Sunday, July 7, 2013

1000 words today

Think of all the reasons to do something else. Think of all the things you could be doing right now. Think of how long you have been working at this. Think of how long you have been not working at this. Think of people before you who were not dissuaded and met with success. Think of those who climb into rockets and upon mountains, those who sail ships and fly airplanes, those who hike across jungles and deserts, those who cross rivers and oceans, all those who dare to do. Does this seem too big of a challenge?

‘Excuses’, Charles Bukowski

once again
I hear of somebody who is going to
settle down and
do their work,
painting or writing or whatever,
as soon as they get a better light
or as soon as they move to a new
or as soon as they come back from the trip they
have been planning,
or as soon as …

it’s simple: they just don’t want
to do it,
or they can’t do it,
otherwise they’d feel a burning
itch from hell
they could not ignore
and “soon”
would turn quickly into

Friday, March 8, 2013

T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain. 
Winter kept us warm, covering         5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers. 
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee 
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, 
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,  10
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. 
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. 
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s, 
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, 
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,  15
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. 
In the mountains, there you feel free. 
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. 
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,  20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only 
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, 
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only 
There is shadow under this red rock,  25
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock), 
And I will show you something different from either 
Your shadow at morning striding behind you 
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; 
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.  30
        Frisch weht der Wind 
        Der Heimat zu, 
        Mein Irisch Kind, 
        Wo weilest du? 
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;  35
They called me the hyacinth girl.” 
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, 
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not 
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither 
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,  40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence. 
Öd’ und leer das Meer. 
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, 
Had a bad cold, nevertheless 
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,  45
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, 
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, 
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) 
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, 
The lady of situations.  50
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, 
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, 
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back, 
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find 
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.  55
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. 
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, 
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself: 
One must be so careful these days. 
Unreal City,  60
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, 
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, 
I had not thought death had undone so many. 
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.  65
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, 
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours 
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. 
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson! 
You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!  70
That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men, 
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!  75
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Return to the Grail Menu of The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester




Briar and fennel and chincapin,
   And rue and ragweed everywhere;
The field seemed sick as a soul with sin,
   Or dead of an old despair,
   Born of an ancient care.

The cricket's cry and the locust's whirr,
   And the note of a bird's distress,
With the rasping sound of the grasshopper,
   Clung to the loneliness
   Like burrs to a trailing dress.

So sad the field, so waste the ground,
   So curst with an old despair,
A woodchuck's burrow, a blind mole's mound,
   And a chipmunk's stony lair,
   Seemed more than it could bear.

So lonely, too, so more than sad,
   So droning-lone with bees--
I wondered what more could Nature add
   To the sum of its miseries . . .
   And then--I saw the trees.

Skeletons gaunt that gnarled the place,
   Twisted and torn they rose--
The tortured bones of a perished race
   Of monsters no mortal knows,
   They startled the mind's repose.

And a man stood there, as still as moss,
   A lichen form that stared;
With an old blind hound that, at a loss,
   Forever around him fared
   With a snarling fang half bared.

I looked at the man; I saw him plain;
   Like a dead weed, gray and wan,
Or a breath of dust.  I looked again--
   And man and dog were gone,
   Like wisps of the graying dawn. . . .

Were they a part of the grim death there--
   Ragweed, fennel, and rue?
Or forms of the mind, an old despair,
   That there into semblance grew
   Out of the grief I knew?

NOTE: In a letter to the editor printed in the Times Literary Supplement (8 Dec. 1995, p. 14), Robert Ian Scott suggests that "the many similarities between this poem" and T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" "can hardly be coincidental." Scott notes that Eliot "had reasons to be reading" the Jan. 1913 issue of Poetry in which Cawein's poem appeared because it contained Pound's article on the poets then in London (though Eliot himself is not referred to in the article).