life which is actually fed in from the outside; we are used to things happening which compel us to do other things. How seldom can we live simply by means of the depth and the richness we assume that there is within ourselves.




~ Archbishop Anthony Bloom
from Beginning to Pray
with thanks to Intense City



Thursday, April 16, 2015

february 29





An extra day -

Like the painting's fifth cow,
who looks out directly,
straight toward you,
from inside her black and white spots

An extra day -

Accidental, surely:
the made calendar stumbling over the real
as a drunk trips over a threshold
too low to see.

An extra day -
With a second cup of black coffee.
A friendly but businesslike phone call.
A mailed-back package.
Some extra work, but not too much -
just one day's worth, exactly.

An extra day -

Not unlike the space
between a door and its frame
when one room is lit and another is not,
and one changes into the other
as a woman exchanges a scarf.

An extra day -

Extraordinarily like any other.
And still
there is some generosity to it,
like a letter re-readable after its writer has died.




~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty


Friday, April 10, 2015

souvenir







I would like
to take something with me

but even one chair
is too awkward
too heavy

peeling paint
falls off in a suitcase
hinge sounds betray a theft
cheeses won't keep

the clothespin 
without its surroundings 
would be mediocre

the big thunder rolled elsewhere

the umbrella is for sale
but in a desert what you want is a soaking

the do not disturb sign is tattered

I have many times taken
some cafe's small packets of sugar
so that in Turkey
I might sweeten my coffee with China
and in Italy remember a Lithuanian pastry

but where is the coffee

hands left and right useless

Knees clattery
heart finally calm
as some hero at the end of a movie
squinting silently into the sun

you can't hold an umbrella there anyhow
and what would he hang from the clothespin



~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty