Rarely does the rain taste like tears

IMG_1569
image by TTQ cc; Uncommon Folk exhibit at MaM

Whirlwind of a rainbow, blind eye of the storm.
Keeper of the bear lodge, brave heart soon to rest.

Never have I seen the clouds like this, never have I seen the river white caps whipped so, such rare light marking off in sacred four directions.

Rarely does the rain taste like tears.

Rain, rain, rain, in my tears / Measuring carefully my years --Uriah Heep
Rain, rain, rain, in my tears / Measuring carefully my years –Uriah Heep Image by Robert via Flickr CC.

Tonight my heart is breaking, yet bursting with gratitude – such dichotomy is the stuff of growth and pain.

Life gives us this and more, and in death the reminder of how short and sweet and tumultuous and tender this gift is.

stained glass glow
stained glass windows; church in NJ, image by TTQ CC license

…the storm shall soon pass, with it that kind-hearted Whirlwind and in doing so will leave us all the better for knowing him.

We sit, still in ceremony with all of you. Prayers are felt.

Doug Ellis via Flickr CC license candle light prayer circle
candle light prayer circle

 

For you who know where I sit tonight, I cannot describe the quality of the light of setting sun on the storm clouds.

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sunset storm clouds over Lake Michigan

(We listen) to the wind whip around the house and he laughs! Fitting to go out in a storm he says… The spikes of light in the cardinal points, something very surreal about it all…

diamonds
image by QThomas Bower, via Flickr CC

My love to everyone in the down south lodge.

Here in the north it’s become a powerful night.

Rainbow Curls image by Kris Williams via Flickr CC license
Rainbow Curls, Iceland image by Kris Williams via Flickr CC

 

–Kristen Andrews

I found this lovely, incredibly moving tribute posted by Kristen Andrews somewhere on Facebook a while ago.  Such beautiful words, such heart wrenching imagery, such love and beauty — it makes my heart ache.

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Wise Words from Bob Ross

http://mentalfloss.com/article/65452/20-bob-ross-quotes-make-life-better

candle
caNdLE image by Sykez Tom via Flickr CC.

“You need the dark in order to show the light.”

 

 

 

-Reji simplicity is beauty
Simplicity is Beauty image by -Reji via Flickr CC.

“Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is everywhere—you only have to look to see it.”

 

 

 

tree friend
A tree is a friend. Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”

 

 

 

 

that tree2
Friend of That Tree Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC.

“Just go out and talk to a tree. Make friends with it.”

that tree
Friend of That Tree Image by The Tromp Queen, via Flickr CC.

 

 

 

Sandy Brown Jensen
Here I Go image by Sandy Brown Jensen via Flickr CC license.

“The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.”

 

 

 

 

Mark Chadwick Fluid Painting 92
Mark Chadwick, Fluid Painting 92 via Flickr CC.

“We artists are a different breed of people. We’re a happy bunch.”

For Belonging

I have been searching my mind for wise words to share. I keep coming up empty. Fortunately I found these words to share instead. May the New Year be a year of peace, grace and love for each of you.

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Soul Gatherings

For Belonging
by John O’Donohue

May you listen to your longing to be free.

May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.

May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart.

May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.

May the sanctuary of your soul never become haunted.

May you know the eternal longing that lives at the heart of time.

May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.

May you never place walls between the light and yourself.

May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you,
mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

_______________________________________

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Scratching the Surface

Be the bridge. Be the light. Be there. image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Be the bridge.
Be the light.
Be there.
image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

This time of year seems to be filled with peace, joy and love… but when the surface is scratched there is often sorrow, pain and sadness.

I’m praying for several very sad, troubling, desperate situations for various friends and families.

Take time to really listen and be there just in case YOU are the one who is the bridge,
the safety net,
the strong hand to hold.

Be kind.
Be patient.
Be light and salt.

Most of all — be there.

Passion

Every once in a while I hear or see an interview that immediately draws my attention and holds it.  Often the topic might be something I know very little about or may be about something obscure or something I am not at all interested in —  but the person speaking about it is SO passionate that I can’t help but care!

