AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

28 August 2016

Happy birthday, Goethe.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on this day in 1749.

The poet of the German enlightenment is best known for works such as, The Sufferings of Young Werner and the quintessential mad scientist story, Doctor Faustus (in which the protagonist sells his soul to the devil for knowledge). In an age when anyone with a pretence to an education was polymathic, he was widely acknowledged as a leading intellectual, and had many other important accomplishments that are now overshadowed by his artistic fame.

27 August 2016

Whisper.


A STORY THAT COULD BE TRUE

If you were exchanged in the cradle and
your real mother died
without ever telling the story
then no one knows your name,
and somewhere in the world
your father is lost and needs you
but you are far away.

He can never find
how true you are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
and the robberies of the rain
you stand on the corner shivering.
The people who go by–
you wonder at their calm.

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”–
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”

William Stafford

Happy birthday, Strummer.


Joe Strummer was born this week, August 21, in 1952.

Phony Beatlemania
Has bitten the dust



JOE LIVES!

Though.


STARLINGS in WINTER

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings. 

Mary Oliver

Wagner, "Tristan und Isolde"

Christian Thielemann conducts the Vienna Philharmonic ...

Happy birthday, Hegel.

Schlesinger, Hegel, 1831


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was born on this day in 1770.

The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him and in the offing, on which he depends, without his having made this foreign world for himself and therefore without being at home in it by himself as in something his own. The impulse of curiosity, the pressure for knowledge, from the lowest level up to the highest rung of philosophical insight arises only from the struggle to cancel this situation of unfreedom and to make the world one's own in one's ideas and thought.  Everybody allows that to know any other science you must have first studied it, and that you can only claim to express a judgment upon it in virtue of such knowledge. Everybody allows that to make a shoe you must have learned and practised the craft of the shoemaker, though every man has a model in his own foot, and possesses in his hands the natural endowments for the operations required. For philosophy alone, it seems to be imagined, such study, care, and application are not in the least requisite.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 

26 August 2016

Santana, "All I Ever Wanted"

Happy Friday!

Caring.


Listening lies at the very heart of relationship. It means that we are open to the other, that we respect him or her, that their perceptions and feelings matter to us. We give them permission to be honest, even if this means making ourselves vulnerable in so doing. A good parent listens to their child. A good employer listens to his or her workers. A good company listens to its customers or clients. A good leader listens to those he or she leads. Listening does not mean agreeing but it does mean caring. Listening is the climate in which love and respect grow.


More.

Thank you, Kurt.

Today.

1985.


"The Blood"

Order.

Mondrian, White Irises Against Blue Background (detail), 1909


Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don't believe that only art matters, I do believe in Art for Art's sake.

E. M. Forster

25 August 2016

Van Morrison, "Summertime in England"

Can you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me?
Will you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me?
We'll go riding up to Kendal in the country
In the summertime in England.
Did you ever hear about
Did you ever hear about
Did you ever hear about
Wordsworth and Coleridge, baby?
Did you ever hear about Wordsworth and Coleridge?
They were smokin' up in Kendal
By the lakeside
Can you meet me in the country in the long grass
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me
With your red robe dangling all around your body
With your red robe dangling all around your body
Will you meet me
Did you ever hear about
William Blake
T. S. Eliot
In the summer
In the countryside
They were smokin'
Summertime in England
Won't you meet me down Bristol
Meet me along by Bristol
We'll go ridin' down
Down by Avalon
Down by Avalon
Down by Avalon
In the countryside in England
With your red robe danglin' all around your body free
Let your red robe go.
Goin' ridin' down by Avalon
Would you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Would you meet me?
In the Church of St. John
Down by Avalon
Holy Magnet
Give you attraction
Yea, I was attracted to you.
Your coat was old, ragged and worn
And you wore it down through the ages
Ah, the sufferin' did show in your eyes as we spoke
And the gospel music
The voice of Mahalia Jackson came through the ether
Oh my common one with the coat so old
And the light in the head
Said, daddy, don't stroke me
Call me the common one.
I said, oh, common one, my illuminated one.
Oh my high in the art of sufferin' one.
Take a walk with me
Take a walk with me down by Avalon
Oh, my common one with the coat so old
And the light in her head.
And the sufferin' so fine
Take a walk with me down by Avalon
And I will show you
It ain't why, why, why
It just is.
Would you meet me in the country
Can you meet me in the long grass
In the country in the summertime
Can you meet me in the long grass
Wait a minute
With your red robe
Danglin' all around your body.
Yeats and Lady Gregory corresponded
And James Joyce wrote streams of consciousness books
T.S. Eliot chose England
T.S. Eliot joined the ministry
Did you ever hear about
Wordsworth and Coleridge?
Smokin' up in Kendal
They were smokin' by the lakeside
Let your red robe go
Let your red robe dangle in the countryside in England
We'll go ridin' down by Avalon
In the country
In the summertime
With you by my side
Let your red robe go
You'll be happy dancin'
Let your red robe go
Won't you meet me down by Avalon
In the summertime in England
In the Church of St. John
Did you ever hear about Jesus walkin'
Jesus walkin' down by Avalon?
Can you feel the light in England?
Can you feel the light in England?
Oh, my common one with the light in her head
And the coat so old
And the sufferin' so fine
Take a walk with me
Oh, my common one,
Oh, my illuminated one
Down by Avalon
Oh, my common one
Oh, my storytime one
Oh, my treasury in the sunset
Take a walk with me
And I will show you
It ain't why
It just is
Oh, my common one
With the light in the head
And the coat so old
Oh, my high in the art of sufferin' one
Oh, my common one
Take a walk with me
Down by Avalon
And I will show you
It ain't why
It just is.
Oh, my common one with the light in her head
And the coat so fine
And the sufferin' so high
All right now.
Oh, my common one
It ain't why
It just is
That's all
That's all there is about it.
It just is.
Can you feel the light?
I want to go to church and say.
In your soul
Ain't it high?
Oh, my common one
Oh, my story time one
Oh, my high in the art of sufferin' one
Put your head on my shoulder
And you listen to the silence.
Can you feel the silence?

