Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Those Modest Gods Touch Us -- Touch Us And Move On"

I will never be able to repay the kindness and comfort that have been provided to me by so many of you since my previous post.  I have never intended to make this blog about myself, but, because I feel a kinship with those who visit here, I wouldn't have felt right leaving things unsaid.  I am deeply moved by the response I have received, and I can never thank you enough.

Stephen McKenna, "Foliage" (1983)

Here is a poem I sought out over the past few days.


When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million Shinto deities
travel secretly throughout the earth.
Those modest gods touch us --
touch us and move on.

Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Hoyt Rogers), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999).

Cecil Gordon Lawson, "Cheyne Walk, Chelsea" (1870)

". . . we are saved/by humble windfalls/of mindfulness or memory."

     My beloved friend
You and I had a sweet talk,
Long ago, one autumn night.
     Renewing itself,
The year has rumbled along,
That night still in memory.

Ryokan (1758-1831) (translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa), in The Zen Poems of Ryokan (Princeton University Press 1981).

Harald Sohlberg, "Flower Meadow in the North" (1905)


S R Plant said...

Thank you for continuing to post poems for us to consider, it can't be easy for you during this difficult time.

Hold steady.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you are were aware that the slightly stooped old man with a walking stick on the left in “Cheyne Walk, Chelsea” is Lawson’s neighbour, Thomas Carlyle? If this is Autumn 1870, Carlyle would still be mourning the loss of his friend Dickens, who had died in June. From a letter to Dickens’ daughter: ‘It is almost thirty years since my acquaintance with him began; and on my side I may say every new meeting ripened it into more and more clear discernment (quite apart from his unique talent) of his rare and great worth as a brother man. A most correct, precise, clear-sighted, quietly decisive, just and loving man; till at length he had grown to such recognition with me that I have rarely had for any man of my time.’

Acornmoon said...

Thank you once again for filling my day with beauty.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr Plant: I'm very happy to hear from you again. It's good to have you here at this time. Thank you very much for your thoughts.

Stephen Pentz said...

Anonymous: thank you very much for that information about the painting -- I wasn't aware of it. And the circumstances that Carlyle was likely in at the time with respect to the loss of Dickens are very moving. I almost feel that I was somehow fated to have chosen that painting.

Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.

Stephen Pentz said...

acornmoon: thank you very much for stopping by again at this time, and for your kind words. It does provide some solace for me to continue on, and the poems and the paintings felt right at this time.

As ever, thank you for your thoughts.

hari said...

As echoed by many, fragrant, garden of eternal delight.

Stephen Pentz said...

hari: it is very nice to hear from you again. Thank you very much for the kind words, which I greatly appreciate.