“For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “The Snow Man”
Tuesday afternoon. Clear and cold, 31 degrees.
We were hit with snow, sleet, and freezing rain yesterday and into the night, so of course the whole area is shut down. It’s quiet, though. Funny how you don’t notice the quiet until it’s there.
I always love waking up after snow because there is a blue light hovering outside the windows and a dampening of all of the grating sounds of cars and trucks and noise in general. But I was reminded of my father last night as Corey was complaining of being cold: My father, who hated winter, hated snow, hated the cold . . . my father who would rather stay on a ship thousands of miles away for months at a time rather than be in a city blanketed with winter.
Too Much Snow
Unlike the Eskimos we only have one word for snow but we have a lot of modifiers for that word. There is too much snow, which, unlike rain, does not immediately run off. It falls and stays for months. Someone wished for this snow. Someone got a deal, five cents on the dollar, and spent the entire family fortune. It’s the simple solution, it covers everything. We are never satisfied with the arrangement of the snow so we spend hours moving the snow from one place to another. Too much snow. I box it up and send it to family and friends. I send a big box to my cousin in California. I send a small box to my mother. She writes “Don’t send so much. I’m all alone now. I’ll never be able to use so much.” To you I send a single snowflake, beautiful, complex and delicate; different from all the others.
~ Louis Jenkins
Smelling the Snow
I’ve heard it said
there are those on such
close terms with night
they can smell the very light.
Not only does the moon,
they say, give off a scent
nothing like the sun’s,
but old moon smells
sweeter than slivered new.
Monks of old claimed sin
took the breath away, while
God was wild onion, lilac, pine.
I know a carpenter who
boasts he can sniff out a maple
in a woodlot of ash and oak.
A stalking cat knows
the unsinging sparrow
from the finch. This day
as it returns to Ohio, like
some feathery creature
seeking the very moon and tree
where it was born,
I can smell the snow,
which seems to me,
against the dark trees
moving in slow procession,
a few birds stark and silent,
an essence close to love.
But any old fool can smell love.
~ David Citino
Music by Joan as Police Woman, “To Survive”
Ugh. Just ugh. Complete lack of energy and numb headache make for a very blah day. I did complete my book bingo, though. At first I was going for the first things that popped into my head, but then that got really hard as nothing was popping into my head; I’d remember a plot, but not the title . . . remember a title, but not the author. Goodreads to the rescue again.
Not sure why resolution is off or why some words appear to be in bold. Let me know if it’s unreadable. Enjoy.
More later. Peace.
Music by Patrick Watson, “Turn into the Noise”
Ode to the Book
When I close a book
I open life.
slide down sand-pits
Among the islands
throbs with fish,
touches the feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar.
The ocean’s surge is calling.
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio–
I got a telegram
from the “Mine” Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won’t let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.
No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to fill me up
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes,
I come out of books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won’t go clothed
I don’t come out
of collected works,
have not eaten poems–
feed on rough weather,
and dig their food
out of earth and men.
I’m on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I’m going down into the streets.
I learned about life
from life itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach no one anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.
How Well Do You Know The Opening Lines Of Famous Books?
Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and warmer, 50 degrees.
Yesterday for a while it felt like this migraine was finally going away completely . . . then I woke up this morning, and . . . you guessed it . . . headache BACK!
Another short one just to let you know that I’m still alive. I found this quiz on BuzzFeed, and I’m hoping the book lovers out there will enjoy it as much as I did. Try to ignore the misspelling of Anna Karenina and the fact that they have put the book titles in quotations instead of italics.
Here is a sample:
- Emma, by Jane Austen
- David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
- Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
- Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Let me know how you did in the comments section.
I am also including a bit from an essay by Dylan Thomas, called “Notes on the Art of Poetry.” Over the years, extracts from this essay have been melded into a poem of sorts, but I like it better in its original prose form (click here to read in its entirety). Thomas wrote the essay in 1951 in response to a query from a college student hoping to learn more about craft. Here is my selection:
. . . What I like to do is treat words as a craftsman does his wood or stone or what-have-you, to hew, carve, mould, coil, polish and plane them into patterns, sequences, sculptures, fugues of sound expressing some lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt or conviction, some dimly-realised truth I must try to reach and realise.) . . . I read indiscriminately, and with my eyes hanging out. I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sand-storms and ice-blasts of words, such slashing of humbug, and humbug too, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights breaking across the just-awaking wits and splashing all over the pages in a million bits and pieces all of which were words, words, words, and each of which was alive forever in its own delight and glory and oddity of light.
. . . All that matters about poetry is the enjoyment of it, however tragic it may be. All that matters is the eternal movement behind it, the vast undercurrent of human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation, or ignorance, however unlofty the intention of the poem.
. . . You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in.
More later. Peace.
Music by Tom Odell, “Long Way Down”
“Books are solitudes in which we meet.” ~ Rebecca Solnit, from “Ice”
Friday evening. Cloudy and very cold, 27 degrees.
Hello. Long time no write.
Well, it has not been an auspicious first half of February. The never-ending migraine starts and stops and starts and stops, and sitting in front of this screen is well nigh impossible. It’s not that my post draft folder isn’t full to overflowing; unfortunately, it’s that I just can’t do this as much as I want to because of the whole eye pain issue.
Anyway, I don’t really have a leftovers post in the form in which I normally post one, but I do have this little tidbit for you quote collectors out there. I’m only including a few in this post. Click on the link to see all of them. I think it’s a great selection. Hope you enjoy.
More later (sooner, I hope). Peace.
An irresistible page-turner is a wonderful thing, but the very greatest novels pack sentences so prevailing that you stop reading, lower the book and simply live in the words for a moment. Here we pay tribute our 40 most powerful sentences in novels.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
Author: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
And Yet the Books
And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it’s still a strange pageant,
Women’s dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.
~ Czeslaw Milosz