"Continually regard the World as one living thing, composed of one substance and one soul. And reflect how all things have relation to its one perception; how it does all things by one impulse; how all things are the joint causes of all that come into being; and how closely they are interwoven and knit together."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IV, Section 40 (translated by Hastings Crossley), in Hastings Crossley, The Fourth Book of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (1882), page 35.
Entered a house
On the withered moor.
Masaoka Shiki (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 283.
Norman Garstin, "Moulin de la Ville, Quimperlé" (1901)
We live in a politicized world. Those who participate in that world talk and talk and talk. The underlying premise of all this talk is: I am right; you are wrong. It is a world of nursed grievances and perceived injustices. Nursing these grievances and perceiving these injustices enables the politicized to feel better about themselves: Look at me. I am enlightened and concerned. I care.
The politicized world has nothing whatsoever to do with the individual human soul.
Swifts turn in the heights of the air;
higher still turn the invisible stars.
When day withdraws to the ends of the earth
their fires shine on a dark expanse of sand.
We live in a world of motion and distance.
The heart flies from tree to bird,
from bird to distant star,
from star to love; and love grows
in the quiet house, turning and working,
servant of thought, a lamp held in one hand.
Philippe Jaccottet (translated by Derek Mahon), in Derek Mahon, Words in the Air: A Selection of Poems by Phillipe Jaccottet (The Gallery Press 1998).
The long night;
A light passes along
Outside the shōji.
Masaoka Shiki (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 3: Summer-Autumn (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 356.
Harriet Backer, "By Lamplight" (1890)
A meadow that I pass through on my afternoon walk is dotted with clumps of flowering weeds: purple, yellow, and white. Their names are unknown to me. I am content to remain ignorant. I needn't know their names to think of them as companions.
The names unknown,
But to every weed its flower,
Sampū (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter, page 123.
As I looked at the flowers this week, it occurred to me that these random galaxies of purple, yellow, and white will remain, returning each year in late summer and early autumn, long after I have turned into dust. This was not an occasion for alarm. Instead, the thought was a restful and comforting one.
"That which remembers and that which is remembered are alike creatures of a day."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IV, Section 35 (translated by Hastings Crossley), in Hastings Crossley, The Fourth Book of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, page 31.
The light in the next room also
The night is chill.
Masaoka Shiki (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 3: Summer-Autumn, page 328.
Terrick Williams, "Quiet Twilight, Honfleur" (c. 1922)
We are surrounded by, and headed towards, darkness. To me, this darkness has an intimate feel to it. It is not a political or a historical darkness. It cannot be explained by Science. Filling one's life with distractions will not cause the darkness to vanish.
Always -- I tell you this they learned --
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,
They learned to leave the house-door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.
Robert Frost, from "The Hill Wife," Mountain Interval (1916).
The darkness is not tragic, nor is it romantic. It is not a cause for despair, nor is it a cause for celebration. But it cannot be dispelled.
Because this darkness is intimate, each of us must find our own way of becoming acquainted with it. But we are not companionless. We are all in this together.
Anchored at Night in a Creek
I climbed upon the river embankment, and stood there in the darkness;
The river breeze and frosty air chilled me.
When I turned and looked where the boat lay deep in the creek,
Among the flowers of reed and lespedeza was one point of light.
Po Chu-i (translated by R. H. Blyth), Ibid, page 334. "Lespedeza" is commonly known as "bush clover." It blooms at this time of year.
After the fireworks,
A falling star.
Masaoka Shiki (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 4: Autumn-Winter, page 24.
Algernon Newton, "The Surrey Canal, Camberwell" (1935)