AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

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

17 July 2019

R.E.M., "King of Birds"

Memory.

Mucha, Portrait of Jaroslava, 1925


The sight of anything extremely beautiful, in nature or in art, brings back the memory of what one loves, with the speed of lightning. 

Stendhal

The Style Council, "Walls Come Tumbling Down"

Sometimes.


One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun--which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone's eyes.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, from The Secret Garden

Hot Rize, "Nellie Kane"



It's sandwich time.

Technique.

Stern, James Stewart, 1965


Technique is the proof of your seriousness.

Wallace Stevens

Embalm.


Charles C.W. Cooke on gratitude ...

That the Founders fought their war anyway was admirable. That the leading voices of their era had the presence of mind to hijack the American revolution and to codify a set of radical principles into a national charter was even more so. Indeed, we might today learn a great deal from a political culture that, per Burke, preferred to detect “ill principle” not by “actual grievance” but instead to “judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle” and to “augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” And yet our celebration of their fortitude is rendered as folly if we forget that, for all that the rebels went through, they were not facing down evil in its purest form.

That task would fall to other Americans — many of whom would pay a terrible price for their rebellions. Eventually, after a century-long struggle and a series of yo-yoing attempts, the twin horrors of slavery and segregation would indeed fall to posterity — but only after they had presented challenges that eclipsed those that were posed during the Revolution. The two eras are essentially incomparable. The crime of the British in America was to deny British conceptions of good government to a people who had become accustomed to it, and to do so capriciously. The crime of white supremacy in the South was, in the words of Ida B. Wells, to “cut off ears, toes, and fingers, strips off flesh, and distribute portions” of any person whom the majority disliked, and to do so in many cases as a matter of established public policy. When Paul Revere warned that “the regulars are coming,” he was alerting his neighbors against an invading force to which more than half the country felt it belonged; when a teenaged Rosa Parks conceded that she wanted to see her grandfather “kill a Ku-Kluxer,” she was fighting for her very survival.

For most of America’s story, an entire class of people was, as a matter of course, enslaved, beaten, lynched, subjected to the most egregious miscarriages of justice, and excluded either explicitly or practically from the body politic. We prefer today to reserve the word “tyranny” for its original target, King George III, or to apply it to foreign despots. But what other characterization can be reasonably applied to the governments that, ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence, enacted and enforced the Fugitive Slave Act? How else can we see the men who crushed Reconstruction? How might we view the recalcitrant American South in the early 20th century? “It” did “happen here.”

Later, quoting President Lincoln...

But soberly, it is now no child’s play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation.

One would start with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but, nevertheless, he would fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society.

And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of success.

One dashingly calls them “glittering generalities”; another bluntly calls them “self evident lies”; and still others insidiously argue that they apply only to “superior races.”

These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect–the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads, plotting against the people. They are the vanguard–the miners, and sappers–of returning despotism.

We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us.

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

All honor to Jefferson–to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.

CONNECT

Character.


Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.  Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.

Samuel Adams

Imagine.

Think.

Excellent.

An excellent hot dog ...



Happy National Hot Dog Day!

Find.

Hot Rize, "Colleen Malone"

With Jerry Douglas ..

Never.


It is the beginning of summer yet I’m still irrevocably in love with a winter state of mind. I seem to never quite leave it behind me, nor do I want to leave it behind me.

Anton Chekhov

Control.

Curtis, A Smoky Day at The Sugar Bowl, Hupa, 1923


Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.

William Ruckelshaus

Walk.

Save.


