Tuesday, 17 March 2009

John Donne's "The Ecstasy"

The Ecstasy, by John Donne (1572-1631)

Where, like a pillow on a bed
         A pregnant bank swell'd up to rest
The violet's reclining head,
         Sat we two, one another's best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
         With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
         Our eyes upon one double string;
So to'intergraft our hands, as yet
         Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
         Was all our propagation.
As 'twixt two equal armies fate
         Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
         Were gone out) hung 'twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
         We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
         And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin'd
         That he soul's language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
         Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
         Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take
         And part far purer than he came.
This ecstasy doth unperplex,
         We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
         We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
         Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again
         And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
         The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
         Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
         Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
         Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
         Of what we are compos'd and made,
For th' atomies of which we grow
         Are souls. whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
         Our bodies why do we forbear?
They'are ours, though they'are not we; we are
         The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
         Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses' force to us,
         Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven's influence works not so,
         But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
            Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
         Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
         That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers' souls descend
         T' affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
         Else a great prince in prison lies.
To'our bodies turn we then, that so
         Weak men on love reveal'd may look;
Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
         But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
         Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
         Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.


I scarce think I have read much that more wonderfully captures the mysterious electric quality of romantic love between two people - how it amalgamates, harmoniously, across the three planes: physical, intellectual/emotional, spiritual.

Life is so peculiar: there is a certain disjointed quality about most deep human interactions, in that you attempt to create a bridge drawing upon the inherent shared human condition, but yet can never exactly connect. You strive to communicate that perfect common shared knowledge, but it has elements that are inherently uncommunicable through ordinary language: what is required is the faith that another person can, and indeed does, have that same unbounded existential awareness.

It is true that, as Deepak Chopra says, we fear the most what has already happened to us. By repeating the same script we cause events to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Writing a new script is difficult and requires courage, but is in principle, always possible, every day.

So, in essence, metaphysically, sometimes the truest communication between two people is the language shared by simply being, doing nothing, wrapped in each other's arms.

I am aware such talk sounds terribly sentimental, but it is sentimental by virtue of the fact that it is surely true!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Surface tension

The fresh uncertain opening shapes me
A window lets flickering sunbeams enter
The stirring it quells, by my centre softly
How by thy very touch, gravity formed, held
in trust: ceaseless tide now can waxing meld


Indyeah will probably know to what, precisely, this poem refers. :-)

Hopefully it is something we have all felt, if for however brief, at some point in our lives.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Tennyson: The Eagle

Far too tired to put much of a post up this evening after a eventful, emotional, and overall excellent weekend. So I will let a master's words speak for me instead:

The Eagle (1851) by Alfred Tennyson

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Friday, 6 March 2009

A dry riverbed

the black rubicon sits silently
by my bedside, quietly waiting
unheeded, saturated of silence
the texts that never arrive
the yearning sent out into the aether

unmatched, a lonesome soliloquy
words without imprint
a substance without effect

I scream out and tear into the face of God
pithily silent
the weight of absence slowly descends
so I learn presence

moments noticed, kept
stored in the archive of distant hope
from which, lost, I try not to mope

but at last, furtively shone
as batteries drained, electricity gone
I finally collapse,
a discarded broken toy

the earth descends,
in soil I rust
in truth I slip
in trust, I must
for without which
I am but a sound without voice.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

These four walls

Sometimes, you don't even get the opportunity for words.

Am I but a fool, wandering aimlessly?

Love, where hast thou departed to?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Memory enrobed

fallen moments
truth, sprinkled and scattered
as dust motes weave their blooming effusion
each circling, highlighting those very facets
of that which we saw, but as yet did not fully understand

entangled in memory's robe
I know because I fade
dispersed within the veil
of bounty's delight
revealed as the light scatters
second chances opined
thoughts refracted

our striving our lens
our hope: our final submission

Debussy: Arabesque No.1

Yukiko Makise

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Music of Words, the Words of Music, the Music of Life

Music can be a gift almost beyond measure. In a way that is difficult for any other form of Art to match, it can stir the emotions and draw forth from the soul what can scarcely be explicated - the Source that is the Mystery that lies at the heart of life.

It does sometimes pain me that I believe I do not possess any musical talent. I adore music beyond measure - but it is not something that my over analytical brain is good at creating itself.

Instead, I can merely recognise greatness, the larger Greatness that lies beyond it all - the deepest realm of the human condition. So therefore, I am an avid listener.

I sometimes feel so incredibly privileged to share the company of some people I meet. Someone who is, to use the cliché, but true, a beautiful person.

If that person also happens to possess a fabulous musical talent, so that their very being shines through in every word they sing, I feel humbled - and honoured to be in their presence.

I do not possess the vehicle for expressing the music in myself - so all I have are words.

Words - can I raise them into a concerto of paragraphs?

Music can express that which cannot be written. Words can express that which cannot be directly communicated by music.

Words or music. Or both. Either together, individually... they all possess a power a moment a grasping a perfection a sublimity a chance a hope a within a being a divinity.

Can I find the words to express the tears that roll down my cheeks? Can I find the words to express the focus I draw upon in concentration? Can I find the words to express the strength that picks up me when every hope is seemingly lost? Can I find the words to express the beauty I see everywhere around me? Can I find the words to express the dark abyss that opens under me? Can I find the words to express the pain of this abyss? Can I find the words to express the love I draw from this abyss? Can I find the words to express the always present ambiguity and complexity of life? Can I find the words to express the Man that I want myself to be? Can I find the words to express the Man I want the world to see? Can I find the words to express the dream that closing the gap to that Man within myself represents?

Can I find the words to express the ocean of warmth I feel, when, in that infinity of but a mere instant, I look deep into her eyes?

Can I find the words to express that which, in the service of words, only deserves nothing less than the exceptional, shining, radiant, glorious and effervescent luminous energy that, truly, words in the service of language; in the service of the human condition; in the service of those great spiritual depths... deserves, unconditionally.

The quest for those perfect words, that perfect living poetry is the same quest as to find that love.

I feel that I must do everything I can, give everything I have got, strive to go far beyond all that I am capable of, somehow find a way, to capture, if only for a moment, those precious few words that will crystallise a glimmering of that which I most want to share.

Will I be able to find those words? Will I be able to write them? Will I even possibly be able to utter them?

When it matters most, when that brief split second arrives, can I find the symphony of words that will stir her soul?

Can I raise the words sufficiently high to tap into that ocean of feeling that the finest music evokes.

And so I feel daunted; only a few have a mastery of language so complete and so sufficient that every single one of their very words dance upwards in a serenade of exquisite resonance.

Every time I strive to type something attempting to express to terrain of Truth, each letter for me carries an awesome responsibility - a responsibility to add something of beauty and value to the world. Words! My only real creative outlet. Can I serve that which rises far beyond?

I find the prospect of writing poems and literature terrifying - yet you can only reach within, reach further, to find and in your craft expose that very aspect of your being.

Shakespeare is of course rightly seen as one of those true masters. Sonnet number 53:

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you but one, can every shadow lend.
Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit
Is poorly imitated after you;
On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,
And you in Grecian tires are painted new:
Speak of the spring, and foison of the year,
The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
The other as your bounty doth appear;
And you in every blessed shape we know.
In all external grace you have some part,
But you like none, none you, for constant heart.

Meeting someone can be the spark that picks you up, ready to strive to face the challenge, to search to find those words. If they are themselves someone who draws upon the source, they then become a fountain of personal inspiration for you.