Category “Art”

Blood Tide on a Violet Shore

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He Lost Control

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If

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: » Continue reading “If”

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The Swimming Lesson

The Swimming Lesson

Feeling the icy kick, the endless waves
Reaching around my life, I moved my arms
And coughed, and in the end saw land.
Somebody, I suppose,
Remembering that medieval maxim,
Had tossed me in,
Had wanted me to learn to swim,
Not knowing that none of us, who ever came back
From that long lonely fall and frenzied rising,
Ever learned anything at all
About swimming, but only
How to put off, one by one,
Dreams and pity, love and grace,-
How to survive in any place.
– Mary Oliver

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A Fire in Rome

Hubert Robert (undated, he lived 1733-1808), A Fire in Rome.

“[…] the age is now senile […] the World itself […] testifies to its own decline by giving manifold concrete evidences of the process of decay.  There is a diminution in the winter rains that give nourishment to the seeds in the earth, and in the summer heats that ripen the harvests.  The springs have less freshness and the autumns less fecundity.  The mountains, disembowelled and worn out, yield a lower output of marble; the mines, exhausted, furnish a smaller stock of the precious metals: the veins are impoverished, and they shrink daily.  There is a decrease and deficiency of farmers in the field, of sailors on the sea, of soldiers in the barracks, of honesty in the marketplace, of justice in court, of concord in friendship, of skill in technique, of strictness in morals. […] Anything that is near its end, and is verging towards its decline and fall is bound to dwindle. […] This is the sentence that has been passed upon the World […] this loss of strength and of stature must end, at last, in annihilation.” – Cyprian (~3rd Century A.D.), Ad Demetrianum.

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The Ancient of Days

William Blake (1794), Europe a Prophecy.

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Mahler’s Klavierquartettsatz in A minor

Mahler only wrote a single quartet.  I think feel that’s because he, more than any other composer, tried to encapsulate everything, the World, the Universe, into each of his works – and the quartet was too restrictive in form for him.  I also feel think he was the most philosophical of the master composers.

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“Only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable; add faith;
Add virtue, patience, temperance; add love,
By name to come called Charity, the soul
Of all the rest: then wilt thou not be loth
To leave this Paradise, but shall possess
A Paradise within thee, happier far.”

– John Milton (1667), Paradise Lost.

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Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

– Carl Sandburg

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On Nature

(1844) Ralph Waldo Emerson

The rounded world is fair to see,
Nine times folded in mystery:
Though baffled seers cannot impart
The secret of its laboring heart,
Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast,
And all is clear from east to west.
Spirit that lurks each form within
Beckons to spirit of its kin;
Self-kindled every atom glows,
And hints the future which it owes.

There are days which occur in this climate, at almost any season of the year, wherein the world reaches its perfection, when the air, the heavenly bodies, and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature would indulge her offspring; when, in these bleak upper sides of the planet, nothing is to desire that we have heard of the happiest latitudes, and we bask in the shining hours of Florida and Cuba; when everything that has life gives sign of satisfaction, and the cattle that lie on the ground seem to have great and tranquil thoughts. These halcyons may be looked for with a little more assurance in that pure October weather, which we distinguish by the name of the Indian Summer. The day, immeasurably long, sleeps over the broad hills and warm wide fields. To have lived through all its sunny hours, seems longevity enough. The solitary places do not seem quite lonely. At the gates of the forest, the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he makes into these precincts. Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. Here we find nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men that come to her. We have crept out of our close and crowded houses into the night and morning, and we see what majestic beauties daily wrap us in their bosom. How willingly we would escape the barriers which render them comparatively impotent, escape the sophistication and second thought, and suffer nature to intrance us. The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. The anciently reported spells of these places creep on us. The stems of pines, hemlocks, and oaks, almost gleam like iron on the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. How easily we might walk onward into the opening landscape, absorbed by new pictures, and by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home was crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the tyranny of the present, and we were led in triumph by nature. » Continue reading “On Nature”

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