Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
"I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody"
... J. D. Salinger, in honor of his demise today at the age of 91 years.
Jerome David "J. D." Salinger (January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010) was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980.
Raised in Manhattan, Salinger began writing short stories while in secondary school, and published several stories in the early 1940s before serving in World War II. In 1948 he published the critically acclaimed story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his subsequent work. In 1951 Salinger released his novel The Catcher in the Rye, an immediate popular success. His depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers. The novel remains widely read and controversial, selling around 250,000 copies a year.
The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny: Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently. He followed Catcher with a short story collection, Nine Stories (1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled "Hapworth 16, 1924," appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965.
A film released in 2000, Finding Forrester, was loosely based on Salinger. In the film, Sean Connery plays a reclusive author whose only published novel was considered to be a literary masterpiece. After publishing the novel, Connery's character had become reclusive and remained so for nearly 30 years.
Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010, at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire.
"What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse"
.. The Catcher In The Rye, J. D. Salinger
One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.
In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.
On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.
This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.
O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.
Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.
I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.
... The Dark Night Of The Soul, St. John of the Cross
This beautiful poem of the soul's conduct along the spiritual road leading to the perfect union with God through love inspired yet another beautiful work by Loreena McKennitt.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
But who are they, tell me, these Travellers, even more
transient than we are ourselves, urgently, from their earliest days,
wrung out for whom – to please whom,
by a never-satisfied will? Yet it wrings them,
bends them, twists them, and swings them,
throws them, and catches them again: as if from oiled
more slippery air, so they land
on the threadbare carpet, worn by their continual
leaping, this carpet
lost in the universe.
Stuck on like a plaster, as if the suburban
sky had wounded the earth there.
And scarcely there,
upright, there and revealed: the great
capital letter of Being.........and already the ever-returning
grasp wrings the strongest of men again, in jest,
as King August the Strong would crush
a tin plate.
Ah, and around this
centre, the rose of watching
flowers and un-flowers. Round this
stamp, this pistil, caught in the pollen
of its own flowering, fertilised
again to a shadow-fruit of disinterest,
their never-conscious, seeming-to-smile, disinterest,
gleaming lightly, on surface thinness.
There, the withered, wrinkled lifter,
an old man, only a drummer now,
shrunk in his massive hide, as though it had once
contained two men, and one was already
lying there in the churchyard, and the other had survived him,
deaf, and sometimes a little
confused in his widowed skin.
And the young one, the man, as if he were son of a neck
and a nun: taut and erectly filled
with muscle and simple-mindedness.
that a sorrow, that was still small,
once received as a plaything, in one of its
You, who fall, with the thud
that only fruit knows, unripe,
a hundred times a day from the tree of mutually
built-up movement (that, swifter than water,
in a few moments, shows spring, summer and autumn),
fall, and impact on the grave:
sometimes, in half-pauses, a loving look tries
to rise from your face towards your seldom
affectionate mother: but it loses itself in your body,
whose surface consumes the shy
scarcely-attempted look.....And again
the man is clapping his hands for your leap, and before
a pain can become more distinct, close to your
constantly racing heart, a burning grows in the soles of your feet,
its source, before a few quick tears rush bodily into your eyes.
And yet, blindly,
Angel! O, gather it, pluck it, that small-flowered healing herb.
Make a vase, keep it safe! Place it among those joys not yet
open to us: on a lovely urn,
praise it, with flowery, swirling, inscription:
‘Subrisio Saltat: the Saltimbanque’s smile’
You, then, beloved,
you, that the loveliest delights
silently over-leapt. Perhaps
your frills are happy for you –
or the green metallic silk,
over your firm young breasts,
feels itself endlessly pampered, and needing nothing.
You, market fruit of serenity
laid out, endlessly, on all the quivering balance scales,
publicly, beneath the shoulders.
Where, oh where is the place – I carry it in my heart –
where they were still far from capable, still fell away
from each other, like coupling animals, not yet
ready for pairing: -
where the weights are still heavy:
where the plates still topple
from their vainly twirling
And, suddenly, in this troublesome nowhere, suddenly,
the unsayable point where the pure too-little
is changed incomprehensibly -, altered
into that empty too-much.
Where the many-placed calculation
is exactly resolved.
Squares: O square in Paris, endless show-place,
where the milliner, Madame Lamort,
winds and twists the restless trails of the earth,
endless ribbons, into new
bows, frills, flowers, rosettes, artificial fruits – all
falsely coloured, - for winter’s
cheap hats of destiny.
Angel: if there were a place we know nothing of, and there,
on some unsayable carpet, lovers revealed
what here they could never master, their high daring
figures of heart’s flight,
their towers of desire, their ladders,
long since standing where there was no ground, leaning,
trembling, on each other – and mastered them,
in front of the circle of watchers, the countless, soundless dead:
Would these not fling their last, ever-saved,
ever-hidden, unknown to us, eternally
valid coins of happiness in front of the finally
truly smiling pair on the silent
... The Fifth Elegy - Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke
Monday, January 25, 2010
"Who was that said only the dead have seen the end of war?
I have seen the end of war.
The question is, how do I go on living?"
... Cpt Sam Cahill, Brothers
The broken and the bruised
The young and the used
The sure and confused
... Winter, U2
Saturday, January 23, 2010
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight
Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl
Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer, wand'ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus'd breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve
Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov'd by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by woman lov'd.
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite
Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgement draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song
Poison gets from slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy's foot.
The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright,
And return'd to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar's rags, fluttering in air,
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the lab'rer's hands
Shall buy and sell the miser's lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket's cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street
Shall weave old England's winding-sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse,
Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro' the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.
... William Blake
Thursday, January 21, 2010
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!
... Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud
No one's serious at seventeen.
--On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
--You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.
Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds--the town is near--
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .
--Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .
June nights! Seventeen!--Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .
The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
--And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp's pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father's starched collar. . .
Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
--And cavatinas die on your lips.
You're in love. Off the market till August.
You're in love.--Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you're bad news.
--Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!
That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
--No one's serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.
... Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
only foam trails on the sea."
... Antonio Machado
It's not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me
It's just the nearness of you
It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
It's just the nearness of you
When you're in my arms and I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams came true
I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you would only grant me the right
to hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night
The nearness of you
... Ned Washington
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
"A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out; it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept the mystery"
... John Keats, Bright Star
"Karen, I am with you because I choose to be with you. I don't want to live someone else's idea of how to live. Don't ask me to do that. I don't want to find out one day that I am at the end of someone else's life. I am willing to pay for mine - to be lonely sometimes, to die alone if I have to"
... Out Of Africa
"Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems I am trying to tell you a dream -- making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is the very essence of dreams"
"It is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence -- that which makes its truth, its meaning -- its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream -- alone"
... Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Monday, January 18, 2010
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
... Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare
"Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion. It merely intensifies it.
We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible"
... The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
“May you never steal, lie or cheat.
But if you have to steal, then steal away my sorrows.
If you have to lie, then lie with me all the nights of our life.
If you have to cheat, then cheat death because I don’t want to live a day without you”
... Leap Year
Thus, the traditional jurists operated within a self-sufficient system in which practice, hermeneutics, and positive legal doctrine were conjoined to produce the legal culture, which largely defined their world. Practice stood in a dialectical relationship with doctrine, informing it and by which it was informed. Practice also formed an integral part of interpretation and was by no means a mere tail-end of a process, a funnel through which justice was disposed. The legal practitioners and jurists constituted likewise an epistemic community, which was systematically engaged on a hermeneutical level. Their practice was both pragmatic and discursive and was the direct result of a legal tradition that bound them with the authoritative demands of doctrine and continuity. Their present was primarily the last moment pf a historical tradition, integral to and inseparable from it. When a qadi or a mufti adjudicated a case or a question, his engagement epitomized at once horizontal and vertical fields of synchronic and historic legal activity: it brought into play 1) the hermeneutical presuppositions of legal theory and methodology and the exegetical arsenal associated with it throughout centuries of refinement and evolution; 2) the principles of positive law, which had been constructed as part of the founders' authority, which in turn was seen as the founding principle of the school as a doctrinal entity; 3) the aggregate but diverse body of knowledge generated by the authoritative figures of the school in the interpretation of these principles; and 4) the reception of these interpretations by the community of jurists within the school, a reception determined by the extent of the interpretive applications in the social, mundane order.
The coming into play of these diachronic and synchronic elements was integrated into other parts of juristic and pedagogical experiences: The qadi or the mufti (or any legal professional for that matter) engaged himself, at one and the same time, in a tradition in which 1) he acquired legal education through the method of "closed texts," which, together with the ijaza (license) system, constituted a fundamentally different sort of training from that which the modern law school offered; 2) he was apprenticed, during and after his graduate study, in shari'a courts where doctrine met practice and where the imposing intellectualism of the law collided, but was always synthesized, with the reality of society and judicial practice; 3) the religious ethic was the sole dominating force and the final arbiter of legal legitimacy; 4) the entire juristic (doctrinal) and judicial enterprise was thoroughly supported by financially and administratively self-sufficient and independent institutions; and 5) the authority of the jurist was individualistic and exclusively personal (ijtihadic).
None of these elements continues to exist in the modern legal systems of Muslim countries, and what remains of the traditional system, as we have already said, are remnants of mutilated doctrine patched up in a disparate and methodologically deficient manner. Even if we submit that these remnants are faithful to the Islamic ethos as it stands nowadays - which we do not -they are, by virtue of their displacement and organic disconnection from the erstwhile dynamic and vibrant school tradition, incapable of further development and change, at least not so in a systematic and coherent manner; on the one hand, they have lost their methodological, hermeneutical, practice-based, and institutional connection with the Islamic legal tradition. If the name furu' (branches) is to be taken in any real sense, as it well may be, then their stem, through which they are literally nourished, no longer survives. On the other hand, they have been systematically alienated from the modernist legal system, and their disconnection from it is equally obvious.
To put our argument more plainly, in order to rejuvenate the entire traditional system - in its founding principles, axioms, hermeneutics, and financial, educational, and madhhab institutions - it would be required that Islamic law be more than a dead "branch." And this, in light of the intractable and well-nigh irreversible modernity and its imperatives, is a manifest impossibility. Since traditional shari'a can surely be said to have gone without return, the question that poses itself therefore is: Can a form of Islamic law be created from within or without the ruins of the old system?
... Can the Shari'ah be Restored?, Wael Hallaq
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Any understanding of the Shari’a is always the product of ijtihad, in the general sense that reasoning and reflection by human beings are ways of understanding the meanings of the Qur’an and Sunna of the Prophet. But in the process of development of Shari’a during the second and third centuries of Islam, this term was defined and limited by Muslim scholars in two ways. First, they determined that ijtihad can be exercised only in matters that are not governed by the categorical texts (nass qat’i) of the Qur’an and Sunna. This is a logical proposition, but it not only assumes that Muslims agree on which texts are relevant to a particular issue and on how to interpret those texts, but also deems that whatever consensus was achieved over these matters in the past is permanent. Second, early Muslim scholars specified detailed requirements for a person to be accepted as qualified to exercise ijtihad (mujtahid), as well as in the manner in which ijtihad can be exercised. But even the very definition of the term or qualification needed by the scholar who can exercise this role is necessarily the product of human reasoning and judgment. So why should that human process preclude subsequent reconsideration?
Determinations about whether or not any text (nass) of the Qur’an or Sunna applies to an issue, whether or not it is categorical (qat’i), and who can exercise ijtihad and how are all matters that can be decided only through human reasoning and judgment. It therefore follows that imposing prior censorship on such efforts violates the premise of how Shari’a can be derived from the Qur’an and Sunna. It is illogical to say that ijtihad cannot be exercised regarding any issue or question, because that determination itself is the product of human reasoning and reflection. It is also dangerous to limit the ability to exercise ijtihad to a restricted group of Muslims who is supposed to have specific qualities, because in practice that will depend on those human beings who set the criteria and select a person as a qualified mujtahid. To concede this authority to any institution or group, whether it is official or not is dangerous, because that power will likely be manipulated for political or other reasons. The fact that knowing and upholding Shari’a is the permanent and inescapable responsibility of every Muslim means that no human being or institution should control this process. The power to decide who is qualified to exercise ijtihad and how it is to be exercised is part of the religious belief and obligation of every Muslim. Any restriction of free debate by entrusting human beings or institutions with the authority to decide which views are to be allowed or suppressed is inconsistent with the religious nature of Shari’a itself. This reasoning is one of the main Islamic foundations I propose for safeguarding constitutionalism, human rights, and citizenship for all…
The principle of consensus apparently acted as a unifying force during the second and third centuries of Islam by drawing the substantive content of Sunni schools together, diminishing the scope of creative new thinking through ijtihad. The commonly held view is that there was a gradual decrease in the role of creative juridical reasoning (the so-called closing of the gate of ijtihad) on the assumption that Shari’a had already been fully and exhaustively elaborated. Whether there was a closing of the gate of ijtihad or not is the subject of debate among historians (Hallaq 1984). But it is clear that there has not been any change in the basic structure and methodology of Shari’a since the tenth century, although practical adaptations continued in limited scope and locations. That rigidity was probably necessary for maintaining the stability of the system during the decline, and sometimes breakdown, of the social and political institutions of Islamic societies. However, from an Islamic point of view, no human authority was or is entitled to declare that ijtihad is not permitted, though there may have been consensus on this matter among Muslims. There is nothing, therefore, to prevent the emergence of a new consensus that ijtihad should be freely exercised to meet the new needs and aspirations of Islamic societies. The purpose of the proposal presented here is to secure the political, social, and intellectual space for debate and reformation, not to prescribe a particular approach to that debate. The essentially religious nature of Shari’a and its focus on regulating the relationship between God and human believers mean that believers can neither abdicate nor delegate their responsibility. No human institution can be religious in this sense, even when it claims to apply or enforce the principles of Shari’a. In other words, the state and all its institutions are by definition secular and not religious, regardless of claims to the contrary.
... Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari'a, Abdullahi Ahmad an-Na’im
Friday, January 15, 2010
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South!
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: - do I wake or sleep?
... John Keats
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.
... John Keats (1795-1818)
All day I think about it,
then at night I say it.
"Where did I come from,
and what am I supposed to be doing?"
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere,
I'm sure of that.
began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober.
Meanwhile, I'm like a bird
from another continent, siting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear, who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me Home.
... Mevlana Rumi
Earth a flower
A phlox on the steep
slopes of light
hanging over the vast
small rotten crystals;
Earth a flower
by a gulf where a raven
flaps by once
a glimmer, a color
forgotten as all
Snow-trickle, feldspar, dirt.
... Turtle Island, Gary Snyder
Thursday, January 14, 2010
A beggar smiled at me and offered me alms,
In a dream last night, my heart sprang with delight.
His beauty and grace which shone from his tattered,
Presence took me by storm until I woke at dawn.
His poverty was riches, it covered my body in silk.
In that dream I heard the beckoning sighs of lovers.
I heard soft cries of agonized joy saying: "Take this,
Drink and be complete!" I saw before me a ring,
Jeweled in poverty and then it nested on my ear.
From the root of my surging soul a hundred tremors,
Rose as I was taken and pinned down by the surging sea.
The heaven groaned with bliss and made a beggar of me.
... Mevlana Rumi