If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

-George Herbert

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alan Moore on Austin Osman Spare

Quite interesting, this. Alan Moore is pretty much responsible for revitalizing comics/graphic novels as an art form.

Friday, July 15, 2011

THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE, by Lord Frederick Leighton

c. 1891


The Prophet Muhammad carried to Jerusalem by angels.


A modern print.


Let's not remain adoring,
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.
Let's not die longing, imploring,
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.

Let's leave this city and this land:
Let's weep, shedding tears for the Friend,
With the cup of love's wine in hand;
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.

From this world we'd better be gone;
Why be duped, it couldn't live on.
Let's not be split while we are one;
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.

As I take the road, be my guide;
Let's set out for the Loved One's side.
Let's not look behind or ahead;
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.

Before the news of death arrives,
Before my marked soul vainly strives,
Before Gabriel routs our lives,
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.

Let's go to the truly sacred;
Let's ask for the news about God,
And taking Yunus on the road;
Come, let's go to the Friend, my soul.

- Yunus Emre (1238-1321) translated from the Turkish by Talat S. Halman

Monday, July 11, 2011


An engraving to illustrate George MacDonald's book, At the Back of the North Wind. Image scanned by George P. Landow at http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/hughes/1.html

Monday, July 4, 2011

Edwin Muir - One Foot in Eden

One foot in Eden still, I stand
And look across the other land.
The world's great day is growing late,
Yet strange these fields that we have planted
So long with crops of love and hate.
Time's handiworks by time are haunted,
And nothing now can separate
The corn and tares compactly grown.
The armorial weed in stillness bound
About the stalk; these are our own.
Evil and good stand thick around
In fields of charity and sin
Where we shall lead our harvest in.

Yet still from Eden springs the root
As clean as on the starting day.
Time takes the foliage and the fruit
And burns the archetypal leaf
To shapes of terror and of grief
Scattered along the winter way.
But famished field and blackened tree
Bear flowers in Eden never known.
Blossoms of grief and charity
Bloom in these darkened fields alone.
What had Eden ever to say
Of hope and faith and pity and love
Until was buried all its day
And memory found its treasure trove?
Strange blessings never in Paradise
Fall from these beclouded skies.

(One of my absolute favorite poems)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Reading in the heat of noon
I grow sleepy, put my head
On my arms and fall asleep.
I forget to close the window
And the warm air blows in
And covers my body with petals.

- by Yuan Mei (1716-1797) translation by Kenneth Rexroth


Three Poems on Sleep

Sonnet XXXIX

Come Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
The indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof, shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw;
O make in me those civil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf to noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland and a weary head:
And if these things, as being thine by right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see.

- Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), from Astrophel and Stella

To Sleep

O SOFT embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower'd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities;
Then save me, or the passèd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oilèd wards,
And seal the hushèd casket of my soul.

- John Keats (1795-1821)

Lights Out

I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.

Many a road and track
That, since the dawn's first crack,
Up to the forest brink,
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink.

Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends,
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter,
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter
Than tasks most noble.

There is not any book
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now
To go into the unknown
I must enter and leave alone
I know not how.

The tall forest towers;
Its cloudy foliage lowers
Ahead, shelf above shelf;
Its silence I hear and obey
That I may lose my way
And myself.

- Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

Saturday, July 2, 2011


"That which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist from the planting of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity."

- St. Augustine of Hippo, c. 427 (italics mine)

How sad that the broad, serene, analogical Christian Platonism of the Fathers has degenerated into the mean, ignorant, sentimental literalism and moralism of which most people now think when they hear the word "Christianity".

JACOB'S LADDER, by William Blake

Thursday, June 30, 2011

O MARVEL, by Ibn Arabi

O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Kaa'ba,
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.

ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam, translated by Reynold A Nicholson

Sonnet from a Letter, by John Keats

O thou whose face hath felt the Winter's wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist
And the black elm tops 'mong the freezing stars,
To thee the spring will be a harvest-time.
O thou, whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
Night after night when Phoebus was away,
To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge- I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge- I have none,
And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he's awake who thinks himself asleep.

c. 1818

One of the best poems ever on the Via Negativa.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This movie is one of the best (and most devastating) I've seen in a long time.

