Tuesday, December 31, 2013

again and again








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Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky.


–Rainer Maria Rilke








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Sunday, December 29, 2013












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Little Father



 



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I buried my father
in the sky.
Since then, the birds
clean and comb him every morning
and pull the blanket up to his chin
every night.

I buried my father underground.
Since then, my ladders
only climb down,
and all the earth has become a house
whose rooms are the hours, whose doors
stand open at evening, receiving
guest after guest
Sometimes I see past them
to the tables spread for a wedding feast.

I buried my father in my heart.
Now he grows in me, my strange son,
my little root who won’t drink milk,
little pale foot sunk in unheard-of night,
little clock spring newly wet
in the fire, little grape, parent to the future
wine, a son the fruit of his own son,
little father I ransom with my life.

—Li-Young Lee








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image via datura


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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Encounter







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We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going?
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.


–Czeslaw Milosz
translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee
 








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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

how it works








 
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Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.


–Rumi





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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Ring of Endless Light

 




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The earth will never be the same again
Rock, water, tree, iron, share this grief
As distant stars participate in the pain.
A candle snuffed, a falling star or leaf,
A dolphin death, O this particular loss
A Heaven-mourned; for if no angel cried
If this small one was tossed away as dross,
The very galaxies would have lied. 

How shall we sing our love’s song now
In this strange land where all are born to die?
Each tree and leaf and star show how
The universe is part of this one cry,
Every life is noted and is cherished,
and nothing loved is ever lost or perished.

 
Madeleine L’Engle 









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Saturday, December 21, 2013

on teaching children


 



 
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Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

–John Muir






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via saturnrising
image via datura
 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

keeping quiet, excerpt






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What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.
If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,

perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

–Pablo Neruda







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image via datura


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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mont Brevent






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O dweller in the valley, lift thine eyes
To where, above the drift of cloud, the stone
Endures in silence, and to God alone
Upturns its furrowed visage, and is wise.


There yet is being, far from all that dies,
And beauty where no mortal maketh moan,
Where larger planets swim the liquid zone,

And wider spaces stretch to calmer skies.

Only a little way above the plain Is snow eternal.
Round the mountain's knees
Hovers the fury of the wind and rain.

Look up, and teach thy noble heart to cease
From endless labour. There is perfect peace
Only a little way above thy pain.



–George Santayana




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Monday, December 16, 2013

things my son should know after I've died






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I was young once. I dug holes
near a canal and almost drowned.

I filled notebooks with words
as carefully as a hunter loads his shotgun.

I had a father also, and I came second to an addiction.

I spent a summer swallowing seeds
and nothing ever grew in my stomach.

Every woman I kissed,
I kissed as if I loved her.

My left and right hands were rivals.

After I hit puberty, I was kicked out of my parents’ house
at least twice a year. No matter when you receive this
there was music playing now.

Your grandfather isn’t
my father. I chose to do something with my life
that I knew I could fail at.

I spent my whole life walking
and hid such colorful wings.


–Brian Trimboli
from Rattle #29





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Sunday, December 15, 2013

you are more than a body














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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus







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How could I have failed you like this?
The narrator asks

The object. The object is a box
Of ashes. How could I not have saved you,

A boy made of bone and blood. A boy
Made of a mind. Of years. A hand

And paint on canvas. A marble carving.
How can I not reach where you are

And pull you back. How can I be
And you not. You’re forever on the platform

Seeing the pattern of the train door closing.
Then the silver streak of me leaving.

What train was it? The number six.
What day was it? Wednesday.

We had both admired the miniature mosaics
Stuck on the wall of the Met.

That car should be forever sealed in amber.
That dolorous day should be forever

Embedded in amber.
In garnet. In amber. In opal. In order

To keep going on. And how can it be
That this means nothing to anyone but me now.


–Mary Jo Bang








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Friday, December 13, 2013

the 4 stories we tell ourselves about death











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(not necessarily expressing the views of the blogger, but worth a listen)
 
:-)


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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Stone I died







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A stone I died and rose again a plant;

A plant I died and rose an animal;

I died an animal and was born a man.

Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?


–Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi








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via ashramof1


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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reading Aloud to My Father, excerpt






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I chose the book haphazard
from the shelf, but with Nabokov’s first
sentence I knew it wasn’t the thing
to read to a dying man:
The cradle rocks above the abyss, it began,
and common sense tells us that our existence
is but a brief crack of light
between two eternities of darkness


The words disturbed both of us immediately,
and I stopped. With music it was the same—
Chopin’s piano concerto—he asked me
to turn it off …

But to return to the cradle rocking. I think
Nabokov had it wrong. This is the abyss.
That’s why babies howl at birth,
and why the dying so often reach
for something only they can apprehend."

 

–Jane Kenyon
Poetry




 

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via wait - what?
 

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Monday, December 9, 2013

considering that ...







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We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

—Charles Bukowski






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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Naming The Stars







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This present tragedy will eventually
turn into myth, and in the mist
of that later telling the bell tolling
now will be a symbol, or, at least,
a sign of something long since lost.

This will be another one of those
loose changes, the rearrangement of
hearts, just parts of old lives
patched together, gathered into
a dim constellation, small consolation.

Look, we will say, you can almost see
the outline there: her fingertips
touching his, the faint fusion
of two bodies breaking into light.
 


–Joyce Sutphen
 








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image via largerloves
 


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Saturday, December 7, 2013

full of affection






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Full of life now, compact, visible,
I, forty years old
the eighty-third year of the States,
To one a century hence
or any number of centuries hence,
To you yet unborn these,
seeking you.

When you read these I that was visible
am become invisible,
Now it is you, compact, visible,
realizing my poems, seeking me,
Fancying how happy you were
if I could be with you
and become your comrade;

Be it as if I were with you.
(Be not too certain but I am now with you.)


–Walt Whitman







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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be.







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Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks.
We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes.
In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death.
We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion.
Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

–Joan Didion
the year of magical thinking







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image via vivre !



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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

why regret?






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Didn't you like the way the ants help
the peony globes open by eating the glue off?

Weren't you cheered to see the ironworkers
sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,
in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe
baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?

Wasn't it a revelation to waggle
from the estuary all the way up the river,
the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,
the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?

Didn't you almost shiver, hearing book lice
clicking their sexual dissonance inside an old
Webster's New International, perhaps having just
eaten out of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?

What did you imagine lies in wait anyway
at the end of a world whose sub-substance
is glaim, gleet, birdlime, slime, mucus, muck?

Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wren
and how little flesh is needed to make a song.

Didn't it seem somehow familiar when the nymph
split open and the mayfly struggled free
and flew and perched and then its own back
broke open and the imago, the true adult,
somersaulted out and took flight, seeking
the swarm, mouth-pans vestigial,
alimentary canal come to a stop,
a day or hour left to find the desired one?

Or when Casanova took up the platter
of linguine in squid's ink and slid the stuff
out the window, telling his startled companion,
"The perfected lover does not eat."

As a child, didn't you find it calming to imagine
pinworms as some kind of tiny batons
giving cadence to the squeezes and releases
around the downward march of debris?

Didn't you glimpse in the monarchs
what seemed your own inner blazonry
flapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?

Weren't you reassured to think these flimsy
hinged beings, and then their offspring,
and then their offspring's offspring, could
navigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,
to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,
by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestors
who fell in this same migration a year ago?

Doesn't it outdo the pleasures of the brilliant concert
to wake in the night and find ourselves
holding hands in our sleep?


–Galway Kinnell








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Saturday, November 30, 2013

how it works





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... we are only the rind and the leaf.
 
The great death, that each of us carries inside, is the fruit. 

Everything enfolds it. 


–Rainer Maria Rilke






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Friday, November 29, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

From Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Hamilton, 4 July 1804




 

 

 

To Elizabeth Hamilton,
New York, July 4, 1804

This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you, unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career; to begin, as I humbly hope from redeeming grace and divine mercy, a happy immortality.
If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been alone a decisive motive. But it was not possible, without sacrifices which would have rendered me unworthy of your esteem. I need not tell you of the pangs I feel, from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic lest it should unman me.

The consolations of Religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world.

Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.

Ever yours
A H

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Death





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I.


Can death be sleep, when life is but a dream,
And scenes of bliss pass as a phantom by?
The transient pleasures as a vision seem,
And yet we think the greatest pain's to die.


II.


How strange it is that man on earth should roam,
And lead a life of woe, but not forsake
His rugged path; nor dare he view alone
His future doom which is but to awake.


–John Keats








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