"Summertime in England"

Seeking.


The man who has reverence will not think it his duty to "mold" the young. He feels in all that lives, but especially in human beings, and most of all in children, something sacred, indefinable, unlimited, something individual and strangely precious, the growing principle of life, an embodied fragment of the dumb striving of the world. All this gives him a longing to help the child in its own battle; he would equip and strengthen it, not for some outside end proposed by the State or by any other impersonal authority, but for the ends which the child's own spirit is obscurely seeking. The man who feels this can wield the authority of an educator without infringing the principle of liberty.

Bertrand Russell

Today.

1976.


"Something About You"

Launching.

Shooter's perspective, launching an F-18 "Rhino' at combat power ...

Rest.

McCubbin, Midday Rest, 1888


Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.

Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,

That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear­

The wayward chimes of memory's pensive bells,
Wind-blown o'er misty hills and curtained dells.

One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;

Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,

And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.

You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life­, come, rest awhile.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Today.

1975.


"She's the One"

Happy birthday, National Park Service.


The National Park Service was created on this day in 1916.

How little note is taken of the deeds of Nature! What paper publishes her reports? Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds, or the written music of water written in river-lines? Who reports and works and ways of the clouds, those wondrous creations coming into being every day like freshly upheaved mountains? And what record is kept of Nature's colors -- the clothes she wears -- of her birds, her beasts -- her live-stock? How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind! The spiritual eye sees not only rivers of water but of air. It sees the crystals of the rock in rapid sympathetic motion, giving enthusiastic obedience to the sun's rays, then sinking back to rest in the night. The whole world is in motion to the center. So also sounds. We hear only woodpeckers and squirrels and the rush of turbulent streams. But imagination gives us the sweet music of tiniest insect wings, enables us to hear, all round the world, the vibration of every needle, the waving of every bole and branch, the sound of stars in circulation like particles in the blood. The Sierra canyons are full of avalanche debris -- we hear them boom again, for we read past sounds from present conditions. Again we hear the earthquake rock-falls. Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarser senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.

John Muir

Don't miss Ken Burns' The National Parks: America's Best Idea ...



Thanks, Jess!

24 August 2016

Divine.

Constable, Cloud Study: Stormy Sunset, 1823


PLEASANT PLACES

Old stone-pits, with veined ivy overhung;
Wild crooked brooks, o’er which is rudely flung
A rail, and plank that bends beneath the tread;
Old narrow lanes, where trees meet over-head;
Path-stiles, on which a steeple we espy,
Peeping and stretching in the distant sky;
Heaths overspread with furze-bloom’s sunny shine,
Where Wonder pauses to exclaim, “Divine!”
Old ponds, dim shadowed with a broken tree;­—
These are the picturesque of Taste to me;
While painting Winds, to make complete the scene,
In rich confusion mingle every green,
Waving the sketchy pencils in their hands,
Shading the living scenes to fairy lands.

John Clare

Today.

1982.


"Gardening at Night"

Home.