Up this green woodland-ride let’s softly rove,
And list the nightingale - she dwells just here.
Hush ! let the wood-gate softly clap, for fear
The noise might drive her from her home of love ;
For here I’ve heard her many a merry year -
At morn, at eve, nay, all the live-long day,
As though she lived on song. This very spot,
Just where that old-man’s-beard all wildly trails
Rude arbours o’er the road, and stops the way -
And where that child its blue-bell flowers hath got,
Laughing and creeping through the mossy rails -
There have I hunted like a very boy,
Creeping on hands and knees through matted thorn
To find her nest, and see her feed her young.
And vainly did I many hours employ :
All seemed as hidden as a thought unborn.
And where those crimping fern-leaves ramp among
The hazel’s under boughs, I’ve nestled down,
And watched her while she sung ; and her renown
Hath made me marvel that so famed a bird
Should have no better dress than russet brown.
Her wings would tremble in her ecstasy,
And feathers stand on end, as ’twere with joy,
And mouth wide open to release her heart
Of its out-sobbing songs. The happiest part
Of summer’s fame she shared, for so to me
Did happy fancies shapen her employ ;
But if I touched a bush, or scarcely stirred,
All in a moment stopt. I watched in vain :
The timid bird had left the hazel bush,
And at a distance hid to sing again.
Lost in a wilderness of listening leaves,
Rich Ecstasy would pour its luscious strain,
Till envy spurred the emulating thrush
To start less wild and scarce inferior songs ;
For while of half the year Care him bereaves,
To damp the ardour of his speckled breast ;
The nightingale to summer’s life belongs,
And naked trees, and winter’s nipping wrongs,
Are strangers to her music and her rest.
Her joys are evergreen, her world is wide -
Hark! there she is as usual - let’s be hush -
For in this black-thorn clump, if rightly guest,
Her curious house is hidden. Part aside
These hazel branches in a gentle way,
And stoop right cautious ’neath the rustling boughs,
For we will have another search to day,
And hunt this fern-strewn thorn-clump round and round ;
And where this reeded wood-grass idly bows,
We’ll wade right through, it is a likely nook :
In such like spots, and often on the ground,
They’ll build, where rude boys never think to look -
Aye, as I live ! her secret nest is here,
Upon this white-thorn stump ! I’ve searched about
For hours in vain. There! put that bramble by -
Nay, trample on its branches and get near.
How subtle is the bird ! she started out,
And raised a plaintive note of danger nigh,
Ere we were past the brambles ; and now, near
Her nest, she sudden stops - as choking fear,
That might betray her home. So even now
We’ll leave it as we found it : safety’s guard
Of pathless solitudes shall keep it still.
See there! she’s sitting on the old oak bough,
Mute in her fears ; our presence doth retard
Her joys, and doubt turns every rapture chill.
Sing on, sweet bird! may no worse hap befall
Thy visions, than the fear that now deceives.
We will not plunder music of its dower,
Nor turn this spot of happiness to thrall ;
For melody seems hid in every flower,
That blossoms near thy home. These harebells all
Seem bowing with the beautiful in song ;
And gaping cuckoo-flower, with spotted leaves,
Seems blushing of the singing it has heard.
How curious is the nest ; no other bird
Uses such loose materials, or weaves
Its dwelling in such spots : dead oaken leaves
Are placed without, and velvet moss within,
And little scraps of grass, and, scant and spare,
What scarcely seem materials, down and hair ;
For from men’s haunts she nothing seems to win.
Yet Nature is the builder, and contrives
Homes for her children’s comfort, even here ;
Where Solitude’s disciples spend their lives
Unseen, save when a wanderer passes near
That loves such pleasant places. Deep adown,
The nest is made a hermit’s mossy cell.
Snug lie her curious eggs in number five,
Of deadened green, or rather olive brown ;
And the old prickly thorn-bush guards them well.
So here we’ll leave them, still unknown to wrong,
As the old woodland’s legacy of song.

John Clare

Golden.

Rockwell, The Golden Rule, 1961

Kreisler, Tambourin Chinois, Op.3

Jennifer Pike performs ...

Attention.


ENTERING the KINGDOM

The crows see me.   
They stretch their glossy necks    
In the tallest branches    
Of green trees. I am    
Possibly dangerous, I am    
Entering the kingdom.

The dream of my life   
Is to lie down by a slow river    
And stare at the light in the trees–    
To learn something by being nothing    
A little while but the rich    
Lens of attention.

But the crows puff their feathers and cry   
Between me and the sun,    
And I should go now.    
They know me for what I am.    
No dreamer,    
No eater of leaves.

Mary Oliver

16 July 2019

Happy Birthday, Reynolds

Reynolds, Self-portrait, 1788


Joshua Reynolds was born on this date in 1723.

Our studies will be forever, in a very great degree, under the direction of chance; like travelers, we must take what we can get, and when we can get it – whether it is or is not administered to us in the most commodious manner, in the most proper place, or at the exact minute when we would wish to have it.  By leaving a student to himself he may be led to undertake matters above his strength, but the trial will at least have this advantage: it will discover to himself his own deficiencies and this discovery alone is a very considerable acquisition.

Joshua Reynolds

Now.


SUMMER NIGHT

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.

    Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

    Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

    Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.

    Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake:
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Adam Faith, "It's Alright"

Devil OUT!

Echo & The Bunnymen, "Show of Strength"

Robert Plant, "Most High"

More.

Qualities.


If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation.

Samuel Adams

The Waterboys, "Mad as the Mist and Snow"

Wickham and Puck at work ...

Out.


WANTING to STEAL TIME

People are moving big milk cans around in 
The storeroom, and I am there. Each day I move  
Barrels full of nothing to a different spot.

I want to charge you for the rustmarks on my pants.  
When greed comes by, I hitch a ride on the truck.  
You'll see nothing but my backside for miles.

Every noon as the clock hands arrive at twelve,  
I want to tie the two arms together, 
And walk out of the bank carrying time in bags.

Don't bother to associate poets with saints 
Or extraordinary beings. People like us have already  
Hired someone to weep for our parents.

We have a taste for ignorance, and a fondness  
For the mediocre dressed up as fame. We love  
To go with Gogol looking for dead souls.

Counting up the twelve syllables in a line  
Could make us allies of the stern Egyptians  
Whose armies were swallowed by the Red Sea.

Robert Bly

John Hartford, "Old Time River Man"



It's sandwich time.

Patron.


Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine

Yes, "Wonderous Stories"

Reverberations.


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

Heaven.


MOST SWEET it IS

Most sweet it is with unuplifted eyes 
To pace the ground, if path be there or none, 
While a fair region round the traveller lies 
Which he forbears again to look upon; 
Pleased rather with some soft ideal scene, 
The work of Fancy, or some happy tone 
Of meditation, slipping in between 
The beauty coming and the beauty gone. 
If Thought and Love desert us, from that day 
Let us break off all commerce with the Muse: 
With Thought and Love companions of our way, 
Whate'er the senses take or may refuse, 
The Mind's internal heaven shall shed her dews 
Of inspiration on the humblest lay. 

William Wordsworth

Knows.


Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.

Mark Twain

Men at Work, "Down by the Sea"

Saves.


Sometimes you hear a voice through
the door calling you, as fish out of
water hear the waves, or a hunting
falcon hears the drum’s come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.


Rumi

Discovered.

Marcus Roberts, "Angel"

15 July 2019

Led Zeppelin, "In the Evening"

Stone Temple Pilots, "Dancing Days"

As the evening starts to glow ...

Sam Bush, "Dooley"

Gimme a swaller ...

Glows.

Collins, Apple Orchard, Normandie, 2016


MEET ME in the GREEN GLEN

Love, meet me in the green glen, 
Beside the tall elm-tree, 
Where the sweetbriar smells so sweet agen; 
There come with me. 
Meet me in the green glen. 

Meet me at the sunset 
Down in the green glen, 
Where we’ve often met 
By hawthorn-tree and foxes’ den, 
Meet me in the green glen. 

Meet me in the green glen, 
By sweetbriar bushes there; 
Meet me by your own sen, 
Where the wild thyme blossoms fair. 
Meet me in the green glen. 

Meet me by the sweetbriar, 
By the mole-hill swelling there; 
When the west glows like a fire 
God’s crimson bed is there. 
Meet me in the green glen. 

John Clare

Indomitable.

Audubon, Black-capped Chickadee, N/D


We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow, and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory. But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit. 

