Tuesday, August 31

bas bleu

I think he is the first poet of the age; but, if he comes to my fireside, I will teach him not only to speak prose, but to talk nonsense, if occasion be ... I would not have a poet always sit on the proud summit of the forked hill.

-- Elizabeth Montagu (on Thomas Gray) Memoirs


The predominant colors of the aurora are a pale green and a soft rose. I turned over a weathered antler once on the tundra and found these same two colors staining its white surface. Such correspondence, like that between a surfacing guillemot and an Eskimo man rolling upright in his kayak, hold a landscape together.

-- Barry Lopez Arctic Dreams

Monday, August 30

The Last Picture Show


Lois frowns at the sky as SONNY sips; she turns on radio.

LOIS: That'll be a big help if you mean to live your life in Anarene.

SONNY: I don't.

LOIS: (shakes her head) Strange to have a daughter who wouldn't go through with her wedding night. When I was her age I'd go through with just 'bout any old night.

SONNY: (sips bourbon) I guess I can't get in the Army now -- not with this eye.


Moonlight on the water; they drive into Texas again.


The car pulls up in front]

SONNY: Sure wasn't outta Texas very long.

LOIS: Well, Oklahoma's not much of an improvement.

SONNY: (sips bourbon, pauses) 'S not the same now. Nothing's really been right since Sam the Lion died.

LOIS: (starts; sadly) No it hasn't. (eyes water slightly) I get sad when I think of Sam for long. Did you know he had beautiful hands?

SONNY: I guess you liked him, didn't you? I guess everybody did.

LOIS: No, it was more than that with me, honey -- I loved him. He loved me.

Surprised, SONNY looks at her and it dawns on him.

SONNY: Are you the one he used to take swimming? Out to the tank?

LOIS: (looks at him; smiles) He told you about that, huh? Oh yeah, I was the one. (pauses) If it hadn'ta been for him, you know, I'd have missed it -- whatever it is. I'd have been one of those Amity types that think bridge is the best thing life has to offer. He's the only man I ever met who knew what I was worth. Sam the Lion. (smiles) Sam the Lion. Nobody knows where he got that name. I gave it to him -- one night. Just came to me. He was so pleased. I was twenty- two then -- can you imagine?

Looks at SONNY briefly, holding back her tears; a few spill over.

LOIS: You know something, Sonny? It's terrible only to find one man your whole life that knows what you're worth. It's just terrible -- I wouldn't be tellin' you if it wasn't. I've looked, too -- you wouldn't believe how I've looked. When Sam ... was sixty- five years old he could jus' walk into a room where I was and do more for me ... (pause) Nobody was like him. (falls silent)

SONNY: (hesitantly) Now I know why Sam liked you.

LOIS: Loved me!

SONNY: Loved you, I mean.

LOIS: Aw, do you? (looks at him, gently puts hand on his cheek) I can kinda see what he saw in you too.

She looks forward again, then back at him a moment, with a reckless smile. He looks back, curiously. Finally:

LOIS: Nope. I'll just go on home.

SONNY: Think I could learn to drink?

Throws back his head and swallows, then coughs and sputters. LOIS is amused. He hands her back the flask.

LOIS: You might. Keep practicing.

She drives away. He goes into the poolhall.

-- Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich


After a little I am taken in and put to bed. Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her: and those receive me, who quietly treat me, as one familiar and well- beloved in that home: but will not, oh, will not, not now, not ever; but will not ever tell me who I am.

-- James Agee A Death in the Family

Sunday, August 29

Como una sangre lenta (Like slow blood)

Es luz de estío (is it to summer light)
o es tu mirar (or is it your gaze)
sin tiempo (timeless)
el que me precipita (precipitating me)
hacia las gárgolas (toward gargoyles)
los arquitrabes góticos (Gothic architraves)
la espera (Is it expectancy)
o es delirio sin (or to bottomless)
fondo (delirium)
este fulgor (this glow)
de espaldas (of swords)
que me atraviesa (that pierces me)
tibio (warm)
sin rumbo (wayward)
sin memoria (without memory)
hay anhelo (There is yearning)
en la tarde (in the afternoon)
y en mi sangre (and in my blood)

-- Albalucia Angel

Translated by Agueda Pizarro

Saturday, August 28


The figure of the Real Man
standing there
one glimpse of him
and we are in love.

-- Ikkyu


Love brings the real, and not just the ideal, vision of what others are because it is a glimpse of what we are bodily. For what is ordinarily called the body is an abstraction. It is the conventional fiction of an object seen apart from its relation to the universe, without which it has no reality whatsoever. But the mysterious and unsought uprising of love is the experience of complete relationship with another, transforming our vision not only of the beloved but of the whole world.

-- Alan Watts

ineffable as it is

There is too much that can neither be written nor kept silent.

-- Tomas Transtomer

Friday, August 27


The day before yesterday, in the evening, Dinu Tatarescu came to pick us up. It was raining. We ate and slept at their apartment in Parly II. The next day we drove to Honfleur. The rain had stopped, but the sky was overcast. We visited Honfleur, then drove on. All those famous towns and beaches which I hadn't seen .... As usual, I find myself living in another time. Impossible to be more precise. The villas we pass remind me .... No, they don't remind me, but they "press" me more and more into that time which I can't identify ....

In the evening, on the highway to Paris, the rain begins again, falling harder and more stubbornly. Fortunately, I could continue my dream ....

-- Mircea Eliade Journal 26 August 1979

Enchanted Isles (The Encantadas)

"I once landed on its western side," says a sentimental voyager long ago, "where it faces the black buttress of Albemarle. I walked beneath groves of trees -- not very lofty, and not palm trees, or orange trees, or peach trees, to be sure -- but, for all that, after long seafaring, very beautiful to walk under, even though they supplied no fruit. And here, in calm spaces at the heads of glades, and on the shaded tops of slopes commanding the most quiet scenery -- what do you think I saw? Seats which might have served Brahmins and presidents of peace societies. Fine old ruins of what had once been symmetric lounges of stone and turf, they bore every mark both of artificialness and age, and were, undoubtedly, made by the Buccaneers. One had been a long sofa with back and arms, just such a sofa as the poet Gray might have loved to throw himself upon, his Crebillon in hand."

-- Salvator R. Tarnmoor (Herman Melville's pseudonym) The Piazza Tales

Thursday, August 26

Life Is a Dream

Segismund is shackled in a prison tower and has just awakened:

A dream!
That seem'd as swearable reality
As what I wake in now.

Ay -- wondrous how
Imagination in a sleeping brain
Out of the uncontingent senses draws
Sensations strong as from the real touch;
That we not only laugh aloud, and drench
With tears our pillow; but in the agony
Of some imaginary conflict, fight
And struggle -- ev'n as you did; some, 'tis thought,
Under the dreamt-of stroke of death have died.

And what so very strange too -- In that world
Where place as well as people all was strange,
Ev'n I almost as strange unto myself,
You only, you, Clotaldo -- you, as much
And palpably yourself as now you are,
Came in this very garb you ever wore,
By such a token of the past, you said,
To assure me of that seeming present.


Ay; and even told me of the very stars
You tell me here of -- how in spite of them,
I was enlarged to all that glory.

Ay, By the false spirits' nice contrivance thus
A little truth oft leavens all the false,
The better to delude us.

For you know
'Tis nothing but a dream?

Nay, you yourself
Know best how lately you awoke from that
You know you went to sleep on? --
Why, have you never dreamt the like before?

Never, to such reality.

Such dreams
Are oftentimes the sleeping exhalations
Of that ambition that lies smouldering
Under the ashes of the lowest fortune;
By which, when reason slumbers, or has lost
The reins of sensible comparison,
We fly at something higher than we are --
Scarce ever dive to lower -- to be kings,
Or conquerors, crown'd with laurel or with gold,
Nay, mounting heaven itself on eagle wings.
Which, by the way, now that I think of it,
May furnish us the key to this high flight
That royal Eagle we were watching, and
Talking of as you went to sleep last night.

Last night? Last night?

Ay, do you not remember
Envying his immunity of flight,
As, rising from his throne of rock, he sail'd
Above the mountains far into the West,
That burn'd about him, while with poising wings
He darkled in it as a burning brand
Is seen to smoulder in the fire it feeds?

-- Pedro Calderón de la Barca La Vida es Sueño (Life Is a Dream)

Translated by Edward Fitzgerald


All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception.
We must always expect things to happen in conformity with the laws of gravity, unless there is supernatural intervention.

-- Simone Weil

Wednesday, August 25


In the life of man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful. In short, all that is of the body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors; life a warfare, a brief sojourning in an alien land; and after repute, oblivion ...

Look beneath the surface, never let a thing's intrinsic quality or worth escape you ... Think often of the bond that unites all things in the universe, and their dependence upon one another. All are, as it were, interwoven ...

-- Marcus Aurelius Meditations
Translated by Maxwell Staniforth

Spirit of Place: Great Blue Heron

Out of their loneliness for each other
two reeds, or maybe two shadows, lurch
forward and become suddenly a life
lifted from dawn or the rain. It is
the wilderness come back again, a lagoon
with our city reflected in its eye.
We live by faith in such presences.

It is a test for us, that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
"If you keep faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain: heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is."

-- William Stafford

Tuesday, August 24


We went some where in space I dont know where -- I was conscious of starlight & of hearing the sea below us. You had taken the form I think of a great serpent, but I am not quite sure ... & your lips touched mine. We melted into one another till we formed only one being, a being greater than ourselves who felt all & knew all with double intensity -- the clock striking 11 broke the spell & as we separated it felt as if life was being drawn away from me through my chest with almost physical pain ... Material union is but a pale shadow compared to it.

-- Maud Gonne Letter to William Butler Yeats

Monday, August 23

chamber music

You were not in a sense the girl for whom I had dreamed and written the verses you now find so enchanting. She was perhaps (as I saw her in my imagination) a girl fashioned into a curious grave beauty by the culture of generations before her, the woman for whom I wrote poems like "Gentle Lady" or "Thou leanest to the shell of night."

... But then I saw that the beauty of your soul outshone that of my verses. There was something in you higher than anything I had put into them. And so for this reason the book of verses is for you. It holds the desire of my youth, and you, darling, were the fulfillment of that desire.

-- James Joyce Letter to Nora Joyce

Thursday, August 19


As a theorist, Freud is obviously a great thinker, but I keep going back to him again and again because of the beautiful quality of his writing. He is always rooting things back in the world, back into family relationships, back into object relationships -- a concern that becomes more and more distant in the subsequent work of Lacan, or Deleuze and Guattari. Their theories are so abstract, so disconnected, that I find as an artist there's very little there for me. As a person who works with materials, I appreciate how Freud, even when he gets way out there with his ideas about the "primal horde," creates an elaborate mythology that he still attempts to link to daily life. And beyond that, I find so much of his work resonates with my own experience.

-- Mike Kelley

Wednesday, August 18


There are seconds, they only come five or six at a time, and you suddenly feel the presence of eternal harmony, fully achieved. It is nothing earthly; not that it's heavenly, but man cannot endure it in his earthly state. One must change physically or die. The feeling is clear and indisputable. As if you suddenly sense the whole of nature and suddenly say: yes, this is true. This... this is not tenderheartedness, but simply joy.

-- Fyodor Dostoevsky Demons

the portrait

She speaks always in her own voice
Even to strangers; but those other women
Exercise their borrowed, or false voices
Even on sons and daughters.

She can walk invisibly at noon
Along the high road; but those other women
Gleam phosphorescent -- broad hips and gross fingers --
Down every lampless alley.

She is wild and innocent, pledged to love
Through all disaster; but those other women
Decry her for a witch or a common drab
And glare back when she greets them.

Here is her portrait, gazing sidelong at me,
The hair in disarray, the young eyes pleading:
'And you, love? As unlike those other men
As I those other women?'

-- R. Graves


Life is not long, and too much of it should not be spent in idle deliberation how it shall be spent: deliberation, which those who begin it by prudence, and continue it with subtilty, must, after long expence of thought, conclude by chance. To prefer one future mode of life to another, upon just reasons, requires faculties which it has not pleased our Creator to give us.

-- Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, August 17


People bring to a poem what they want. And probably not just with a poem. With anything in the world, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we used to say. And sorrow is in the eye of the beholder, probably. People always interpret a poem in terms of their own experience, which is unavoidable, and I don't think it necessarily presents a difficulty. But it's a fact. I get reactions to my poems ... because somebody has applied his or her past and judgment and imagination to a poem. And it's not the same as mine; how could it be?

-- Hayden Carruth

Monday, August 16


I wish I could take language
And fold it like cool, moist rags.
I would lay words on your forehead.
I would wrap words on your wrists.
'There, there,' my words would say —
Or something better.
I would ask them to murmur,
'Hush' and 'Shh, shhh, it's all right.'
I would ask them to hold you all night.
I wish I could take language
And daub and soothe and cool
Where fever blisters and burns,
Where fever turns yourself against you.
I wish I could take language
And heal the words that were the wounds
You have no names for.

-- Julia Margaret Cameron


Search out and seek, and wisdom will become known to you; and when you get hold of her, do not let her go. For in the end you will find the rest she gives, and she will be changed into joy for you ...

Her yoke is a golden ornament, and her bonds are a cord of blue. You will wear her like a glorious robe, you will put her on like a crown of gladness.

-- Book of Sirach

Sunday, August 15

passage (Love)

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
for you are only one thing among many,
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills --
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn't matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn't always understand.

-- Czeslaw Milosz


I care only for the judgment of men who are wise, and of women who have loved.

-- Kathleen Raine The Lion's Mouth

Saturday, August 14

Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun and three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
and that necessary

-- Margaret Atwood


Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. It has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose in half the time, and the drawback, if you do not happen to give it your full attention, of seeming to say half as much in twice the time. And, if you accept my proposition that reality is altogether different from our stale view of it, we can say that poetry is the language of reality ...

... The facts of reality are the same in the theater of poetry as they are in the theater of prose. What is different is their implication. What I am trying to say is what I have said elsewhere, that a spade is never so merely a spade as the word spade would imply. I am asking for the sudden dramatic appearance of a spade in time and space, but I am equally asking for a spade which I can dig with. I am asking --- now I come to think of it --- I am asking for both kinds of realism at once.

-- Christopher Fry BBC broadcast 1950

Love must be reinvented.

-- Arthur Rimbaud

Friday, August 13


O Julia, Julia, Cook and nifty wench,
Whose unsurpassed quenelles and hot soufflés,
Whose English, Norse and German, and whose French,
Are all beyond my piteous powers to praise-
Whose sweetly-rounded bottom and whose legs,
Whose gracious face, whose nature temperate,
Are only equaled by her scrambled eggs:
Accept from me, your ever-loving mate,
This acclamation shaped in fourteen lines
Whose inner truth belies its outer sight;
For never were there foods, nor were there wines,
Whose flavor equals yours for sheer delight.
O luscious dish! O gustatory pleasure!
You satisfy my taste-buds beyond measure.

-- Paul Child Julia's birthday 1961

It's so beautifully arranged on the plate — you know someone's fingers have been all over it.

-- Julia Child

God does not dwell in bodies that are whole.

-- Hildegard of Bingen

Thursday, August 12

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-- e.e. cummings

Wednesday, August 11

wings of desire

Angels wish they had beards
To enjoy the pleasure of the sound
of scraping the passage of time from faces
worn with sorrows, lighted with joys.
They wish too to sense the clarity of lemons
and to smell the scent of someone in love.
They want to hear a lover say,
"I will always tease your flesh."
In their airy kingdoms beyond this world,
In their beautiful indifference,
In their silent stillness,
They dream, always, their own betrayals:
To grow old and ill, even to die,
And to hear a lover say,
even once, if only once,
"I would rather lose you to another lover than to God."

-- Wim Wenders and Peter Handke

when the violin

The violin
Can forgive the past

It starts singing.

When the violin can stop
About the future

You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance

That God
Will then lean down
And start combing you into

When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by

The heart starts

-- Hafiz

Tuesday, August 10

Like Most Revelations

It is the movement that incites the form,
discovered as a downward rapture--yes,
it is the movement that delights the form,
sustained by its own velocity.And yet

it is the movement that delays the form
while darkness slows and encumbers; in fact
it is the movement that betrays the form,
baffled in such toils of ease, until

it is the movement that deceives the form,
beguiling our attention -- we supposed
it is the movement that achieves the form.
Were we mistaken?What does it matter if

it is the movement that negates the form?
Even though we give (give up) ourselves
to this mortal process of continuing,
it is the movement that creates the form.

-- Richard Howard

bonagiunta's answer

And I told him, "I am one who, when Love
Inspires me, takes note, and in the manner
That he dictates to me, I set it down."

-- Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy
Translated by James Finn Cotter

Monday, August 9

the revelation

An idle poet, here and there,
Looks round him; but for all the rest,
The world, unfathomably fair,
Is duller than a witling's jest.
Love wakes men, once a lifetime each;
They lift their heavy lids, and look;
And, lo, what one sweet page can teach,
They read with joy, then shut the book.
And some give thanks, and some blaspheme
And most forget; but, either way,
That and the Child's unheeded dream
Is all the light of all their day.

