Thursday, June 30, 2011

ars poetica

Reliquary with skull of Mary Magdalene

in time of daffodils(who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why,remember how

in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so(forgetting seem)

in time of roses(who amaze
our now and here with paradise)
forgetting if,remember yes

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)

and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me

~ e.e. cummings - in time of daffodils

Monday, June 27, 2011

ars poetica

Oh, there are times 

When all this fret and tumult that we hear

 Do seem more stale than to the sexton’s ear

His own dull chimes. 

Ding dong! ding dong!

The world is in a simmer like a sea
Over a pent volcano,—woe is me
All the day long!
From crib to shroud!
Nurse o’er our cradles screameth lullaby,
And friends in boots tramp round us as we die,
Snuffling aloud.
At morning’s call
The small-voiced pug-dog welcomes in the sun,
And flea-bit mongrels, wakening one by one,
Give answer all.
When evening dim
Draws round us, then the lonely caterwaul,
Tart solo, sour duet, and general squall,—
These are our hymn.
Women, with tongues
Like polar needles, ever on the jar;
Men, plugless word-spouts, whose deep fountains are
Within their lungs.
Children, with drums
Strapped round them by the fond paternal ass;
Peripatetics with a blade of grass
Between their thumbs.
Vagrants, whose arts
Have caged some devil in their mad machine,
Which grinding, squeaks, with husky groans between,
Come out by starts.
Cockneys that kill
Thin horses of a Sunday,—men, with clams,
Hoarse as young bisons roaring for their dams
From hill to hill.
Soldiers, with guns,
Making a nuisance of the blessed air,
Child-crying bellman, children in despair,
Screeching for buns.
Storms, thunders, waves!
Howl, crash, and bellow till ye get your fill;
Ye sometimes rest; men never can be still
But in their graves.
~ Daily Trials by a Sensitive Man ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 1809–1894

the blessed and the damned

Girolamo Savonarola
b. 21st September 1452
executed 23rd May 1498
depicted as St. Peter Martyr by Fra Bartolomea
San Marco Monastery, Florence

ars poetica

I am the only being whose doom
 No tongue would ask, no eye would mourn;
 I never caused a thought of gloom,
 A smile of joy, since I was born.
In secret pleasure, secret tears,
 This changeful life has slipped away,
 As friendless after eighteen years,
 As lone as on my natal day.
There have been times I cannot hide,
 There have been times when this was drear,
 When my sad soul forgot its pride
 And longed for one to love me here.
But those were in the early glow
 Of feelings since subdued by care;
 And they have died so long ago,
 I hardly now believe they were.
First melted off the hope of youth,
 Then fancy’s rainbow fast withdrew;
 And then experience told me truth
 In mortal bosoms never grew.
’Twas grief enough to think mankind
 All hollow, servile, insincere;
 But worse to trust to my own mind
 And find the same corruption there
~ Emily Jane Brontë 1818–1848

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas

vanity of vanities, all is vanity...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


A woman who was beautiful
one day
removed her face
her head became smooth
blind and deaf
safe from the snares of mirrors
and from looks of love
amid the reeds of the sun
her head hatched by a sparrowhawk
could not be found
secrets much more beautiful
for not having been said
words not written
steps erased
nameless ashes flown away
without marble plaque
desecrating memory
so many wings to break
before nightfall.

~ Alice Paalen ~ A Woman Who Was Beautiful

quoth the madman

“I myself, from the very beginning,
Seemed to myself like someone’s dream or delirium
Or a reflection in someone else’s mirror,
Without flesh, without meaning, without a name.
Already I knew the list of crimes
That I was destined to commit.

— Anna Akhmatova (1901-1966)

adult contemporary

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

quoth the madman

In spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody. The essential substance of every thought and feeling remains incommunicable, locked up in the impenetrable strong-room of the individual soul and body. Our life is a sentence of perpetual solitary confinement.
~ Aldous Huxley

ars poetica

The House of Death ` William Blake, 1795/c. 1805

Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor,
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.

And mutual fear brings Peace,
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.

He sits down with holy fears,
And waters the ground with tears;
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.

Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head,
And the caterpillar and fly
Feed on the Mystery.

And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat,
And the raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade.

The gods of the earth and sea
Sought through nature to find this tree,
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the human Brain.

~The Human Abstract ~ From “Songs of Experience” ~ William Blake ~ 1794


In a hundred years
a million dreams disappear
like tears in the rain

ars poetica

Pain -- expands the Time --
Ages coil within
The minute Circumference
Of a single Brain --

Pain contracts -- the Time --
Occupied with Shot
Gamuts of Eternities
Are as they were not --

~ Emily Dickinson

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ars poetica

Then Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

~ Death XXVII  ~ Khalil Gibran


Saturday, June 18, 2011


Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.

— Tibetan Book of the Dead

ars poetica

And this is what is left of youth! . . .
There were two boys, who were bred up together,
Shared the same bed, and fed at the same board;
Each tried the other’s sport, from their first chase,
Young hunters of the butterfly and bee,
To when they followed the fleet hare, and tried
The swiftness of the bird. They lay beside
The silver trout stream, watching as the sun
Played on the bubbles: shared each in the store
Of either’s garden: and together read
Of him, the master of the desert isle,
Till a low hut, a gun, and a canoe,
Bounded their wishes. Or if ever came
A thought of future days, ’twas but to say
That they would share each other’s lot, and do
Wonders, no doubt. But this was vain: they parted
With promises of long remembrance, words
Whose kindness was the heart’s, and those warm tears,
Hidden like shame by the young eyes which shed them,
But which are thought upon in after-years
As what we would give worlds to shed once more.
They met again, — but different from themselves,
At least what each remembered of themselves:
The one proud as a soldier of his rank,
And of his many battles: and the other
Proud of his Indian wealth, and of the skill
And toil which gathered it; each with a brow
And heart alike darkened by years and care.
They met with cold words, and yet colder looks:
Each was changed in himself, and yet each thought
The other only changed, himself the same.
And coldness bred dislike, and rivalry
Came like the pestilence o’er some sweet thoughts
That lingered yet, healthy and beautiful,

Amid dark and unkindly ones. And they,
Whose boyhood had not known one jarring word,
Were strangers in their age: if their eyes met,
’Twas but to look contempt, and when they spoke,
Their speech was wormwood! . . .
. . . And this, this is life!

Change ~ Letitia Elizabeth Landon 1802–1838

ars poetica

In one version you must convince every living thing one by one
to weep until he climbs back into the marriage-house,
that earth about which it is said that bread is the glue of the earth.
Certainly glue is money, the phrase “the tears of things” is money,
the revelation of the Woman Clothed in the Sun is money.
The lake is a disc of bright money buying a few plain birds down,
they climb back nervously as you hurry through, plain birds like a
plain song,
that moment when four or five are around your knees
like Zeno’s arrow, rising by halves, like Eurydice’s bread,
& still the possibility they might intersect,
you would be the one who was struck by a flying bird,
somewhere between a blesséd fool & village idiot,
the only one to persist outside the local economy,
drooling at travelers, holding yourself, slinging incomprehensible
you would learn the trick with museum wire
where you snap the heads off quiet animals in front of the store,
tempted equally by science & dirty work. . . .
I am trying to invent a way for you to buy me back—

~Orchid & Eurydice ~ Joshua Clover b. 1962

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Without Ceres and Bacchus Venus Would Freeze, ca. c. 1600 - 1603, by Hendrick Goltzius

“Did you ever, in that wonderland wilderness of adolescence ever, quite unexpectedly, see something, a dusk sky, a wild bird, a landscape, so exquisite terror touched you at the bone? And you are afraid, terribly afraid the smallest movement, a leaf, say, turning in the wind, will shatter all? That is, I think, the way love is, or should be: one lives in beautiful terror."
—Truman Capote, Too brief a treat: the letters of Truman Capote

ars poetica

“We can never know
He answered me like the stillness of a star
That silences us asking

We are and that is all our answer
We are and what we are can suffer
what suffers loves.

And love
Will live its suffering again,
Risk its own defeat again,
Endure the loss of everything again
And yet again and yet again
In doubt, in dread, in ignorance, unanswered,
Over and over, with the dark before,
The dark behind it… and still live… still love

—Archibald MacLeish, J.B.

ars poetica

‘I Am Half-Sick of Shadows,’ Said the Lady of Shalott, by Sidney Harold Meteyard, 1913
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower'd Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

~ The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson

quoth the madman

The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.
— Thomas Carlyle