Saturday, December 16, 2017

in praise of mortality, excerpt






.



Earth, isn't this what you want? To arise in us, invisible?
Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly
there's nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not transformation,
is your deepest purpose? Earth, my love,
I want that too. Believe me,
no more of your springtimes are needed
to win me over - even one flower
is more than enough. Before I was named
I belonged to you. I seek no other law
but yours, and know I can trust
the death you will bring.



–Rainer Maria Rilke



.





Friday, December 15, 2017

again and again






.


Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

–Rainer Maria Rilke


.




Thursday, December 14, 2017

listen

 



 .


There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. 
As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth, and old age, so too at the time of death he attains another body. 

The wise are not deluded by these changes. 


–The Bhagavad Gita


.





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

After Visiting Hours







.

All unnecessary weight is eliminated. . . . Even the brain cells needed for song are lost and replaced seasonally in some birds.
All the Birds of North America, p. 63

...


At midnight, in the sunroom of the ward,
when you’re locked in your pajamas, stupid
with heartbreak, and your throat a frozen stream,
you’ll read how birds in winter lose their minds,
or lose that part that urges them to sing—
each glad cell dying in the blood, until
they know no love but the sparse, sterile seed,
the bitter pills that fatten and preserve
their hearts against this thoughtless cold, this dark.

And yet they seem at peace with this: they love,
they turn away from love, they wait for love
to come for them again, and trusting, sing
the song they knew was gone for good—I knew
you’d come back, I knew it, I knew you’d come.










Sunday, December 10, 2017

Late Ripeness







.




Not soon, as late as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.


One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.


And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.


I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.


We forget — I kept saying — that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.


We were miserable, we used no more than a hundredth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.


Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago -
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashes before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef — they dwell in us,
waiting for a fulfillment.


I knew, always, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.


–Czeslaw Milosz


 
 .






Saturday, December 9, 2017

the day you die is like any other day but only shorter –Beckett






.



“Before you go,” said Mr. Kelly, “you might hand me the tail of my kite. Some tassels have come adrift.”

Celia went to the cupboard where he kept his kite, took out the tail and loose tassels and brought them over to the bed.

“As you say,” said Mr. Kelly, “hark to the wind. I shall fly her out of sight tomorrow.”

He fumbled vaguely at the coils of the tail. Already he was in position, straining his eyes for the speck that was he, digging in his heels against the immense pull skyward …


–Samuel Beckett
Murphy, 1938



.




Friday, December 8, 2017

lucky



 

.



We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

This is another respect in which we are lucky. The universe is older than a hundred million centuries. Within a comparable time the sun will swell to a red giant and engulf the earth. Every century of hundreds of millions has been in its time, or will be when its time comes, 'the present century'. Interestingly, some physicists don't like the idea of a 'moving present', regarding it as a subjective phenomenon for which they find no house room in their equations. But it is a subjective argument I am making. How it feels to me, and I guess to you as well, is that the present moves from the past to the future, like a tiny spotlight, inching its way along a gigantic ruler of time. Everything behind the spotlight is in darkness, the darkness of the dead past. Everything ahead of the spotlight is in the darkness of the unknown future. The odds of your century being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. In other words, it is overwhelmingly probable that you are dead.

In spite of these odds, you will notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. People whom the spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not reached, are in no position to read a book . . . What I see as I write is that I am lucky to be alive and so are you.


–Richard Dawkins