March 20, 2012

I will be blogging at Tumblr indefinitely. You can find me here.

March 18, 2012


  The day is fresh-washed and fair, and there is a smell of tulips and narcissus in the air.
  The sunshine pours in at the bath-room window and bores through the water in the bath-tub in lathes and planes of greenish-white. It cleaves the water into flaws like a jewel, and cracks it to bright light.
  Little spots of sunshine lie on the surface of the water and dance, dance, and their reflections wobble deliciously over the ceiling; a stir of my finger sets them whirring, reeling. I move a foot, and the planes of light in the water jar. I lie back and laugh, and let the green-white water, the sun-flawed beryl water, flow over me. The day is almost too bright to bear, the green water covers me from the too bright day. I will lie here awhile and play with the water and the sun spots.
  The sky is blue and high. A crow flaps by the window, and there is a whiff of tulips and narcissus in the air.

– Amy Lowell, from "Spring Day"
     We strain our eyes beyond this dusk to see
     What, from the threshold of eternity
We shall step into. No, I think we shun
The splendour of that everlasting glare,
   The clamour of that never-ending song.
   And if for anything we greatly long,
It is for some remote and quiet stair
     Which winds to silence and a space for sleep
     Too sound for waking and for dreams too deep.

– Charlotte Mew, from "Not for That City"
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

– Pablo Neruda from "Ode To Wine" (trans. Margaret Sayers Peden)
Raoul Dufy, Still Life, 1941

March 16, 2012

"The question is asked, if life’s journey be endless where is its goal? The answer is, it is everywhere. We are in a palace which has no end, but which we have reached. By exploring it and extending our relationship with it we are ever making it more and more our own. The infant is born in the same universe where lives the adult of ripe mind. But its position is not like a schoolboy who has yet to learn his alphabet, finding himself in a college class. The infant has its own joy of life because the world is not a mere road, but a home, of which it will have more and more as it grows up in wisdom. With our road the gain is at the end, but with this world of ours the gain is at every step; for it is the road and the home in one; it leads us on yet gives us shelter."
– Rabindranath Tagore, The Essential Tagore

"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm."

– Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark
Speech to the Young, Speech to the Progress-Toward

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
“Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.
Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.

– Gwendolyn Brooks (with thanks to Poetry Eater)
Mikhail Nesterov, Spring, 1922

March 15, 2012

"So, it comes first: the world. Then, literature. And then, what one pencil moving over a thousand miles of paper can (perhaps, sometimes) do."

– Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures
"Words, words – nouns. They need only to open their wings, and millennia fall out of their flight."

– Gottfried Benn, from Epilog und lyrisches Ich, cited in Sloterdijk, Preface, Critique of Cynical Reason (with thanks to Growing Orbits and Time Immemorial)
“Poetry can unleash a terrible fear. I suppose it is the fear of possibilities, too many possibilities, each with its own endless set of variations. It's like looking too closely and too long into a mirror; soon your features distort, then erupt. You look too closely into your poems, or listen too closely to them as they arrive in whispers, and the features inside you - call it heart, call it mind, call it soul - accelerate out of control. They distort and they erupt, and it is one strange pain. You realize, then, that you can't attempt breaking down too many barriers in too short a time, because there are as many horrors waiting to get in at you as there are parts of yourself pushing to break out, and with the same, or more, fevered determination."

– Jim Carroll, Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries 1971-1973
"That is the strangeness of language: it crosses the boundaries of the body, is at once inside and outside, and it sometimes happens that we don't notice the threshold has been crossed."

– Siri Hustvedt, The Sorrows of an American
Henri Matisse, The Window, 1916, oil on canvas

March 14, 2012

Spring is like a perhaps hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

– E. E. Cummings

March 12, 2012

Springtimes have needed you.
And there are stars expecting you to notice them.
From out of the past, a wave rises to meet you
the way the strains of a violin
come through an open window
just as you walk by.

As if it were all by design.
But are you the one designing it?

– Rainer Maria Rilke, from the first "Duino Elegy" (trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming."

– Pablo Neruda
Vincent van Gogh, Bulb Fields, 1883
"True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures. One returns from solitude laden with the gifts of circumstance."

– Wendell Berry, from "Healing" found in What Are People For?

March 11, 2012


I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.

I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.

As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.

I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport's labryinth,

I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day's sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.

– Adam Zagajewski (trans. Clare Cavanagh)
"Do not measure in terms of time: one year or ten years means nothing. For the artist there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring without fearing that summer will not come. But it will come. It comes, however, only to the patient ones who stand there as if all eternity lay before them—vast, still, untroubled. I learn this every day of my life, I learn it from hardships I am grateful for: patience is all."

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Edvard Munch, Moonlight, 1895, oil on canvas
"To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over the land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence."

– Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence (with thanks to sparks and mirrors)
What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Wendell Berry