-- Coventry Patmore

Sunday, August 8


Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

-- Guillaume Apollinaire

Saturday, August 7


Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself. She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance. She is a veil, rather than a mirror. She has flowers that no forests know of, birds that no woodland possesses. She makes and unmakes many worlds, and can draw a moon from heaven with a scarlet thread. Hers are the 'forms more real than living man,' and hers the great archetypes of which things that have existence are but unfinished copies. Nature has, in her eyes, no laws, no uniformity. She can work miracles at her will, and when she calls monsters from the deep they come. She can bid the almond tree blossom in winter, and send the snow upon the ripe cornfield. At her word the frost lays its silver finger on the burning month of June, and the winged lions creep out from the hollows of the Lydian hills. The dryads peer from the thicket as she passes by, and the brown fauns smile strangely at her when she comes near them. She has hawk- faced gods that worship her, and the centaurs gallop at her side.

-- Oscar Wilde The Decay of Lying


Henri Cartier-Bresson


... so late the night waxes & so still, huddled on its hilltop under the winter stars, the little old black town sleeps. I snatch the small backwater of an hour -- of a quarter of an hour, from complications & preoccupations ... No one, at any rate, I firmly believe, squeezes more of the whole fragrance out of your exquisite work than I do. The sense & the sound, the colour & the taste, the meaning of every stroke & the felicity of every -- felicity: these things I am at home in as in the very lap of the Muse ... Don't intermit -- don't languish -- don't not do anything that ever occurs to you: for I desire & require you with the revolving season ...

-- Henry James Letter to Sarah Orne Jewett 24 December 1899

Friday, August 6

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
The midnight train is whining low,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry.

Did you ever see a robin weep,
When leaves began to die?
That means he's lost the will to live,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky.
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

-- Hank Williams

Thursday, August 5


... sometimes in doing a painting I find myself struggling, covering it up and beginning again. One part begins to be what I want, but it's not balanced with the other parts. So I begin to work with the other parts which become better than the first, and the first one has to be destroyed. All this. And then comes the time when it is finished. In spite of my uncertainty, suddenly there is a kind of satisfaction. So there is the meeting of this suffering felt when doing the work and satisfaction at the same time. That's a good moment.

-- Paul Reynard


My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

-- William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet

Wednesday, August 4

Eva Gonzalès


... We whisper with caution any reference to ‘authentic Reality’, for the linguistic philosophers might tell us that ‘reality’ is nothing more than conformity to established genres and expectations. But in T. S. Eliot’s sense of reality, of that which human kind cannot bear very much, the shift from artificiality to reality is less about straight paths, more about waking up, learning to bear the beams of Love ...

-- William Shannon Thomas Merton's Dark Path

Tuesday, August 3

such beauty

Such beauty as hurts to behold
and so gentle as salves the wound:
I am shivering though it is not cold
and dark as in a swoon.

-- Paul Goodman

via About Last Night

Monday, August 2

I can accept anything in the theatre provided it amuses me or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.

-- Noel Coward

Jules et Jim

In 1955, Francois Truffaut discovered Jules and Jim among a stall's used books, and noticed that it was the first novel of a seventy-year-old. He understood that the lightness and grace of that burning story could have come only after a very long decanting, one that went on for half a century, and from the magic of the "telegraphic style of a poet who forgot his culture and lined up the words like a laconic, stolid peasant," from whence the serial, limpid rhythm of the film. But at times Truffaut stopped a frame, transforming it into a photograph, to show that for all that vitality and spicy dash, we're seeing memories. As happens to Truffaut at other times, he begins a film believing that it will be amusing, "and along the way I notice that only sadness can save it."

-- Daria Galateria
Translated by A. K. Bierman


... If an emotion is a collection of changes in body state connected to particular mental images ... the essence of feeling an emotion is the experience of such changes in juxtaposition to the mental images that initiated the cycle. In other words, a feeling depends on the juxtaposition of an image of the body proper to an image of something else, such as the visual image of a face or the auditory image of a melody ...

-- Antonio Damasio Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain

Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may seek

not so much to be consoled as to console;
not so much to be understood as to understand;
not so much to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Heavenly Father, for the times I have failed you or others or failed myself -- I am sorry and ask your forgiveness and healing love.