Carlos Santana

I heard Carlos Santana in an interview such as this one evening on PBS.  He made quite an impression on me.  He speaks with such insight and obvious passion about his music — about life — about screaming charisma and conviction.

(African Music) It pitches your whole existence into a state of joy that can’t be bought. (It has) intensity of spirit and joy.

Real musicians remind the listener of a forgotten song inside them. And when you hear that forgotten song, you know, you get chills, you get tears, you dance, and you don’t even know why,

Music is to glorify the light in you.

I give a chance to give voice to the invisible ones.

Victory is won already, you know?  And the only enemy is fear.  (They) talked about that a lot. You transform fear with your supreme joy, you know? (Commenting on what he learned from Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu).

Listen to the whole interview here:

 

 

or here:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec13/santana_12-09.html

 

I’m also intrigued by non-famous passionate people.  I enjoy hearing them talk about their work.

In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

An interview I saw on a PBS Newshour last fall completely bowled me over.  This woman’s passion for knowledge and for exploration nearly burst through the TV screen.  I wish every child could have a science teacher like Carolyn Porco,  the leader of the Cassini imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

 

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec13/cassini_11-29.html

Read more about the mission and see more photos here.

Saturn and Earth from Cassini. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

 

Tiny Tethys and Saturn’s rings. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

 

Possible variations in chemical composition from one part of Saturn’s ring system to another are visible in this Voyager 2 picture as subtle color variations that can be recorded with special computer-processing techniques. This highly enhanced color view was assembled from clear, orange and ultraviolet frames obtained Aug. 17 from a distance of 8.9 million kilometers (5.5 million miles). In addition to the previously known blue color of the C-ring and the Cassini Division, the picture shows additional color differences between the inner B-ring and outer region (where the spokes form) and between these and the A-ring. The Voyager project is managed for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. NASA/JPL

See?  I got pulled into the vortex!  These images are absolutely stunning and amazing.  Check out more of NASA’s space images here.

 

Speaking of ordinary people who are extraordinary:

If you have never heard this young woman speak, please consider watching at least part of this video.

Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, 16, rose to international fame when she was shot in the head last October for speaking out against the Taliban’s ban on girl’s education. Malala made a remarkable recovery, becoming the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Margaret Warner talks to Yousafzai about her mission. —PBS Newshour.

 

I always enjoy hearing about the “behind the scenes” people — the people in the trenches — the people slogging through some tedious, long, possibly dangerous or nearly hopeless project.  I found this story, featuring the work of National Geographic photographers who happen to be women, intriguing not only because of their obvious passion for their work and for this project but for their insights and the resulting art.

You can read the transcript here.

 

I come to the conclusion that passionate people make the best art.  They make the best music, the best photographs, the best books. They also make pretty terrific teachers, scientists, and well — people in general.

Antique Archaeology (via Facebook)

 

Many of my friends know that I am “hooked” on Antique Archaeology, a TV show featuring Frank Fritz and Mike Wolfe.  These two guys drive around the country in a white van, looking for “rusty gold” (i.e. what most people would call “junk”) to buy and sell.  I love the show because they are passionate about what they do.  They are passionate about preserving history and historical objects.  They meet interesting and passionate people who care about the same things.  Who knew people could get so excited about rusty old signs and dirty old motorcycles?  I’m drawn to the LOVE they have for what they do, and to the respect they have for each other, for the items they buy and sell, and for the people with whom they deal.

 

 

Another show I admit being “hooked” on is Project Runway.  It is one of those “someone gets cut from the group every week” shows. The premise is fashion designers working on tight deadlines and tight budgets to create fashion forward and on trend garments which meet specific parameters set by the show’s producers and hosts.  The fashions are judged and then the worst and best designs are chosen.  “One day you are in, the next day you are out” is Heidi Klum’s famous line from the show.  The mentor for the designers is Tim Gunn. He is passionate about his job and about helping each of the designers bring the best out of themselves.  The designers are (mostly) passionate about what they do and about what they are creating.  When people care and have a lot at stake, tempers can flare and drama can occur.  But wonderful things can happen as well!  Often kind, wonderful, beautiful moments come about in the midst of all the stress and self-doubt.

