Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Slept, And Dreamed That Life Was Beauty

'I slept, and dreamed that life was beauty;
I woke, and found that life was duty.
Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?
Toil on, sad heart, courageously,
And thou shall find thy dream to be
A noonday light and truth to thee.'

Louisa May Alcott

My hands clasped under a veil

My hands clasped under a veil, dim and hazy…
'Why are you so pale and upset?'
That’s because I today made him crazy
With the sour wine of regret.

Can't forget! He got out, astound,
With his mouth distorted by pain...
I, not touching the railing, ran down,
I was running to him till the lane.

Fully choked, I cried, 'That's a joke --
All that was. You get out, I'll die.'
And he smiled very calmly, like stroke:
'It is windy right here -- pass by.'

Anna Akhmatova



When earth's winter bareness
Feels the April rain,
All her summer fairness
Comes to life again.
So my spirit quickens to that magic strain.


Fancy, warmed and brightened,
Spreads her folded wings —
Passion, stirred, enlightened,
From its slumber springs —
When that bow is laid upon those trembling strings.


Visions, past all telling,
Sweet and strange, I see;
Mystic voices, swelling —
Melting — cry to me
From celestial realms of hope and memory.


Tender thoughts caress me,
Like a summer's day;
Sterner moods possess me,
As the rough winds play
With an autumn leaf untimely cast away.


Fierce desires come creeping
From their secret lair;
Wild regrets, upleaping,
At my heartstrings tear —
Wildest aspirations, more than I can bear.


Like a leaf I quiver
With responsive thrills —
Ache, and burn, and shiver,
As the Master wills
Whose mysterious message all my being fills.


Dreams of grace and glory,
Always out of reach —
Truths untold in story,
That no book can teach,
Past all human language, find their native speech.


O what wailing sadness
That no tongue may tell,
What enraptured gladness,
In those wild notes swell —
Bliss and anguish both — divine, ineffable!


Joys and woes unspoken,
Whereof earth is rife,
Dear hopes blest and broken,
Futile pain and strife,
Birth and death and love, the tragedy of life.


And my soul, attending,
Through my listening ears
In those strains heartrending
Its own history hears —
All too sweet for words, too terrible for tears.

Ada Cambridge

Infant Joy

'I have no name;
I am but two days old.'
What shall I call thee?
'I happy am,
Joy is my name.'
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!

William Blake

The Jewels

My darling was naked, and knowing my heart well,
She was wearing only her sonorous jewels,
Whose opulent display made her look triumphant
Like Moorish concubines on their fortunate days.

When it dances and flings its lively, mocking sound,
This radiant world of metal and of gems
Transports me with delight; I passionately love
All things in which sound is mingled with light.

She had lain down; and let herself be loved
From the top of the couch she smiled contentedly
Upon my love, deep and gentle as the sea,
Which rose toward her as toward a cliff.

Her eyes fixed upon me, like a tamed tigress,
With a vague, dreamy air she was trying poses,
And by blending candor with lechery,
Her metamorphoses took on a novel charm;

And her arm and her leg, and her thigh and her loins,
Shiny as oil, sinuous as a swan,
Passed in front of my eyes, clear-sighted and serene;
And her belly, her breasts, grapes of my vine,

Advanced, more cajoling than angels of evil,
To trouble the quiet that had possessed my soul,
To dislodge her from the crag of crystal,
Where calm and alone she had taken her seat.

I thought I saw blended in a novel design
Antiope's haunches and the breast of a boy,
Her waist set off so well the fullness of her hips.
On that tawny brown skin the rouge stood out superb!

— And when at last the lamp allowed itself to die,
Since the fire alone lighted the room,
Each time that it uttered a flaming sigh,
It drenched with blood that amber colored skin!

Charles Baudelaire
Translated by William Aggeler

The Spell Of The Rose

'I mean to build a hall anon,
And shape two turrets there,
And a broad newelled stair,
And a cool well for crystal water;
Yes; I will build a hall anon,
Plant roses love shall feed upon,
And apple trees and pear.'

