AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

31 October 2015

Sundown.

Wyeth, Sundown, 1969

Happy birthday, Keats.

Hilton, John Keats, 1822


John Keats was born on this date in 1795.

Lost in a soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze!

John Keats

Gloom.


All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and dismal. He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the centre of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally known by the name of Major André's tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights, and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.

As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle; he thought his whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches. As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw something white, hanging in the midst of the tree: he paused and ceased whistling but, on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly he heard a groan—his teeth chattered, and his knees smote against the saddle: it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him. 

About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley's Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grapevines, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.

As he approached the stream, his heart began to thump; he summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement, and ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the contrary foot: it was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller.

Washington Irving, from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Edification.


Edification for the spirit.

Lunch.


The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question 'How can we eat?' the second by the question 'Why do we eat?' and the third by the question 'Where shall we have lunch?'

Douglas Adams

I love lunch.

30 October 2015

Jethro Tull, "Old Ghosts"

Misty colors unfold a backcloth cold ---
fine tapestry of silk
I draw around me like a cloak
and soundless glide a-drifting
on eddies whirled in beech leaves furled ---
brown and gold they fly
in the warm mesh of sunlight
sifting now from a cloudless sky.


I'll be coming again like an old dog in pain
Blown through the eye of the hurricane
Down to the stones where old ghosts play.

Happy Friday!

Gombert, Missa Media Vita in Morte Sumus

The Hilliard Ensemble performs ...

Select.


The application of this knife, the division of the world into parts and the building of this structure, is something everybody does. All the time we are aware of millions of things around us - these changing shapes, these burning hills, the sound of the engine, the feel of the throttle, each rock and weed and fence post and piece of debris beside the road - aware of these things but not really conscious of them unless there is something unusual or unless they reflect something we are predisposed to see. We could not possibly be conscious of these things and remember all of them because our mind would be so full of useless details we would be unable to think. From all this awareness we must select, and what we select and calls consciousness is never the same as the awareness because the process of selection mutates it. We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.

Live.


How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

Henry David Thoreau

Joseph Haydn, Sonata in D major, Hob.XVI:37

Olivia Steimel performs the Allegro con brio on the accordion ...

Zufiedenheit.


CHAMPAGNE AND ACCORDIONS

In the summer of 1942, the town of Molching was preparing for the inevitable. There were still people who refused to believe that this small town on Munich's outskirts could be a target, but the majority of the population was well aware that it was not a question of if, but when. Shelters were more clearly marked, windows were in the process of being blackened for the nights, and everyone knew where the closest basement or cellar was.
            For Hans Hubermann, this uneasy development was actually a slight reprieve. At an unfortunate time, good luck had somehow found its way into his painting business. People with blinds were desperate enough to enlist his services to paint them. His problem was that black paint was normally used more as a mixer, to darken other colors, and it was soon depleted and hard to find. What he did have was the knack of being a good tradesman, and a good tradesman has many tricks. He took coal dust and stirred it through, and he worked cheap. There were many houses in all parts of Molching in which he confiscated the window light from enemy eyes.
            On some of his workdays, Liesel went with him.
            They carted his paint through town, smelling the hunger on some of the streets and shaking their heads at the wealth on others. Many times, on the way home, women with nothing but kids and poverty would come running out and plead with him to paint their blinds.
            "Frau Hallah, I'm sorry, I have no black paint left," he would say, but a little farther down the road, he would always break. There was tall man and long street. "Tomorrow," he'd promise, "first thing," and when the next morning dawned, there he was, painting those blinds for nothing, or for a cookie or a warm cup of tea. The previous evening, he'd have found another way to turn blue or green or beige to black. Never did he tell them to cover their windows with spare blankets, for he knew they'd need them when winter came. He was even known to paint people's blinds for half a cigarette, sitting on the front step of a house, sharing a smoke with the occupant. Laughter and smoke rose out of the conversation before they moved on to the next job.

When the time came to write, I remember clearly what Liesel Meminger had to say about that summer. A lot of the words have faded over the decades. The paper has suffered from the friction of movement in my pocket, but still, many of her sentences have been impossible to forget.

***A SMALL SAMPLE OF SOME***
GIRL-WRITTEN WORDS
That summer was a new beginning, a new end .
When I look back, I remember my slippery
hands of paint and the sound of Papa's feet
on Munich Street, and I know that a small
piece of the summer of 1942 belonged to only
one man. Who else would do some painting for
the price of half a cigarette? That was Papa ,
that was typical, and I loved him .

Every day when they worked together, he would tell Liesel his stories. There was the Great War and how his miserable handwriting helped save his life, and the day he met Mama. He said that she was beautiful once, and actually very quiet-spoken. "Hard to believe, I know, but absolutely true." Each day, there was a story, and Liesel forgave him if he told the same one more than once.
            On other occasions, when she was daydreaming, Papa would dab her lightly with his brush, right between the eyes. If he misjudged and there was too much on it, a small path of paint would dribble down the side of her nose. She would laugh and try to return the favor, but Hans Hubermann was a hard man to catch out at work. It was there that he was most alive.
            Whenever they had a break, to eat or drink, he would play the accordion, and it was this that Liesel remembered best. Each morning, while Papa pushed or dragged the paint cart, Liesel carried the instrument. "Better that we leave the paint behind," Hans told her, "than ever forget the music." When they paused to eat, he would cut up the bread, smearing it with what little jam remained from the last ration card. Or he'd lay a small slice of meat on top of it. They would eat together, sitting on their cans of paint, and with the last mouthfuls still in the chewing stages, Papa would be wiping his fingers, unbuckling the accordion case.
            Traces of bread crumbs were in the creases of his overalls. Paint-specked hands made their way across the buttons and raked over the keys, or held on to a note for a while. His arms worked the bellows, giving the instrument the air it needed to breathe.
            Liesel would sit each day with her hands between her knees, in the long legs of daylight. She wanted none of those days to end, and it was always with disappointment that she watched the darkness stride forward.

As far as the painting itself was concerned, probably the most interesting aspect for Liesel was the mixing. Like most people, she assumed her papa simply took his cart to the paint shop or hardware store and asked for the right color and away he went. She didn't realize that most of the paint was in lumps, in the shape of a brick. It was then rolled out with an empty champagne bottle. (Champagne bottles, Hans explained, were ideal for the job, as their glass was slightly thicker than that of an ordinary bottle of wine.) Once that was completed, there was the addition of water, whiting, and glue, not to mention the complexities of matching the right color.
            The science of Papa's trade brought him an even greater level of respect. It was well and good to share bread and music, but it was nice for Liesel to know that he was also more than capable in his occupation. Competence was attractive.

One afternoon, a few days after Papa's explanation of the mixing, they were working at one of the wealthier houses just east of Munich Street. Papa called Liesel inside in the early afternoon. They were just about to move on to another job when she heard the unusual volume in his voice.
            Once inside, she was taken to the kitchen, where two older women and a man sat on delicate, highly civilized chairs. The women were well dressed. The man had white hair and sideburns like hedges. Tall glasses stood on the table. They were filled with crackling liquid.
            "Well," said the man, "here we go."
            He took up his glass and urged the others to do the same.
            The afternoon had been warm. Liesel was slightly put off by the coolness of her glass. She looked at Papa for approval. He grinned and said, "Prost, Mädel--cheers , girl." Their glasses chimed together and the moment Liesel raised it to her mouth, she was bitten by the fizzy, sickly sweet taste of champagne. Her reflexes forced her to spit straight onto her papa's overalls, watching it foam and dribble. A shot of laughter followed from all of them, and Hans encouraged her to give it another try. On the second attempt she was able to swallow it, and enjoy the taste of a glorious broken rule. It felt great. The bubbles ate her tongue. They prickled her stomach. Even as they walked to the next job, she could feel the warmth of pins and needles inside her.
            Dragging the cart, Papa told her that those people claimed to have no money.
            "So you asked for champagne?"
            "Why not?" He looked across, and never had his eyes been so silver. "I didn't want you thinking that champagne bottles are only used for rolling paint." He warned her, "Just don't tell Mama. Agreed?"
            "Can I tell Max?"
            "Sure, you can tell Max."
In the basement, when she wrote about her life, Liesel vowed that she would never drink champagne again, for it would never taste as good as it did on that warm afternoon in July.
            It was the same with accordions.
            Many times, she wanted to ask her papa if he might teach her to play, but somehow, something always stopped her. Perhaps an unknown intuition told her that she would never be able to play it like Hans Hubermann. Surely, not even the world's greatest accordionists could compare. They could never be equal to the casual concentration on Papa's face. Or there wouldn't be a paintwork-traded cigarette slouched on the player's lips. And they could never make a small mistake with a three-note laugh of hindsight. Not the way he could.
            At times, in that basement, she woke up tasting the sound of the accordion in her ears. She could feel the sweet burn of champagne on her tongue.
            Sometimes she sat against the wall, longing for the warm finger of paint to wander just once more down the side of her nose, or to watch the sandpaper texture of her papa's hands.
            If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter and bread with only the scent of jam spread out on top of it.
            It was the best time of her life.

But it was bombing carpet.
            Make no mistake.
Bold and bright, a trilogy of happiness would continue for summer's duration and into autumn. It would then be brought abruptly to an end, for the brightness had shown suffering the way.
            Hard times were coming.
            Like a parade.

*** DUDEN DICTIONARY MEANING #1***
Zufiedenheit--Happiness:
Coming from happy --enjoying
pleasure and contentment.
Related words: joy, gladness,
feeling fortunate or prosperous.

Cognizance.


The social drinking of wine, during or after a meal, and in full cognizance of its delicate taste and evocative aura, seldom leads to drunkenness, and yet more seldom to loutish behavior. The drink problem that we witness in British cities stems from our inability to pay Bacchus his due. Thanks to cultural impoverishment, young people no longer have a repertoire of songs, poems, arguments or ideas with which to entertain one another in their cups. They drink to fill the moral vacuum generated by their culture, and while we are familiar with the adverse effect of drink on an empty stomach, we are now witnessing the far worse effect of drink on an empty mind.

Roger Scruton, from I Drink, Therefore I Am

This is the difference between a genuinely cultivated mind and one that only aspires to be.  The genuinely cultivated mind knows when to remain silent.  This is one of the uses of the greek symposium.  It imposes on everybody around the table the obligation to be silent while one of them speaks.  And that way when you speak it becomes seriously meaningful. 

Roger Scruton

27 October 2015

Happy birthday, Cook.

Dance, Captain James Cook, 1775


Captain James Cook was born on this date in 1728.


Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.

James Cook

A documentary on the life & times of Captain James Cook; the greatest explorer in history who discovered Australia & New Zealand. His three great voyages of discovery pushed the borders of the British Empire to the ends of the Earth.

A Likely Lad


Taking Command


Beyond Speculation


Northwest Passage

26 October 2015

Beppe Gambetta & Tony McManus, "Sleeping Tune"

Occurence.


Want to be mesmerized by an expanding orange glow while being reminded of how little and flightless you are? Then ebird.org's bird occurrence maps, which track the movement of 57 different bird species across the US using lava lamp-esque visuals, are perfect for you. 

The maps, a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, are predictions for how likely you are to find any given bird on a one kilometer walk at 7 a.m. in the morning. They are built from a massive collection of data–280 million observations from around the world submitted by thousands of birdwatchers–and use a method known as the Spatio-Temporal Exploratory Model (STEM).  

21 October 2015

Out.

Davis, Fog over Mendocino, 2011


Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way

If you're John Muir you want trees to 
live among. If you're Emily, a garden
will do. 
Try to find the right place for yourself. 
If you can't find it, at least dream of it.

When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain, 
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.  

Anything that touches.                                                

God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible, 
entirely.                                                

Some words will never leave God's mouth, 
no matter how hard you listen.                                                 

In all the works of Beethoven, you will 
not find a single lie.                                               

All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.                                                

To understand many things you must reach out 
of your own condition.                                                

For how many years did I wander slowly 
through the forest. What wonder and 
glory I would have missed had I ever been in a hurry!                                               

Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing.                                                

The point is, you're you, and that's for keeps.

Mary Oliver 

Happy birthday, Coleridge.

Northcote, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1804


Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on this date in 1772.

Something Childish, but Very Natural  

 If I had but two little wings
      And were a little feathery bird,
         To you I'd fly, my dear!
But thoughts like these are idle things,
         And I stay here.

   But in my sleep to you I fly:
      I'm always with you in my sleep!
         The world is all one's own.
But then one wakes, and where am I?
         All, all alone.

   Sleep stays not, though a monarch bids:
      So I love to wake ere break of day:
         For though my sleep be gone,
Yet while 'tis dark, one shuts one's lids,

         And still dreams on.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

20 October 2015

Alexi Murdoch, "Blue Mind"

Yes, I am drifting

Remember when you were only a child
Start to see with your blue mind
Don't be afraid of what you find 



CONNECT

Happy birthday, Rimbaud.


