Monday, July 31

if there were water

If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
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)

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

Thursday, July 27

watery thicket

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

Tuesday, July 25

the art of paths

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
            something's emerging
            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 

Saturday, July 22

only a trace

Art is, after all, only a trace -- like a footprint which shows that one has walked bravely and in great happiness.

-- Robert Henri The Art Spirit

Tuesday, July 18

through the boiling rush

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

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

Saturday, July 15

some other way

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

Friday, July 14

the song

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

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
what pleasures
doceat allows
                  But the known?
This, I have had to be given,
a life, love, and from one man
the world.
                  But sitting here
                  I look out as a wind
                  and water man, testing
                  And missing
                  some proof
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
                  nor increased,
                  by the communication

It is undone business
I speak of, this morning,
with the sea
stretching out
from my feet

-- Charles Olson

Charles Olson Home Page
OlsonNow Blog 

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

Monday, July 10

love one another

Love one another,
but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of
your souls.

-- Kahlil Gibran Love Letters in the Sand

Saturday, July 8

To You

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

Friday, July 7

first images

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

Thursday, July 6


Forms seek their own form, form seeks its own dissolution.

-- Octavio Paz Alternating Current
Translated by Helen R. Lane