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San Juan de la Cruz, Dichos de Luz y Amor / St John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love

23 Feb

San Juan de la Cruz, Dichos de Luz y Amor

Las condiciones del pájaro solitario son cinco:
la primera, que se va a lo más alto;
la segunda, que no sufre compañía,
aunque sea de su naturaleza
la tercera, que pone el pico al aire;
la cuarta, que no tiene determinado color;
la quinta, que canta suavemente.



St John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
the second, that it does not suffer for company,
not even of its own kind;
the third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
the fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
the fifth, that it sings very softly.


Leaves of Grass and Selected Prose: To Think of Time

1 Jan

. . . . . . . . . .


To Think of Time


To think of time─of all that retrospection,
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward.

Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?

Is to-day nothing? is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing they are just as surely nothing.

To think that the sun rode in the east─that men and women were
flexible, real, alive─that every thing was alive,
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part,’To think that we are now hear and bear our part.

Walt Whitman

Great Religions of Modern Man, Islam: Listen to the tale of the reed flute… (Poem)

12 Aug

Listen to the tale of the reed flute
Complaining of the pain of separation:
“Since they tore me from the reed-bed,
My laments move man and woman to tears
O, for a bosom torn like mine with the wound of
That I may tell it of the pain of longing!
He who is far from his place of origin
Longs for the Day of the Return
In every company I tell my wailing song.
I have consorted with the unhappy and the joyous;
Each one becomes my friend for his own sake;
None asks the secrets of my heart.
My secret is not far from my plaint,
But eye and ear lack light to discern.”
Body from Soul and Soul from body are not veiled,
Yet to none is it given to see the Soul.
A fire is this noise of the reed-flute!
May whoso has no fire be nought.
The fire of Love has caught the reed;
The ferment of Love has changed the wine.
The reed is comrade to him who has lost his Friend,
It strains rend the veil from our hearts….
It tells of the mystic path of blood,
I recounts the love of Manjun for Layla.
In our woe life’s days are grown untimely;
My days move hand in hand with anguish.
Though they pass away thus, let them go!
Thou remainest, Incomparable Purity….
Yet he who is raw cannot understand ripeness,
Therefore my words must be brief:
Arise, oh my son, burst thy bonds and be free!
How long wilt though be fettered with gold and

Jalal al-Din Rumi:  Rumi (died 1273), the theologian of Persian poetry , came of an East Persian family which emigrated to Konya, the Saljuq capital of Muslim Anatolia (Rum), shortly before the Mongol invasions devastated Persia and Iraq.

But Rumi’s greatest work is the Mathnavi  “The Qur’an of the Persian Language,’ a vast poem containing fables, allegories and reflections on Sufi thought.  While it has little artistic unity, being apparently written in periods of inspiration over a long space of time.

Rumi also founded the Mawlawi or Mevlevi brotherhood, the “Whirling Dervishes,” whose mystical dance in the sama’, to recall the order of the heavenly spheres, is a sedate gyrating.  Sections of the  Mathnavi or the Diwan such as the superb opening “Song of the Reed Flute.” from the Mathnavi, which plaintively tells of the soul’s longing for God, the Source of its existence, were chanted at these sessions.

John Alden Williams Ed., Great Religions of Modern Man, Islam (George Braziller, New York,1962 p. 162-163)

Edgar Allen Poe • Sonnet – to Science

4 Apr



Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise?
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?



Selected Poems RILKE: Annunciation (Poem)

10 Dec



By Rainier Maria Rilke

(Words of the Angel)

You are not nearer God than we;
he is far from everyone.
and yet your hands most wonderfully
reveal his benison.
From woman’s sleeves none ever grew
so ripe, so shimmeringly;
I am the day, I am the dew,
you, Lady are the Tree.

Pardon, now my long journey’s done,
I had forgot to say
what he who sat in the sun,
grand in his gold array,
told me to tell you, pensive one
(space has bewildered me).
I am the start of what’s begun,
you Lady, are the Tree.

I spread my wings out wide and rose,
the space around grew less;
your little house quite overflows
with my abundant dress.
But still you keep your solitude
and hardly notice me:
I’m but a breeze within the wood,
you, Lady are the Tree.
The angels tremble in their choir,
grow pale, and separate:
never were longing and desire
so vague and yet so great.
Something perhaps is going to be
that you perceived in dream.
Hail to you! for my soul can see
that you are ripe and teem.

You lofty gate, that any day
may open for our good:
you eat my longing songs assay,
my word – I know now – lost its way
in you as in a wood.
And thus your last dream was designed
to be fulfilled by me.
God looked at me: he made me blind . . .
You, Lady are the Tree.

Selected Poems RILKE; Translated with an Introduction by J. B. Leishman (Penguin Books Ltd. Harmonsworth, Middlesex, England Copyright 1964 Reprinted 1967) p.26


In July 1902, a month before his first arrival in Paris, Rilke had published the first edition of his Book of Images (Buch der Bilder), containing poems written between 1898 and 1901, poems which might perhaps be described as neo-romantic, with, at their best, a peculiar combination of the descriptive, the evocative, and the symbolic, but still, for the most part. and in comparison with what he was soon to achieve, more or less obviously ‘poetic’ treatments of obviously ‘poetic’ subjects and moods.