THE NIGHT, by Henry Vaughan

THROUGH that pure virgin shrine,
That sacred veil drawn o'er Thy glorious noon,
That men might look and live, as glow-worms shine,
And face the moon :
Wise Nicodemus saw such light
As made him know his God by night.
Most blest believer he !
Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes
Thy long-expected healing wings could see
When Thou didst rise !
And, what can never more be done,
Did at midnight speak with the Sun !

O who will tell me, where
He found Thee at that dead and silent hour ?
What hallow'd solitary ground did bear
So rare a flower ;
Within whose sacred leaves did lie
The fulness of the Deity ?

No mercy-seat of gold,
No dead and dusty cherub, nor carv'd stone,
But His own living works did my Lord hold
And lodge alone ;
Where trees and herbs did watch and peep
And wonder, while the Jews did sleep.

Dear Night ! this world's defeat ;
The stop to busy fools ; cares check and curb ;
The day of spirits ; my soul's calm retreat
Which none disturb !
Christ's* progress, and His prayer-time ;
The hours to which high Heaven doth chime.

God's silent, searching flight ;
When my Lord's head is fill'd with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night ;
His still, soft call ;
His knocking-time ; the soul's dumb watch,
When spirits their fair kindred catch.

Were all my loud, evil days
Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent,
Whose peace but by some angel's wing or voice
Is seldom rent ;
Then I in Heaven all the long year
Would keep, and never wander here.

But living where the sun
Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tire
Themselves and others, I consent and run
To ev'ry mire ;
And by this world's ill-guiding light,
Err more than I can do by night.

There is in God—some say—
A deep, but dazzling darkness ; as men here
Say it is late and dusky, because they
See not all clear.
O for that Night ! where I in Him
Might live invisible and dim !

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Over the Rhine - Days Like This

Love, love, love Over the Rhine!!!!!!

VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS, by Leonardo da Vinci

c. 1506, National Gallery, London

MARY MAGDALENE, by Frederick Sandys

c. 1860

The Human Being

The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God.

-St Basil the Great.

The great Architect of the universe conceived and produced a being endowed with both natures, the visible and the invisible: God created the human being, bringing its body forth from the pre-existing matter which he animated by his own Spirit...Thus in some way a new universe was born, small and great at one and the same time. God set this "hybrid" worshipper on earth to contemplate the visible world, and to be initiated into the invisible; to reign over earth's creatures, and to obey orders from on high. He created a being at once earthly and heavenly, insecure and immortal, visible and invisible, halfway between greatness and nothingness, flesh and spirit at the same time...an animal en route to another native land, and, most mysterious of all, made to resemble God by simple submission to the divine will.

- St Gregory Nazianzen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

THE GOLDEN STAIRS, by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

c. 1880


Her ample solitude 
no trespasser profane;
no artifice infringe
the glory of Her sun.

An ocean of gray doves
burns in Her opened eyes,
whose wisdom's word compels
the science of the breeze.

Wherefore, this slender hand
shall track the thieving night,
fetter absconding death,
pillage the hunter's spoils;

Commissioned to retrieve
lost pledge of timeworn love.

-by Wayward Disciple


No one would drop her sleep,
No one her dream unveil;
My love would tear her milk,
Unleash her bare desire.

Her smallest breath undone,
Celestial fires uproot;
The running of Spring's sun
Wind down into the earth.

Until this leaf display
The emblem of her peace,
I never rest my soul,

Consider no release;
Request not, nor require,
That which would make me whole.

-by Wayward Disciple

DIVINE GENERATION, by Anne Francois Louis Janmot

-from her stunning series of paintings entitled, Poem of the Soul.


