If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water
-- T.S. Eliot, in "What the Thunder Said" (from The Waste Land)
The Waste Land
T.S. Eliot reading The Waste Land (audio)
Hermit thrush (including audio file of its song and call)
Monday, July 31
If there were water
Posted by rb at 7/31/2006
Sunday, July 30
Adam: There is a voice in the garden that tells me things.
Eve: The garden is full of voices sometimes. They put all sorts of thoughts into my head.
Adam: To me there is only one voice. It is very low; but it is so near that it is like a whisper from within myself. There is no mistaking it for any voice of the birds or beasts, or for your voice.
Eve: It is strange that I should hear voices from all sides and you only one from within. But I have some thoughts that come from within me and not from the voices. The thought that we must not cease to be comes from within.
-- George Bernard Shaw In the Beginning
Posted by rb at 7/30/2006
Thursday, July 27
J’avais beaucoup ramé, d’un grand geste net assoupi, les yeux au-dedans fixés sur l’entier oubli d’aller, comme le rire de l’heure coulait alentour. Tant d’immobilité paressait que frôlé d’un bruit inerte où fila jusqu’à moitié la yole, je ne vérifiai l’arrêt qu’a l’éticellement stable d’initiales sur les avirons mis à nu, qui me rappela à mon identité mondaine.
I had been rowing for a long time with a sweeping, rhythmical, drowsy stroke, my eyes within me fastened upon my utter forgetfulness of motion, while the laughter of the hour flowed round about. Immobility dozed everywhere so quietly that, when I was suddenly brushed by a dull sound which my boat half ran into, I could tell that I had stopped only by the quiet glittering of initials on the lifted oars. Then I was recalled to my place in the world of reality.
Qu’arrivait-il, où étais-je?
What was happening? Where was I?
II fallut, pour voir clair en l’aventure, me rémemore mon départ tôt, ce juillet de flamme, sur l’intervalle entre ses vegetations dormantes d’un toujours étroit et distrait ruisseau, en quête des floraisons d’eau et avec un dessein de reconnaître l’emplacement occupé par propriété de l’amie d’une amie, à qui je devais improvisé un bonjour. Sans que le ruban d’aucune herbe me retînt devant un paysage plus que l’autre chassé avec son reflet en l’onde par le même impartial coup de rame, je venais échouer dans quelque touffe de roseaux, terme mystérieux de ma course, au milieu de la rivière: où tout suite élargie en fluvial bosquet, elle étale un nonchaloir d’étang plissé des hésitations à partir qu’à une source.
To see to the bottom of my adventure I had to go back to my early departure, in that flaming July, through the rapid opening and sleeping vegetation of an ever narrow and absent-minded stream, my search for aquatic flowers, and my intention of reconnoitering an estate belonging to the friend of a friend, to whom I would pay my respects as best I could. No ribbon of grass had held me near any special landscape; all were left behind, along with their reflections in the water, by the same impartial stroke of my oars; and I had just now run aground on a tuft of reeds, the mysterious end of my travels, in the middle of the river. There, the river broadens out into a watery thicket and quietly displays the elegance of a pool, rippling like the hesitation of a spring before it gushes forth.
-- Stéphane Mallarmé, from 'Le Nénuphar Blanc,' ('The White Water-Lily')
Translated by Bradford Cook and Kevin Regalbuto
'The White Water-Lily' in Janus Literary Journal
Posted by rb at 7/27/2006
Tuesday, July 25
tell me, is it the fog or is it me?
show a country, speak of a culture, in whatever way,
and you'll enter into fiction while yearning for invisibility
and the formation of identity
the skill of behaviour, the craft of framing time, the art of paths
why travel, I would say, if not to be in touch with the ordinary in non-ordinary ways; to feel and think ordinarily while experiencing what can later become the extra-ordinary in an ordinary frame
start in a room sealed with darkness
and a door or a window immediately etches itself onto the viewer's mind
again, it's that unbearable fellow
traveller who won't stay behind,
whom one cannot get rid of
opening at dawn, closing at dusk
sorrows forming and falling away
like drops of water from a lotus leaf
every day from a blossoming lotus
every day from deep in the mud
someone's being reborn
nothing is natural, for the natural in its most natural is carefully created
in the matted room
a solitary painting
barely line, barely shape
that frail shadow
of a bodhisattva
shading its human frame
-- Trinh T. Minh-ha, excerpts from The Fourth Dimension
Trinh T. Minh-ha
about The Fourth Dimension
Posted by rb at 7/25/2006
Saturday, July 22
Tuesday, July 18
I like to stand on my beach, watching a long wave start breaking in many places, and see the curling water run north and south from the several beginnings, and collide in furious white pyramids built of the opposing energies. Splendid fountains often delight the eye. A towering and deep-bellied wave, toppling, encloses in its volute a quantity of air, and a few seconds after the spill this prisoned and compressed vapour bursts up through the boiling rush in feathery, foamy jets and geyser plumes.