For millennia, the ancestors of modern Hopi people lived in this region, refining the practical know-how and spiritual energy that allowed them to not only exist, but thrive in a seemingly harsh environment. This knowledge and experience would be passed from generation to generation, ultimately culminating and expressed in the contemporary culture of Hopi people, reflecting a connection that spans thousands of years across hundreds of miles.

Eventually the revolutions of the earth out distance the early inhabitants, all that is left of their passing are their ancient homes, tools, textiles, ceramics, jewelry and images carved and painted upon the cliff walls. In some cases, the physical remains of revered family are interred within and around the structures, left as spiritual guardians of a holy space. These are the tangible remains of their existence, ones that we can see and in some cases, touch and feel with our own hands; while some are experienced in the relative comfort of museums, archives and research centers across the country.

Others, if we are lucky enough, are encountered in our own wanderings across the same landscapes the Ancient Ones once called home. Under the same sun, moon and stars they once gazed upon, we can hold in our hands the results of thousands of years of living within a natural world. For many of us, Indigenous and otherwise, this is still the case and we are afforded the opportunity to glimpse into their being.

Yet there is another aspect of this landscape that cannot be readily seen or touched by our human hands. This is the Spirit Of Place. It is expressed as the solitude of the evening sunset as the winds sigh a relaxed breath, the sudden rush of excitement watching a falcon pursue its prey across the grasslands, the overwhelming expression of humility as we gaze upon stars, planets and other celestial bodies in the dark night sky. All of these experiences are afforded us due to the landscapes of the Bears Ears remaining in a relative pristine condition. The open space of the canyons, mesas, deserts, forests, springs, streams and rivers remain connected to one another and to those wild things of earth, water and sky that call this place home. 

23 August 2016

Van Morrison, "Rave On, John Donne/Did Ye Get Healed?"

Flight.

Ringer, Northwoods Campfire, 2011


I felt its urgent demand in the blood. I could hear its call. It's whistling disturbed me by day and its howl woke me in the night. I heard the drum of the sun. Every path was a calling cadence, the flight of every bird a beckoning, the color of ice an invitation: com.  The forest was a fiddler, wickedly good, eyes intense and shining with a fast dance.  Every leaf in every breeze was a toe tapping out of the same rhythm and every mountaintop lifting out of cloud intrigued my mind, for the wind at the peaks was the flautist, licking his lips, dangerously mesmerizing me with almost inaudible melodies that I strained to hear, my ears yearning for the horizon of sound. This was the calling, the vehement, irresistible demand of the feral angel -– take flight.  All that is wild is winged – life, mind, and language – and knows the feel of air in the soaring “flight, silhouetted in the primal.”

Jay Griffiths, from Wild

Astride.


The figure of the flâneur—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart. When Walter Benjamin brought Baudelaire’s conception of the flâneur into the academy, he marked the idea as an essential part of our ideas of modernism and urbanism. For Benjamin, in his critical examinations of Baudelaire’s work, the flâneur heralded an incisive analysis of modernity, perhaps because of his connotations: “[the flâneur] was a figure of the modern artist-poet, a figure keenly aware of the bustle of modern life, an amateur detective and investigator of the city, but also a sign of the alienation of the city and of capitalism,” as a 2004 article in the American Historical Review put it. Since Benjamin, the academic establishment has used the flâneur as a vehicle for the examination of the conditions of modernity—urban life, alienation, class tensions, and the like.

In the ensuing decades, however, the idea of flânerie as a desirable lifestyle has fallen out of favor, due to some arcane combination of increasing productivity—hello, fruits of the Industrial Revolution!—and the modern horror at the thought of doing absolutely nothing. But as we grow inexorably busier—due in large part to the influence of technology—might flânerie be due for a revival?

Addressing.


Nature poetry has a rich heritage in the United States and is always being written anew as our relationship with nature evolves. Our national parks have also long partnered with artists through residencies, exhibitions, and public programs to take the subjects of nature, culture, and self and portray and investigate them together in unique ways for the broad public. The 2016 centennial anniversary of the National Park Service is an especially fitting moment to expand both of these traditions. The concept behind this project draws inspiration from poetry as a powerful yet intimate art form that can capture how we perceive the world around us always through language. It is also rooted in installation and performance art, which bring surprising encounters in the everyday world. Where park visitors expect signs to be informational, authoritarian, scientific, or historical, here, poetry reverses that and offers a subjective version of the same content. The poetic signs also explore what it means to commune with nature in places like national parks with other people and with wildlife, how officialdom and administrators also "see and feel" nature with us, and how contemporary poetry and art continue to experiment with addressing the natural world in our time.

CONNECT

Wagner, "Siegfried Idyll"

Donald Runnicles conducts the Scottish Symphony Orchestra ...

