His father gave him a box of truisms
Shaped like a coffin, then his father died;
The truisms remained on the mantelpiece
As wooden as the playbox they had been packed in
Or that other his father skulked inside.
Then he left home, left the truisms behind him
Still on the mantelpiece, met love, met war,
Sordor, disappointment, defeat, betrayal,
Till through disbeliefs he arrived at a house
He could not remember seeing before.
And he walked straight in; it was where he had come from
And something told him the way to behave.
He raised his hand and blessed his home;
The truisms flew and perched on his shoulders
And a tall tree sprouted from his father's grave.
Louis MacNeice, Solstices (Faber and Faber 1961).
As is often the case with MacNeice, there is an undertone of ironic knowingness present in "The Truisms," but I am willing to take the poem at face value. As I have noted here before, I am quite content to live my life in accordance with certain truisms because, well, they are true.
Joshua Anderson Hague (1850-1916), "Landscape in North Wales"
Given the clamor of catastrophe and crisis we human beings are so fond of (2020 is no different than any other year in the history of humanity in this regard), an awareness of the World's continuity is not a bad thing. It's not as if the World hasn't seen it all before. Each of us has seen it all before as well, unless we haven't been awake.
"Whoever lives two or three generations feels like the spectator who, during the fair, sees the performances of all kinds of jugglers and, if he remains seated in the booth, sees them repeated two or three times. As the tricks were meant only for one performance, they no longer make any impression after the illusion and novelty have vanished."
Arthur Schopenhauer (translated by E. F. J. Payne), "Additional Remarks on the Doctrine of the Suffering of the World," in Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays, Volume 2 (1851; Oxford University Press 1974), page 299.
Last thing at night
he steps outside to breathe
the smell of winter.
The stars, so shy in summer,
from a huge emptiness.
In a huge silence he listens
for small sounds. His eyes
are filled with friendliness.
What's history to him?
He's an emblem of it
in its pure state.
And proves it. He goes inside.
The door closes and the light
dies in the window.
Norman MacCaig, in Ewen McCaig (editor), The Poems of Norman MacCaig (Polygon 2005).
Joshua Anderson Hague, "Late Autumn"
In January of 2019, I wrote here about the falling of a nearby big-leaf maple in a winter storm. Yesterday afternoon, I walked past the space it once occupied. I still feel the loss. But its companions remain, and I know that in time the emptiness of the air will be filled.
Thoughts on T'ien-chin Bridge
The countless great lords and statesmen of past regimes --
later ages know them merely as a list of names.
Only the water under T'ien-chin Bridge
goes on year after year, making the same sound.
Shao Yung (1011-1077) (translated by Burton Watson), in Burton Watson, The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the Thirteenth Century (Columbia University Press 1984), page 336.
Joshua Anderson Hague, "Haymaking"