 

And because I never seem to know when to stop…a few last thoughts and quotes to leave with you:

Many charismatic and passionate (and famous) people spring to mind: Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela, Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Not many of these people would leap to mind as “passionate artists” but they all share a passion for their chosen life’s work —  and for humanity.  Maybe each of these folks will get their own blog post about this topic some time in the future! We shall see.

Jacque Cousteau nearly convinced me to become a marine biologist!

via melanieandbill.com

via 33mediatumblr

via25mediatumblr
viaemediatumblr

 

 

 

 

eremophilia

Eremite

Everyone once in a while, I come across a word that I have never heard before or that I may have heard but have no idea (or can not remember!) what it means.

Eremite is one of those words.  I heard it in a song that I played for our local high school choir sometime last school year.  I searched around for some insight into the word, and wrote nearly all this post many months ago while I was searching.  One of my endeavors this year is to attempt to publish all my drafts (or decide they are not worth sharing and thus delete them).

Harry L. Heffelfinger wrote:

I recently received a question from a colleague of my wife’s asking about the word eremite. I believe that the word means ‘religious recluse’. The question arose because Robert Frost made reference to Keats’s eremite in one of his poems. Could you help us to understand the word and who may have been Keats’s eremite?

An eremite (pronounced ERR-uh-mite) is indeed a ‘religious recluse’, someone who, from religious motives, has retired into a solitary life. Both eremite and hermit came into English late in the 12th century and were used interchangeably for over 400 years. Hermit is now the more common word. In Modern English, especially since the 16th century, eremite is most often used poetically or to create a certain effect. Time magazine referred to J.D. Salinger as “the eremite of Cornish, N.H.” in a 1999 article.
The Greek adjective eremos means ’empty or desolate’. From this came the noun eremia ‘desert’. Toward the end of the 3rd century, it became common for Christians in Egypt to go into the desert, where they lived a solitary life of contemplation and asceticism. A person who did this was known as an eremites in Greek or an eremita in Latin. An eremite is, therefore, literally ‘someone who lives alone in the desert’.  *from Wikipedia

In the poem “Bright Star,” Keats speaks of “nature’s patient sleepless Eremite.” The reference is to an unidentified star which, like a hermit, sits apart from the world. Frost, in “Choose Something Like a Star,” refers to the steadfastness of “Keats’ Eremite.” I’ll leave it to those of you who are interested to look up the full texts of the poems. They can be easily found on the Internet.

Here are a few more words to expand your vocabulary:
“eremic” means ‘relating to deserts’
“eremophilia” is ‘a love of solitude’
“eremophobia” is ‘a fear of being alone’

 

I’m struck by the opposite definitions of the last two words in that short list.  “Philia” denotes an “abnormal love for a specified thing” or an “undue inclination” for something.  “Phobia” is a label we use for “extreme or unnatural fear” of something.

 

Text of the sonnet Bright Star
Text of the sonnet Bright Star (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bright Star
by John Keats
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art —
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
No — yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever — or else swoon to death.

Addressed to a star (perhaps Polaris, around which the heavens appear to wheel), the sonnet expresses the poet’s wish to be as constant as the star while he presses against his sleeping love. The use of the star imagery is unusual in that Keats dismisses many of its more apparent qualities, focusing on the star’s steadfast and passively watchful nature. In the first recorded draft (copied by Charles Brown and dated to early 1819), the poet loves unto death; by the final version, death is an alternative to love.

The poem is punctuated as a single sentence and uses the rhyme form of the Shakespearean sonnet (ababcdcdefefgg) with the customary volta, or turn in the train of thought, occurring after the octave.

from Frostiana, “Choose Something Like a Star”
(Randall Thompson, Lyrics by Robert Frost)

Embed from Getty Images

“My thoughts are stars I can not fathom into constellations.”