22 August 2016

Open.

Reynolds, Self-portrait, 1745


The world was so beautiful when regarded like this, without searching, so simply, in such a childlike way. Moons and stars were beautiful, beautiful were bank and stream, forest and rocks, goat and gold-bug, flower and butterfly. So lovely, so delightful to go through the world this way, so like a child, awake, open to what is near, without distrust.

Herman Hesse

Happy birthday, Debussy.


Claude Debussy was born on this day in 1862.

The sound of the sea, the curve of the horizon, wind in the leaves, the cry of a bird, leave a manifold impression on us.  And then suddenly, without our wishing it at all, one of these memories spills from us and finds expression in musical language.  I want to sing my interior landscape with the simple artlessness of a child.

Claude Debussy

Valery Gergiev conducts the London Symphony performing La Mer ...

19 August 2016

The Kinks, "Juke Box Music"

Happy Friday!

Remains.


The familiar,
Precisely because it is familiar,
Remains unknown.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Aged.


Hand-tinted quarter plate daguerreotype, blue paper mat, cased, contemporary manuscript laid over the case lining stating: “Baltus Stone, Revolutionary Pensioner of the United States. Born October 1744. Signed his receipt for his Pension at the Philadelphia agency by making his mark. March 5, 1846. Aged about 101 ½ Years.”

Bach, Violin Concerto In A Minor, BWV 1041

Il Giardino Armonico performs, led by Giovanni Antonini; Enrico Onofri, fiddle ...

Health.

Innes, Pool in the Woods, 1891


The BREATH of MORNING

How beautiful and fresh the pastoral smell
   Of tedded hay breathes in this early morn!
Health in these meadows must in summer dwell,
   And take her walks among these fields of corn.
I cannot see her, yet her voice is out
On every breeze that fans my hair about.
   Although the Sun is scarcely out of bed,
And leans on ground as half awake from sleep,
   The boy hath left his mossy-thatched shed,
And bawls right lustily to cows and sheep;                                 
   Or taken with the woodbines overspread,
Climbs up to pluck them from their thorny bowers,
   Half drowned by drops which patter on his head
            From leaves bemoistened by night’s secret showers.

John Clare

18 August 2016

Fantastical.


I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets; 
My overcoat too was becoming ideal;
I travelled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassal;
Oh dear me! what marvellous loves I dreamed of!

My only pair of breeches had a big hole in them.
– Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along my way.
My tavern was at the Sign of the Great Bear.
– My stars in the sky rustled softly.

And I listened to them, sitting on the road-sides
On those pleasant September evenings while I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead like vigorous wine;


And while, rhyming among the fantastical shadows,
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart!

Arthur Rimbaud

16 August 2016

Beyond.


BILBO'S LAST SONG

Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!

J.R.R. Tolkien

Virtue.


There is no virtue in physical decline.

CONNECT

Still.

Chatham, Aspens, Undated


I SIT and THINK

I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
and people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Advice.

Advice on authenticity and safety from David Bowie ...

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No.5, Op.73

Alfred Brendel performs with Merek Janowski and the NHK symphony orchestra ...


Fruitful


There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and over-work.  The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.  To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.  The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work. It destroys the fruitfulness of his work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

Thomas Merton

Respect.

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt interrupted a post-race interview with a Mexican reporter to listen to the U.S. National Anthem in a show of respect.


Economy.


Imagine you’re a scientist with a set of results that are equally well predicted by two different theories. Which theory do you choose?

This, it’s often said, is just where you need a hypothetical tool fashioned by the 14th-century English Franciscan friar William of Ockham, one of the most important thinkers of the Middle Ages. Called Ockam’s razor (more commonly spelled Occam’s razor), it advises you to seek the more economical solution: In layman’s terms, the simplest explanation is usually the best one.

Occam’s razor is often stated as an injunction not to make more assumptions than you absolutely need. What William actually wrote (in his Summa Logicae, 1323) is close enough, and has a pleasing economy of its own: “It is futile to do with more what can be done with fewer.”

Renew.


PHILOMYTHUS to MISOMYTHUS

You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are 'trees', and growing is 'to grow');
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star's a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.

