“Somewhere deep within the marrow of our marrow, we were the same.” ~ Kamila Shamsie, from Kartography

Pablo Neruda sonnet xvii

                     

“y nadie puede, nadie puede evadir los pasos
del corazón que corre callado y carnicero”
(and no one — no one — can escape the heart’s progress
as it runs, silent and carnivorous.) ~ Pablo Neruda, from Sonnet LXXI (71), trans. Stephen Tapscott

Paris JLI Images telegraph co uk

Happy Anniversary, my love. One day, we will see Paris and all of the other places on our list.

Music by Elton John, “Love Song”

                   

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

~ Pablo Neruda

“The ‘ancient enmity between life and the great work.'” ~ R. M. Rilke

the-rose-by-cy-twombly-acrylic-on-plywood

“The Rose” by Cy Twombly (acrylic on plywood). Twombly has used phrases from Rilke’s poems on this series and a previous series of paintings.

“Build Your Life In Accordance With This Necessity” ~ Rilke

In 1903, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote 10 letters to a young man who was considering entering the German military. The young man, a poet, asked Rilke to criticize his poetry. Rilke’s correspondence lasted over five years. Upon Rilke’s death, the young man took the letters, omitted his own side of the correspondence, and published a valuable compilation of Rilke’s personal aethetics on poetry, the creative process, and life.

Letters to a Young Poet, written in Rilke’s native German, has been translated several times over the years, and is a favorite of poets and writers, particularly because of its honest depiction of a solitary artist’s unedited thoughts on writing. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that each translation bears the mark of the translator. In essence we are not supposed to see the translator, but that is a very hard feat to achieve.

The passage I have included below comes from a 1999 translation by Stephen Mitchell.

I chose this passage because it addresses the questions that I have been asking myelf of late: Do I have what it takes to be a writer? In response to Rilke’s question of whether or not I must write, the answer is a definitive yes. I must. I don’t know what would happen if I were forbidden to write. If my computer were taken away from me, it would be a hardship because writing by hand is harder on my hands, but I don’t think that it would keep me from writing. Not after coming this far.

It would slow down my output. But now that I am this disciplined about writing every day—every day—something I never imagined I would be able to do, I cannot imagine going back to not doing this. It is as natural as breathing to me. But I wish that I had a Rilke to look at my work and say, “Yes. You must keep doing this. It is outside you as much as it is inside you.” And then I would know that I have a chance. That May Sarton wasn’t the only late bloomer.

Enjoy this selection (emphasis added mine) from Letter #1, written in Paris in 1903:

You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you—no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: Must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don’t write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: They are the hardest to work with, and it takes great, fully-ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty—describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity, and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place.

And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds—wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance—And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: For you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it.

A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can’t give you any advice but this: To go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take the destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet (if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn’t write at all). Nevertheless, even then, this self-searching that I ask of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.

What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn’t disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to question that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer. ~ RMR

Perhaps tomorrow, my outlook will be more positive. More later. Peace.

“I Put The Words Down And Push Them A Bit” ~ Evelyn Waugh

calligram220copy

A Calligram: A poem, phrase, or word in which shape relates to meaning

Am I A Blonger?

“If there is on earth a house with many mansions, it is the house of words” ~ E.M. Forster

Today, I did a meme on someone else’s blog; the only catch was that the answers could only be one word. Now, for most people, that would probably not be a big problem. Yes. No. One word answers come easily to many people. Red. Paris. Orchids. But you have to understand, my brain is just not wired for short, simple answers, especially not the one-word kind.

I love words. I love to roll them around on my tongue, find new ones, use obscure ones. My love affair with words has been long and faithful (on my part, at least). I mention this because it goes a long way in explaining why giving just one word answers would take me much longer than a regular meme, in which I could write whatever I wanted.

“Words are the voice of the heart.” ~ Confucius

I finally stopped struggling with this particular meme, and just went with the first word that popped into my head. If not, I would still be working on my answers, and my blog would not be written. But this leads me to another confession, one that will probably not surprise some of you:

I am a blonger. There, I said it. I admitted it. It’s out there; I’ve been vetted as a blogger and found wanting. To put it bluntly, I write blogs that are too long for regular blogs: they are blongs. Of course, I had no idea that such a thing even existed until I came across the term on another blog on which the site’s owner (are we owners? hosts? moderators? I’ll get back to that), the site’s owner used the term blong.

Now, I know that the ear may not hear the l in blong, but trust me, bonger would really not apply to me. I take too many prescription pharmaceuticals to mess with anything else. Just wanted to clarify that. But the word is blong, which I trust means long blog, hence: blong. It really isn’t a pretty word, is it? But then, neither is blog. They are both words that your ear must adjust to hearing and your spell checker refuses to acknowledge.

The point is that I cannot write pithy posts. I’ve tried.  There is too much baggage there: English Instructor at a university; writer for an art museum . . . these do not lend themselves to pithy. In fact, I used to abhor the five-paragraph paradigm for compositions, and I would go out of my way to destroy any vestiges of that construct in my composition students. I wanted them to understand that it was a format that could be used if one were totally lacking in insight and creativity, but it was not the only format allowable.