He set to build the manor-hall,
And shaped the turrets there,
And the broad newelled stair,
And the cool well for crystal water;
He built for me that manor-hall,
And planted many trees withal,
But no rose anywhere.

And as he planted never a rose
That bears the flower of love,
Though other flower's throve
A frost-wind moved our souls to sever
Since he had planted never a rose;
And misconceits raised horrid shows,
And agonies came thereof.

'I'll mend these miseries,' then said I,
And so, at dead of night,
I went and, screened from sight,
That nought should keep our souls in severance,
I set a rose-bush. 'This,' said I,
'May end divisions dire and wry,
And long-drawn days of blight.'

But I was called from earth - yea, called
Before my rose-bush grew;
And would that now I knew
What feels he of the tree I planted,
And whether, after I was called
To be a ghost, he, as of old,
Gave me his heart anew!

Perhaps now blooms that queen of trees
I set but saw not grow,
And he, beside its glow -
Eyes couched of the mis-vision that blurred me -
Ay, there beside that queen of trees
He sees me as I was, though sees
Too late to tell me so!

Thomas Hardy

After all

"After all is said and done, more is said than done."



The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.

Arthur C. Clarke


It is part of prudence to thank an author for his book before reading it, so as to avoid the necessity of lying about it afterwards

George Santayana

The dedicated life

The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart.

Anne Dillard

15 minutes

Resolve to edge in a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.

Horace Mann

No sorrow

Earth hath no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Thomas Moore

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Shadow On The Stone

I went by the Druid stone
That broods in the garden white and lone,
And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows
That at some moments fall thereon
From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing,
And they shaped in my imagining
To the shade that a well-known head and shoulders
Threw there when she was gardening.

I thought her behind my back,
Yea, her I long had learned to lack,
And I said: ‘I am sure you are standing behind me,
Though how do you get into this old track?’
And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf
As a sad response; and to keep down grief
I would not turn my head to discover
That there was nothing in my belief.

Yet I wanted to look and see
That nobody stood at the back of me;
But I thought once more: ‘Nay, I’ll not unvision
A shape which, somehow, there may be.’
So I went on softly from the glade,
And left her behind me throwing her shade,
As she were indeed an apparition—
My head unturned lest my dream should fade.

Thomas Hardy

The Enemy

My youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm,
Pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine;
Thunder and rain have wrought so much havoc
That very few ripe fruits remain in my garden.

I have already reached the autumn of the mind,
And I must set to work with the spade and the rake
To gather back the inundated soil
In which the rain digs holes as big as graves.

And who knows whether the new flowers I dream of
Will find in this earth washed bare like the strand,
The mystic aliment that would give them vigor?

Alas! Alas! Time eats away our lives,
And the hidden Enemy who gnaws at our hearts
Grows by drawing strength from the blood we lose!

Charles Baudelaire
Translated by William Aggeler

I see the Four-fold Man

I see the Four-fold Man, The Humanity in deadly sleep
And its fallen Emanation, the Spectre and its cruel Shadow.
I see the Past, Present and Future existing all at once
Before me. O Divine Spirit, sustain me on thy wings,
That I may awake Albion from his long and cold repose;
For Bacon and Newton, sheath'd in dismal steel, their terrors hang
Like iron scourges over Albion: reasonings like vast serpents
Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations.

I turn my eyes to the schools and universities of Europe
And there behold the Loom of Locke, whose Woof rages dire,
Wash'd by the Water-wheels of Newton: black the cloth
In heavy wreaths folds over every nation: cruel works
Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic
Moving by compulsion each other, not as those in Eden, which,
Wheel within wheel, in freedom revolve in harmony and peace.

William Blake


Learn, learn, learn,—
Our beautiful world is not a field for sheep;
Not just a place wherein to laugh and weep,
To eat and drink, to dance and sigh and sleep,
And then to moulder into senseless dust.

Learn, learn, learn,—
Look up and learn—you cannot look too high!
Not for the earthly wealth which brains can buy,
Not for the sake of gold and luxury—
Treasures corrupted by the moth and rust.

