Tuesday, March 31, 2015

a better place to die








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Monday, March 30, 2015

blessing





 
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Her life closed in a gentle dream—may she wake as kindly in the other world!
 
–Emily Bronte,
Wuthering Heights




Sunday, March 29, 2015

Stationary Point







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I would know nothing, dream nothing:
who will teach my non-being
how to be, without striving to be?

How can the water endure it?

What sky have the stones dreamed?

Immobile, until those migrations
delay at their apogee
and fly on their arrows
toward the cold archipelago.

Unmoved in its secretive life,
like an underground city,
so the days may glide down
like ungraspable dew:

nothing fails, or shall perish,
until we be born again,
until all that lay plundered
be restored with the tread
of the springtime we buried—
the unceasingly stilled, as it lifts
itself out of non-being, even now,
to be flowering bough.


–Pablo Neruda
Voyages and Homecomings, 1959





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Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Ancients of the World








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The salmon lying in the depths of Llyn Llifon
Secretly as a thought in a dark mind,
Is not so old as the owl of Cwm Cowlyd
Who tells her sorrow nightly on the wind.

The ousel singing in the woods of Cilgwri,
Tirelessly as a stream over the mossed stones,
Is not so old as the toad of Cors Fochno
Who feels the cold skin sagging round his bones.
The toad and the ousel and the stag of Rhedynfre,
That has cropped each leaf from the tree of life,
Are not so old as the owl of Cwm Cowlyd,
That the proud eagle would have to wife.


–R. S. Thomas




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Friday, March 27, 2015

)






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Zen teacher Issan Dorsey, who established the Maitri Hospice in San Francisco,
was on his deathbed when one of his closest friends came to visit him.

“I’m going to miss you,” the friend said.

“I’m going to miss you, too,” responded Issan. He was silent for a moment.
Then he asked, “Are you going somewhere?”

–Sean Murphy
One Bird, One Stone



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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Red Glove Thrown in a Rosebush







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If our bodies weren’t so beautiful.
Even rabbits are made of firecrackers
so tiny they tickle your hand.
If only the infirmities,
blocked neural pathways, leg braces
and bandages didn’t make all these bodies
look like they’re dancing.

Breathing will destroy us, hearts
like ninja stars stuck into the sternums
of granite caesars. Should I worry
people have stopped saying how skinny
and pale I am? Paul may destroy the kitchen
but he’s the best cook I know.

Seared tuna, pesto risotto – where
did he get those tomatoes? –what a war
must be fought for simplicity!
Even the alligator, flipped over,
is soft as an eyelid. Hans, the trapezist,
got everyone high on New Year’s Eve
with a single joint, the girl he was with
a sequin it was impossible not to want
to try to catch without a net.

Across the bay, fireworks punched
luminous bruises in the fog.
If only my body wasn’t borrowed from dust!


–Dean Young
Bender: New and Selected Poems




.
David Chambon
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

dissolved







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I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy.
Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.
At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.


—Willa Cather
from My Antonia





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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

to whom are we beautiful as we go?








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I wish I understood the beauty
in leaves falling. To whom
are we beautiful
as we go?
I lie in the field
still, absorbing the stars
and silently throwing off
their presence. Silently
I breathe and die
by turns.

He was ripe
and fell to the ground
from a bough
out where the wind
is free
of the branches.


–David Ignatow
Against the Evidence: selected poems





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Monday, March 23, 2015

What Hurts the Soul?







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We tremble, thinking we're about to dissolve
into non-existence, but non-existence fears
even more that it might be given human form!

Loving God is the only pleasure.
Other delights turn bitter.
 
What hurts the soul?
To live without tasting
the water of its own essence.

People focus on death and this material earth.
They have doubts about soul-water.
Those doubts can be reduced!

Use night to wake your clarity.
Darkness and the living water are lovers.
Let them stay up together.

When merchants eat their big meals and sleep
their dead sleep, we night-thieves go to work.


–Rumi
Mathnawi I: 3684-3692
Coleman Barks version
Say I Am You





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Sunday, March 22, 2015

if you come






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At the end of my life,
with just one breath left,
if you come,
I’ll sit up and sing.


–Rumi




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Saturday, March 21, 2015

from Afterword








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Shall I be raised from death, the spirit asks.
And the sun says yes.
And the desert answers
your voice is sand scattered in wind.



–Louise Glück



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Friday, March 20, 2015

Are You a Mere Picture?







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Are you a mere picture, and not as true as those stars, true as
this dust? They throb with the pulse of things, but you are
immensely aloof in your stillness, painted form. 
The day was when you walked with me, your breath warm, your
limbs singing of life. My world found its speech in your voice, and
touched my heart with your face. You suddenly stopped in your walk,
in the shadow-side of the Forever, and I went on alone.

Life, like a child, laughs, shaking its rattle of death as it
runs; it beckons me on, I follow the unseen; but you stand there,
where you stopped behind that dust and those stars; and you are a
mere picture.
No, it cannot be. Had the life-flood utterly stopped in you,
it would stop the river in its flow, and the foot-fall of dawn in
her cadence of colours. Had the glimmering dusk of your hair
vanished in the hopeless dark, the woodland shade of summer would
die with its dreams.
Can it be true that I forgot you? We haste on without heed, forgetting the flowers on the roadside hedge. Yet they breathe unaware into our forgetfulness, filling it with music. You have moved from my world, to take seat at the root of my life, and therefore is this forgetting-remembrance lost in its own depth.
You are no longer before my songs, but one with them. You came
to me with the first ray of dawn. I lost you with the last gold of
evening. Ever since I am always finding you through the dark. No,
you are no mere picture.