True affirmations, being concerned with sacred facts - such as, for example, the person of Christ - that necessarily and by definition manifest universal truths, are liable to become false to a greater or lesser degree when artificially removed from their providential framework. So far as Christianity is concerned, this framework is the Western world, in which Christ is "the Life", with the definite article and without epithet. Modern disorder has destroyed this framework and humanity has outwardly expanded in a quantitative and artificial manner. As a result, some people refuse to admit other "Christs", while others arrive at the opposite conclusion and deny to Jesus the quality of Christ. It is as though certain persons, when faced with the discovery of other solar systems, continued to maintain the view that there is only one sun, our own, while others, perceiving that our sun is not the only one, denied that it was a sun and concluded that there was no such thing, since none was unique. The truth of the matter lies between the two opinions: our sun truly is "the sun", but it is unique solely in relation to the system of which it is the center; just as there are many solar systems, so there are many suns, but this does not prevent each being unique by definition. The sun, the lion, the eagle, the sunflower, honey, amber, gold, are so many natural manifestations of the solar principle, each unique and symbolically absolute in its own domain; the fact that they cease to be unique when detached from the limits which enclose these domains and make of them so many closed systems or microcosms, the relativity of their unicity being then revealed, is in no way inconsistent with the fact that, within their respective domains and for these domains, these manifestations are really identified with the solar principle, clothing it in the modes appropriate to the possibilities of the domain they belong to. To state that Christ is not "the Son of God", but only "a Son of God" would thus be false, for the Word is unique and each of its manifestations essentially reflects this Divine unicity.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Golden Ladder

c. 1851, by Anne Francois Louis Janmot (1814-1892)


c. 1862, by Lord Frederick Leighton

Prayer (1)

Prayer the Church's banquet, Angels' age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth;
Engine against th' Almighty, sinners' tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world-transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

by George Herbert (1593-1633)

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Vision from THE NEW LIFE, by Dante Alighieri

...on the last of those days it happened that the same wonderful lady appeared to me dressed all in pure white, between two gentle ladies elder than she. And passing through a street, she turned her eyes thither where I stood sorely abashed: and by her unspeakable courtesy, which is now guerdoned in the Great Cycle, she saluted me with so virtuous a bearing that I seemed then and there to behold the very limits of blessedness. The hour of her most sweet salutation was exactly the ninth of that day; and because it was the first time that any words from her reached mine ears, I came into such sweetness that I departed thence as one intoxicated. And betaking me to the loneliness of mine own room, I fell to thinking of this most courteous lady, thinking of whom I was overtaken by a pleasant slumber, wherein a marvelous vision was presented for me: for there appeared to be in my room a mist the colour of fire, within the which I discerned the figure of a lord of terrible aspect to such as should gaze upon him, but who seemed therewithal to rejoice inwardly that it was a marvel to see. Speaking he said many things among the which I could understand but few; and of these, this: Ego dominus tuus (I am thy master). In his arms it seemed to me that a person was sleeping, covered only with a blood-coloured cloth; upon whom looking very attentively, I knew that it was the lady of the salutation who had deigned the day before to salute me. And he who held her held also in his hand a thing that was burning in flames; and he said to me, Vide cor tuum (Behold thy heart). But when he had remained with me a little while, I thought he set himself to awaken her that slept; after the which he made her to eat that thing which flamed in his hand; and she ate as one fearing. Then having waited again a space, all his joy was turned into most bitter weeping; and as he wept he gathered the lady into his arms, and it seemed to me that he went with her up towards heaven: whereby such great anguish came upon me that my light slumber could not endure through it, but was suddenly broken.

-translation from the Italian by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

BEATA BEATRIX, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

c. 1864. Brilliant! I could look at this for hours.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Les Voix Humaines, Ste-Colombe, " Les Roulades "

The Canadian duo, Les Voix Humaines, perform Sainte-Colombe (1640-1700).



The Lamb -- Tenebrae Choir

The fabulous setting of Blake's poem (see below) by Sir John Tavener. My 100th post.

THE LAMB, by William Blake

Little Lamb, who made thee:
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, wooly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek & he is mild;
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name
Little Lamb, God bless thee.
Little Lamb, God bless thee.


by Jan van Eyck, 1390-1441


c. 1490, by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Now that's a painting!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bach - Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor BWV 1011 - Sarabande

The magnificent Hille Perl.


c. 1672-74, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1598-1680


c. 1622 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

The Resurrection of the Body II

The Resurrection of the Body signifies the eventual and everlasting adornment of the soul - as a Divine bequest in a restored and consummated creation - with an outward, symbolic and imaginal manifestation of it's particular inward and immaterial beauties, both as a center of awareness and action via spiritualized senses and "physicality", and as a focus for the awareness, admiration and love of other beings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Prince and Princess on Horseback

18th Century Mughal painting.


I drink wine from the cup-bearer
At an inn higher than the sky.
Our souls are goblets in His hands,
Deep in His ecstasy we lie.

At our private place of meeting,
Where our hearts are scorched with yearning
Like moths, the Sun and Moon ring
Our candle whose flames are high.

Yunnus, don't tell these words of trance
To those steeped in dark ignorance.
Can't you see how swiftly the chance
Of ignorant men's lives goes by?

- Yunus Emre, 1238-1321 (translated from the Turkish by Talat S. Halman)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Figures from Rheims Cathedral


Warm breath of grass
augments her breath,

betrays her tender

Now hold aloft
the crowning wreath

'til bluebells' siege
shall win her mouth

and lusty Spring
her bright caress.

- by Wayward Disciple


Firm desire that doth enter
My heart will not be hid by bolts nor nailing
Nor slanderers who loose their arms by lying
And dare not fight with even twigs and switches.
Yea, by some jest, there where no uncle enters
I'll have my joy in garden or in chamber.

I remember oft that chamber
Where, to my loss, I know that no man enters
But leaves me free as would a brother or uncle.
I shake in ev'ry part except my nails
As doth a child, for fear, before the switch
For fear I shall not come into her arms.

- Arnaut Daniel, 12th cent. (translation from the Provencal by Ezra Pound)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I've lately been in great distress
over a knight who once was mine,
and I want it known for all eternity
how I loved him to excess.
Now I see I've been betrayed
because I wouldn't sleep with him;
abed or clothed my mind won't rest
to think of the mistake I made.

How I wish just once I could caress
that chevalier with my bare arms,
for he would be in ecstasy
if i'd just let him lean his head against my breast.
I'm sure I'm happier with him
than Blanchaflor with Floris was.
My heart and love I offer him,
my mind, my eyes, my life.

Handsome friend, charming and kind,
when shall I have you in my power?
If only I could lie beside you for an hour
and embrace you lovingly -
know this, that I'd give almost anything
to have you in my husband's place
but only under the condition
that you swear to do my bidding.

- Countess of Dia, born c. 1140 (translation from the French by Meg Bogin)

THE RESURRECTION, by Matthias Grunewald

From the Isenheim Altarpiece, c. 1510-1515, Musee Unterlinden; Colmar, France

The Resurrection of the Body

The resurrection of the body is God's victory over the limitations, accidents and distortions of individuality; a victory which, at the same time, preserves individuality intact as something willed and precious. It is the Divine affirmation that the specific, relative and temporal has been created an eternally valid (though by no means static) revelation of a modality or aspect of the Universal, Absolute and Eternal, and constitutes, as it were, a unique entrance to relationship with the Divine.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane

These are five of the most talented musicians you can find anywhere.


Nights of jasmine & thunder,
torn petals,
wind in the tangled kadamba trees-
nothing has changed.
Spring comes again and we've
simply grown older.
In the cane groves of Narmada River
he deflowered my
girlhood before we were
And I grieve for those far-away nights
we played at love
by the water.

- Shilabhattarika, 9th century (translation from the Sanskrit by Andrew Schelling)

Monday, June 13, 2011

PIA DE TOLOMMEI, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst. Pray for us.


"Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed & govern'd their Passions or have No Passions, but because they have cultivated their Understandings. The Treasures of Heaven are not Negations of Passion, but Realities of Intellect, from which All the Passions Emanate Uncurbed in their Eternal Glory. The Fool shall not enter into Heaven, let him be ever so Holy. Holiness is not the Price of Entrance into Heaven.

Those who are cast out are All Those who, having no Passions of their own, because no Intellect, Have spent their lives in Curbing & Governing other People's by the various arts of Poverty & Cruelty of all kinds. Wo, Wo, Wo to you Hypocrites. Even Murder, the Courts of Justice, more merciful than the Church, are compell'd to allow, is not done in Passion, but in Cool Blooded Design & Intention.

The Modern Church Crucifies Christ with the Head Downward."