(Gus, from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green).

related posts:

http://onpoetry.blogspot.com/2011/11/bright-star-john-keats.html

http://poemshape.wordpress.com/2009/05/10/bright-star-by-john-keats-his-sonnet/

 

Stained Glass: Columbus, Ohio — Broad St. Presbyterian

Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Broad St. Presbyterian Church, Columbus, OH
Photos by The Tromp Queen, CC license
church in NJ
church in NJ

Solar Prominence: March Inspiration 5

Astronomy Picture of the Day
From the Astronomy Picture of the Day for March 4, 2014:  Explanation: Dramatic prominences can sometimes be seen looming just beyond the edge of the sun. Such was the case last week as a large prominence, visible above, highlighted a highly active recent Sun. A waving sea of hot gas is visible in the foreground chromosphere in great detail as it was imaged in one specific color of light emitted by hydrogen. A solar prominence is a cloud of solar gas held just above the surface by the Sun’s magnetic field. The Earth, illustrated in the inset, is smaller than the prominence. Image Credit & Copyright: jp-Brahic. 

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140304.html

 

You are Magic: March Inspirations 3

image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC:  Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)
image by Steven DePolo via Flickr CC: Inspirational quotes from Qiqi Emma (Jan 18, 2010)

you are magic

I found these wonderful photos on Flickr (Creative Commons). How can one NOT be inspired by these incredibly adorable encouraging messages from this loving child?

Inspirational Wall Slogans from Chennai India

The capacity to care is the thing that gives life its deepest meaning and significance.
The capacity to care is the thing that gives life its deepest meaning and significance.
Light lights another and its light does not grow less.
Light lights another and its light does not grow less.
Look for strengths in people, not weaknesses, for good, not evil.  Most of us find what we search for.
Look for strengths in people, not weaknesses, for good, not evil. Most of us find what we search for.

All Images by McKay Savage; Chennai, India October 2009.

One of Chennai’s lovely quirks of public space are these series of inspirational and motivational wall slogans in several areas of the city. The sequence is from along GN Chetty Road in Chennai as you approach Gemini Flyover and is one of the longest stretches.

You can see more of these wall slogans in McKay Savage’s Flickr Photstream.

March 2 (retroactive March inspiration post)

February Haiku Project Continued: 19 to 24

February Haiku Project Continued:  19 to 24

image by Conrad Kuiper via Flickr CC
image by Conrad Kuiper via Flickr CC

Stark shadows on snow.
Branches cast graphic shapes:
Nature’s modern art

Fragile bunny tracks
Trail the length of my sidewalk.
Snow too deep for hops?

image by Nedra via Flickr CC
image by Nedra via Flickr CC
image by The Tromp Queen, all rights protected (please don't copy)
image by The Tromp Queen, all rights protected (please don’t copy)

Anything better
than a roomful of girl teens
laughing and talking?

(Answer:  No! life is good)

 

image by Bob Haines GSFC Photo Club via Flickr CC, stained glass Library of Congress in DC
image by Bob Haines GSFC Photo Club via Flickr CC, stained glass Library of Congress in DC

Late afternoon sun —
Long winter shadows on snow —
Golden light shimmers

Ebony sketches
As ink on pastel batiks —
Twigs, branches, sky glow.

(I wrote this thinking about tree branches silhouetted against the sunset, but this stained glass window captures the look, color, texture, and the feeling so I’m going with the “non-literal” illustration this time.)

February 2 Haiku: Folk Art and Pink Ice

Quick trip to peruse
Folk Art special exhibit
Quilts, carvings, uniques

Lunging bird building
glimpse of pink reflected light
wings glide smoothly closed

Evening sky’s palette
creates pretty pink Lake ice
Mind’s eye:  capture.  click.

Lake Michigan pastel sunset, pink ice image by TTQ cc
Lake Michigan pastel sunset, pink ice image by TTQ cc

We went to the Milwaukee Museum of Art this afternoon for a brief but very enjoyable visit. We saw the new Uncommon Folk exhibit.

As we were leaving, I looked back at the beautiful museum building. The evening sun was being reflected on the lovely wings. I tried to capture a quick photograph, but as always, light is nearly impossible to reproduce.

image by TTQ cc; Milwaukee Art Museum at twilight
image by TTQ cc; Milwaukee Art Museum at twilight

We drove north along the frozen shore of Lake Michigan. The sky was an Impressionist’s dream of pale violets, pinks, blues, peaches, and tinted white. The frozen ice reflected the pink light most of all. Here and there bare black branches of trees cast stark silhouettes against the pastel beauty. A few chunks of ice sparkled on the icy surface, like gems strewn about. There was no opportunity to stop safely for a photo, so the image will stay in my mind and as clumsily conveyed in my words here and haiku above.

Going Away

Now as the year turns toward its darkness
the car is packed, and time come to start
driving west. We have lived here
for many years and been more or less content;
now we are going away. That is how
things happen, and how into new places,
among other people, we shall carry
our lives with their peculiar memories
both happy and unhappy but either way
touched with a strange tonality
of what is gone but inalienable, the clear
and level light of a late afternoon
out on the terrace, looking to the mountains,
drinking with friends. Voices and laughter
lifted in still air, in a light
that seemed to paralyze time.
We have had kindness here, and some
unkindness; now we are going on.
Though we are young enough still
And militant enough to be resolved,
Keeping our faces to the front, there is
A moment, after saying all farewells,
when we taste the dry and bitter dust
of everything that we have said and done
for many years, and our mouths are dumb,
and the easy tears will not do. Soon
the north wind will shake the leaves,
the leaves will fall. It may be
never again that we shall see them,
the strangers who stand on the steps,
smiling and waving, before the screen doors
of their suddenly forbidden houses.

“Going Away” by Howard Nemerov, from New Poems. © University of Chicago Press, 1981.  Featured on Writer’s Almanac, October 4, 2013.

This poem brings me back to the emotions I lived with most of last year. I tried to describe something quite similar to this poem’s scenario in my this feels final poem and post.  I’m pleased to report that I’m no longer living daily in this emotion. Slowly I’m adapting to my new life, making friends and finding new favorite places.  I still have days when I look back, but most days I’m looking forward or at least being present in my now.

I want to share this poem with photos I found on Flickr (Creative Commons!) to remember that time and to be thankful the pain isn’t quite so immediate now. I appreciate all the love, support and encouragement I’ve had from friends (and family) far and near, in person and through technology. Thank you for being with me on this journey.

We did have an offer on the house back in the other town late last fall, but the deal fell through.  I know some of these feelings and emotions of loss and separation will come rolling back when the house sells. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to face it when it happens. Somehow, I will be.

The thingness of light: James Turrell

James Turrell, Houghton Skyspace
James Turrell, Houghton Skyspace (Photo credit: mira66)

“I want to look at light, rather than have light illuminate another thing,” says artist James Turrell. “I’m interested in the thingness of light itself, so that light is the revelation.”

“There is truth in light.”

English: James Turrels "Space that sees&q...

This guy BOUGHT A CRATER in Arizona and has been working to turn it into a work of art for the last 30 years!!

James Turrell

Satellite view of Roden Crater, the site of an...
Satellite view of Roden Crater, the site of an earthwork in progress by James Turrell outside Flagstaff, Arizona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two separate shots side-by-side looking up toward the ceiling in the middle of the Guggenheim Museum in New York during James Turrell’s light exhibition Aten Reign. cc license Shankbone

I have always been entranced by the color of light at different times of the day and how it illuminates the air itself (or so it seems at certain moments).  Monet, other Impressionists, and artists in general experimented (and still do!) with new techniques to attempt to capture light on canvas.  The best photographers are masters of capturing the nuances of light, shadow, color and contrast.

Here are a few of my attempts to capture light:

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In June 2009, my family went on a camping trip to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana.  We have been there dozens of times but this day was magical.  The fog had settled into the chasms and was lifting as the sun beams began to peek into the caverns.

Thankfully I captured several photos before I dropped my camera on the rocks and it landed in a small stream.  True story! My camera was relatively new and I had to spend part of the next day to go buy a new one because we were just starting our vacation.  But these photos and the fact that they somehow survived the death of my camera, more than made up for the loss in my opinion.  These are some of my favorite photos EVER that I have taken.

On the trail that day we talked with some people who said they had walked that trail usually about 2 times a week for at least the last 20 years  but they never saw the light like it was that misty morning.

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She dealt her pretty words like Blades —

English: Daguerreotype of the poet Emily Dicki...
English: Daguerreotype of the poet Emily Dickinson, taken circa 1848.  From the Todd-Bingham Picture Collection and Family Papers, Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been having trouble sleeping again. Emily Dickinson has been keeping me company. I wrote a post recently mulling over her poems about “Finite Infinity.” (Click here to read that post).

The book I’ve been reading, published by Alfred A. Knopf, is from the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets series.  Poems I quote below come from the first section of the Dickinson Poems book: The Poet’s Art.

Cover of "Dickinson: Poems (Everyman's Li...
Cover via Amazon

The poems that have stuck in my mind now deal with words — the struggle of putting images into words, of finding the exact words to describe a feeling or emotion, of how to convey “Truth” in words, and the all-too-common problem of writer’s block (having no words at all!).

I was not an English Major in college, but I do love words and poetry.  I enjoy thinking about the ideas and meanings, and I enjoy thinking about how the poetry is related to my life and experiences.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

2
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —

Here she seems to be saying “Sure, tell the truth, but do it carefully.”  Tell it slant.  Beat around the bush a bit.  Ease into it. Then Emily zaps us with her last two lines:  Truth’s “superb surprise” must be told gently —  “dazzle gradually”  — or we will all be blinded by it.

English: Sunflower A single sunflower grown in...
English: Sunflower A single sunflower grown in a back garden in South Yorkshire in 2oo6 set against a summer sky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3
To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie –
True Poems flee –

I get this feeling whenever I see a gorgeous sunset, an amazing natural vista, or get overwhelmed by anything beautiful.  I wish I could paint.  I wish I could capture the view in a photograph.  I wish I could describe it with words.  I think Emily is saying that poetry, even the best of it, can not truly capture the essence of what it one may be attempting to describe.  True Poems flee and are impossible to contain in words and books.

English: The Saturday morning launch, overlook...
English: The Saturday morning launch, overlooking Prospect Lake, in downtown Colorado Springs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4
I would not paint — a picture —
I’d rather be the One
Its bright impossibility
To dwell — delicious — on —
And wonder how the fingers feel
Whose rare — celestial — stir
Evokes so sweet a Torment —
Such sumptuous — Despair —

I would not talk, like Cornets —
I’d rather be the One
Raised softly to the Ceilings —
And out, and easy on —
Through Villages of Ether —
Myself endued Balloon
By but a lip of Metal —
The pier to my Pontoon —

Nor would I be a Poet —
It’s finer — own the Ear —
Enamored — impotent — content —
The License to revere,
A privilege so awful
What would the Dower be,
Had I the Art to stun myself
With Bolts of Melody!

I think the irony of Emily wishing not to be a Poet is wonderful! She relates a hint of her struggles with the words “impotent” and “privilege so awful.”  Is she wishing to be a musician in the last two lines — “Had I the Art to stun myself With Bolts of Melody!” –?  She certainly has the talent to stun us with her words.

knives

6
She dealt her pretty words like Blades –
How glittering they shone—
And every One unbared a Nerve
Or wantoned with a Bone –

She never deemed – she hurt –
That – is not Steel’s Affair –
A vulgar grimace in the Flesh –
How ill the Creatures bear –

To Ache is human – not polite  —
The Film upon the eye
Mortality’s old Custom –
Just locking up – to Die.

This reminds me of the saying:  Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me.  I’ve always felt this is UNTRUE!  Words DO hurt.  They can sometimes hurt for decades.  Emily is well aware of the power of words, and this poem makes that abundantly clear.

Candle Light Life -- creative commons -Spi- via flickr
Candle Light Life — creative commons -Spi- via flickr

10
The Poets light but Lamps —
Themselves — go out —
The Wicks they stimulate —
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns —
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference —

Candle Light Pattern.  hyperboreal creative commons license via flickr
Candle Light Pattern. hyperboreal creative commons license via flickr

In this poem, I hear Emily saying that a Poet’s job is to light the lamp, say what is in their heart, do the best they can.  Then if they have done their job well — the light (of their words, their poems) will continue to illuminate like the sun, for ages and ages, growing and spreading as time goes by.  Each generation will refocus and reinterpret the words through their own filter (lens), but if the words are True — they will continue to be True.

English: Aesculus hippocastanum seed sprouting
English: Aesculus hippocastanum seed sprouting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

13
A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

This poem (13) relates to the one above (10) quite well.  Again, Emily is aware of and reminding us of the power of words. They are not dead, but alive and continue to live long after they are created (spoken or written).

14
A Word dropped careless on a Page
May stimulate an eye
When folded in perpetual seam
That wrinkled Maker lie

Infection in the sentence breeds
We may inhale Despair
At distances of Centuries
From the Malaria —

Plasmodium sporozoite traverses the cytoplasm ...
Plasmodium sporozoite traverses the cytoplasm of a mosquito midgut epithelial cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here again, Emily’s topic is the power of words.  In this case she warns of the danger of careless words. I don’t think it is an accident that she uses the analogy of an infectious and deadly disease like Malaria to emphasize her point.  Words can fester and the after effects (to inhale despair) can rage for centuries. The image is exceptionally vivid, and her message is heard.

English: boulder Boulder beside the footpath.
English: boulder Boulder beside the footpath. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15
Could mortal lip divine
The undeveloped Freight
Of a delivered syllable
‘Twould crumble with the weight.

These few lines convey so much!  Emily keeps driving home this point of the power, the heaviness of words.  I think she must have struggled extensively with which words to say and which to left unsaid.  Did each word feel like a boulder?  A boulder she had to push uphill?  We can only imagine.

Ilica waves17
To tell the Beauty would decrease
To state the Spell demean —
There is a syllable-less Sea
Of which it is the sign —
My will endeavors for its word
And fails, but entertains
A Rapture as of Legacies —
Of introspective Mines —

My summary:  There are no words!  If I could find the words to describe the Beauty, I am afraid the Beauty will lessen.  If I were in a place like a calm sea where no words exist, I would still be looking for the right words and still be failing.  But I have the Joy of remembering and thinking about the Beauty forever.

Communion.  BerniceSheppard, creative commons license via flickr
Communion. BerniceSheppard, creative commons license via flickr

22
Your thoughts don’t have words every day
They come a single time
Like signal esoteric sips
Of the communion Wine
Which while you taste so native seems
So easy so to be
You cannot comprehend its price
Nor its infrequency

My favorite line in this one is the first:  “Your thoughts don’t have words every day.”  This is SO true!  Some days I can’t write anything.  I am empty.  I have nothing to say.  She goes on to infer that words come to us as Grace comes to us through Communion.  Both are priceless and (at times) not a common occurence.

Paradise, by the Blind Glass.  Creative Commons via flickr.
Paradise, by the Blind Glass. Creative Commons via flickr.

23
I dwell in Possibility —
A fairer House than Prose —
More numerous of Windows —
Superior–for Doors —

Of Chambers as the Cedars —
Impregnable of Eye —
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky —

Of Visitors — the fairest —
For Occupation– This —
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise —

Again the first line grabs me:  “I dwell in Possiblity–”  As a poet she sees her world differently than most other people.  Her job is to spread her narrow Hands wide to gather Paradise.  I’m so glad she did!  I’m thankful for the glimpses of Truth, of Life, of Infinity, of Paradise that I’m able to glean from her words.

Endpapers of the original run of books in the ...
Endpapers of the original run of books in the Everyman’s Library, 1906, based on the art of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press (Arts and Crafts movement]] style). Quote from the play Everyman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)