Saturday, April 30, 2011

grasp you with my heart




.




.

Put out my eyes, and I can see you still;
slam my ears to, and I can hear you yet;
and without any feet can go to you;
and tongueless, I can conjure you at will.
Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you
and grasp you with my heart as with a hand;
arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true;
and if you set this brain of mine afire,
upon my blood I then will carry you.


.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Book of Hours





the supple deer



.




.

The quiet opening
between fence strands
perhaps eighteen inches.

Antlers to hind hooves,
four feet off the ground,
the deer poured through.

No tuft of the coarse white belly hair left behind.

I don't know how a stag turns
into a stream, an arc of water.
I have never felt such accurate envy.

Not of the deer:

To be that porous, to have such largeness pass through me.



.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief
to be published this summer

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Friday, April 29, 2011

to find himself in another









.

No, the great business of our time is this: 
for one man to find himself in another one who is on the other side of the world. 
Only by such contacts can there be peace, 
can the sacredness of life be preserved and developed 
and the image of God manifest itself in the world.

.
from  A Life in Letters


It is as if we met on a deeper level of life 
on which individuals are not separate beings...
it is as if we were known to one another in God.
...

Although we are separated by great distances and even greater barriers 
it gives me pleasure to speak to you as to one whom I feel to be a kindred mind....
...
It is true that a person always remains a person and utterly separate and apart from every other person. 
But it is equally true that each person is destined to reach with others an understanding and a unity which transcend individuality, and Russian tradition describes this with a concept we do not fully possess in the West- "sobornost."


from his letters to Boris Pasternak


~ Thomas Merton
art by Tony Karp
with thanks to ascending the hills



fragment from lost days




.
...Like birds that get used to walking
and grow heavier and heavier, as in falling:
the earth sucks out of their long claws
the brave memory of all
the great things that happen high up,
and makes them almost into leaves that cling
tightly to the ground, -
like plants which,
scarcely growing upward, creep into the earth,
sink lightly and softly and damply
into black clods and sicken there lifelessly, -
like mad children, - like a face
in a coffin, - like happy hands that 
grow hesitant, because in the full goblet
things are mirrored that are not near, -
like calls for help which in the evening wind
collide with many dark huge chimes, -
like house plants that have dried for days,
like streets that are ill-framed, - like bright curls
within which jewels have grown blind, -
like early morning in April
facing the hospital's many windows:
the sick press up against the hall's seam
and look: the grace of a new light 
makes all the streets seem vernal and wide;
they see only the bright majesty
that makes the houses young and laughing,
and don't know that all night long
a storm ripped the garments from the sky,
a storm of waters, where the world still freezes,
a storm which this very moment roars through the streets
and takes all burdens
off the shoulder of each thing, -


~ Rainer Maria Rilke
art by Dali




to sing





.

.

To sing is to begin a sentence
like "I want to get well.
I am not born for nothing
and neither are you:
Heaven never wept
over nothing."


~ Thomas Merton
from an untitled poem
thanks to whiskey river






learn self-conquest







.



Learn self-conquest, 
persevere thus for a time, 
and you will perceive very clearly the advantage which you gain from it. 
As soon as you apply yourself to contemplation, 
you will at once feel your senses gather themselves together: 
they seem like bees which return to the hive and there 
shut themselves up to work at the making of honey. 


~ Saint Teresa of Avila



Ithaka



.

.


As you set out for Ithaka hope your road is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery. Laistrygonians, Cyclops, angry Poseidon—don't be afraid of them: you'll never find things like that on your way as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, as long as a rare excitement stirs your spirit and your body. Laistrygonians, Cyclops, wild Poseidon—you won't encounter them unless you bring them along inside your soul, unless your soul sets them up in front of you. Hope your road is a long one. May there be many summer mornings when, with what pleasure, what joy, you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time; may you stop at Phoenician trading stations to buy fine things, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony, sensual perfume of every kind— as many sensual perfumes as you can; and may you visit many Egyptian cities to learn and go on learning from their scholars. Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you're destined for. But don't hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you wouldn't have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. 


~ C.P. Cavafy
translated by Edmund Keeley


his birthday is today

Constantine Cavafy was born Konstantínos Pétrou Kaváfis in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1863, the ninth child of Constantinopolitan parents. His father died in 1870, leaving the family poor. Cavafy's mother moved her children to England, where the two eldest sons took over their father's business. Their inexperience caused the ruin of the family fortunes, so they returned to a life of genteel poverty in Alexandria. The seven years that Constantine Cavafy spent in England—from age nine to sixteen—were important to the shaping of his poetic sensibility: he became so comfortable with English that he wrote his first verse in his second language.