Arthur Rimbaud was born on this date in 1854.

I say you have to be a visionary, make yourself a visionary.

A Poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses.  All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences.  Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes among all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed–and the Supreme Scientist!  For he attains the unknown!  Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone!  He attains the unknown, and if, demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them!  So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable:  other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen!

. . . So the poet, therefore, is truly a thief of fire.

Arthur Rimbaud

Soundseeing.


"Soundseeing?"


Happy birthday, Wren.

Wren, Hampton Court Palace, 1694


Sir Christopher Wren was born on this date in 1632.

In things to be seen at once, much variety makes confusion, another vice of beauty.  In things that are not seen at once, and have no respect one to another, great variety is commendable, provided this variety transgress not the rules of optics and geometry.

Sir Christopher Wren

Van Morrison, "Ballerina/Move On Up"

Tony Fitzgibbon, fiddle ...

Alive.


To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.

Gaston Bachelard

19 October 2015

When.


Bag

I lost my medicine bag
from back when I believed
in magic. It’s made from a doe’s stomach
and holds grizzly teeth and claw,
stones from Tibet and the moon
the garden and the beach
where the baby’s ashes are buried.
Now I expect this bag to cure my illnesses—
I can’t walk and the skin on my back
pulses and moans without a mouth.
The gods exiled me to this loneliness
of pain for their own good reasons.

Jim Harrison

Life.

Typography.

15 October 2015

Happiness.


The simple act of opening a bottle of wine brought more happiness to the human race than all the collective governments in the history of the Earth.

Jim Harrison

13 October 2015

Peace.

Leighton, Idyll, 1881


Change “is” to “could be,” and you become more mindful. The same is true when you look for an answer rather than the answer.

Meditation isn’t snake oil. For some people, meditation might be the most efficient way to reduce stress and cultivate mindfulness. But it isn’t a panacea. If you don’t meditate, there’s no need to stress out about it. In fact, in some situations, meditation may be harmful: Willoughby Britton, a Brown University Medical School professor, has discovered numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.

Evangelists, it’s time to stop judging. The next time you meet people who choose not to meditate, take a deep breath and let us relax in peace.

CONNECT

Thank You, Jessica.

Willing.

Illuminated.


The truth is always an abyss.  One must -- as in a swimming pool -- dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again -- laughing and fighting for breath -- to the now doubly illuminated surface of things.

Marcel Proust

Ask.


... There is a door that opens to a room and in that room is a table, a round table, and at that table sits power. The head of the table belongs to the fist or paw or talon that grabs power. I want to go through that door and get in that room and sit at that table with that power and the wolf should be there, the elk also, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, the serpents and monsters of the deep, and this time when the waters come there will be no Noah and no rainbow, God help us, no rainbow.

… wolves I say, more wolves, elk in the dusk, wolves in the night, and in the morning meadowlarks singing the grass into the light and suddenly one green teal drake attacks another and rams it with its bill and I don’t know why and that is the reason I must get through the door and into the room and sit at that table with the slime and slobber and tooth and fang and fin and feather and ask ...

 ... why does life mean death

and who said my people were better than wolves

and why can’t I howl at the moon

and who do you love ...

… I stare up, and stars are everywhere, there is no city on the horizon, the cold seeks my bones and no moon rises ... the voices in my head are my father and his brothers and down the sweep of hill, past the two barns, the hog house, the limestone shed with a spring to cool the cans of milk, past the meadows and the creek and the woodlot the valley flows studded with quarries, refineries and coking mills and in the day the sky goes dark with plumes of smoke and in the night the gas venting off the refineries and the blazes off the coking mills fill the sky with flames and always there is the stench of fuels spent and lives incinerated and no one can tell me why and no one asks why because the money is good and life is hard and the women scrub and the game has fled and hardly a bone or hair remains to haunt us, and they say nothing, they play poker, drink, sit under the apple trees. There is no mention of another way.

Charles Bowden

Joy.


I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spend in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during idle days.

In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.

Rainer Maria Rilke

12 October 2015

Extraordinary.

From English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s commencement address to the Class of 2012 of Wellesley (MA) High School ..

I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.  Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than you would a spouse you’re not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison.  Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction.  Be worthy of your advantages.  And read … read all the time … read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect.  Read as a nourishing staple of life.  Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it.  Dream big.  Work hard.  Think for yourself.  Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might.  And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you’ll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon. 

The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.  You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube.  The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life.  Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow.  The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil.  Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem.  The point is the same: get busy, have at it.  Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you.  Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands.  (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life.  Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)

None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence.  Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct.  It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.  Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view.  Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.  Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly.  Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them.  And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.  The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
           
Because everyone is.

Congratulations.  Good luck.  Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.


Happy birthday, Williams.


Ralph Vaughan Williams was born on this date in 1872.

There [is] a feeling of recognition, as of meeting an old friend, which comes to us all in the face of great artistic experiences. I had the same experience when I first heard an English folksong, when I first saw Michelangelo's Day and Night, when I suddenly came upon Stonehenge or had my first sight of New York City – the intuition that I had been there already.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

"The Lark Ascending"



The Lark Ascending

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,
All intervolv’d and spreading wide,
Like water-dimples down a tide
Where ripple ripple overcurls
And eddy into eddy whirls;
A press of hurried notes that run
So fleet they scarce are more than one,
Yet changingly the trills repeat
And linger ringing while they fleet,
Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear
To her beyond the handmaid ear,
Who sits beside our inner springs,
Too often dry for this he brings,
Which seems the very jet of earth
At sight of sun, her music’s mirth,
As up he wings the spiral stair,
A song of light, and pierces air
With fountain ardor, fountain play,
To reach the shining tops of day,
And drink in everything discern’d
An ecstasy to music turn’d,
Impell’d by what his happy bill
Disperses; drinking, showering still,
Unthinking save that he may give
His voice the outlet, there to live
Renew’d in endless notes of glee,
So thirsty of his voice is he,
For all to hear and all to know
That he is joy, awake, aglow,
The tumult of the heart to hear
Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,
And know the pleasure sprinkled bright
By simple singing of delight,
Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,
Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d
Without a break, without a fall,
Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,
Perennial, quavering up the chord
Like myriad dews of sunny sward
That trembling into fulness shine,
And sparkle dropping argentine;
Such wooing as the ear receives
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
And such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spreads,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
Puts on the light of children prais’d,
So rich our human pleasure ripes
When sweetness on sincereness pipes,
Though nought be promis’d from the seas,
But only a soft-ruffling breeze
Sweep glittering on a still content,
Serenity in ravishment.

For singing till his heaven fills,
’T is love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:
The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine
He is, the hills, the human line,
The meadows green, the fallows brown,
The dreams of labor in the town;
He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;
The wedding song of sun and rains
He is, the dance of children, thanks
Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,
And eye of violets while they breathe;
All these the circling song will wreathe,
And you shall hear the herb and tree,
The better heart of men shall see,
Shall feel celestially, as long
As you crave nothing save the song.
Was never voice of ours could say
Our inmost in the sweetest way,
Like yonder voice aloft, and link
All hearers in the song they drink:
Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,
Our passion is too full in flood,
We want the key of his wild note
Of truthful in a tuneful throat,
The song seraphically free
Of taint of personality,
So pure that it salutes the suns
The voice of one for millions,
In whom the millions rejoice
For giving their one spirit voice.

Yet men have we, whom we revere,
Now names, and men still housing here,
Whose lives, by many a battle-dint
Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,
Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet
For song our highest heaven to greet:
Whom heavenly singing gives us new,
Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,
From firmest base to farthest leap,
Because their love of Earth is deep,
And they are warriors in accord
With life to serve and pass reward,
So touching purest and so heard
In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;
Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,
Till lost on his aërial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.


George Meredith

10 October 2015

Shiver.

Kimmerle, Two Cottonwoods, undated


Doors
I’m trying to create an option for all
these doors in life. You’re inside
or out, outside or in. Of late, doors
have failed us more than the two-party system
or marriages comprising only one person.
We’ve been fooled into thousands of dualisms
which the Buddha says is a bad idea.
Nature has portals rather than doors.
There are two vast cottonwoods near a creek
and when I walk between them I shiver.
Winding through my field of seventy-seven
large white pine stumps from about 1903
I take various paths depending on spirit.
The sky is a door never closed to us.
The sun and moon aren’t doorknobs.
Dersu Uzala slept outside for forty-five years.
When he finally moved inside he died.


Jim Harrison