Learn, learn, learn,—
As one in whom the Lord has breathed His breath,
And aye redeemèd from the power of death—
Not as the dumb brute-beast that perisheth,
Not as a soulless, thoughtless, thankless clod.

Learn, learn, learn,—
With love and awe and patience—not in haste;
Drink deeply,—do not pass by with a taste;
O make your land a garden, not a waste!—
Your mind bright, to reflect the face of God.

Learn, learn, learn,—
The mystic beauty and the truth of life;
Search out the treasures whereof earth is rife,
Search on all sides, with pain and prayer and strife;
Search even into darkness. Do not fear.

Learn, learn, learn,—
With a true, steadfast heart, lay up your hoard;
God will sort out the treasures you have stored,
And set them in His bright light, afterward.
He will make all your difficulties clear.

Learn, learn, learn,—
Death is no breaking at a certain place;
We only pause there for a little space.
And then—you would not shame Him to His face?—
You, in His Image and own Likeness made!

Learn, learn, learn,—
Walk with wide-open eyes and reverent heart.
Worship as God the beautiful in art.
Though you see now but dimly, and in part,
All shall be clear in time. Be not afraid.

Ada Cambridge


Something of heavens ever burns in it,
I like to watch its wondrous facets' growth.
It speaks with me in fate's non-seldom fits,
When others fear to approach close.

When the last of friends had looked away
From me in grave, it lay to me in silence,
And sang as sing a thunderstorm in May,
As if all flowers began to talk in gardens.

Anna Akhmatova

Hither, Hither

Hither, hither, from thy home,
Airy sprite, I bid thee come!
Born of roses, fed on dew,
Charms and potions canst thou brew?
Bring me here, with elfin speed,
The fragrant philter which I need.
Make it sweet and swift and strong,
Spirit, answer now my song!

* * * * *

Hither I come,
From my airy home,
Afar in the silver moon.
Take the magic spell,
And use it well,
Or its power will vanish soon!

Louisa May Alcott

To a Lady Making Love

Good madam, when ladies are willing,
...A man must needs look like a fool;
For me I would not give a shilling
...For one who would love out of rule.

You should leave us to guess by your blushing,
...And not speak the matter so plain;
'Tis our's to write and be pushing,
...'Tis yours to affect disdain.

That you're in a terrible taking,
...By all these sweet oglings I see,
But the fruit that can fall without shaking,
...Indeed is too mellow for me.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

The Letter

GOING to him! Happy letter! Tell him --
Tell him the page I didn't write;
Tell him I only said the syntax,
And left the verb and the pronoun out.
Tell him just how the fingers hurried,
Then how they waded, slow, slow, slow;
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages,
So you could see what moved them so.

Tell him it wasn't a practised writer,
You guessed, from the way the sentence toiled;
You could hear the bodice tug, behind you,
As if it held but the might of a child;
You almost pitied it, you, it worked so.
Tell him -- No, you may quibble there,
For it would split his heart to know it,
And then you and I were silenter.

Tell him night finished before we finished,
And the old clock kept neighing 'day!'
And you got sleepy and begged to be ended --
What could it hinder so, to say?
Tell him just how she sealed you, cautious,
But if he ask where you are hid
Until to-morrow, -- happy letter!
Gesture, coquette, and shake your head!

Emily Dickinson


The pleasure of love is in loving.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

All things

There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in all things.

William Shakespeare


People ask for criticism, but they only want praise.

W. Somerset Maugham


All we actually have is our body and its muscles that allow us to be under our own power.

Allegra Kent


"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when you have only one idea."



Action is eloquence

William Shakespeare


Books, the children of the brain.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

In dream consciousness

In dream consciousness...we make things happen by wishing
them, because we are not only the observer of what we
experience but also the creator. In our creativity we
prolong the magic action of the Creator of All in the
overflow of His imagination, which is all that reality is,
or ever will be.

Pir Vilayat Khan

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ode to a Flower in Casarsa

Desert flower, flowers from the garland
of our houses where families
bicker in the open air,

you browse on the stones of the day,
simple, while field and sky
like sky and sea
appear all around.

