Friday, December 28

the child

The only simplicity that matters is the simplicity of the heart. If that be gone, it can be brought back by no turnips or cellular clothing; but only by tears and terror and the fires that are not quenched. If that remains, it matters very little if a few Early Victorian armchairs remain along with it...So long as human society will leave my spiritual inside alone, I will allow it, with a comparative submission, to work its wild will with my physical interior. I will submit to cigars. I will meekly embrace a bottle of Burgundy. I will humble myself to a hansom cab. If only by this means I may preserve to myself the virginity of the spirit, which enjoys with astonishment and fear. I do not say that these are the only methods of preserving it. I incline to the belief that there are others. But I will have nothing to do with simplicity which lacks the fear, the astonishment, and the joy alike. I will have nothing to do with the devilish vision of a child who is too simple to like toys.

The child is, indeed, in these, and many other matters, the best guide. And in nothing is the child so righteously childlike, in nothing does he exhibit more accurately the sounder order of simplicity, than in the fact that he sees everything with a simple pleasure, even the complex things. The false type of naturalness harps always on the distinction between the natural and the artificial. The higher kind of naturalness ignores that distinction. To the child the tree and the lamp-post are as natural and as artificial as each other; or rather, neither of them are natural but both supernatural. For both are splendid and unexplained. The flower with which God crowns the one, and the flame with which Sam the lamplighter crowns the other, are equally of the gold of fairy-tales. In the middle of the wildest fields the most rustic child is, ten to one, playing at steam-engines. And the only spiritual or philosophical objection to steam-engines is not that men pay for them or work at them, or make them very ugly, or even that men are killed by them; but merely that men do not play at them. The evil is that the childish poetry of clockwork does not remain. The wrong is not that engines are too much admired, but that they are not admired enough. The sin is not that engines are mechanical, but that men are mechanical.

-- G.K. Chesterton "On Sandals and Simplicity" Heretics (1905)


Tuesday, December 25


Ground lapis for the sky, and scrolls of gold,
Before which shepherds kneel, gazing aloft
At visiting angels clothed in egg-yolk gowns
Celestial tinctures smuggled from the East,
From sunlit Eden, the palmed and plotted banks
Of sun-tanned Aden. Brought home in fragile grails,
Planted in England, rising at Eastertide,
Their petals cup stamens of topaz dust,
The powdery stuff of cooks and cosmeticians.
But to the camels-hair tip of the finest brush
Of Brother Anselm, it is the light of dawn,
Gilding the hems, the sleeves, the fluted pleats
Of the antiphonal archangelic choirs
Singing their melismatic pax in terram.
The child lies cribbed below, in bestial dark,
Pale as the tiny tips of crocuses
That will find their way to the light through drifts of snow.

-- Anthony Hecht

Anthony Hecht

Monday, December 24


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold

the infinite whisper

How deeply can one go into the distances
and yet come back unannihilated by the immensity they represent?
The doorway gave way suddenly: I was projected into the infinite whisper.

-- Peyton Houston XVI Complex Songs at the Borders of Silence

Sunday, December 23


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold

still time

Aren't we enlarged
by the scale of what we're able
to desire? Everything,
the choir insists,

might flame;
inside these wrappings
burns another, brighter life,
quickened, now,

by song: hear how
it cascades, in overlapping,
lapidary waves of praise? Still time.
Still time to change.

-- Mark Doty, from "Messiah (Christmas Portion)"

more from "Messiah (Christmas Portion") here

Mark Doty

Thursday, December 20


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold

Stiller Freund

Stiller Freund der vielen Fernen, fühle,
wie dein Atem noch den Raum vermehrt.
Im Gebälk der finsteren Glockenstühle
laß dich läuten. Das, was an dir zehrt

Silent friend of many distances,
feel how your breath expands space.
Let yourself peal among the beams
of dark belfries. What draws

wird ein Starkes über dieser Nahrung.
Geh in der Verwandlung aus und ein,
Was ist deine leidenste Erfahrung?
Ist dir Trinken bitter, werde Wein.

you will grow strong from this nourishment.
Know transformation through and through.
What experience has been most painful to you?
If the drinking's bitter, turn yourself to wine.

So in dieser Nacht aus Überdruß
Zauberkraft am Kreuzweg deiner Sinne,
ihrer seltsamen Begegnung Sinn.

In this vast night, be the magic power
at your senses' intersection,
the meaning of their strange encounter.

Und wenn dich das Irdische vergaß,
zu der stillen Erde sag: Ich rinne.
Zu dem raschen Wasser sprich: Ich bin.

And if the earthly has forgotten
you, say to the still earth: I flow.
To the rushing water speak: I am.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by A. Poulin, Jr.

Stiller Freund (Lorraine Hunt Lieberson)

from this cd

Wednesday, December 19


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold

Monday, December 17


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold

bed is too small

Bed is too small for my tiredness;
Give me a hillside with trees.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please.

Rock me to sleep in a cradle of dreams;
Sing me a lullaby of leaves.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please.

-- Traditional

Saturday, December 15


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold


I meant that it is often supposed that in order to write a play one has, or ought to have, an idea, or certain ideas, or a coherent set of ideas that must be translated into scenic images, which will illustrate these ideas or doctrines...

In actual fact, the language of artistic creation is often that which is the most complex, the most charged with meaning; far from having to be determined by some system of thought which is extrinsic or superior to it, and to which it merely has to submit, it's often the artist's language which stimulates and engenders the thought of others, which creates new ways of seeing the world, hence a new mentality. Ideologies, sociologies, systems of aesthetics are nurtured on works of art. There can be no philosophy of culture without culture itself, no philosophical theory without those living examples of psychology, works of art, whose authors did not need to know or take into account the closed experiences of the past. Otherwise there would never have been anything new. This new element, which is knowledge of something, is also construction, of course, since any knowledge, any encounter between the self and the world is a projection of the self into that substance which is the world, a projection, that's to say a pattern, a shape, an architecture.

To sum it all up, let's say that the artist may perhaps not have any ideas at the back of his head, or over the top of his head, which he feels bound to demonstrate. But he has ideas in his head which are potentialities, living seeds which shoot up and blossom in their own way, according to their own nature, according to the modalities proper to creation which is a concrete, autonomous form of thought, exploring the world and at the same time constructing it, since all knowledge is projection.

A whole world is built up, or disclosed, as the artist writes it and thinks it.

Practice makes perfect, or, as Raymond Queneau has neatly and wittily put it: 'C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron, c’est en écrivant qu’on devient écriveron.'*

-- Eugène Ionesco Fragments of a Journal
Translated by Jean Stewart

*It is in forging that one becomes a blacksmith, it is in writing that one becomes a writesmith.

Thursday, December 13


untitled ©2007 RosebudPenfold

i know you are there

Whatever you do mindfully is meditation. When you touch a flower, you can touch it with your fingers, but better yet, you can touch it mindfully, with your full awareness. "Breathing in—I know that the flower is there; breathing out—I smile at the flower." While you are practicing in this way, you are really there and at the same time, the flower is really there. If you are not really there, nothing is there. The sunset is something marvelous and so is the full moon, but since you are not really there, the sunset is not for you. From time to time, I let myself look at the full moon; I take a deep breath in and a deep breath out, and I practice: "I know you are there, and I am very glad about it." I practice that with the full moon, with the cherry blossoms . . . We are surrounded by miracles, but we have to recognize them; otherwise there is no life.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh True Love

Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, December 12

two clouds

two clouds ©2007 RosebudPenfold

Monday, December 10

rainy camellia

rainy camellia ©2007 RosebudPenfold

Friday, December 7


mirrors ©2007 RosebudPenfold

Thursday, December 6

a moment's perfect carelessness

Still, if you are in luck, you may be granted,
As, inland, one can sometimes smell the sea,
A moment's perfect carelessness, in which
To stumble a few steps and sink to sleep
In the same clearing where, in the old story,
A holy man discovered Vishnu sleeping,
Wrapped in his maya, dreaming by a pool
On whose calm face all images whatever
Lay clear, unfathomed, taken as they came.

-- Richard Wilbur, from "Walking to Sleep"

Richard Wilbur