“We are right at the start, do you see. As though before everything. With a thousand and one dreams behind us and no act.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Notes on the Melody of Things” (Section I)

I began this post Sunday afternoon, and then my computer decided to act up again. All of the script errors are back, and now whenever I do a search, half of the results page is blank. I’ve scanned for malware, and the scan says that everything is fine, but obviously, everything is not fine. I am so weary—these recurring computer issues always seem to rear their ugly head precisely at the moment in which I have decided to post, that exact moment in which I am finally ready to sit here and just let the words pour forth.

The fates conspire against me.


Sunday afternoon, partly cloudy, 43 degrees.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote “Notes on the Melody of Things” in 1898, when he was only twenty-two years old, but the piece was not published in his lifetime. Many of the same ideas from “Notes” appeared in another essay, “The Value of theMonologue.” I have chosen to share just a few of my favorite passages, but you can find the full text here.

III. That occurs to me: when I observe: that we still always paint people against a gold background, like the Italian Primitives. People stand before something indefinite—sometimes gold, sometimes gray. Sometimes they stand in the light, and often with an unfathomable darkness behind them.

XVI. Whether it be the singing of a lamp or the voice of a storm, whether it be the breath of an evening or the groan of the ocean — whatever surrounds you, a broad melody always wakes behind you, woven out of a thousand voices, where there is room for your own solo only here and there. To know when you need to join in: that is the secret of your solitude: just as the art of true interactions with others is to let yourself fall away from high words into a single common melody.

XX. In other cases, when there is no difficult, heavy pain to make people equally silent, one of them hears more of the powerful melody of the background, the other hears less. Many no longer hear it at all. They are like trees that have forgotten their roots and now think that the rustling of their branches is their power and their life. Many people don’t have time to hear it. They are impatient with every hour enveloping them. These poor, homeless people have lost the meaning of existence. They strike the keyboard of their days and play the same, monotonous, lost note over and over again.

XXI. If, then, we want to be initiates of life, we must keep two things in mind:

First, the great melody, in which things and scents, feelings and pasts, twilights and desires, all play their parts; —

and second: the individual voices which augment and complete this full chorus.

Today is the birthday of novelist and playwright Frances Hodgson Burnett (November 24, 1849 – October 29, 1924), author of one of the first books that I chose to read as a child, The Secret Garden (1911). I still have a very clear memory of the local library’s children’s section, the exact location of the stacks I used to spend countless hours perusing in search of books to read.

I also read her other well-known book The Little Princess (1905), which was turned into a movie with child actor Shirley Temple, but I much preferred a lesser known book The Lost Prince (1915). Even as a child, I had a propensity for finding an author and dedicating myself to reading as much of that author’s oeuvre as I could get my hands on. When you are an only child, books can be a reliable bulwark against loneliness, as they were for me.

More later. Peace.


Music by Ben Cocks, “So Cold”

“Isn’t it terrible how dry you can be . . . I can’t seem to write a single paragraph which interests me. It’s like looking for something in the dark, there’s such a huge amount of chance in writing.” ~ Robert Phelps, from a letter to James Salter (March 1, 1969-70)

Statue of Liberty by Jeff Nesanelis (FCC)

Sunday afternoon, cloudy, not quite as hot, 86 degrees (feels like 93)

We’re supposed to get rain. We need it. Last night was quite a light show of lightning in the distance, but the rain never got here. Corey parked my car where it can be rained on because it’s so dirty. I never used to let my vehicles get this dirty.

I thought that I’d share part of an interview with writer Catherine Chung from the June 18 “Ten Questions” feature in Poets & Writers. I like this particular feature as I find it interesting to read what writers have to say about their craft. P&W is a wonderful publication, one that I really should take better advantage of, but as with most things, I do not.

Oh well . . . Know thyself, as they say.

Here are Chung’s answers to two of the questions asked:

2. What was the most challenging thing about writing the book?
My mind! My mind is the biggest challenge in everything I do. I write to try to set myself free, and then find myself snagged on my own limitations. It’s maddening and absurd and so, so humbling. With this book, it was a tie between trying to learn the math I was writing about—which I should have seen coming—and having to confront certain habits of mind I didn’t even know I had. I found myself constantly reining my narrator in, even though I meant for her to be fierce and brilliant and strong. She’s a braver person than me, and I had to really fight my impulse to hold her back, to let her barrel ahead with her own convictions and decisions, despite my own hesitations and fears.

3. Where, when, and how often do you write?
I write where I can, when I can. I’ve written in bathtubs of hotel rooms so as not to wake my companions, I’ve written on napkins in restaurants, I’ve written on my phone on the train, sitting under a tree or on a rock, and on my own arm in a pinch. I’ve walked down streets repeating lines to myself when I’ve been caught without a pen or my phone. I’ve also written on my laptop or in a notebook at cafes and in libraries or in bed or at my dining table. As to how often I write, it depends on childcare, what I’m working on, on deadlines, on life!

Here is a link to the list of P&W “Ten Questions” features.

P.S. Thought I’d post the beautiful sonnet by Emma Lazarus to which I alluded in yesterday’s post, “The New Colossus,” which is mounted on a plaque on the pedestal below the Statue of Liberty. You know, the universal symbol of freedom, that woman who greets immigrants to a better life here in the U.S.


Music by Mumford & Sons, “White Blank Page”


The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

~ Emma Lazarus

Happy Father’s Day

Image result for picture of dad holding kids hand


Sunday afternoon, sunny, chance of thunderstorms, 79 degrees.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads, stepdads, granddads, and single dads and single moms doing the job of being both mom and dad, and all of the other unsung heroes out there . . . Hope you have a wonderful day and year.


My Papa’s Waltz

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother’s countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

~ Theodore Roethke


Music by Michael Paul Lawson, “Memories and Throttle”

Sunday afternoon . . .

(Creative Commons)

Sunday afternoon, sunny, 82 degrees.

Road trip today to Roanoke to pick up two more goats, female Nubians, so no time for a post. I’ve been wanting to use the following selection from The Upanishads, so I thought today would be a good day. One day I’ll read more of these texts (for more information on these ancient Indian philosophies, go here).

More later. Peace.

From “Eternal Stories” from The Upanishads (Tr. Thomas Egenes):

“Look Balaki,” the king said. “Do you see that spider?”

“Yes,” said Balaki, “I see the spider moving along its web.”

“We are like the spider,” said the king. “We weave our life, and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.

“This is true for the entire universe. That is why it is said, ‘Having created the creation, the Creator entered into it.’

“This is true for us. We create our world, and then enter into that world. We live in the world that we have created. When our hearts are pure, then we create the beautiful, enlightened life we have wished for.”

(Didn’t get home until almost 11 p.m. Very long day. Much hotter in Roanoke, in the 90s. Forgot to post before we left.)


Music by Aisha Badru, “Bridges”

“The other two cannot make money fortune telling. This is because they only tell the truth, and the truth is not what people want to hear. It is a bad thing and it troubles people, so they do not come back.” ~ Neil Gaiman, from American Gods

Palmistry (ca. 1850-1899)

“Girls with poison necklaces
to save themselves from torture.
Just as women wear amulets
which hold their rolled up fortunes
transcribed on ola leaf.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from “Buried”

Sunday afternoon, sunny, and mild, 66 degrees.

Not a whole lot to say today, so something a big different.

The desire to predict and know the future is as old as human history. The ancient Assyrians, among many civilizations, consulted their mystics before battle. The Romans revered their astrologers. The oracles of the ancient Greeks relayed the words of the gods. Soothsayers, prophets, augurs, astrologists, palm-readers, pyromancers, phrenologists, tarot readers, clairvoyants, and fortune-tellers—the categories are near endless, and people have claimed to divine the future from peering into everything from animal entrails to urine.

Regardless, whether you believe or scorn, the idea of fate features prominently in poetry and fiction, and in this post, I’m featuring the words some of my favorite authors and poets: Neil Gaiman, Michael Ondaatje, and Louise Glück.

Enjoy.


Theory of Memory

Long, long ago, before I was a tormented artist, afflicted with longing yet
incapable of forming durable attachments, long before this, I was a glorious
ruler uniting all of a divided country—so I was told by the fortune-teller
who examined my palm. Great things, she said, are ahead of you, or perhaps
behind you; it is difficult to be sure. And yet, she added, what is the difference?
Right now you are a child holding hands with a fortune-teller. All the
rest is hypothesis and dream.

~ Louise Glück


Music by Diana Krall, “Simple Twist of Fate”

Sunday afternoon . . .

How my books look . . .
found on bookshelf porn

 versus

How I’d like my reading room to look . . .

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away” ~ Emily Dickinson, from 1286

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.

reading bingo

More later. Peace.

                   

Music by Patrick Watson, “Turn into the Noise”

                   

Ode to the Book

When I close a book
I open life.
I hear
faltering cries
among harbours.
Copper ignots
slide down sand-pits
to Tocopilla.
Night time.
Among the islands
our ocean
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.
The wind
calls me
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 typography,
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,
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
but hate
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
in volumes,
I don’t come out
of collected works,
my poems
have not eaten poems–
they devour
exciting happenings,
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.

~ Pablo Neruda

 

Sunday afternoon . . .

“My brother once showed me a piece of quartz that contained, he said, some trapped water older than all the seas in our world. He held it up to my ear. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘life and no escape.’” ~ Anne Carson, from Plainwater: Essays and Poetry

Sunday afternoon. Drizzly and cool, 64 degrees.

Corey is outside with the chipper shredder processing all of the trees and shrubs that he and Mike cut down yesterday. It was a massive undertaking, but one that had to be done.

The pain from my trigger point injections on Friday is finally receding, which is a good thing because I have so many things that I need to do. We’ll see how much I’m able to accomplish. I have to say, though, that I’ll be really glad when that noise is over. Two days of really loud equipment going all out right outside my bedroom window is really hard on the head.

But then again, what isn’t?

Here. Have something pretty . . .

More later. Peace.

                   

Reblogged from All That is Odd:
source
Five Fascinating Beaches Around the World
Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California

Fort Bragg residents used to throw their garbage (including glass bottles) over a cliff onto the beach before it was outlawed in 1967. Over the decades the waves and sand have broken down the glass into smooth, rounded pieces.
(Photo: mlhradio/Flickr)

Jokulsarlon Lake – Iceland

The glacial lake is located in the Vatnajokull National Park, and the shore is filled with huge pieces of ice resting on black volcanic sand. But what really makes this beach unique is that during the winter, it is the perfect place to see the breathtaking northern lights.
(Photo: Ingo Meironke/Flickr)

Bowling Ball Beach – Schooner Gulch, California

The rocks at the Schooner Gulch State Beach are almost perfectly round due to a natural process called concretion.
(Photo: John K/Flickr)

Shell Beach – Shark Bay, Australia

This beach is home to billions of coquina bivalve shells instead of fine grains of sand. The water has a high salt concentration that attracts the shelled creatures.
(Photo: Stefan L/Flickr)

Maldives Beach – Republic of the Maldives

This beach in the Maldives lights up at night, thanks to microscopic organisms called bioluminescent phytoplankton. The organisms respond to changes in the water. Any movement will leave an impressive trail of bluish lights.
(Photo: Exilism/Flickr)

                   

Music by Sleeping at Last, “Ruby Blue”