Rustic desert flower,

no evening streaming with lights.

No shepherds drenched by dew,

slender fire of the hedges.

No marsh-marigold, bilberry, swamp-violet
or Florentine iris, or gentian, no angelica,
no Parnassian grass or marsh-myrtle.

You’re Pieruti, Zuan
and tall Bepi with his walking-sticks of bone,
slim at the helm of his wagon,

pasture flower.

You become hay. Burn, burn,
sun of my town, little desert flower.

The years pass over you,
and so do I, with the shadow of the acacia tree,
with the sunflower, on this quiet day.

Pier Paolo Pasolini

In Summer

Oh, summer has clothed the earth
In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue,
And a belt where the rivers run.

And now for the kiss of the wind,
And the touch of the air's soft hands,
With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
With the freedom of lakes and lands.

I envy the farmer's boy
Who sings as he follows the plow;
While the shining green of the young blades lean
To the breezes that cool his brow.

He sings to the dewy morn,
No thought of another's ear;
But the song he sings is a chant for kings
And the whole wide world to hear.

He sings of the joys of life,
Of the pleasures of work and rest,
From an o'erfull heart, without aim or art;
'T is a song of the merriest.

O ye who toil in the town,
And ye who moil in the mart,
Hear the artless song, and your faith made strong
Shall renew your joy of heart.

Oh, poor were the worth of the world
If never a song were heard,—
If the sting of grief had no relief,
And never a heart were stirred.

So, long as the streams run down,
And as long as the robins trill,
Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
And sing in the face of ill.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Here Is The Bracelet

'Here is the bracelet
For good little May
To wear on her arm
By night and by day.
When it shines like the sun,
All's going well;
But when you are bad,
A sharp prick will tell.
Farewell, little girl,
For now we must part.
Make a fairy-box, dear,
Of your own happy heart;
And take out for all
Sweet gifts every day,
Till all the year round
Is like beautiful May.'

Louisa May Alcott


When, in the night, I wait for her, impatient,
Life seems to me, as hanging by a thread.
What just means liberty, or youth, or approbation,
When compared with the gentle piper's tread?

And she came in, threw out the mantle's edges,
Declined to me with a sincere heed.
I say to her, 'Did you dictate the Pages
Of Hell to Dante?' She answers, 'Yes, I did.'

Anna Akhmatova


As in the deeps of embryonic night,
Out of unfathomable obscurities
Of Nature's womb, the little life-germs rise,
Pushing and pulsing upward to the light;
As, when the first day dawns on waking sight,
They leap to liberty and recognize
The golden sunshine and the morning skies
Their home and goal and heritage and right -

So do our brooding thoughts and deep desires
Grow in our souls, we know not how or why;
Grope for we know not what, all blind and dumb.
So, when the time is ripe, and one aspires
To free his thought in speech, ours hear the cry,
And to full birth and instant knowledge come.

Ada Cambridge

I Saw a Chapel

I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in,
And many weeping stood without,
Weeping, mourning, worshipping.

I saw a serpent rise between
The white pillars of the door,
And he forc'd and forc'd and forc'd,
Down the golden hinges tore.

And along the pavement sweet,
Set with pearls and rubies bright,
All his slimy length he drew
Till upon the altar white

Vomiting his poison out
On the bread and on the wine.
So I turn'd into a sty
And laid me down among the swine.

William Blake

Hatred's Cask

Hatred is the cask of the pale Danaides;
Bewildered Vengeance with arms red and strong
Vainly pours into its empty darkness
Great pailfuls of the blood and the tears of the dead;

The Demon makes secret holes in this abyss,
Whence would escape a thousand years of sweat and strain,
Even if she could revive her victims,
Could restore their bodies, to squeeze them dry once more.

Hatred is a drunkard in a tavern,
Who feels his thirst grow greater with each drink
And multiply itself like the Lernaean hydra.

— While fortunate drinkers know they can be conquered,
Hatred is condemned to this lamentable fate,
That she can never fall asleep beneath the table.

