Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Emerald


I let you go,
but you remain



where devotion lingers
with leaf-curtains drawn;
and dreams gather in
pools of verdigris;


where clouds are knit with
crystalline seams
and the sun in the citadel
exhales celadon;



where crowds of dryads
caper on zephyrs,
casting nets in the sky
to capture starlight;





until an earthquake in the night
overturns the shrine.



And then you are every-Where
that I move, or turn my eyes.










Ivan Moravec plays an excerpt from Schubert's Piano Sonata in B-flat Major in 1993.







Monday, July 10, 2017

Of Molluscs - May Sarton


Of Molluscs


As the tide rises, the closed mollusc
Opens a fraction to the ocean's food,
Bathed in its riches. Do not ask
What force would do, or if force could.

A knife is of no use against a fortress.
You might break it to pieces as gulls do.
No, only the rising tide and its slow progress
Opens the shell. Lovers, I tell you true.


You who have held yourselves closed hard
Against warm sun and wind, shelled up in fears
And hostile to a touch or tender word—
The ocean rises, salt as unshed tears.




Now you are floated on this gentle flood
That cannot force or be forced, welcome food
Salt as your tears, the rich ocean's blood,
Eat, rest, be nourished on the tide of love.


--May Sarton



Thursday, June 29, 2017

An utter silence reigned where they stood. Not even the sound of water reached them.


Looking down, they could not tell whether the valley below was a grassy plain or a great still lake. They had never seen any place look like it. The way to it was difficult and dangerous, but down the narrow path they went, and reached the bottom in safety. They found it composed of smooth, light-coloured sandstone, undulating in parts, but mostly level. It was no wonder to them now that they had not been able to tell what it was, for this surface was everywhere crowded with shadows. It was a sea of shadows. The mass was chiefly made up of the shadows of leaves innumerable, of all lovely and imaginative forms, waving to and fro, floating and quivering in the breath of a breeze whose motion was unfelt, whose sound was unheard. No forests clothed the mountain-sides, no trees were anywhere to be seen, and yet the shadows of the leaves, branches, and stems of all various trees covered the valley as far as their eyes could reach. They soon spied the shadows of flowers mingled with those of the leaves, and now and then the shadow of a bird with open beak, and throat distended with song. At times would appear the forms of strange, graceful creatures, running up and down the shadow-boles and along the branches, to disappear in the wind-tossed foliage. As they walked they waded knee-deep in the lovely lake. For the shadows were not merely lying on the surface of the ground, but heaped up above it like substantial forms of darkness, as if they had been cast upon a thousand different planes of the air. Tangle and Mossy often lifted their heads and gazed upwards to descry whence the shadows came; but they could see nothing more than a bright mist spread above them, higher than the tops of the mountains, which stood clear against it. No forests, no leaves, no birds were visible.



After a while, they reached more open spaces, where the shadows were thinner; and came even to portions over which shadows only flitted, leaving them clear for such as might follow. Now a wonderful form, half bird-like half human, would float across on outspread sailing pinions. Anon an exquisite shadow group of gambolling children would be followed by the loveliest female form, and that again by the grand stride of a Titanic shape, each disappearing in the surrounding press of shadowy foliage. Sometimes a profile of unspeakable beauty or grandeur would appear for a moment and vanish. Sometimes they seemed lovers that passed linked arm in arm, sometimes father and son, sometimes brothers in loving contest, sometimes sisters entwined in gracefullest community of complex form. Sometimes wild horses would tear across, free, or bestrode by noble shadows of ruling men. But some of the things which pleased them most they never knew how to describe.




About the middle of the plain they sat down to rest in the heart of a heap of shadows. After sitting for a while, each, looking up, saw the other in tears: they were each longing after the country whence the shadows fell.

(An excerpt from The Golden Key, by George MacDonald; illustrations by Ruth Sanderson and Maurice Sendak for The Golden Key)




Nils Frahm (Says)

Monday, June 12, 2017

En plein air - in memoriam Andrew Bellon

A dreamless sleep falls
from the shimmering leaves.