Tom Brown, Jr., from "The Tracker"

Boneless.

Republic.

Echo & The Bunnymen, "In The Margins"

Paul McCartney & Wings, "Helen Wheels"

Merle Haggard, "The Fightin' Side of Me"

Votto.

Eternity.

Homer, Girl In A Hammock, 1893


I KNEW a WOMAN

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in a chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant notes to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways).


Theodore Roethke

Fauré, Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50

Bobby McFerrin conducts and performs with Filarmonica della Scala …

Muse.

Audubon, Red-breasted Grosbeak, 1837


SUMMER IMAGES

Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned, 
Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring; 
And laughing Joy, with wild flowers prank'd, and crown'd, 
A wild and giddy thing, 
And Health robust, from every care unbound, 
Come on the zephyr's wing, 
And cheer the toiling clown. 

Happy as holiday-enjoying face, 
Loud tongued, and "merry as a marriage bell," 
Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place; 
And where the troubled dwell, 
Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares; 
And from thy sunny spell, 
They greet joy unawares. 

Then with thy sultry locks all loose and rude, 
And mantle laced with gems of garish light, 
Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude, 
And in the world's despite, 
Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles; 
If haply so I might 
Win pleasure from thy smiles. 

Me not the noise of brawling pleasure cheers, 
In nightly revels or in city streets; 
But joys which soothe, and not distract the ears, 
That one at leisure meets 
In the green woods, and meadows summer-shorn, 
Or fields, where bee-fly greets 
The ear with mellow horn. 

The green-swathed grasshopper, on treble pipe, 
Sings there, and dances, in mad-hearted pranks; 
There bees go courting every flower that's ripe, 
On baulks and sunny banks; 
And droning dragon-fly, on rude bassoon, 
Attempts to give God thanks 
In no discordant tune. 

The speckled thrush, by self-delight embued, 
There sings unto himself for joy's amends, 
And drinks the honey dew of solitude. 
There Happiness attends 
With inbred Joy until the heart o'erflow, 
Of which the world's rude friends, 
Nought heeding, nothing know. 

There the gay river, laughing as it goes, 
Plashes with easy wave its flaggy sides, 
And to the calm of heart, in calmness shows 
What pleasure there abides, 
To trace its sedgy banks, from trouble free: 
Spots Solitude provides 
To muse, and happy be. 

There ruminating 'neath some pleasant bush, 
On sweet silk grass I stretch me at mine ease, 
Where I can pillow on the yielding rush; 
And, acting as I please, 
Drop into pleasant dreams; or musing lie, 
Mark the wind-shaken trees, 
And cloud-betravelled sky. 

There think me how some barter joy for care, 
And waste life's summer-health in riot rude, 
Of nature, nor of nature's sweets aware. 
When passions vain intrude, 
These, by calm musings, softened are and still; 
And the heart's better mood 
Feels sick of doing ill. 

There I can live, and at my leisure seek 
Joys far from cold restraints—not fearing pride— 
Free as the winds, that breathe upon my cheek 
Rude health, so long denied. 
Here poor Integrity can sit at ease, 
And list self-satisfied 
The song of honey-bees. 

The green lane now I traverse, where it goes 
Nought guessing, till some sudden turn espies 
Rude batter'd finger post, that stooping shows 
Where the snug mystery lies; 
And then a mossy spire, with ivy crown, 
Cheers up the short surprise, 
And shows a peeping town. 

I see the wild flowers, in their summer morn 
Of beauty, feeding on joy's luscious hours; 
The gay convolvulus, wreathing round the thorn, 
Agape for honey showers; 
And slender kingcup, burnished with the dew 
Of morning's early hours, 
Like gold yminted new. 

And mark by rustic bridge, o'er shallow stream, 
Cow-tending boy, to toil unreconciled, 
Absorbed as in some vagrant summer dream; 
Who now, in gestures wild, 
Starts dancing to his shadow on the wall, 
Feeling self-gratified, 
Nor fearing human thrall. 