–Rabindranath Tagore
Lover’s Gifts XLII





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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Wish to be Generous






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All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man’s evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.


–Wendell Berry





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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

And Am I Born to Die







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And am I born to die
To lay this body down
And must my trembling spirit fly
Into a world unknown

A land of deepest shade
Unpierced by human thought
The dreary region's of the dead
Where all things are forgot

Soon as from Earth I go
What will become of me
Eternal happiness or woe
Must then my portion be













Monday, March 16, 2015

A Note Left on the Door








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There are these: the blue
skirts of the ocean walking in now, almost
to the edge of town,
and a thousand birds, in their incredible wings
which they think nothing of, crying out
that the day is long, the fish are plentiful.


And friends, being as kind as friends can be,
striving to lift the darkness.
Forgive me, Lord of honeysuckle, of trees,
of notebooks, of typewriters, of music,
that there are also these:
the lover, the singer, the poet
asleep in the shadows.

—Mary Oliver
Thirst




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Saturday, March 14, 2015

clouds


 




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I’d have to be really quick
to describe clouds -
a split second’s enough
for them to start being something else.

Their trademark:
they don’t repeat a single
shape, shade, pose, arrangement.

Unburdened by memory of any kind,
they float easily over the facts.

What on earth could they bear witness to?
They scatter whenever something happens.

Compared to clouds,
life rests on solid ground,
practically permanent, almost eternal.

Next to clouds
even a stone seems like a brother,
someone you can trust,
while they’re just distant, flighty cousins.

Let people exist if they want,
and then die, one after another:
clouds simply don't care
what they're up to
down there.

And so their haughty fleet
cruises smoothly over your whole life
and mine, still incomplete.

They aren't obliged to vanish when we're gone.
They don't have to be seen while sailing on. 


–Wisława Szymborska
Stanislaw Baranczak/Clare Cavanagh translation






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Friday, March 13, 2015

Soil






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Dark, moist, wonder in my hand,
Living, breathing, nurse of seed,

Foundation of all,

How many dead leaves have you known?

How many men?


The peace you must have known,
Having flown as a bird,
Leaped as a frog,
Thought as a man,
Loved as a woman.


Eternal life or living dead,
When I am to be set among you,
Cast my ash with the wildest of daisies.



–Richard H. Goodman
















Thursday, March 12, 2015

beauty


 





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How can we ever know the difference we make to the soul of the earth? Where the infinite stillness of the earth meets the passion of the human eye, invisible depths strain towards the mirror of the name.
In the word, the earth breaks silence. It has waited a long time for the word. Concealed beneath familiarity and silence, the earth holds back and it never occurs to us to wonder how the earth sees us. Is it not possible that a place could have huge affection for those who dwell there?

Perhaps your place loves having you there. It misses you when you are away and in its secret way rejoices when you return. Could it be possible that a landscape might have a deep friendship with you? That it could sense your presence and feel the care you extend towards it? Perhaps your favorite place feels proud of you.

We tend to think of death as a return to clay, a victory for nature. But maybe it is the converse: that when you die, your native place will fill with sorrow. It will miss your voice, your breath and the bright waves of your thought, how you walked through the light and brought news of other places.
Perhaps each day our lives undertake unknown tasks on behalf of the silent mind and vast soul of nature. During its millions of years of presence perhaps it was also waiting for us, for our eyes and our words. Each of us is a secret envoi of the earth.


–John O'Donohue
Beauty: Rediscovering the True Source of Compassion, Serenity and Hope

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bow and Arrow







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Monday, March 9, 2015

Acceptance






 
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When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
And goes down burning into the gulf below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened. Birds, at least must know
It is the change to darkness in the sky.
Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
One bird begins to close a faded eye;
Or overtaken too far from his nest,
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night bee too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be.'


–Robert Frost




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Sunday, March 8, 2015

from Talking into the Ear of a Donkey



 





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So many blessings have been given to us
During the first distribution of light, that we are
Admired in a thousand galaxies for our grief.


Don't expect us to appreciate creation or to
Avoid mistakes. Each of us is a latecomer
To the earth, picking up wood for the fire.


Every night another beam of light slips out
From the oyster's closed eye. So don't give up hope
that the door of mercy may still be open. 


Seth and Shem, tell me, are you still grieving
Over the spark of light that descended with no
Defender near into the Egypt of Mary's womb? 


It's hard to grasp how much generosity
Is involved in letting us go on breathing,
When we contribute nothing valuable but our grief.


Each of us deserves to be forgiven, if only for
Our persistence in keeping our small boat afloat
When so many have gone down in the storm.



–Robert Bly




Saturday, March 7, 2015

question








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And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality,
when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end,
when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity,
then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing:
whether you have lived in despair or not.


—Søren Kierkegaard
The Sickness Unto Death, 1849





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Friday, March 6, 2015

after








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After great pain, a formal feeling comes—

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—


—Emily Dickinson




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Thursday, March 5, 2015

voices







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Ideal and beloved voices
of those who are dead, or of those
who are lost to us like the dead.

Sometimes they speak to us in our dreams;
sometimes in thought the mind hears them.

And with their sound for a moment return
other sounds from the first poetry of our life —
like distant music that dies off in the night.



–Constantine P. Cavafy





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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Will The Circle Be Unbroken






gorgeous







from Gathering by the River




 




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and when our bodies rise again,

they will be wildflowers, then rabbits,

then wolves singing a perfect love

to the beautiful, meaningless moon.


–Philip Appleman





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largerloves
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