After a brief education in London and Alexandria, he moved with his mother to Constantinople, where they stayed with his grandfather and two brothers. Although living in great poverty and discomfort, Cavafy wrote his first poems during this period, and had his first love affairs with other men. After briefly working for the Alexandrian newspaper and the Egyptian Stock exchange, at the age of twenty-nine Cavafy took up an appointment as a special clerk in the Irrigation Service of the Ministry of Public Works—an appointment he held for the next thirty years. Much of his ambition during these years was devoted to writing poems and prose essays.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

the same life flows through all that is








.

When you know beyond all doubting that  and you are that life, you will love all naturally and spontaneously. When you realize the depth and fullness of your love of yourself, you know that every living being and the entire universe are included in your affection. But when you look at anything as separate from you, you cannot love it for you are afraid of it. Alienation causes fear and fear deepens alienation. It is a vicious circle. Only self - realization can break it. Go for it resolutely. 

In dream you love some and not others. On waking up you find you are love itself, embracing all. Personal love, however intense and genuine, invariably binds; love in freedom is love of all....When you are love itself, you are beyond time and numbers. In loving one you love all, in loving all, you love each. One and all are not exclusive. 

All the universe will be your concern; every living thing you will love and help most tenderly and wisely.



Nisargadatta Maharaj
from I am that 
photo: heart and veins

thanks to reality creation




ignorant of their ignorance





.
Ignorant of their ignorance, yet wise
In their own esteem, those deluded men
Proud of their vain learning go round and round
Like the blind led by the blind.  Far beyond
Their eyes, hypnotized by the world of sense,
Opens the way to immortality.
"I am my body; when my body dies,
I die." Living in this superstition,
They fall life after life under my sway.

It is but few who hear about the Self.
Fewer still dedicate their lives to its
Realization.  Wonderful is the one
Who speaks about the Self.  Rare are they
Who make it the supreme goal of their lives.

.
~ Katha Upanishad
death as teacher
translated by Eknath Easwaran



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the divine faculty of the seer


.


.
We begin to die, not in our senses or extremities, but in our divine faculties.  
Our members may be sound, our sight and hearing perfect, 
but our genius and imagination betray signs of decay.  
You tell me that you are growing old and are troubled to see without glasses, 
but this is unimportant if the divine faculty of the seer shows no signs of decay.


.
~  Henry David Thoreau
from his journal, 1854
art by Roderick Maclver



'we must die because we have known them'




.

(Papyrus Prisse.  From the sayings of Ptah-hotep, manuscript from ca. 2000 B.C.)

.

'We must die because we have known them.'  Die
of their smile's unsayable flower.  Die
of their delicate hands.  Die
of woman.

Let the young man sing of them, praise
these death-bringers, when they move through his heart-space,
high overhead.  From his blossoming breast
let him sing to them:
unattainable!  Ah, how distant they are.
Over the peaks
of his feeling, they float and pour down 
sweetly transfigured night into the abandoned
valley of his arms.  The wind
of their rising rustles in the leaves of his body.  His brooks run
sparkling into the distance.

But the grown man
shudders and is silent.  The man who 
has wandered pathless at night
in the mountain-range of his feelings:
is silent.

As the old sailor is silent,
and the terrors that he has endured
play inside him as though in quivering cages.

.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from Uncollected Poems




Monday, April 25, 2011

be helpless, dumbfounded






.

Be helpless, dumbfounded, 
Unable to say yes or no. 
Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up. 

We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty. 
If we say we can, we're lying. 
If we say No, we don't see it, 
That No will behead us 
And shut tight our window onto spirit. 

So let us rather not be sure of anything, 
Beside ourselves, and only that, so 
Miraculous beings come running to help. 
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute, 
We shall be saying finally, 
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us. 
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty, 
We shall be a mighty kindness.



~ Rumi


against certainty




.


.

There is something out in the dark that wants to correct us. 
Each time I think "this," it answers "that." 
Answers hard, in the heart-grammar's strictness. 

If I then say "that," it too is taken away. 

Between certainty and the real, an ancient enmity. 
When the cat waits in the path-hedge, 
no cell of her body is not waiting. 
This is how she is able to so completely to disappear. 

I would like to enter the silence portion as she does. 

To live amid the great vanishing as a cat must live, 
one shadow fully at ease inside another.



~ Jane Hirshfield
from After



stages

.


.

As every flower fades, so with all youth
And age brings different flowers at each stage of life,
Blooms each and every virtue and wisdom
In their time, and may not last forever.
From within every heart,  life calls, be
Ready for parting, and each new endeavor,
To bravely and without remorse
Find new beauty in the next other.
In all beginnings dwells a magic
Protecting us and helping us to live.

We shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as a home,
The world of spirit wishes not to fetter us,
He will raise us higher, to wider spaces.
We're hardly at home in one circle,
 Familiar habits make for indolence,
In someone who is ready to depart and travel,
 The crippling habit may dismiss itself.

Perhaps even the hour of death
may bring us home to new fresh spaces
The call of life to us is never ending ...
Well, my heart, bid farewell continually!



~ Hermann Hesse
with thanks to Semsakrebsler



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

sawing firewood

.


.
Probably no moon has furnished me with as much light as this one,  in this clear weather.  Now it is past full, and I can arise before daybreak and see my way about, sawing firewood.  One feels alone on the earth, no sounds, no lights, anywhere, unless a boat passes.  In a light fog, as this morning, the isolation is even more strongly felt.  It brings peace, contentment and a sure faith that all is well.

.
~ Harlan Hubbard
from his journal, Dec. 28th, 1958
woodcut by the author

.

the monk stood beside a wheelbarrow

.


.
The monk stood beside a wheelbarrow, weeping.

God or Buddha nowhere to be seen-
these tears were fully human,
bitter, broken,
falling onto the wheel barrow's rusty side.

They gathered at its bottom,
where the metal drank them in to make more rust.

You cannot know what you do in this life, what you have done.

The monk stood weeping.
I knew I also had a place on this hard earth.


.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from After


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

when you see




.
When you see yourself
and someone else
as one being,

when you know the most joyful day
and the most terrible night
as one moment, then

awareness is alone
with its Lord.

.
~ Lalla
art by Klimt

,

where the walls and fences are not cared for



.


.
Now I yearn for one of those old, meandering, dry uninhabited roads, which lead away from towns, which lead us away from temptation, which conduct to the outside of Earth, over its uppermost crust; where you may forget in what country you are traveling; where no farmer can complain that you are treading down his grass, no gentleman who has recently constructed a seat in the country that you are trespassing; on which you can go off at half cock and wave adieu to the village; along which you may travel like a pilgrim, going nowhither; where travelers are not too often to be met; where my spirit is free; where the walls and fences are not cared for; where your head is more in heaven than your feet are on earth; which have long reaches where you can see the approaching traveler half a mile off and be prepared for him; not so luxuriant a soil as to attract men; some root and stump fences which do not need attention; where travelers have no occasion to stop, but pass along and leave you to your thoughts; where it makes no odds which way you face, whether you are going or coming, whether it is morning or evening, mid-noon or midnight; where earth is cheap enough by being public; where you can walk and think with least obstruction, where you can pace when your breast is full, and cherish your moodiness; where you are not in false relations with men, are not dining nor conversing with them; by which you may go to the uttermost parts of the earth.


.
~ Henry David Thoreau
from his journal, July 21 1851
art by Roderick Maclver
.

Monday, April 18, 2011

what is precious


.



.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire.

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.




.
~ David Whyte
from the house of belonging
art by Klimt
thanks to  moment by moment


leadership



.


.

The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"

.
~ Lao Tzu
from the Tao Te Ching


the little horse


.



.

the little horse is newlY
Born)he knows nothing,and feels
everything;all around whom is
perfectly a strange
ness Of sun
light and of fragrance and of
Singing)is ev
erywhere(a welcom
ing dream: is amazing)
a worlD.and in
this world lies:smoothbeautifuL
ly folded;a(breathing and a gro
Wing)silence, who:
is:somE
oNe


.
e.e. cummings

.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the new silence




.
There are times
when the heart closes down,
the metal grate drawn
and padlocked,
the owner's footprints covered by snow.

Someone may come to peer through the glass,
but soon leaves.
Someone may come to clean, but turns away.

What is still inside
settles down for the darkness: clocks stop,
newspapers pass out of date.

The new silence goes unheard
under so many grindings of engines,
so many sounds of construction.

Only three pigeons, 
refusing to eat,
lower their heads and grieve.

.
~ Jane Hirshfield
from Lives of the Heart

.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Names



.
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.
.
No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.
.
When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.
.
It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.
.
When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?
.
This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.
.
I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance. 

~ Pablo Neruda
.

122nd birthday





.


Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London, England, on April 16th 1889. His father was a versatile vocalist and actor; and his mother, known under the stage name of Lily Harley, was an attractive actress and singer, who gained a reputation for her work in the light opera field.

Charlie was thrown on his own resources before he reached the age of ten as the early death of his father and the subsequent illness of his mother made it necessary for Charlie and his brother, Sydney, to fend for themselves.

Having inherited natural talents from their parents, the youngsters took to the stage as the best opportunity for a career. Charlie made his professional debut as a member of a juvenile group called "The Eight Lancashire Lads" and rapidly won popular favor as an outstanding tap dancer.

.

.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.

~ Charlie Chaplin
thanks to  charlie chaplin


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