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intimations

Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(Wordsworth, “My Heart Leaps Up”)

William Wordsworth

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream
It is not now as it hath been of yore-
Turn whereso’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;—
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home…

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call

Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:—
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
—But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother’s mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years’ Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,
With light upon him from his father’s eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learn{e}d art
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his “humorous stage”
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul’s immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o’er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

 

I’ve loved this poem for a long time. Linda Pastan’s idea of an almanac of last things inspires me in a way that a “bucket list” does not!

The Almanac of Last Things
From the almanac of last things
I choose the spider lily
for the grace of its brief
blossom, though I myself
fear brevity,

but I choose The Song of Songs
because the flesh
of those pomegranates
has survived
all the frost of dogma.

I choose January with its chill
lessons of patience and despair–and
August, too sun-struck for lessons.
I choose a thimbleful of red wine
to make my heart race,

then another to help me
sleep. From the almanac
of last things I choose you,
as I have done before.
And I choose evening

because the light clinging
to the window
is at its most reflective
just as it is ready
to go out.

I know there are folks who don’t want to contemplate the end of life, or any sort of loss, before they get there. For them it drains joy from the present moment.

For me, it’s the opposite. Every reminder that there will be a last this and a last that — including a last moment — deepens my gratitude for this moment and helps me “be here now.”

So a “last thing” has several meanings for me. It’s among the last things I want to give up. It’s among the things I want to be holding with gratitude and grace when my last moment comes. And it’s among the things I will need to let go of at the end, so it’s important that I appreciate it fully right now.

P.S. The ocean and the full moon are in my personal Almanac of Last Things. Both of them say life in a big way to me. And both are on the long list of blessings for which I can only say a heartfelt “Thank you…”

The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual. Can You Guess It?

The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual. Can You Guess It;

Take a peek at these amazing pictures and then go ahead and let that draw drop –the way that this guy balances rocks is simply amazing!

Michael Grab has definitely mastered the art of stone balancing, as you can see from the assortment of photos of his works listed here.

But, if you want to take an even closer look at what Grab does,

you can head on over to his very appropriately named website, Gravity Glue, for even more photos, information, and videos.

Although, considering how amazing this balancing feat is, I’m sure you’re more eager to know his secret.

Luckily, he doesn’t mind sharing it with the world.

According to Grab, it’s all about the indentations. He explains in further detail…

“The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of ‘tripod’ for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks.By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another. In the finer point balances, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters.The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual. Can You Guess It!

Some point balances will give the illusion of weightlessness as the rocks look to be barely touching. Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain through words. In a nutshell, i am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.”

Clearly though, rock balancing is easier said than done, and the structures that Grab creates over and over again are an amazing feat. However, while you may think that the actual act of balancing the rocks is the most difficult part of the practice, Grab discloses that overcoming physical and mental barriers can be the most challenging aspect instead.

The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual. Can You Guess It....

According to him, after balancing rocks for a given period of time, the body tends to both mentally and physically want you to stop. So, how does Grab overcome the discomfort? He recommends to “lean into the pain” and just keep going. Plus, rock balancing can be a great way to relax, the streaming water sounds and intense focus creating a meditative state.

Grab definitely has a talent for the art form, which is easy to tell from all the fantastic structures he’s built. Apparently, he got started a few years ago when hanging out with a friend at a creek one day.

They became bored, talked about rock piles, and decide to try to create some themselves. Impressively, after only a few hours, Grab had balanced several rock structures and decided to keep making them.  Today, he’s even more practiced and seems to understand rocks inside and out, with an inept sense of knowing just what type of rock he needs for every situation. He states…The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual! Can You Guess It

“I’ll look at various shapes, depending on kind of how I want the balance to go, and a lot of times the rock I will find and actually bring or collect and use is one that I know can balance.  Like before I even put it next to the stack, I’ll just find some kind of small notch that I’m absolutely sure will balance.

Given all the positive aspects of rock balancing, it’s certainly something that others could benefit from trying as well. It’s a great way to relax, get in touch with natural surroundings, reduce stress, be creative, and have fun. Plus, the only thing you need to do is put one rock on top of the other.The Secret Behind How This Guy Balances Rocks Is Very Unusual. Can You Guess It..

Sunday, July 6, 2014 – 7:45am

A veteran outdoorsman finds comfort in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. For this self-described river rat, nature is the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance.

commentary by:

RICK LAVALLEY,  GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
imageCanoers in MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore.Credit: Nathaniel Hayag License: Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Since I’ve canoed on our nation’s biggest rivers I’ve been asked repeatedly: Why? My answer has always been the same: I love nature, boating, sleeping under the stars, camp fires, and solitude immersed in beauty.

That answer has not satisfied many with whom I’ve spoken. I often get a responses like, “That’s not for me.” Or, “Too many bugs.” This is understandable. I have often written that I’ve had to become a river rat in order to complete a trip. A river rat is someone who not only endures weather, dirt, deprivation, and fear but also learns to love it.

Recently, I found another canoer who shares my views. His concepts have brought me closer to my own truth. I believe he has found the essence of the outdoors. Here is a paraphrased glimpse of those thoughts about nature from my friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“There are days which occur, wherein the world reaches its perfection when the air, the heavenly bodies and the earth, make a harmony, as if nature indulges its offspring.

At the gates of the forest the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his city estimates of great and small, wise and foolish. The knapsack of custom falls off his back with the first step he takes into these precincts. Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. Here we find Nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges all men who come to her. How willingly we escape the sophistication and suffer nature to entrance us. The tempered light of the woods is like a perpetual morning, and is stimulating and heroic. The anciently-reported spells of these places creep in on us. The stems of the pines, hemlocks, and oaks gleam to the excited eye. The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year. How easily we walk into the opening landscape, absorbed by thoughts fast succeeding each other, until by degrees the recollection of home is crowded out of the mind, all memory obliterated by the beauty of the present.

These enchantments are medicinal, they sober and heal us. These are plain pleasures, native to us which shame us out of our nonsense. Cities don’t give the human sense enough space. We go out daily to feed the eyes on the horizon. We nestle in nature, and draw our living from her. We receive glances from the heavenly bodies, which call us to solitude. The blue zenith is the point in which romance and reality meet.”

Reading Emerson reminds me that every magnificent piece of art, sculpture, music, and much of science is only an attempt to discover or recreate nature.

With each paddle stroke and rest stop along the banks of a vast river system, I am overwhelmed by the natural beauty if I let myself be bathed in quiet solitude. I revel in that ineffable experience never found among concrete, hotels, or hordes.

I have no doubt why I meditate yet I offer no proofs. I’m convinced there are as many paths to a higher consciousness as there are human beings. Places where the power poles cease will be for me a gazing at the blue zenith and happily sitting at the point where romance and reality meet.

 

 

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory