Friday, January 11, 2013

I am in love...I'm ready...








~ Terry Gross and Maurice Sendak
with thanks to erin w


in my beginning is my end





Home is where one starts from. As we grow older 
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated 
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment 
Isolated, with no before and after, 
But a lifetime burning in every moment 
And not the lifetime of one man only 
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered. 
There is a time for the evening under starlight, 
A time for the evening under lamplight 
(The evening with the photograph album). 
Love is most nearly itself 
When here and now cease to matter. 
Old men ought to be explorers 
Here or there does not matter 
We must be still and still moving 
Into another intensity 
For a further union, a deeper communion 
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, 
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters 
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.



~  Thomas Sterns Eliot
from Four Quartets, East Coker




Thursday, January 10, 2013

I have daughters and I have sons




1
Who is out there at six a.m.?  The man
Throwing newspapers onto the porch,
And the roaming souls suddenly
Drawn down into their sleeping bodies.

2
Wild words of Jacob Bohme
Go on praising the human body,
But heavy words of the ascetics 
Sway in the fall gales.

3
Do I have a right to my poems?
To my jokes? To my loves?
Oh foolish man, knowing nothing -
Less than nothing - about desire.

4
I have daughters and I have sons.
When one of them lays a hand 
On my shoulder, shining fish
Turn suddenly in the deep sea.

5
At this age, I especially love dawn
On the sea, stars above the trees,
Pages in The Threefold Life,
And the pale faces of baby mice.

6
Perhaps our life is made of struts
And paper, like those early
Wright Brothers planes.  Neighbors
Run along holding the wingtips.

7
I do love Yeats's fierceness
As he jumped into a poem,
And that lovely calm in my father's
Hands, as he buttoned his coat.



~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey



Monday, January 7, 2013

circus animals





Bears are stomping in perfect time.
A lion jumps through flaming hoops.
A whip cracks and the music grinds.
A monkey rides a bike in a yellow suit.
A whip cracks and the animals turn their glance.
Dogs dance in carefully measured movements.
An elephant walks with a pitcher in perfect balance.

Myself, I'm quite embarrassed, I, a human.

People didn't enjoy themselves that day.
You wouldn't know it from the clapping hands
though one hand elongated by a whip
cast a striking shadow on the sand.



~Wislawa Szymborska
from miracle fair
translation by Joanna Trzeciak





Sunday, January 6, 2013

the end and the beginning




After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won't
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired 
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs, 
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag a girder
to prop up a wall,
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it's not,
and takes years,
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We'll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about 
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
 sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here 
must make way for 
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.




~ Wislawa Szymborska
from miracle fair
translation by Joanna Trzeciak


the frogs after dark






I am so much in love with mournful music
That I don't bother to look for violinists.
The aging peepers satisfy me for hours.

The ant moves on his tiny Sephardic feet.
The flute is always glad to repeat the same note.
The ocean rejoices in its dusky mansion.

Bears are often piled up close to each other.
In caves of bears, it's just one hump
After another, and there is no one to sort it out.

You and I have spent so many hours working.
We have paid dearly for the life we have.
It's all right if we do nothing tonight.

We've heard the fiddlers tuning their old fiddles,
And the singer urging the low notes to come.
We've heard her trying to keep the dawn from breaking.

There is some slowness in life that is right for us.
But we love to remember the way the soul leaps
Over and over into the lonely heavens.



~ Robert Bly
from Talking into the ear of a Donkey



Saturday, January 5, 2013

coursera






~ Daphne Koller
co-creator of Coursera

Friday, January 4, 2013

all undiscovered before me




I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.




~ Isaac Newton

File:GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689.jpg
GodfreyKneller portrait 


At the age of 43, Newton published his Principia, which overturned nearly everything humankind had believed about the universe up to that point. He proved that the celestial bodies were governed by the same laws of physics as objects on Earth. He incorporated Kepler's laws of planetary motion into his own theories about gravity, and established his own Three Laws of Motion.

His father had died three months before Newton was born, and the plan was for the boy to take over the running of the family farm when he grew up. He wasn't a good farmer, and his uncle suggested that he be sent to the university instead. He went to Cambridge, and when it was shut down during a plague outbreak, Newton went home and studied mathematics and physics on his own. It was during this time that he first developed his theories of gravity and optics. His first published scientific achievement was the invention of a reflecting telescope.