Charles Baudelaire
Translated by William Aggeler

The Self-Unseeing

Here is the ancient floor,
Footworn and hollowed and thin,
Here was the former door
Where the dead feet walked in.

She sat here in her chair,
Smiling into the fire;
He who played stood there,
Bowing it higher and higher.

Childlike, I danced in a dream;
Blessings emblazoned that day;
Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!

Thomas Hardy

Dover Beach

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold (1822-88)


A great obstacle to happiness is to expect too much happiness.

Bernard L.B. De Fontenelle


In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything and two minus one equals nothing.

Mignon McLaughlin


"The half is greater than the whole."



It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.

Andre Gide


At any given moment, life is completely senseless. But viewed over a period, it seems to reveal itself as an organism existing in time, having a purpose, trending in a certain direction.

Aldous Huxley

Get off

If you don't want to be a teacher, you'd better get off the planet.

Richard Bach (1936- )


Everything starts as somebody's daydream.

Larry Niven (1938- )

As is

As is the human body, so is the cosmic body.
As is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind.
As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm.
As is the atom, so is the universe.

The Upanishads

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Selfsame Song

A bird sings the selfsame song,
With never a fault in its flow,
That we listened to here those long
Long years ago.

A pleasing marvel is how
A strain of such rapturous rote
Should have gone on thus till now
unchanged in a note!

--But its not the selfsame bird.--
No: perished to dust is he....
As also are those who heard
That song with me.

Thomas Hardy

The Ghost

Like angels with wild beast's eyes
I shall return to your bedroom
And silently glide toward you
With the shadows of the night;

And, dark beauty, I shall give you
Kisses cold as the moon
And the caresses of a snake
That crawls around a grave.

When the livid morning comes,
You'll find my place empty,
And it will be cold there till night.

I wish to hold sway over
Your life and youth by fear,
As others do by tenderness.

Charles Baudelaire
Translated by William Aggeler

I Rose Up at the Dawn of Day

I rose up at the dawn of day--
`Get thee away! get thee away!
Pray'st thou for riches? Away! away!
This is the Throne of Mammon grey.'

Said I: This, sure, is very odd;
I took it to be the Throne of God.
For everything besides I have:
It is only for riches that I can crave.

I have mental joy, and mental health,
And mental friends, and mental wealth;
I've a wife I love, and that loves me;
I've all but riches bodily.

I am in God's presence night and day,
And He never turns His face away;
The accuser of sins by my side doth stand,
And he holds my money-bag in his hand.

For my worldly things God makes him pay,
And he'd pay for more if to him I would pray;
And so you may do the worst you can do;
Be assur'd, Mr. Devil, I won't pray to you.

Then if for riches I must not pray,
God knows, I little of prayers need say;
So, as a church is known by its steeple,
If I pray it must be for other people.

He says, if I do not worship him for a God,
I shall eat coarser food, and go worse shod;
So, as I don't value such things as these,
You must do, Mr. Devil, just as God please.

William Blake


Phew! 'T'is a stuffy and a stupid place,
This social edifice by Custom wrought -
This fenced enclosure wherein all are caught,
The great and small, the noble and the base,
And squeezed and flattened to one common face.
Air, air for springing fancy, errant thought!
Scope to make something of the seeming nought!
Room for the fleet foot and the open race!

Break out, O brother, braver than the rest,
Lover of Liberty, whose arm is strong!
Buttress our independence with thy breast,
And fight a passage through the stagnant throng.
Many will press behind thee, but they need
The stalwart captain, not afraid to lead.

Ada Cambridge

Memory of Sun

Memory of sun seeps from the heart.
Grass grows yellower.
Faintly if at all the early snowflakes
Hover, hover.

Water becoming ice is slowing in
The narrow channels.
Nothing at all will happen here again,
Will ever happen.

Against the sky the willow spreads a fan
The silk's torn off.
Maybe it's better I did not become
Your wife.

Memory of sun seeps from the heart.
What is it? -- Dark?
Perhaps! Winter will have occupied us
In the night.

Anna Akhmatova