Or thread the sunny valley laced with streams, 
Or forests rude, and the o'ershadow'd brims 
Of simple ponds, where idle shepherd dreams, 
Stretching his listless limbs; 
Or trace hay-scented meadows, smooth and long, 
Where joy's wild impulse swims 
In one continued song. 

I love at early morn, from new mown swath, 
To see the startled frog his route pursue; 
To mark while, leaping o'er the dripping path, 
His bright sides scatter dew, 
The early lark that from its bustle flies, 
To hail his matin new; 
And watch him to the skies. 

To note on hedgerow baulks, in moisture sprent, 
The jetty snail creep from the mossy thorn, 
With earnest heed, and tremulous intent, 
Frail brother of the morn, 
That from the tiny bent's dew-misted leaves 
Withdraws his timid horn, 
And fearful vision weaves. 

Or swallow heed on smoke-tanned chimney top, 
Wont to be first unsealing Morning's eye, 
Ere yet the bee hath gleaned one wayward drop 
Of honey on his thigh; 
To see him seek morn's airy couch to sing, 
Until the golden sky 
Bepaint his russet wing. 

Or sauntering boy by tanning corn to spy, 
With clapping noise to startle birds away, 
And hear him bawl to every passer by 
To know the hour of day; 
While the uncradled breezes, fresh and strong, 
With waking blossoms play, 
And breathe Æolian song. 

I love the south-west wind, or low or loud, 
And not the less when sudden drops of rain 
Moisten my glowing cheek from ebon cloud, 
Threatening soft showers again, 
That over lands new ploughed and meadow grounds, 
Summer's sweet breath unchain, 
And wake harmonious sounds. 

Rich music breathes in Summer's every sound; 
And in her harmony of varied greens, 
Woods, meadows, hedge-rows, corn-fields, all around 
Much beauty intervenes, 
Filling with harmony the ear and eye; 
While o'er the mingling scenes 
Far spreads the laughing sky. 

See, how the wind-enamoured aspen leaves 
Turn up their silver lining to the sun! 
And hark! the rustling noise, that oft deceives, 
And makes the sheep-boy run: 
The sound so mimics fast-approaching showers, 
He thinks the rain's begun, 
And hastes to sheltering bowers. 

But now the evening curdles dank and grey, 
Changing her watchet hue for sombre weed; 
And moping owls, to close the lids of day, 
On drowsy wing proceed; 
While chickering crickets, tremulous and long, 
Light's farewell inly heed, 
And give it parting song. 

The pranking bat its flighty circlet makes; 
The glow-worm burnishes its lamp anew; 
O'er meadows dew-besprent, the beetle wakes 
Inquiries ever new, 
Teazing each passing ear with murmurs vain, 
As wanting to pursue 
His homeward path again. 

Hark! 'tis the melody of distant bells 
That on the wind with pleasing hum rebounds 
By fitful starts, then musically swells 
O'er the dim stilly grounds; 
While on the meadow-bridge the pausing boy 
Listens the mellow sounds, 
And hums in vacant joy. 

Now homeward-bound, the hedger bundles round 
His evening faggot, and with every stride 
His leathern doublet leaves a rustling sound, 
Till silly sheep beside 
His path start tremulous, and once again 
Look back dissatisfied, 
And scour the dewy plain. 

How sweet the soothing calmness that distills 
O'er the heart's every sense its opiate dews, 
In meek-eyed moods and ever balmy trills! 
That softens and subdues, 
With gentle Quiet's bland and sober train, 
Which dreamy eve renews 
In many a mellow strain! 

I love to walk the fields, they are to me 
A legacy no evil can destroy; 
They, like a spell, set every rapture free 
That cheer'd me when a boy. 
Play—pastime—all Time's blotting pen conceal'd, 
Comes like a new-born joy, 
To greet me in the field. 

For Nature's objects ever harmonize 
With emulous Taste, that vulgar deed annoys; 
Which loves in pensive moods to sympathize, 
And meet vibrating joys 
O'er Nature's pleasing things; nor slighting, deems 
Pastimes, the Muse employs, 
Vain and obtrusive themes. 

John Clare