--Sappho fragment, tr. Andrew Bellon







I changed,
thickened,
deepened, traveled,
mused by pools,

crumbled, stretched,
tilled fields of clouds,

nearly died,
chased the acorn of light,
and was chased out of chaos.
Tangled with the hierarchies.

Walked beyond the walls of a day
with a heart in shards.

I orbited
plunged
disintegrated;

got lost on a river
freighted
with the moon.
Shadows
caught
my fall.

I drifted in the white noise
of passing years
with the airborne seeds.

Half an hour,
half a life,
What's the difference?
Time's arrows are spent.
A crone crow laughs
by the roadside palmetto,
laughs at my incompetence.
What use are words
when the true language
of mystery
is silence?


--Andrew Bellon, 2014



When I heard of the recent  passing of Andrew Bellon, I went out to the garden for a ponder.  

 An intermittent breeze wandered through the valley, catching the leaves just before they fell into a hazy doze. A dappled emerald canopy blurred the alabaster trunks of the birch trees. 

In the air-castles of my imaginings, Andrew has not truly gone, but has merely flown further along his journey into an ethereal enigma beyond the current reach of our senses. My deepest condolences go out to his loved ones. 





 I dedicate this small virtual space, populated though it is by ones and zeroes in lieu of flowers, to the memory of this contemporary writer, whom I respected as a poet, as an aesthete, and as a genuinely kind man. 






So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods nor sigh-tempests move....

--John Donne


Tim Buck expressed a subtle appreciation of the writing of Andrew Bellon in a post in Spectral Lyre in 2015: Poet Andrew Bellon and the Eternal Season



If you have either sung, or savored, the Rachmaninoff hymn Bogoroditse Devo, you might enjoy this endeavor of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, directed by Robert Shaw in 1989. I'd like to think Andrew would have enjoyed it. 




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rachmaninov Concerto No.2, Op.18 (Sviatoslav Richter, 1959)

















In Richter's hands, the musical score breathes, crouches, pounces, leaps into the air, and lands deftly, without losing a note of wild-ness.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I know a cure (Mirabai)



I know a cure for sadness:

Let your hands touch something that

makes your eyes

smile.

I bet there are a hundred objects close by

that can do that.



Look at

beauty's gift to us-

her power so great she enlivens

the earth, the sky, our

soul.



Mirabai (c. 1498-1550)




Saturday, May 13, 2017

and then he said



That evening, I was perched on the edge of my chair, tapping away on Tanya's keyboard, ignoring his presence on purpose. I was avoiding any attempt to appear attractive. I could have been wearing a lampshade, for all I cared. And he probably felt much the same. 

Out of curiosity, and for the sake of politeness, I inquired shyly if he had a favorite word. There was a bit of a cynical spark of acuity to him. 

And then he said --

However, in decent circles like this, you see, I can't repeat what he said. It was an off-color phrase consisting of 10 cryptic syllables, muttered in ironic iambic pentameter. 

What? -- I asked, unsure if i had heard him correctly --

And then he said it again.

It was a clap of thunder mixed with the honking of a flock of geese returning to their nests.  It was the musty scent of the soil after the snow has melted. It was the pungent and tender new needles on the tips of the spruce branches. It was the brash defiance of a man who had spent the bulk of his life with the chill of an Arctic wind nipping at his up-turned collar. It was the mother-tongue. 

I giggled. 

I don't know how he did it, it must have been a secret of his trade unknown to outsiders, a singular talent, like the ability to defuse a bomb. It was the sort of obscenity that might have distracted Amaterasu from her grief long enough to crack open the cave door. 

I had not expected him to be so dangerously funny. 







Emerald

I let you go, but you remain where devotion lingers with leaf-curtains drawn; and dreams gather in pools of verdigris; where c...

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