A good traveler has no fixed plans

A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn’t waste anything.
this is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man’s job?
If you don’t understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

— Lao Tzu
translated by Stephen Mitchell

end

June: The Gianicolo

Driven to this, the pairs of lovers roll
into the parking lot like shaken dice,
and though they’ve come expressly for a vista
much grander than themselves, begin to fuse
into the other’s eyes. Oh, that fond conviction
of a match made in Heaven!
                                          Below them, at the base
of an ancient hill, the million lamps of Rome
light up in rosy approbation, each
signalling to one chose counterpart
among the stars the nightly freshened wish
to lie uniquely in its dazzled gaze.

— Mary Jo Salter

end

Some say that my teaching is nonsense

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

— Lao Tzu
translated by Stephen Mitchell

end

Lament

Waking in her crib, the boat
they pushed her off in long ago,
although she stood to shake the rail
and wail at them,
                             she’s all at sea.
Nothing familiar in the dark
until she rubs it from her eyes:
gray bear, gray ceiling where the moons
and stars turn, turn away.
                                          Why
wouldn’t she cry? For out there, perched
at table’s edge, unreachable,
white to the brim, supremely real,
the bottle with the golden nipple
glows like a lighthouse.

— Mary Jo Salter

end

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells—
                          Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
             How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
                  In the icy air of night!
             While the stars that oversprinkle
             All the heavens, seem to twinkle
                  With a crystalline delight;
             Keeping time, time, time,
             In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
             From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells,—
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

             Hear the mellow wedding bells,
                          Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
             Through the balmy air of night
             How they ring out their delight!
                  From the molten-golden notes,
                          And all in tune,
             What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle dove that listens, while she gloats
                          On the moon!
             Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
                          How it swells!
                          How it dwells
                  On the Future! how it tells
                  Of the rapture that impels
             To the swinging and the ringing
                  Of the bells, bells, bells,
                  Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells,—
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

             Hear the loud alarum bells—
                          Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells!
             In the startled ear of night
             How they scream out their affright!
             Too much horrified to speak,
             They can only shriek, shriek,
                          Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
             Leaping higher, higher, higher,
             With a desperate desire,
                  And a resolute endeavor,
                  Now—now to sit or never,
        By the side of the pale-faced moon.
             Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
             What a tale their terror tells
                          Of despair!
             How they clang, and clash, and roar!
             What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
             Yet the ear it fully knows,
                  By the twanging,
                  And the clanging,
             How the danger ebbs and flows:
             Yet the ear distinctly tells,
                  In the jangling,
                  And the wrangling,
             How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells—
                          Of the bells—
                  Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells,—
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

                Hear the tolling of the bells—
                           Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
                In the silence of the night,
                How we shiver with affright
            At the melancholy menace of their tone!
                For every sound that floats
                From the rust within their throats
                        Is a groan.
                And the people—ah, the people—
                They that dwell up in the steeple,
                        All alone
            And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
                In that muffled monotone,
            Feel a glory in so rolling
                On the human heart a stone—
            They are neither man nor woman—
            They are neither brute nor human—
                They are Ghouls:
            And their king it is who tolls;
            And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
                        Rolls
                A paean from the bells!
            And his merry bosom swells
                With the paean of the bells!
            And he dances, and he yells;
            Keeping time, time, time,
            In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                To the paean of the bells—
                        Of the bells:
                Keeping time, time, time,
            In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                To the throbbing of the bells—
                        Of the bells, bells, bells—
                To the sobbing of the bells;
            Keeping time, time, time,
                        As he knells, knells, knells,
            In a happy Runic rhyme,
                        To the rolling of the bells—           
                 Of the bells, bells, bells—
                        To the tolling of the bells,
                Of the bells, bells, bells, bells—
                        Bells, bells, bells—
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

— Edgar Allen Poe

end

Grass

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Wateroo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
                                           I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:                                            
                                             What place is this?
                                             Where are we now?

                                             I am the grass.
                                             Let me work.

— Carl Sandburg

end