However, I know that I have my detractors, people who say that I use too many words when fewer will suffice. And in some cases, I agree. When I am in my scientific/technical mode, I use as few words as possible to say what I mean because, of course, I am writing for a specific audience type and level. When I am in my marketing mode, I write in a totally different style, the one necessitated by the product and the audience.

“Words are alive; cut them, and they bleed” ~ Emerson

But this is my blog that we’re talking about. My blog is a reflection of me, of my thoughts, feelings, dreams, and despairs. I cannot pare that down to a few paragraphs. I do tend to have convoluted sentences in which the modifiers may not be obviously apparent as I am off on a tangent, and my aim is not to parse but to create a rhythm. I have found that very few people actually pay attention to rhythm in their writing, and that’s an injustice to fiction, epistolary writing, and essays. Rhythm is not just for poetry; it is for any writing that wants to be taken seriously.

journal-writing
I realize that my long blogs are not for everyone. You have to love words, and you have to understand my wit, which I will freely admit is not everyone’s cup of tea. But at the same time, I get very frustrated when I am surfing on a blogging community, and all that I see are one-sentence entries that aren’t even actually sentences (as in grammatically-correct sentences). These posts seem to belong in the realm of Twitter, which was made for short messenging, or IM (instant messenging). How can I leave a comment on a blog on which the entry is nothing more than, “Hello. I am here now.” Granted, that’s all that some people have to say, but . . .

WTF? I’m not asking for everyone to be profound or even profuse, but a “little less talk a lot more action,” as EP said.

Photographic/visual blogs are beautiful. They are not meant to be full of words because the communication format being employed is obviously visual as opposed to verbal. For most of these blogs, the visuals speak for themselves, and very often, leave me speechless because of the incredible talent that is being shared.

Blogs that are predominantly third person also kind of bother me when the site’s owner tries to pass off articles from other media as being his or her original material. If the blog’s intent is to expound upon a particular political philosophy, then it gives the site credence if sources are identified, and the writer does more than just post news; i.e., includes an editorial comment of some sort. Otherwise, what is the point? I’ll get my news from CNN, MSNBC, Salon, etc.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug” ~ Mark Twain

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not trying to establish rules for blogs. Far from it. I am only trying to explain why I cannot write short blogs and why short blogs get on my nerves. Let me break it down: After a while, some blogs that continually have very little in the way of content, tend to remind me of  some of the mainstream authors who I used to read, but no longer bother to buy. Why? Because their books are all the same now. They have found a winning formula; they are turning a new book out every year, and there is absolutely no substance in these new releases.

For example, when Patricia Cornwell first began her Kay Scarpetta series, it was groundbreaking. The character was thoroughly drawn, and the plots in the first few novels were tightly woven. But then I noticed something in the 5th and then 6th books. I was flying through them and not getting very much out of them. Cornwell was skating on her success. It happens.

Am I jealous? Well, in one sense, hell yes. Of course I’m jealous that she just has to name her next novel, and it is immediately guaranteed a space on the NYT booklist. She can name her terms. She has numerous assistants. Yes, of that I am jealous. But I am disappointed that what started out so promisingly has turned into predictable shelf-filler at warehouse stores.

But again, I digress . . .

My main point in this blog was to avow the assertion that I am a blonger. I write long blogs that are filled with digressions, prequels, sequels, and commentaries. I am unapologetic about it. I started this blog to immerse myself in writing on a regular basis. That aim has been achieved. But I have continued this blog because I have made several wonderful contacts from around the world, and I love to peruse other people’s blogs to see how other people think. I have also continued because I really love doing this.

“There is a time for many words. And there is also a time for sleep” ~ Homer

When I no longer enjoy it, I will stop. So on that note, enough for now. More later. Peace.

Tag: You’re It

Play Along For Fun

This is an easy one to let fellow bloggers know some of the things that you have accomplished in life without answering questions. Just bold what you have done, and unbold what you haven’t done, and repost. You may want to change the pictures to highlight the adventures that are more personal to you.

humpback-rocks-in-virginia
The Summit of the Humpback Rocks in Virginia

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (Been to Disneyworld)
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (writing poetry)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (does a baby goat count?)
26 Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

total-eclips-of-the-sun2
Total Eclipse of the Sun

29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Visited an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (I think that html  and xml should count)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (probably and just didn’t recognize it at the time)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (one of my favorites)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (wish that I had)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

moonlight-on-the-beach
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive in theater (those were fun)
55. Been in a movie (an extra in the movie Roller Coaster, totally unforgettable movie)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen (cooked for one once)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching

whale-watching-off-cape-cod
Whale Watching off Cape Cod

63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Visited the Holocaust Museum in D.C.)
67. Bounced a cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (yuck)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
(politicians and media?)
92. Joined a book club (I read too fast for clubs and don’t have the patience)
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (four)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone (to date, five; I’m hard on them)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day