At bidding of a Will, to which we bend
(and must), but only dimly apprehend,
great processes march on, as Time unrolls
from dark beginnings to uncertain goals;
and as on page o'er-written without clue,
with script and limning packed of various hue,
an endless multitude of forms appear,
some grim, some frail, some beautiful, some queer,
each alien, except as kin from one
remote Origo, gnat, man, stone, and sun.
God made the petreous rocks, the arboreal trees,
tellurian earth, and stellar stars, and these
homuncular men, who walk upon the ground
with nerves that tingle touched by light and sound.
The movements of the sea, the wind in boughs,
green grass, the large slow oddity of cows,
thunder and lightning, birds that wheel and cry,
slime crawling up from mud to live and die,
these each are duly registered and print
the brain's contortions with a separate dint.
Yet trees are not 'trees', until so named and seen
and never were so named, tifi those had been
who speech's involuted breath unfurled,
faint echo and dim picture of the world,
but neither record nor a photograph,
being divination, judgement, and a laugh
response of those that felt astir within
by deep monition movements that were kin
to life and death of trees, of beasts, of stars:
free captives undermining shadowy bars,
digging the foreknown from experience
and panning the vein of spirit out of sense.
Great powers they slowly brought out of themselves
and looking backward they beheld the elves
that wrought on cunning forges in the mind,
and light and dark on secret looms entwined.

He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers bencath an ancient song,
whose very echo after-music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-pattemed; and no earth,
unless the mother's womb whence all have birth.
The heart of Man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.

Yes! 'wish-fulfilment dreams' we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,
or some things fair and others ugly deem?
All wishes are not idle, nor in vain
fulfilment we devise -- for pain is pain,
not for itself to be desired, but ill;
or else to strive or to subdue the will
alike were graceless; and of Evil this
alone is deadly certain: Evil is.

Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
though small and bate, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow's sway.

Blessed are the men of Noah's race that build
their little arks, though frail and poorly filled,
and steer through winds contrary towards a wraith,
a rumour of a harbour guessed by faith.
Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.

I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.
I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.
I would with the beleaguered fools be told,
that keep an inner fastness where their gold,
impure and scanty, yet they loyally bring
to mint in image blurred of distant king,
or in fantastic banners weave the sheen
heraldic emblems of a lord unseen.

I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends
if by God's mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not treat your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker's art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.

In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the day illumined, and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.
Then looking on the Blessed Land 'twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil it will not see, for evil lies
not in God's picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.
In Paradise they look no more awry;
and though they make anew, they make no lie.
Be sure they still will make, not being dead,
and poets shall have flames upon their head,
and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:
there each shall choose for ever from the All.


J.R.R. Tolkien

15 August 2016

Robert Plant, "In the Evening"

Mark.


It is warm work; and this day may be the last to any of us at a moment. But mark you! I would not be elsewhere for thousands. 

Admiral Lord Nelson

Lost.


The RAGPICKER'S WINE

In the muddy maze of some old neighborhood,
Often, where the street lamp gleams like blood,
As the wind whips the flame, rattles the glass,
Where human beings ferment in a stormy mass,

One sees a ragpicker knocking against the walls,
Paying no heed to the spies of the cops, his thralls,
But stumbling like a poet lost in dreams;
He pours his heart out in stupendous schemes.

He takes great oaths and dictates sublime laws,
Casts down the wicked, aids the victims' cause;
Beneath the sky, like a vast canopy,
He is drunken of his splendid qualities.

Yes, these people, plagued by household cares,
Bruised by hard work, tormented by their years,
Each bent double by the junk he carries,
The jumbled vomit of enormous Paris,—

They come back, perfumed with the smell of stale
Wine-barrels, followed by old comrades, pale
From war, mustaches like limp flags, to march
With banners, flowers, through the triumphal arch

Erected for them, by some magic touch!
And in the dazzling, deafening debauch
Of bugles, sunlight, of huzzas and drum,
Bring glory to the love-drunk folks at home!

Even so, wine pours its gold to frivolous
Humanity, a shining Pactolus;
Then through man's throat of high exploits it sings
And by its gifts reigns like authentic kings.

To lull these wretches' sloth and drown the hate
Of all who mutely die, compassionate,
God has created sleep's oblivion;
Man added Wine, divine child of the Sun.

Charles Baudelaire

The Specials, "Too Hot"

Off.

Friedrich, Riesengebirge, 1935


I went off with my hands in my torn coat pockets;
My overcoat too was becoming ideal;
I travelled beneath the sky, Muse! and I was your vassal;
Oh dear me! what marvellous loves I dreamed of!

My only pair of breeches had a big whole in them.
– Stargazing Tom Thumb, I sowed rhymes along my way.
My tavern was at the Sign of the Great Bear.
– My stars in the sky rustled softly.

And I listened to them, sitting on the road-sides
On those pleasant September evenings while I felt drops
Of dew on my forehead like vigorous wine;

And while, rhyming among the fantastical shadows,
I plucked like the strings of a lyre the elastics
Of my tattered boots, one foot close to my heart!

Arthur Rimbaud