Saturday, September 29

her voice pushed back the boundaries of the world

In any art there is a Higher Regularity which seems to conventional people arbitrary and to unconventional people commonplace: Irene's singing was of this sort. And of all the singers I have ever heard she was the most essentially dramatic: she could not have sung a scale without making it seem a part of someone's life, a thing of human importance. Yet when the song and her voice said: We are all dying, something else about her voice — a quality that could not be localized, that all the sounds possessed together and none possessed apart — said to you also: Whoever dies? Over feeling and act, the human reality, her voice seemed to open out into a contradicting magic of speculation and belief, into the inhuman reality men discover or create. Her voice pushed back the boundaries of the world.

-- Randall Jarrell Pictures from an Institution
via Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise and Tom Myron

Thursday, September 27

unmistakably there

There are mornings when, from the first ray of light seized upon by the eye, and the first simple sounds that get inside the head, the heart is convinced that it is existing in rhythm to a kind of unheard music, familiar but forgotten because long ago it was interrupted and only now has suddenly resumed playing. The silent melodies pass through the fabric of the consciousness like the wind through the meshes of a net, without moving it, but at the same time unmistakably there, all around it...

-- Paul Bowles The Spider's House
via Five Branch Tree

Wednesday, September 26


mica ©2007 RosebudPenfold


I have a low opinion of books; they are but piles of stones set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been, or at best signal smokes to call attention. Cadmus and all the other inventors of letters receive a thousand-fold more credit than they deserve. No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul to know these mountains. As well seek to warm the naked and frost-bitten by lectures on caloric and pictures of flame. One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographer's plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul. All that is required is exposure, and purity of material.

-- John Muir The Wilderness World of John Muir ed. Edwin Way Teale

Tuesday, September 25

landforms 2

landforms 2 ©2007 RosebudPenfold

that trail

Every inch of that trail was dear to me, every delicate curve about the old pinon roots, every chancy track along the face of the cliffs, and the deep windings back into shrubbery and safety. The wild-currant bushes were in bloom, and where the path climbed the side of a narrow ravine, the scent of them in the sun was so heavy that it made me soft, made me want to lie down and sleep. I wanted to see and touch everything, like home-sick children when they come home. When I pulled out on top of the mesa, the rays of sunlight fell slantingly through the little twisted pinons,—the light was all in between them, as red as a daylight fire, they fairly swam in it. Once again I had that glorious feeling of being on the mesa, in a world above the world.

-- Willa Cather The Professor's House

Thursday, September 20

landforms 1

landforms 1 ©2007 RosebudPenfold


Such love I cannot analyse;
It does not rest in lips or eyes,
Neither in kisses nor caress.
Partly, I know, it's gentleness

And understanding in one word
Or in brief letters. It's preserved
By trust and by respect and awe.
These are the words I'm feeling for.

Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends.
There is no measure for such things.
For this all Nature slows and sings.

-- Elizabeth Jennings

Elizabeth Jennings

Tuesday, September 18

hoover dam

hoover dam ©2007 RosebudPenfold

the hardest thing in the world

I demanded a realm in which I should be both master and slave at the same time: the world of art is the only such realm. I entered it without any apparent talent, a thorough novice, incapable, awkward, tongue-tied, almost paralyzed by fear and apprehensiveness. I had to lay one brick on another, set millions of words to paper before writing one real, authentic word dragged up from my own guts. The facility of speech which I possessed was a handicap; I had all the vices of the educated man. I had to learn to think, feel and see in a totally new fashion, in an uneducated way, in my own way, which is the hardest thing in the world. I had to throw myself into the current, knowing that I would probably sink. The great majority of artists are throwing themselves in with life-preservers around their necks, and more often than not it is the life-preserver which sinks them.

-- Henry Miller, "Reflections on Writing" The Wisdom of the Heart

Saturday, September 15

baker creek 4

baker creek 4 ©2007 RosebudPenfold

the veil

I will sing for the veil that never lifts.
I will sing for the veil that begins, once in a lifetime, maybe, to lift.
I will sing for the rent in the veil.
I will sing for what is in front of the veil, the floating light.
I will sing for what is behind the veil—light, light, and more light.

This is the world, and this is the work of the world.

-- Mary Oliver, The Leaf and the Cloud

Friday, September 14

baker creek 3

baker creek 3 ©2007 RosebudPenfold


I ran away, hands stuck in pockets that seemed
All holes; my jacket was a holey ghost as well.
I followed you, Muse! Beneath your spell,
Oh, la, la, what glorious loves I dreamed!

I tore my shirt; I threw away my tie.
Dreamy Hop o' my Thumb, I made rhymes
As I ran. I slept out most of the time.
The stars above me rustled through the sky.

