Quote: Blake’s “Clod and Pebble”

So sang the little Clod of Clay, / Trodden with the cattle’s feet: / But a Pebble of the brook, / Warbled out these metres meet.

Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience_copy_Z_object_32_The_CLOD_&_the_PEBBLE

This strikes me as eerily relevant to our times, even more so in principle.  Something to ponder.

Here’s the typed up text, in case you have difficulties reading Blake’s own hand:

‘Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.’

So sung a little clod of clay,
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

‘Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.’

~ William Blake, “Songs of Experience”

Woods in Winter by H.W. Longfellow

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear / Has grown familiar with your song; / I hear it in the opening year, / I listen, and it cheers me long.

We basically live in a clearing in the woods.  This poem very much rings true these days.

jasmin

Woods in Winter

When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

fireplace

“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice.

fire and ice5

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~ Robert Frost

fire and ice1

Like Coins Between a Dying Miser’s Fingers…

October turned my maple’s leaves to gold.

dandelion featured

Maple Leaves

October turned my maple’s leaves to gold;
The most are gone now; here and there one lingers;
Soon these will slip from out the twig’s weak hold,
Like coins between a dying miser’s fingers.

~  Thomas Bailey Aldrich

golden oak leaves featured

So, don’t trifle away the time allotted to you, esteemed visitor of this humble blog.

 

What for? Integrity!

“Dust thou art, to dust returnest, /
Was not spoken of the soul.”

In the course of our studies, we happened across Longfellow’s A Psalm Of Life recently, and two stanzas stood out to us in particular because combined, they provide a nutshell-answer to the eternal question “What do I live for?”.  First the stanzas, then a short paraphrase:

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “A Psalm Of Life”

The first quoted stanza conveys quite unmistakably that a man is more than his physical form.  While it is true indeed that we all are made of dust and will return to dust, the breath of life that was blown into us is not and does not.  The soul remains, unless I manage to offend the One that can destroy the body and the soul.

The second quoted stanza, then, defines what life down here is about: neither pleasure nor pain, but the process of becoming, one might say, what we were meant to be and what we were sent here for.  We are not down here to try and enjoy it all as best we can, regardless the cost, nor to endure everything resignedly without any efforts to make things better.

The goal is, in a word, integrity, that is, to grow in virtue every day, and by the time your time is up, have become the best version of yourself.  Why?  So that your soul may return to its maker better than it was when it left.

 

Featured:  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Statue

“Perched at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and M Street, the poet sits draped in his academic robe, staring out majestically from his tiny slice of traffic island. The statue was erected in 1909, and is said to be the country’s first statue commemorating a literary figure.”

For image and quote see Literary Landmarks in Washington @ www.arts.gov

If you are interested in the whole poem, you can find it and other information about it (for what it’s worth) in the “A Psalm of Life” Wiki entry.

 

Quote: Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken “

Enjoy the effortless union of joy and grief that points to something much greater while being perfectly ours at the same time.

There are these moments in life when poetry says it all.  Enjoy the effortless union of joy and grief that points to something much greater while being perfectly ours at the same time.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

Winged, Horned, and Spined…

“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why? /
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

We thought Gustave Doré’s Leviathan serves as a good illustration of the image Hardy evokes in verse 3…

As August is getting ready to leave, we invite you to enjoy this little insight into a writer’s night-time musings and company.

An August Midnight

I
A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter–winged, horned, and spined –
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands . . .

II

Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
– My guests parade my new-penned ink,
Or bang at the lamp-glass, whirl, and sink.
“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

~ Thomas Hardy

 

For the record:  The featured image is a crop from Gustave Doré’s The Destruction of Leviathan:

dore leviathan

I sit beside the fire and think, by J.R.R. Tolkien

I sit beside the fire and think / of how the world will be / when winter comes without a spring / that I shall ever see.

It’s only the beginning of August, but there is a chill in the air in the mornings that awakens the wistful thoughts of fall, and this little song, sung by old Bilbo comes to mind.  It’s not just the fall of the year, but the fall of life that beckons.

beside the fire

I sit beside the fire and think

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Cat, by J.R.R. Tolkien

… but fat cat on the mat /
kept as a pet, /
he does not forget.

Cat

The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.

The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard, dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps on his meat
where woods loom in gloom–
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet,
he does not forget.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Got one of these sitting on your mat, looking innocent?

On the blog Middle-earth Reflections you can find an interesting article about cats in Tolkien’s subcreation, concentrating on Tevildo, Prince of Cats and servant of Morgoth, what little is known of Queen Berúthiel and her cats, and some general musings on how cats have been viewed throughout the ages, plus a few comments.

Feline fall from favour: cats turn villains in Tolkien’s stories.

Some more info on the poem can be found at the Tolkien Gateway.
Featured image:  Illustration by Alan Lee, from Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien

And Pluck Till Time and Times are Done…

The silver apples of the moon, /
The golden apples of the sun.

What is it about apples anyway?  Well, here’s a wonderful little insight into a world view that is open for the other dimensions around us, and not blinded and numbed by what we call “science” these days.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

                                   William Butler Yeats

Featured image:  apple blossoms

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