BENSOZIA/

FLORILEGIUM

Thoughts, Ideas, Observations


We never know we go -- when we are going
     We jest and shut the door;
Fate following behind us bolts it,
     And we accost no more.

--Emily Dickinson

* * *

It little profits that an idle king
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 

I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees.  All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea.  I am become a name,
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known--cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. \
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life!  Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought....

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas.  My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me--
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads--you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices.  Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

--Tennyson, "Ulysses"

***

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon--do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion tough your spirit and your body
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon--you will not meet them
unles you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

--Cavafy

***

All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

--J.R.R. Tolkien

***

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

--Kahlil Gibran

***

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated, brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant –

stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’d come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling,
that you came to love it,that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

- Jane Hirshfield, "Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World"

***

Fear no more the heat of the sun,
   Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
   Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
   Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
   To the the reed is as the oak;
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
   Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
   Thou hast finished joy and moan;
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
No ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned by thy grave!

--Cymbeline IV, ii

***

She tells her love while half asleep,
   In the dark hours,
      With half-words whispered low:
As earth stirs in her winter sleep
   And puts out grass and flowers
      Despite the snow,
      Despite the falling snow.

--Robert Graves

***

Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
Are carved in lapis lazuli;
Over them flies a long-legged bird,
A symbol of longevity;
The third, doubtless a serving man,
Carried a musical instrument.

Every discoloration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent,
Seems a water course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry branch 
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

--W.B. Yeats, "Lapis Lazuli"

***

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

--Raymond Carver

***

She bids you on the wanton rushes lay you down,
And rest your gentle head upon her lap,
And she will sing a song that pleaseth you,
And on your eyelids crown the god of sleep.

--Henry IV Part 1 III.1

***

The sun now it shines on the green fields of France,
And a warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished under the plow,
There's no gas, no barbed wire, they're no guns firing now,
But here in this graveyard it's still no man's land
And the countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
To a whole generation that was butchered and damned.
Did they beat the drum slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the Death March as they lowered you down?
Did the band play The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play The Flowers of the Forest? 

--Eric Bogle


From the  Commonplace Book

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

--Keats

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