I heard them on the roadsides where I stopped
Those fine September nights, when the dew dropped
On my face and I licked it to get drunk.

I made up rhymes in dark and scary places,
And like a lyre I plucked the tired laces
Of my worn-out shoes, one foot beneath my heart.

-- Arthur Rimbaud
Translated by Paul Schmidt

Wednesday, September 12

baker creek 2

baker creek 2 ©2007 RosebudPenfold


Everything in the Universe is an echo. If the birds, in the opinion of certain dreaming linguists, are the first creators of sound who inspired men, they themselves imitated nature's voices. Quinet, who listened for so long to the voice of Bourgogne and Bresse, discovers "the lapping on the shores in the nasal cry of aquatic birds, the frog's croaking in the brook ouzel, the whistling of the reed in the bullfind, the cry of the tempest in the frigate bird." Where did the night birds borrow the trembling, thrilling sounds which seem the repercussion of a subterranean echo in old ruins? "Thus all the sounds of natural scenes—still life or animated—have their echo and their counterpart in living nature."

-- Gaston Bachelard Water and Dreams
Translated by Edith R. Farrell

Sunday, September 9

baker creek 1

baker creek 1 ©2007 RosebudPenfold

like the diamond

The art which only gilds the surface and demands merely a superficial polish, without reaching to the core, is but varnish and filigree. But the work of genius is rough-hewn from the first, because it anticipates the lapse of time and has an ingrained polish, which still appears when fragments are broken off, an essential quality of its substance. Its beauty is its strength. It breaks with a lustre, and splits in cubes and diamonds. Like the diamond, it has only to be cut to be polished, and its surface is a window to its interior splendors.

-- Henry David Thoreau, journal entry dated Aug 28, 1841

The Blog of Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, September 6

Una Furtiva Lagrima

Una furtiva lagrima
Negl'occhi suoi spunto:
Quelle festose giovani
Invidiar sembro.
Che piu cercando io vo?
Che piu cercando io vo?
M'ama, si m'ama, lo vedo, lo vedo.
Un solo instante i palpiti
Del suo bel cor sentir!
I miei sospir, confondere
Per poco a' suoi sospir!
I palpiti, i palpiti sentir,
Confondere i miei coi suoi sospir
Cielo, si puo morir!
Di piu non chiedo, non chiedo.
Ah! Cielo, si puo, si puo morir,
Di piu non chiedo, non chiedo.
Si puo morir, si puo morir d'amor.

One tear that falls so furtively
from her sweet eyes has just sprung,
as if she envied all the youths
who laughingly passed her right by.
What could I want more than this?
She loves me! I see it.
One moment just to hear her heart,
beating so close next to mine,
to hear my sighs like they were hers,
her sighings as if they were mine!
Heavens, please take me now:
All that I wanted is mine now!

-- from Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (libretto by Felice Romani)

Youtube Pavarotti via the concert

Ionarts: "An enormous man, an enormous voice -- literally the voice of a half-century -- and an enormous ego, which goes right along with the territory."
Alex Ross: "...the beauty of the sound envelops you, but you’re not conscious of the artifice of art. It’s as if someone were making conversation in a dialect of dreams."
Una furtiva lagrima mp3 (4.3MB) via La Cieca (San Francisco 1969)

Monday, September 3

a blessing

May the blessing of light be on you,
light without and light within
and light inside the darkness within.
May the blessed sunlight shine upon you
and warm your heart till it glows,
like a great peat fire, so that strangers may come
and warm themselves; and that friends may come.
And may the light shine out of the eyes of you,
like a candle set in the windows of a house,
bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft, sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit so that the seedlings of light
in your shadow may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.
And may the blessing of the great rains be on you,
that they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing for the earth be on you—
the great round earth
who carries all; the great round earth
whose suffering has already become radiant.
May you ever have a kindly greeting for people
you pass as you are going along the roads.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly,
your kin and all creatures.

-- adapted from a Scottish prayer by Robert Jonas, in Knitting into the Mystery by Susan S. Jorgensen and Susan S. Izard

Sunday, September 2


blue ©2007 RosebudPenfold

The Sphere

Oh the happy ending, the happy ending
That the fugue promised, that love believed in,
That perfect star, that bright transfiguration,

Where has it vanished, now that the music is over,
The certainty of being, the heart in flower,
Ourselves, perfect at last, affirmed as what we are?

The world, the changing world stands still while lovers kiss,
And then moves on—what was our fugitive bliss,
The dancer's ecstasy, the vision, and the rose?

There is no ending—steps of a dance, petals of flowers,
Phrases of music, rays of the sun, the hours
Succeed each other, and the perfect sphere
Turns in our hearts the past and future, near and far,
Our single soul, atom, and universe.

-- Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine