Friday, June 26, 2015

who knows what is going on





Who knows what is going on on the other side of each hour?

How many times the sunrise was
there, behind a mountain!

How many times the brilliant cloud piling up far off
was already a golden body full of thunder!

This rose was poison.

That sword gave life.

I was thinking of a flowery meadow
at the end of a road,
and found myself in the slough.

I was thinking of the greatness of what was human,
and found myself in the divine.




~ Juan Ramon Jimenez
English version by Robert Bly
with thanks to Poetry Chaikhana


Sunday, June 21, 2015

the door





One day you’ll see: 
you’ve been knocking on a door 
without a house. 
You’ve been waiting, shivering, yelling 
words of daring and hope.

One day you’ll see:
there is no-one on the other side
except, as ever, the jubilant ocean
that won’t shatter ceramically like a dream
when you and I shatter.

But not yet. Now 
you wait outside, watching
the blue arches of mornings 
that will break but are now perfect.

Underneath on tip-toe 
pass the faces, speaking to you,
saying ‘you’, ‘you’, ‘you’, 
smiling, waving, arriving
in unfailing chronology.

One day you’ll doubt your movements, 
you will shudder
at the accuracy of your sudden age. 
You will ache for slow beauty 
to save you from your quick, quick life.

But not yet. Hope 
fills the yawn of time.
Blue surrounds you. Now let’s say
you see a door and knock, 
and wait for someone to hear. 


~ Kapka Kassabova
with thanks to Love is a Place

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

magnetism








The Self is like a powerful magnet within us. 
It draws us gradually to itself, though we imagine we are going to It of our own accord:
 when we are near enough, It puts an end to our activities, 
makes us still, and then swallows up our personal current,
 thus killing our wrong personality. 
It overwhelms the intellect and over floods the whole being. 

We think we are meditating upon It and developing towards It, 
whereas the truth is that we are iron filings and It is the Atman-magnet 
that is pulling us towards Itself. Thus the process of finding 
the Self is a form of Divine magnetism.




~ Ramana Maharshi


Monday, May 25, 2015

in succession, in division








We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. 
Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence;
 the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; 
the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist, 
and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing
 and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, 
the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. 
We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree;
 but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. 




~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
from the essay The Over-Soul
art by gene kloss

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


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



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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

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



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


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

a person protests to fate






A person protests to fate:

"The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me."

Fate nods.
Fate is sympathetic.

To tie the shoes, button a shirt,
are triumphs
for only the very young,
the very old.

During the middle:

conjugating a river
mastering tango
training the cat to stay off the table
preserving a single moment longer than this one
continuing to wake whatever has happened the day before

and the penmanships love practices inside the body.




~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty


Sunday, April 5, 2015

like the small hole by the path-side something lives in






Like the small hole by the path-side something lives in,
in me lives I do not know the names of,

nor the fates of,
nor the hungers of or what they eat.

They eat of me.
Of small and blemished apples in low fields of me
whose rocky streams and droughts I do not drink.

And in my streets - the narrow ones,
unlabeled on the self-map -
they follow stairs down music ears can't follow,

and in my tongue borrowed by darkness,
in hours uncounted by the self-clock,
they speak in restless syllables of other losses, other loves.

There too have been the hard extinctions,
missing birds once feasted on and feasting.

There too must be machines
like loud ideas with tungsten bits that grind the day,

A few escape, A mercy,

They leave behind
small holes that something unweighed by the self-scale lives in.





~ Jane Hirshfield 
from The Beauty
Fremont rock painting from San Raphael Swell
2000-1000 BC Caves Painting



Friday, April 3, 2015

in praise of being peripheral









Without philosophy,
tragedy,
history,

a gray squirrel
looks 
very busy.

Light as a soul
released
from a painting by Bosch,
its greens
and vermilions stripped off it.

He climbs a tree
that is equally ahistoric.

His heart works harder.




~ Jane Hirshfield
from The Beauty




Thursday, April 2, 2015

if someone asks







If someone asks
about the mind of this monk,
say it is no more than 
a passage of wind
in a vast sky.




~ Ryokan
from The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan
by Kazuaki Tanahashi