Tuesday, October 31, 2017

this harp of my life







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I drive down into the depth of the ocean of
forms, hoping to gain the perfect pearl of the formless.

No more sailing from harbour to harbour with this my weather-beaten boat.
The days are long passed when my sport was to be tossed on waves.

And now I am eager to die into the deathless.

Into the audience hall by the fathomless abyss where swells up the music of toneless strings I shall take this harp of my life.

I shall tune it to the notes of forever,
and, when it has sobbed out its last utterance, lay down my silent harp at the feet of the silent.



Gitanjali
Tagore translation



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Sunday, October 29, 2017

matter cannot be created or destroyed






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Wrongly do the Greeks suppose that aught begins or ceases to be;

for nothing comes into being or is destroyed;

but all is an aggregation or secretion of pre-existing things
so that all becoming might more correctly be called becoming mixed, and all corruption, becoming separate.

–Anaxagoras
circa 450 B.C.

...


We may lay it down as an incontestible axiom, that, in all the operations of art and nature, nothing is created; an equal quantity of matter exists both before and after the experiment; the quality and quantity of the elements remain precisely the same; and nothing takes place beyond changes and modifications in the combination of these elements. Upon this principle the whole art of performing chemical experiments depends: We must always suppose an exact equality between the elements of the body examined and those of the products of its analysis.

–Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier
26 August – 8 May 1794



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Saturday, October 28, 2017

real(ly





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The real does not die, the unreal never lived.
Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you,
you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment. 


The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death.


–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


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Friday, October 27, 2017

this mystery






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I've paid no attention to Your warnings:
while claiming to be an idol-breaker, I've really been an idol-maker.


Should I pay more attention to Your works or to death?

Let it be death, for death is like autumn,
and You are the root from which all leaves spring.


For years death has been beating the drum,
but only when time has fled does your ear hear.


In agony the heedless man cries from the depths of his soul,
"Alas, I am dying!" Has death only just now awakened you?


Death is hoarse from shouting:
from so many astounding blows, his drum skin has split,


but you enmeshed yourself in trivialities;
and only now do you apprehend this mystery of death.



–Rumi


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

the four ways of unreason







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Ah, open another reality to me!
I want to be like Blake, visited by angels:
I want to have visions for breakfast.
I want to meet fairies in the street!
I want to imagine myself out of this raked-together world,
This jerry-rigged civilization.
I want to live like a banner in the breeze,
Some symbol of something fluttering above something else!

Then bury me wherever you want to.
My true heart will go on keeping watch —
Sphinx-emblazoned sail —
Atop the mast of visions
In Mystery’s four winds.
North — what everybody needs
South — what everybody desires
East — where everything comes from
West — where everything ends
— The four winds of civilization’s mystic air
— The four ways of unreason, and of learning the world.


–Fernando Pessoa



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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

love letter






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October, 1946

"D'Arline

I adore you, sweetheart.

I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.

It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing.

But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.

I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.

When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.

I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.

My darling wife, I do adore you.

I love my wife. My wife is dead.

Rich.


PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address."




.
Richard Feynman, to his wife Arline,
488 days after her death

more at
brainpickings
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Sunday, October 22, 2017





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We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

And when that foghorn blows I will be coming home
And when that foghorn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic

And when that foghorn blows you know I will be coming home
And when that foghorn whistle blows I got to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float into the mystic

Come on girl
Too late to stop now


.
buffleheadcabin
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Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Piece of the Storm






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From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed. That’s all
There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
“It’s time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening.


–Mark Strand



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Friday, October 20, 2017

we are all just walking each other home –Ram Das






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Strange and beautiful
Are the stars tonight
That dance around your head
In your eyes I see that perfect world
I hope that doesn't sound too weird

And I want all the world to know
That your love's all I need
All that I need
And if we're lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we're lost
Then we are lost together

I stand before this faceless crowd
And I wonder why I bother
So much controlled by so few
Stumbling from one disaster to another

I've heard it all so many times before
It's all a dream to me now
A dream to me now
And if we're lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we're lost
Then we are lost together

In the silence of this whispered night
I listen only to your breath
And that second of a shooting star
Somehow it all makes sense

And I want all the world to know
That your love's all I need
All that I need
And if we're lost
Then we are lost together
Yea if we're lost
Then we are lost together 


.










 .



Ahead By A Century


First thing we'd climb a tree and maybe then we'd talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

And that's where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

Stare in the morning shroud and then the day began
I tilted your cloud, you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

But that's when the hornet stung me
And I had a serious dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century (this is our life)
You are ahead by a century

And disappointing you is getting me down



đź’—









Thursday, October 19, 2017

you alone






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All men have stars, but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems… 

But all these stars are silent. You-You alone will have stars as no one else has them… 

In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night...

You, only you, will have stars that can laugh! And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me… 

You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… 

It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh.


—Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry




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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

a night fragrance

 





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Now I am old enough to remember
people speaking of immortality
as though it were something known to exist
a tangible substance that might be acquired
to be used perhaps in the kitchen
every day in whatever was made there
forever after and they applied the word
to literature and the names of things
names of persons and the naming of other
things for them and no doubt they repeated
that word with some element of belief
when they named a genus of somewhat more than
a hundred species of tropical trees and shrubs
some with flowers most fragrant at night
for James Theodore Tabernaemontanus
of Heidelberg physician and botanist
highly regarded in his day over
four centuries ago immortality
might be like that with the scattered species
continuing their various evolutions
the flowers opening by day or night
with no knowledge of bearing a name
of anyone and their fragrance if it
reminds at all not reminding of him



—W.S. Merwin



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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

question





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What is it that you contain? The dead. Time. Light patterns of millennia opening in your gut. 

Every minute, in each of you, a few million potassium atoms succumb to radioactive decay. The energy that powers these tiny atomic events has been locked inside potassium atoms ever since a star-sized bomb exploded nothing into being. 

Potassium, like uranium and radium, is a long-lived radioactive nuclear waste of the supernova bang that accounts for you.

Your first parent was a star.



–Jeanette Winterson



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Sunday, October 15, 2017

you can be generous







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No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over the grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.


–Wendell Berry
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems



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Saturday, October 14, 2017

this cloud is learning





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Death has nothing to do with going away.
The sun sets, the moon sets.
But they are not gone.

–Rumi


.
Jean Marc Caimi
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Friday, October 13, 2017

sonnet






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Where it begins will remain a question
for the time being at least which is to
say for this lifetime and there is no
other life that can be this one again
and where it goes after that only one
at a time is ever about to know
though we have it by heart as one and though
we remind each other on occasion

How often may the clarinet rehearse
alone the one solo before the one
time that is heard after all the others
telling the one thing that they all tell of
it is the sole performance of a life
come back I say to it over the waters 


–W. S. Merwin
Migration


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

questions







.




You've asked me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent bell?
What is it waiting for?

I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.

You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.

You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.

You enquire about the kingfisher's feathers,
which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?
Or you've found in the cards a new question touching on
the crystal architecture of the sea anemone,
and you'll deal that to me now?
You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean spines?
The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?
The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out
in the deep places like a thread in the water?

I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the petal
hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light
and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall
from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I walked around as you do, investigating the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.


–Pablo Neruda
Robert Bly version




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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

We were together. I forget the rest.






.



We two, how long we were fool’d,
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape as Nature escapes,We are Nature, long have we been absent, but now we return,
We become plants, trunks, foliage, roots, bark,
We are bedded in the ground, we are rocks,
We are oaks, we grow in the openings side by side,We browse, we are two among the wild herds spontaneous as any,
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together,
We are what locust blossoms are, we drop scent around lanes mornings and evenings,We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals,
We are two predatory hawks, we soar above and look down,
We are two resplendent suns, we it is who balance ourselves orbic and stellar, we are as two comets,We prowl fang’d and four-footed in the woods, we spring on prey,
We are two clouds forenoons and afternoons driving overhead,
We are seas mingling, we are two of those cheerful waves rolling over each other and interwetting each other,We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,We are snow, rain, cold, darkness, we are each product and influence of the globe,We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again, we two,
We have voided all but freedom and all but our own joy.