Ibid. p.14




William Blake: Auguries of Innocence

15 Aug

William Blake (1757–1827)

TO see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage                                               5
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro’ all its regions.
A dog starv’d at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.                                          10
A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing,                                      15
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul.                                        20
The wild deer, wand’ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus’d breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher’s knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve                                       25
Has left the brain that won’t believe.
The owl that calls upon the night
Speaks the unbeliever’s fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov’d by men.                                        30
He who the ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by woman lov’d.
The wanton boy that kills the fly
Shall feel the spider’s enmity.
He who torments the chafer’s sprite                               35
Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf
Repeats to thee thy mother’s grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the last judgment draweth nigh.                               40
He who shall train the horse to war
Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar’s dog and widow’s cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer’s song                           45
Poison gets from slander’s tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt
Is the sweat of envy’s foot.
The poison of the honey bee
Is the artist’s jealousy.                                                      50

The prince’s robes and beggar’s rags
Are toadstools on the miser’s bags.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;                                                  55
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro’ the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.                                           60
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands;
Throughout all these human lands
Tools were made, and born were hands,                        65
Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye
Becomes a babe in eternity;
This is caught by females bright,
And return’d to its own delight.                                        70
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar,
Are waves that beat on heaven’s shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath
Writes revenge in realms of death.
The beggar’s rags, fluttering in air,                                  75
Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier, arm’d with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer’s sun.
The poor man’s farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric’s shore.                                     80
One mite wrung from the lab’rer’s hands
Shall buy and sell the miser’s lands;
Or, if protected from on high,
Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant’s faith                                        85
Shall be mock’d in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne’er get out.
He who respects the infant’s faith
Triumphs over hell and death.                                          90
The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt                                      95
Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known
Came from Caesar’s laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race
Like to the armour’s iron brace.                                        100
When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket’s cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet’s inch and eagle’s mile                                    105
Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt,
They’d immediately go out.                                                110
To be in a passion you good may do,
But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
The harlot’s cry from street to street                                115
Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.
The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,                                                     120
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie                                                     125
When we see not thro’ the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;                              130
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

Paradise Lost • From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Image)

21 Jun

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608-1674). It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, changed into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil’s Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification. It is considered by critics to be Milton’s “major work”, and the work helped to solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time.

The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s purpose, stated in Book I, is to “justify the ways of God to men”

Milton’s story has two narrative arcs: one is of Satan (Lucifer) and the other is of Adam and Eve. It begins after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished to Hell, or, as it is also called in the poem, Tartarus. In Pandæmonium, Satan employs his rhetorical skill to organise his followers; he is aided by Mammon and Beelzebub. Belial and Moloch are also present. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers to poison the newly-created Earth and God’s new and most favoured creation, Mankind. He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus or Aeneas. After an arduous traverse of the Chaos outside Hell, he enters God’s new material World, and later the Garden of Eden.

At several points in the poem, an Angelic War over Heaven is recounted from different perspectives. Satan’s rebellion follows the epic convention of large-scale warfare. The battles between the faithful angels and Satan’s forces take place over three days. The final battle involves the Son of God single-handedly defeating the entire legion of angelic rebels and banishing them from Heaven. Following the purging of Heaven, God creates the World, culminating in his creation of Adam and Eve. While God gave Adam and Eve total freedom and power to rule over all creation, He gave them one explicit command: not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil on penalty of death.

The story of Adam and Eve’s temptation and fall is a fundamentally different, new kind of epic: a domestic one. Adam and Eve are presented for the first time in Christian literature as having a full relationship while still being without sin. They have passions and distinct personalities. Satan, disguised in the form of a serpent, successfully tempts Eve to eat from the Tree by preying on her vanity and tricking her with rhetoric. Adam, learning that Eve has sinned, knowingly commits the same sin. He declares to Eve that since she was made from his flesh, they are bound to one another so that if she dies, he must also die. In this manner, Milton portrays Adam as a heroic figure, but also as a greater sinner than Eve, as he is aware that what he is doing is wrong.

After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve have lustful sex, and at first, Adam is convinced that Eve was right in thinking that eating the fruit would be beneficial. However, they soon fall asleep and have terrible nightmares, and after they awake, they experience guilt and shame for the first time. Realizing that they have committed a terrible act against God, they engage in mutual recrimination.

Eve’s pleas to Adam reconcile them somewhat. Her encouragement enables Adam and Eve both to approach God, to “bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee”, and to receive grace from God. Adam is shown a vision by the angel Michael, in which Adam witnesses everything that will happen to mankind until the Great Flood. Adam is very upset by this vision of humankind’s future, and so Michael also tells him about humankind’s potential redemption from original sin through Jesus Christ (whom Michael calls “King Messiah”).

Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden, and Michael says that Adam may find “a paradise within thee, happier far”. Adam and Eve also now have a more distant relationship with God, who is omnipresent but invisible (unlike the tangible Father in the Garden of Eden).



Satan, as drawn by Gustave Doré, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.