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

-George Herbert

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