~ comments from http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/


Monday, December 31, 2012

imagine





Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, 
along with our busy thoughts. 
Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still. 
And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, 
leaving behind all other sights and sounds 
but this one vision 
which ravishes and absorbs 
and fixes the beholder in joy, 
so that the rest of eternal life were like 
that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless. 




~ Saint Augustine




Friday, December 28, 2012

childhood






It would be good to give much thought, before
you try to find words for something so lost,
for those long childhood afternoons you knew
that vanished so completely - and why?

We're still reminded - : sometimes by a rain,
but we can no longer say what it means;
life was never again so filled with meeting,
with reunion and with passing on

as back then, when nothing happened to us
except what happens to things and creatures:
we lived their world as something human,
and became filled to the brim with figures.

And became as lonely as a sheperd
and as overburdened by vast distances,
and summoned and stirred as from far away,
and slowly, like a long new thread,
introduced into that picture-sequence
where now having to go on bewilders us. 




~ Rainer Maria Rilke
photo by kathleen connally


Thursday, December 27, 2012

every atom babbles the mystery






Love plays its lute behind the screen -
where is a lover to listen to its tune?

With every breath a new song,
each split second a new string plucked.

The world has spilled Love's secret -
when could music ever hold its tongue?

Every atom babbles the mystery -
Listen yourself, for I'm no tattletale!




~ Fakhruddin Iraqi
from Divine Flashes 
translation by William Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson
art by van gogh



Sunday, December 23, 2012

a christmas poem





Christmas is a place, like Jackson Hole, where all agree
To meet once a year. It has water, and grass for horses;
All the fur traders can come in. We visited the place
As children, but we never heard the good stories.

Those stories only get told in the big tents, late
At night, when a trapper who has been caught
In his own trap, held down in icy water, talks; and a man
With a ponytail and a limp comes in from the edge of the fire.

As children we knew there was more to it—
Why some men got drunk on Christmas Eve
Wasn't explained, nor why we were so often 
Near tears nor why the stars came down so close,
Why so much was lost. Those men and women
Who had died in wars started by others,
Did they come that night? Is that why the Christmas tree
Trembled just before we opened the presents?

There was something about angels. Angels we
Have heard on high Sweetly singing o'er 
The plain. The angels were certain. But we could not
Be certain whether our family was worthy tonight.


~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

two water-sellers





A man who lived by selling water found
He'd very little left; he looked around
And saw another water-seller there -
"Have you got any water you could spare?"
He asked.  "No, fool, I certainly have not,"
The other snapped; "make do with what you've got!"
"Oh, give me some," the man began to plead;
"I'm sick of what I have; it's yours I need."
When Adam's heart grew tired of all he knew,
He yearned for wheat, a substance strange and new -
He gave up all he owned for one small grain,
And naked suffered love's relentless pain;
He disappeared in love's intensity -
The old and new were gone and so was he;
He was annihilated, lost, made naught -
Nothingness swallowed all his hands had sought.
To turn from what we are, to yearn and die
Is not for us to choose or to deny."




~ Farid Attar
from The Conference of Birds
art by Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

change?







If something has an essence -
How can it ever change
Into anything else?

A thing doesn't change into something else -
Youth does not age,
Age does not age.

If something changed into something else -
Milk would be butter
Or butter would not be milk.

Were there a trace of something,
There would be a trace of emptiness.
Were there no trace of anything,
There would be no trace of emptiness.

Buddhas say emptiness
Is relinquishing opinions.
Believers in emptiness
Are incurable. 






~ Nagarjuna
from Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime
translated by Stephen Batchelor 
art by klimt






Saturday, December 15, 2012

the answer




Then what is the answer?—Not to be deluded by dreams. 
To know the great civilizations have broken down into violence, 
and their tyrants come, many times before. 
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose 
the least ugly faction; these evils are essential. 
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not 
wish for evil; and not be duped 
By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will 
not be fulfilled. 
To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear 
the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand 
Is an ugly thing, and man dissevered from the earth and stars and 
his history...for contemplation or in fact... 
Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, 
the greatest beauty is 
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, 
the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man 
Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions, 
or drown in despair when his days darken.




~ Robinson Jeffers
with thanks to http://themarkonthewall.blogspot.com/