-- Henry Beston The Outermost House
Posted by rb at 7/18/2006
Monday, July 17
At two, Victor did not make little spiral scribbles to express buttons or portholes, as a million tots do, why not you? Lovingly he made his circles perfectly round and perfectly closed. A three-year-old child, when asked to copy a square, shapes one recognizable corner and then is content to render the rest of the outline as wavy or circular; but Victor at three not only copied the researcher's (Dr. Liza Wind's) far from ideal square with contemptuous accuracy but added a smaller one beside the copy. He never went through that initial stage of graphic activity when infants draw Kopffüsslers (tadpole people), or humpty dumpties with L-like legs, and arms ending in rake prongs; in fact, he avoided the human form altogether and when pressed by Papa (Dr. Eric Wind) to draw Mama (Dr. Liza Wind), responded with a lovely undulation, which he said was her shadow on the new refrigerator. At four, he evolved an individual stipple. At five, he began to draw objects in perspective -- a side wall nicely foreshortened, a tree dwarfed by distance, one object half masking another. And at six, Victor already distinguished what so many adults never learn to see -- the colors of shadows, the difference in tint between the shadow of an orange and that of a plum or of an avocado pear.
To the Winds, Victor was a problem child insofar as he refused to be one . . .
-- Vladimir Nabokov Pnin
Posted by rb at 7/17/2006
Saturday, July 15
We went to Laguna with the children and that night, Saturday, took a basket of food and piles of old coats to the cove north of Emerald Bay, where there is a deserted camp. Cliffward from a beached log, we made a little pit, and Dave threw down jagged stones for Al to line it with. Later, one stone exploded three times, showing its scar very white in the coals and blackness. Noni and I picked up wood, which lay untidily against the rocks under the point of land near our log and our fire. When we had deep coals, we broiled steak and put it into buttered round buns. I liked mine better in my fingers, hot and dripping and tasting delicately of wood and smoke as only broiled beef can. Just before the steaks were done, there was that still moment of no color, when all the things and the sky and all the hills seem to exist in some other way than the one we suppose. Then we saw Venus, and then two others -- stars they were, though . . .
-- M.F.K. Fisher Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me
Posted by rb at 7/15/2006
Friday, July 14
Remember what it was like to be sung to sleep. If you are fortunate, the memory will be more recent than childhood. The repeated lines of words and music are like paths. These paths are circular and the rings they make are linked together like those of a chain. You walk along these paths and are led by them in circles which lead from one to the other, further and further away. The field upon which you walk and upon which the chain is laid is the song.
-- John Berger About Looking
Posted by rb at 7/14/2006
Thursday, July 13
Maximus, to himself
I have had to learn the simplest things
last. Which made for difficulties.
Even at sea I was slow, to get the hand out, or to cross
a wet deck.
The sea was not, finally, my trade.
But even my trade, at it, I stood estranged
from that which was most familiar. Was delayed,
and not content with the man's argument
that such postponement
is now the nature of
that we are all late
in a slow time,
that we grow up many
And the single
is not easily
It could be, though the sharpness (the achiote)
I note in others,
makes more sense
than my own distances. The agilities
they show daily
who do the world's
And who do nature's
as I have no sense
I have done either
I have made dialogues,
have discussed ancient texts,
have thrown what light I could, offered
But the known?
This, I have had to be given,
a life, love, and from one man
But sitting here
I look out as a wind
and water man, testing
I know the quarters
of the weather, where it comes from,
where it goes. But the stem of me,
this I took from their welcome,
or their rejection, of me
And my arrogance
was neither diminished
by the communication
It is undone business
I speak of, this morning,
with the sea
from my feet
-- Charles Olson
Charles Olson Home Page
Posted by rb at 7/13/2006
Tuesday, July 11
I was not light myself, I knew that, but I bathed in it as an element which blindness had suddenly brought much closer. I could feel light rising, spreading, resting on objects, giving them form, then leaving them.
-- Jacques Lusseyran And There Was Light
Translated by Elizabeth R. Cameron
Posted by rb at 7/11/2006
Monday, July 10
Saturday, July 8
What is more beautiful than night
and someone in your arms
that's what we love about art
it seems to prefer us and stays
if the moon or a gasping candle
sheds a little light or even dark
you become a landscape in a landscape
with rocks and craggy mountains
and valleys full of sweaty ferns
breathing and lifting into the clouds
which have actually come low
as a blanket of aspirations' blue
for once not a melancholy color
because it is looking back at us
there's no need for vistas we are one
in the complicated foreground of space
the architects are most courageous
because it stands for all to see
and for a long time just as
the words "I'll always love you"
impulsively appear in the dark sky
and we are happy and stick by them
like a couple of painters in neon allowing
the light to glow there over the river
-- Frank O'Hara
A Frank O'Hara Exhibit
Posted by rb at 7/08/2006
Friday, July 7
An excess of childhood is the germ of a poem . . . From poetic reverie, inspired by some great spectacle of the world to childhood reverie, there is a commerce of grandeur. And that is why childhood is at the origin of the greatest landscapes. Our childhood solitudes have given us the primitive immensities . . . The child sees everything big and beautiful. The reverie toward childhood returns us to the beauty of the first images.
-- Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Reverie
Translated by Daniel Russell
Posted by rb at 7/07/2006