“Now you’re on your own
Only me beside you
Still, you’re not alone
No one is alone
No one is alone …
You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something’s bound to linger
No one acts alone.”
―Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
A foretaste of Autumn arrived this past Monday night, as we had thunder and lightning, and a mad cloudburst that had us scurrying to close windows and pile towels against the insult to the wood floor. That morning’s sunrise had been spectacular pink spread across a multilayered cloud bank of white and blue and golds, and we’d expected the sunset to be just as bright. It was, in slices and sections – but the rain rolled in.
I’m a fan of sunsets, though – and as the chamber group I’m auditioning for (over a long period of three weeks, yikes) is preparing for a winter concert called “Silent Night/Glorious Day,” I’m currently learning a great many new pieces to do with sky, light, night, and darkness. This week’s favorite is Stephen Chatman’s Sunset from his choral suite, “Due West.”
And the words, the words… what a perfectly lovely, dreamy, Poetry Friday feast to share.
When the sun sets West
Feathered shift of sky
Satin clouds undress
Heaven’s kiss bids the flat light goodbye.
Endless calm, red mist,
Glistening golden beams –
Gently they are kissed, by night’s dark melting blaze…
When the sun sets West, sets West,
And the clouds undress, undress… When the sun sets West.
More poetry at Today’s Little Ditty
“And for adults, the world of fantasy books returns to us the great words of power which, in order to be tamed, we have excised from our adult vocabularies. These words are the pornography of innocence, words which adults no longer use with other adults, and so we laugh at them and consign them to the nursery, fear masking as cynicism.
These are the words that were forged in the earth, air, fire, and water of human existence, and the words are: Love. Hate. Good. Evil. Courage. Honor. Truth.”
―Jane Yolen, TOUCH MAGIC: FANTASY, FAERIE & FOLKLORE IN THE LITERATURE OF CHILDHOOD
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone; it’s spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953
“This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin, THE FARTHEST SHORE
“I’ll miss the sea, but a person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing him to grow. Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Duke Leto Atraides, DUNE
A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.
–Madeleine L’Engle, A WRINKLE IN TIME
Arise, Go Down
It wasn’t the bright hems of the Lord’s skirts
that brushed my face and I opened my eyes
to see from a cleft in rock His backside;
it’s a wasp perched on my left cheek. I keep
my eyes closed and stand perfectly still
in the garden till it leaves me alone,
not to contemplate how this century
ends and the next begins with no one
I know having seen God, but to wonder
why I get through most days unscathed, though I
live in a time when it might be otherwise,
and I grow more fatherless each day.
For years now I have come to conclusions
without my father’s help, discovering
on my own what I know, what I don’t know,
and seeing how one cancels the other.
I’ve become a scholar of cancellations.
Here, I stand among my father’s roses
and see that what punctures outnumbers what
consoles, the cruel and the tender never
make peace, though one climbs, though one descends
petal by petal to the hidden ground
no one owns. I see that which is taken
away by violence or persuasion.
The rose announces on earth the kingdom
of gravity. A bird cancels it.
My eyelids cancel the bird. Anything
might cancel my eyes: distance, time, war.
My father said, Never take your both eyes
off of the world, before he rocked me.
All night we waited for the knock
that would have signalled, All clear, come now;
it would have meant escape; it never came.
I didn’t make the world I leave you with,
he said, and then, being poor, he left me
only this world, in which there is always
a family waiting in terror
before they’re rended, this world wherein a man
might arise, go down, and walk along a path
and pause and bow to roses, roses
his father raised, and admire them, for one moment
unable, thank God, to see in each and
every flower the world cancelling itself.
“Arise, Go Down” from The City In Which I Love You. Copyright © 1990 by Li-Young Lee.
Poetry Friday today is hosted at Reflections on the Teche.
Kindness has never weakened one in pursuit of righteousness, undermined the pursuit of justice, or lessened the strength of an argument. – Cory Booker
“to the artist, to make the most of time”
a little bird once laid on me
intelligence in four short words
“be here right now.” philosophy
astonishing if not absurd –
we’re always Here. we’re always Now,
but humans linger in the past
endless Regretfuls we allow
to turn Today to overcast
so mindfulness in pithy phrase
may Zen-pretentiousness suppose,
but practice it – the mind’s malaise
will fade to nothing, decompose
friend Robin sang and told a True
I strive for all my waking days:
“take risks! make messes! and pursue
both Love and Art, without delay.”
I carry the card I received from Robin Smith at the end of April, and read it from time to time. “Are you writing?” she asked. That’s how she ended every note, email, or card. Am I writing? Yes. It’s hard some days, and I think, The market is so weird right now; I’m not going to sell this, no one wants to hear this type of life…, but that isn’t her question, is it?
Are you writing? Are you refusing to do anything but be in the moment, and put it on the page? Then, you’re doing the job.
Our Jules did Robin proud in a profoundly moving Horn Book tribute. Sometimes having the right words is itself a gift. ♥