–Walt Whitman



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Sunday, October 8, 2017

between worlds






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Between the material world and the world of feeling there must be a border - on one side, the person grieves and the cells of the body grieve also; the molecules also; the atoms. Of this there are many proofs. 

On the other, the iron will of the earth goes on. The torture-broken femur continues to heal even in the last hour, perhaps beyond; the wool coat left behind does not morn the loss of its master. 

And yet Cavafy wrote, "In me now everything is turned into feeling - furniture, streets."  And Saba found in a bleating goat his own and all beings' sorrow, and this morning the voice of that long-dead goat - which is only, after all, a few black-inked words - cries and cries in my ears.  

Rilke, too, believed the object longs to awaken in us.  But I long for the calm acceptance of a bentwood chair and envy the blue-green curve of a vase's shoulder, which holds whatever is placed within it - the living flower or the dead - with an equally tender balance, and know no difference between them.


–Jane Hirshfield
from After



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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Spell to Be Said Upon Departure







.



What was come here to do
having finished,
shelves of the water lie flat.

Copper the leaves of the doorsill,
yellow and falling.
Scarlet the bird that is singing.

Vanished the labor, here walls are.
Completed the asking.
Loosing the birds there is water.

Having eaten the pears.
Having eaten
the black figs, the white figs.
Eaten the apples.

Table be strewn.
Table be strewn with stems,
table with peelings of grapefruit and pleasure.

Table be strewn with pleasure,
what was here to be done having finished.



–Jane Hirshfield
The Lives of the Heart



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Friday, October 6, 2017

you'll only sail in circles





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Just out in the harbor
All the ships asleep
Maybe one cold watchman
Walks a lonely beat
Way out on the water
A ship is under sail
Leaving wavy starlight
And a dreamer in her trail

I wave bye bye
I pray God speed
I wish lovely weather
More luck than you need
You'll only sail in circles
So there's no need to cry
No, I'll see you again one day
And then I waved bye bye

The sailing ship reminds me
Of a certain girl
Who left a certain dreamer
To sail into the world
I've very friendly post-cards
From very far away
But they just remind me
Of a certain day
I wave bye bye
I pray God speed
I wish lovely weather
And all the luck that you need
You'll only sail in circles
So there's no need to cry
No, I'll see you again one day
And then I waved bye bye 



–Jesse Winchester 





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Thursday, October 5, 2017

To Hölderlin

 




.




We are not permitted to linger, even with what is most
intimate. From images that are full, the spirit
plunges on to others that suddenly must be filled;
there are no lakes till eternity. Here,
falling is best. To fall from the mastered emotion 
into the guessed-at, and onward.

To you, O majestic poet, to you the compelling image,
O caster of spells, was a life, entire; when you uttered it
a line snapped shut like fate, there was a death
even in the mildest, and you walked straight into it; but
the god who preceded you led you out and beyond it.

O wandering spirit, most wandering of all! How snugly
the others live in their heated poems and stay,
content, in their narrow smiles. Taking part. Only you 
move like the moon. And underneath brightens and darkens
the nocturnal landscape, the holy, the terrified landscape,
which you feel in departures. No one
gave it away more sublimely, gave it back
more fully to the universe, without any need to hold on.
Thus for years that you no longer counted, holy, you played
with infinite joy, as though it were not inside you,
but lay, belonging to no one, all around
on the gentle lawns of the earth, where the godlike children had left it.
Ah, what the greatest have longed for: you built it, free of desire,
stone upon stone, till it stood.  And when it collapsed,
even then you weren't bewildered.

Why, after such an eternal life, do we still
mistrust the earthly?  Instead of patiently learning from transience
the emotions for what future
slopes of the heart, in pure space?


–Rainer Maria Rilke
from Uncollected Poems
Stephen Mitchell translation




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