Monday, July 30
You pillars of light mournful and beautiful,
sowing the ocean with statues and necklaces,
calcareous eye, eidolon of opening water, cry
of petrel's bereavement, sea tooth, Oceanic
bride of the wind―O separate rose cut
from the rose tree, stripped petal by petal
till a sea change was wrought and all was
archipelago, green diadem, natural star,
alone in your dynasty's solitude
inapprehensible to the last, elusive, abandoned,
like a waterdrop falling, like a grape, like a sea.
-- Pablo Neruda
Translated by Ben Belitt
Posted by rb at 7/30/2007
Sunday, July 29
It may not be the same, what we appear
to thrive or slow or fade in, though across
its white expanses steadily we stare;
the only common element it has
is loss, and it may differ in the terms
it gives it. And it thickens with the days,
thins in the night as if it more than seems
a carbon thing, afflicted, prone to what?
To us, as if obscurely hopes or harms
can come to it, as if it walks the street
in love, abashed, abused, as if it, too,
expands to wonder at the point of it,
contracts to desperation in the blue
morning, helplessly expands anew.
-- Glyn Maxwell
via The New Yorker
Posted by rb at 7/29/2007
Saturday, July 28
It seems to me that almost every artist finds some subdivision of nature or experience more congenial to his temperament than any other. To me it has been the sea―or rather those regions adjacent to the sea―beaches, dunes, swampy coasts . . .
There is another aspect of an artist's choice of his subject matter which I think could be profitably explored. It is that I believe he is affectively related to certain forms and designs. I believe his choice is channeled by the compulsion to find an objective vehicle for inward plastic images. I certainly do not know why, but I am stirred by certain geometrical relationships, certain rectangular forms and arabesques out of which grow particular harmonies and rhythms. In deciding what subject I shall paint I am irresistibly drawn to objects which contain the skeleton of this type of plastic structure. Whether I am spending the summer on Barnegat Bay or on Cape Cod or merely sketching along the Harlem River, I somehow contrive to find the exact set of lines and contours which this inner appetite demands.
-- Julian Levi, from "Before Paris and After" in Magazine of Art December 1940
Posted by rb at 7/28/2007
Thursday, July 26
Love is the last element of form which takes us to the formless, a quality of the mind which reflects the nature of the heart and is the essential connection between the two. When love fills the mind, it opens into the heart.
-- Stephen Levine Healing into Life and Death
Posted by rb at 7/26/2007
Thursday, July 19
Wednesday, July 18
In the mountains of Wyoming
A trout looks up through the roof
Water makes. Feathers, fur, a fine
Thread of invisible chord skirt
The surface, and the trout's mind
Makes the sign for fly. Who knows
How this is done? Whether the trout
Sees the flit, the flicker on water
And recalls the brief satisfaction
Of air, the knot of legs,
Wings that collapse? And so
It leaps with its whole body.
Inveterate. And your biceps
Tighten, don't they? For a moment
You become the fish―pure muscle,
Desire tethered to desire. A stone
Skipped across this same river.
You tug back, sink the hook.
-- Tracy K. Smith, lines from "Astral" in duende
Tracy K. Smith
Posted by rb at 7/18/2007
Tuesday, July 17
Monday, July 16
That everything is transitory is merely a simile. Everything we see is a proposal, a possibility, an expedient. The real truth, to begin with, remains invisible beneath the surface. The colors that captivate us are not lighting, but light. The graphic universe consists of light and shadow. The diffused clarity of slightly overcast weather is richer in phenomena than a sunny day. A thin stratum of cloud just before the stars break through. It is difficult to catch and represent this, because the moment is so fleeting. It has to penetrate into our soul. The formal has to fuse with the Weltanschauung ...
We investigate the formal for the sake of expression and of the insights into our soul which are thereby provided. Philosophy, so they say, has a taste for art; at the beginning I was amazed at how much they saw. For I had only been thinking about form, the rest of it had followed by itself. An awakened awareness of "the rest of it" has helped me greatly since then and provided me with greater variability in creation. I was even able to become an illustrator of ideas again, now that I had fought my way through formal problems. And now I no longer saw any abstract art. Only abstraction from the transitory remained. The world was my subject, even though it was not the visible world.
-- Paul Klee The Diaries of Paul Klee ed. Felix Klee
Posted by rb at 7/16/2007
Saturday, July 14
Wake now, my love, awake; for it is time.
The Rosy Morne long since left Tithones bed,
All ready to her silver coche to clyme,
And Phoebus gins to shew his glorious hed.
Hark how the cheerefull birds do chaunt theyr laies
And carroll of loves praise.