- William Blake


Photo by Fonk http://www.flickr.com/photos/fonk/364749532/

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowflake: a Faery Tale

Snowflake lived in a vast castle all alone; yet she wanted for nothing. Every morning a steaming bath was waiting for her in her deep, white marble tub. There were colored soaps like melting jewels, and towels like clouds….and the water smelled like heaven. After her bath she always found in her room the most beautiful dresses of velvet or silk laid out on her neatly made bed; and on the table by the window a bowl of piping hot oatmeal, a pitcher of cold milk, and bunches of green grapes or oranges or pears.

How these things appeared, where they went, or who brought them from place to place, Snowflake never saw nor knew. Toys she had in abundance, but no one to play with: books most magical and rare, but no one to read to. In fact, utter silence reigned in the towers, the rooms, the stairways and long, empty halls of the great castle. Only the lonely sound of the wind or the cheerful arguments of birds in the castle garden disturbed the great silence which was solid and heavy as a sleeping cat.

As for the castle itself, it was built of snow white granite high on the side of a tall, craggy mountain. All year round outside the castle the rocks were covered with snow and ice, and the paths were so slippery and steep not even a skilled mountaineer could safely climb them. When she looked from the ramparts of the walls down, down, down, Snowflake saw eagles flying far below like golden sparks in the sunlight. Often the clouds themselves were not as high as the place where Snowflake stood, her pure white hair whipping about in the icy wind.

But in the walled garden of the castle, flowers bloomed and birds trilled every Spring and Summer; and in the Autumn it was filled with gold and red and orange leaves and flowers until it seemed to be the very garden of the sun. In the center of the garden was a fountain in a round marble pool. The birds would drink from it, and often in the Summer, Snowflake would lay her silken dress carefully on the green grass and float in the clear water with her eyes on the blue, blue sky above.

In the Winter she was never cold, except for her fingers and toes when she played in the snowy garden, or slid on the frozen, bird-deserted fountain. Fires crackled merrily in every room of the palace, though who built them or tended them, she could not say. All throughout the Winter she drank hot coca from gold and white porcelain cups, and played with her magical toys, and looked at the living pictures and letters in her magical books. Sometimes in the night it would storm violently. The wind would scream around Snowflake's tower room, and thunder would rattle the cup and saucer on her table. But she was seldom afraid. Often in the bright flashes of lightning, she seemed for a split-second to see mighty angels standing near her bed with calm faces and gentle eyes, and then she was at peace, and knew she was safe for all the wind and storm could do.

And as she slept in her bed piled with feather quilts and woolen rugs, she would dream of the woman who held her in her soft, golden arms. Love flowed from her eyes like light from the stars, and it seemed in her dreams as if Snowflake's heart would break for pure love. "I am your mother, dear Snowflake. I have been with you every moment of every hour, and I always will be." Then Snowflake would awaken as happy as a bird in Spring, and find the golden light of the rising sun streaming through her window.

So life went on for Snowflake as calmly as a lonely walk in the park. The birds, beetles and butterflies in the garden were her only playmates, and though she was not sad, she was never so happy as she was when she dreamed of her mother.

One morning Snowflake awoke and jumped from her bed. "This is the Day", she said to herself. She bathed with more than usual care, and brushed out her hair 'til it gleamed in the white morning light, Then she donned her long dress of white velvet and pearls with the soft fur collar, and her cap of diamonds and pearls. Like a river of starlight, her hair streamed straight down her back to the marble floor. She climbed, climbed, climbed the tower stair; stair after stair of pure marble until her little legs ached. At last Snowflake stood upon the very edge of the very top of the very tallest tower in her tall mountain castle, with her toes hanging over the edge of the wall.

A bright white mist was all around her; above and beneath in the infinite abyss. Snowflake closed her eyes, tipped up her face, and with a tiny, secret smile fell forward and down from the tower. Down and down Snowflake fell, singing all the way, and every second seemed like a happy hour. When Snowflake opened her eyes she saw the air was full of happy children, twirling and singing in the wind. And the song of each became part of one vast song; and the joy of each became part of one vast, limitless joy that seemed to go on forever and ever.


- by Wayward Disciple

Mona Eltahawy: Mubarak Must Go