Monday, November 12, 2012


I shall go ahead and state the obvious:  we are all mysteries to one another. And we shall remain so until each of us goes to the grave.  How could it be otherwise?

Think of the labyrinthine corridors of your own heart and mind.  Think of the tricks, evasions, and rationalizations that you sell to yourself.  And then try to imagine that you could begin to know the heart or mind of someone else.


It's midnight
And our silent house is listening
To the last sounds of people going home.
We lie beside our curtained window
What makes them do it.

Ian Hamilton, Collected Poems (Faber and Faber 2009).

                  Dane Maw (1908-1989), "Scottish Landscape, Air Dubh"


From the bay windows
Of the mouldering hotel across the road from us
Mysterious, one-night itinerants emerge
On to their balconies
To breathe the cool night air.

We let them stare
In at our quiet lives.
They let us wonder what's become of them.

Ian Hamilton, Ibid.

                                Bernard Ninnes (1899-1971), "Nancledra"


In the dark, from afar, two strangers talk.
We cannot understand a word they say.
Yet there is meaning in the rise and the fall.

At length, a bitter dispute is settled.
We can at last sleep a peaceful sleep.

But don't be surprised at a plaint in the night --
In another language, or in no language at all --
From afar, and out of the dark, out of the dark.

sip (2010).

                          Myrtle Broome (1888-1978), "A Cornish Village"


Anonymous said...

And Bashho's haiku-
nearing Autumn's close
my neighbor
how does he live
I wonder
Perhaps not the best translation, but I think it's good.
Enjoyed the post very much today. Yes,we are all mysteries to ourselves and one another.
Mary Ahearn

b. floyd said...

Nobody knew the singularity of a self-conscious creature more than Proust. He longed to see the world through the eyes of others (to some degree literature allows us to do this). Writes Proust in his magnum opus "In Search of Lost Time":

A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is . . .

Stephen Pentz said...

Ms Ahearn: thank you very much for visiting, and for your comments.

Yes, Basho's haiku (aki fukaki) is right on point, isn't it? I thank you for bringing it up. I should have remembered to link to my post on it from back on October 31!

Thank you again.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Floyd: thank you very much for the apt passage from Proust. He has always visited these sorts of topics in advance of us, hasn't he? One experiences the same thing when reading Montaigne and Samuel Johnson: they always anticipate us.

Thank you for visiting again.

alice c said...

This post takes me sideways to the Louis MacNeice poem 'Entirely'.

"If we could get the hang of it entirely
It would take too long;
All we know is the splash of words in passing
And falling twigs of song,
And when we try to eavesdrop on the great
Presences it is rarely
That by a stroke of luck we can appropriate
Even a phrase entirely."

Thank you, as always, for the thought provoking choice of poems and images.

Stephen Pentz said...

alice c: thank you very much for visiting again, and for your thoughts.

MacNeice's "Entirely" (one of my favorite poems by him, and one which has appeared here before) is indeed apt in this context. I hadn't thought of it in this connection, so I appreciate you bringing it to mind.

Debbie Robson said...

Wonderful paintings!

Stephen Pentz said...

Ms Robson: thank you for stopping by again. I'm pleased that you like that paintings. Possibly they are a bit over-romanticized, but enticing nonetheless!