The merry Larke hir mattins sings aloft,
The thrush replyes, the Mavis descant playes,
The Ouzell shrills, the Ruddock warbles soft,
So goodly all agree with sweet consent,
To this dayes merriment.
Ah my deere love, why doe ye sleepe thus long,
When meeter were that ye should now awake,
T'awayt the comming of your joyous make,
And hearken to the birds lovelearned song,
The deawy leaves among.
For they of joy and pleasance to you sing,
That all the woods them answer and theyr eccho ring.
-- Edmund Spenser, from Epithalamion
Posted by rb at 7/14/2007
Friday, July 13
The room is prepared, the incense burned.
I close the shutters before I close my eyelids.
The patterns of the quilt repeat the waves of the river.
The gauze curtain is like a mist.
Then a dream comes to me and when I awake
I no longer know where I am.
I open the western window and watch the waves
Stretching on and on to the horizon.
-- Su Dongpu
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth
Posted by rb at 7/13/2007
Wednesday, July 11
Tuesday, July 10
We are great fools. "He has spent his life in idleness," we say; "I have done nothing today." What, have you not lived? That is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations . . . To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately.
-- Michel de Montaigne Essays
Translated by Donald Frame
Posted by rb at 7/10/2007
Monday, July 9
Poetry, like music, is to be heard. It deals in sound - long sounds and short sounds, heavy beats and light beats, the tone relations of vowels, the relations of consonants to one another . . . Reading in silence is the source of half the misconceptions that have caused the public to distrust poetry.
-- Basil Bunting, quoted by Richard Caddel in "Minor Poet, Not Conspicuously Dishonest" Jacket 10
Love is a vapour, we're soon through it.
Flying fish follow the boat,
delicate wings blue, grace
on flick of a tissue tail,
the water's surface between
appetite and attainment.
Flexible, unrepetitive line
to sing, not paint; sing, sing,
laying the tune on the air,
nimble and easy as a lizard,
still and sudden as a gecko,
to humiliate love, remember
It tastes good, garlic and salt in it,
with the half-sweet white wine of Orvieto
on scanty grass under great trees
where the ramparts cuddle Lucca.
It sounds right, spoken on the ridge
between marine olives and hillside
blue figs, under the breeze fresh
with pollen of Apennine sage.
It feels soft, weed thick in the cave
and the smooth wet riddance of Antonietta's
bathing suit, mouth ajar for
submarine Amalfitan kisses.
It looks well on the page, but never
well enough. Something is lost
when wind, sun, sea upbraid
justly an unconvinced deserter.
-- Basil Bunting, lines from Briggflatts
Sunday, July 8
Childhood was a dream, some day all would be accomplished. The period of learning, a time for searching into everything, into the smallest, into the most hidden, into the good and the bad. Then a light is lit somewhere, and a single direction is followed ...
-- Paul Klee The Diaries of Paul Klee ed. Felix Klee
Posted by rb at 7/08/2007
Sunday, July 1
The padlock always makes a great noise. The door swings back on swearing hinges, and the night wind, hot and gusty, comes swirling down out of the loft with a smell of ancient rafters and old, hidden, dusty things. You have to watch the third step or your feet go through the boards. From here on the building has no substance left, but you have to mind your head and bow beneath the beams on which you can see the marks of axes with which our French Fathers hewed them out a hundred years ago.
And now the hollowness that rings under my feet measures some sixty feet to the floor of the church. I am over the transept crossing. If I climb around the corner of the dome, I can find a hole once opened by the photographers and peer down into the abyss and flash the light far down upon my stall in choir.
I climb the trembling, twisted stair into the belfry. The darkness stirs with a flurry of wings high above me in the gloomy engineering that holds the steeple together. Nearer at hand the old clock ticks in the tower. I flash the light into the mystery that keeps it going and gaze upon the ancient bells . . . Now my whole being breathes the wind that blows through the belfy and my hand is on the door through which I see the heavens. The door swings out upon a vast sea of darkness and of prayer . . . The roof glistens under my feet, this long metal roof facing the forest and the hills, where I stand higher than the treetops and walk upon shining air.
Mists of damp heat rise up out of the field around the sleeping abbey. The whole valley is flooded with moonlight, and I can count the southern hills beyond the water tank and almost number the trees of the forest to the north. Now the huge chorus of living beings rises up out of the world beneath my feet: life singing in the watercourses, throbbing in the creeks and the fields and the trees, choirs of millions and millions of jumping and flying and creeping things. And far above me the cool sky opens upon the frozen distance of the stars.
-- Thomas Merton, journal entry 4 July 1952, from Entering the Silence
Posted by rb at 7/01/2007