Saturday, May 3, 2014

wisdom of a storyteller







~ Elif Shafak


work song - part 2 a vision






If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it...
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides...
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it...
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields...
Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.




~ Wendell Berry
art by Andrew Wyeth


Thursday, May 1, 2014

the holy longing





Tell a wise person, or else keep silent 
for the massman will mock it right away. 
I praise what is truly alive, 
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm waters of the love-nights 
where you were begotten, where you have begotten, 
a strange feeling comes over you 
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught 
in this obsession with darkness, 
and a desire for higher love-making 
sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter, 
now, arriving in magic, flying, 
and, finally, insane for the light, 
you are the butterfly and you are the light.

And so long as you haven’t experienced 
this: to die and so to grow, 
you are only a troubled guest 
on the dark earth. 






~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
translation by Robert Bly



do not be ashamed





You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
And suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly
that you were about to escape,
And that you are guilty: you misread
The complex instructions, you are not
a member, you lost your card
or never had one. And you will know
that they have been there all along,
Their eyes on your letters and books,
their hands in your pockets,
their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful.
They will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
Then such light as you have made
In your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you,
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach. Be ready.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked, say to them:
“I am not ashamed.” A sure horizon
will come around you. The heron will begin
his evening flight from the hilltop.



~ Wendell Berry
from Antiques and Collectibles



Thursday, April 24, 2014

elegy for a walnut tree






Old friend now there is no one alive
who remembers when you were young
it was high summer when I first saw you
in the blaze of day most of my life ago
with the dry grass whispering in your shade
and already you had lived through wars
and echoes of wars around your silence
through days of parting and seasons of absence
with the house emptying as the years went their way
until it was home to bats and swallows
and still when spring climbed toward summer
you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers
of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened
you and the seasons spoke the same language
and all these years I have looked through your limbs
to the river below and the roofs and the night
and you were the way I saw the world



~ W. S. Merwin




Monday, April 21, 2014

a struggle with water and wind






All my life’s a struggle with water and wind. 
two against one must be my story— 
as I make my way into the earth
 under the waves. There’s no country
 I can call my own. But I’ve learned
 to grow strong by being still. I know
 if I fail I’ll be broken, and all
 that’s part of me will be torn from me. 
Let me find my place 
 among the stones, and be held.



~ Lawrence Raab
from The Word Exchange
Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation


who am i being?








~ Benjamin Zander

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the great way is not difficult






The Great Way is not difficult 
for those who have no preferences. 
When love and hate are both absent 
everything becomes clear and undisguised.

Make the smallest distinction, however 
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth 
then hold no opinions for or against anything. 
To set up what you like against what you dislike 
is the disease of the mind. 

When the deep meaning of things is not understood 
the minds essential peace is disturbed to no avail. 

The Way is perfect like vast space 
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. 
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject 
that we do not see the true nature of things. 

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, 
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.

Be serene in the oneness of things 
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity 
your very effort fills you with activity. 

As long as you remain in one extreme or the other 
you will never know Oneness.



~ Seng-T’san




Monday, April 14, 2014

a friend's umbrella






Ralph Waldo Emerson, toward the end
of his life, found the names
of familiar objects escaping him.
He wanted to say something about a window,
or a table, or a book on a table.

But the word wasn't there,
although other words could still suggest
the shape of what he meant.
Then someone, his wife perhaps,

would understand: "Yes, window! I'm sorry,
is there a draft?" He'd nod.
She'd rise. Once a friend dropped by
to visit, shook out his umbrella
in the hall, remarked upon the rain.

Later the word umbrella
vanished and became
the thing that strangers take away.

Paper, pen, table, book:
was it possible for a man to think
without them? To know
that he was thinking? We remember
that we forget, he'd written once,
before he started to forget.

Three times he was told
that Longfellow had died.

Without the past, the present
lay around him like the sea.
Or like a ship, becalmed,
upon the sea. He smiled

to think he was the captain then,
gazing off into whiteness,
waiting for the wind to rise. 




~ Lawrence Raab
from The History of Forgetting
found here: http://deathdeconstructed.blogspot.com/




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

something unimportant






Happy as something unimportant
and free as a thing unimportant.
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.
As something mocked by all
and which mocks at their mockery.
As laughter without serious reason. 
As a yell able to outyell itself.
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.

Happy
as a dog's tail.



~ Anna Swir
from Talking to my body
translated by Czeslaw Milosz
with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana


Friday, March 21, 2014

the power of introverts







~ Susan Cain

Thursday, March 20, 2014

all kinds of minds







~ Temple Grandin

Sunday, March 2, 2014

happiness and bare consciousness









~ Matthieu Ricard


Thursday, February 27, 2014

a hide





There's a skin or hide between ourselves and our inner being.  And in the West that skin is very thick.  Inside us there's a sea and that sea is your inner life, your spiritual life, and your sexual impulses - everything you've gotten from the memory stores of evolution.  Then there's the outside world made of buildings and automobiles.  And these two worlds can't rub against each other.  It's too painful.  Therefore you develop a hide exactly like a cow develops a hide.  You don't want her guts to rub against the barn.



~  Robert Bly
spoken to Lewis Hyde in an interview
taken here from Robert Bly - In This World




Thursday, January 30, 2014

that lonesome valley









~ Pete Seeger and Joan Baez