quarta-feira, 30 de dezembro de 2009

The fair schoolroom of the sky

I shall know why, when time is over,
And I have ceased to wonder why;
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky.

He will tell me what Peter promised,
And I, for wonder at his woe,
I shall forget the drop of anguish
That scalds me now, that scalds me now.

(Emily Dickinson)

Emily Dickinson [2]

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the lenght
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

terça-feira, 29 de dezembro de 2009

Fugge 'l verno de' dolori

Claudio Monteverdi, Scherzi Musicali a tre voci. Maria Cristina Kíehr, soprano; Stephan MacLeod, bariton; Concerto Soave.

Fugge 'l verno de' dolori.
Primavera degl'amori
Se ne torna
tutt' adorna
Di fioretti
Ma non torni tu già mai
Filli ingrata
A dar fine a li miei guai!

Senti Zeffiro che spira,
Vedi Amor che l'arco tira
E c'invita
A dolce vita,
Vita quieta,
Vita lieta.
E tu sorda, e cieca, ahi lasso
Ti starai qual duro sasso.

Senti piange Tortorella
Quasei afflitta vedovella,
Che non trova
Che le giova
Il suo errante
Caro amante.
E tu viver sempre vuoi
Sola in noie,
Da le gioie
Nascondendo i sensi tuoi.

Tu non sai che lieto stato
È 'l trovarsi accompagnato:
Mira Filli
Quanto gode
Con sua lode
Di star sempre a Tirsi in braccio;
Filli oh quanto
Farai pianto
Se disprezzi questo laccio.

Of another nature

Henry David Thoreau's journal - December 28, 1851

My acquaintances sometimes imply that I am too cold; but each thing is warm enough of its kind. Is the stone too cold which absorbs the heat of the summer sun and does part with it during the night? Crystals, though they be of ice, are not too cold to melt, but it was in melting that they were formed. Cold! I am most sensible of warmth in winter days. It is not the warmth of fire that you would have, but everything is warm and cold according to its nature. It is not that I am too cold, but that our warmth and coldness are not of the same nature; hence when I am absolutely warmest, I may be coldest to you. Crystal does not complain of crystal any more than the dove of its mate. You who complain that I am cold find Nature cold. To me she is warm. My heat is latent to you. Fire itself is cold to whatever is not of a nature to be warmed by it. A cool wind is warmer to a feverish man than the air of a furnace. That I am cold means that I am of another nature.

Gentlemen's turn

segunda-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2009

Bad literature

La solitude - Marin Marais

Agréable solitude
Vous ferez tous mes plaisirs.
Par le charme de l’étude,
Vous suspendez mes soupirs.
Vous calmez l’inquietude,
Des plus tristes souvenirs;
Agréable solitude,
Vous ferez tous mes plaisirs.
À vos doux loisirs,
Je borne mes desirs,
Agréable solitude,
Vous ferez tous mes plaisirs.

Pleasant solitude
You shall be all my delight.
Through the charms of study
You dismiss my sighs.
You calm the anxiety
Of the saddest memories;
Pleasant solitude
You shall be all my delight.
To the gentle leisure you afford
I limit my desires.
Pleasant solitude
You shall be all my delight.

quarta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2009

Thoreau's Journal, November 25, 1850

I feel a little alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. I would fain forget all my morning’s occupation, my obligations to society. But sometimes it happens that I cannot easily shake off the village; the thought of some work, some surveying, will run in my head, and I am not where my body is, I am out of my senses. In my walks I would return to my senses like a bird or a beast. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?


There is nothing so sanative, so poetic, as a walk in the woods and fields even now, when I meet none abroad for pleasure. Nothing so inspires me and excites such serene and profitable thought. The objects are elevating. In the streets and in society I am almost invariably cheap and dissipated, my life is unspeakably mean. But alone in distant woods or fields, I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by churchgoing and prayer. I come to my solitary woodland walk, as the homesick go home. I wish to know something; I wish to be made better. I wish to forget, a considerable part of every day, all mean, narrow, trivial men, and therefore I come out to these solitudes, where the problem of existence is simplified. I get away a mile or two from the town into the stillness and solitude of nature, with rocks, trees, weeds, snow about me. I am not thus expanded, recreated, enlightened, when I meet a company of men. They bore me. This stillness, solitude, wildness of nature is a kind of thoroughwort, or boneset, to my intellect. This is what I go out to seek. It is if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible companion, and walked with him.

(Henry David Thoreau, Journals, January 7, 1857)

Sunny day

By Isac Levitan. I love the yellows and blues.

sexta-feira, 11 de dezembro de 2009

Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood

Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart. Thou wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men,
And made thee loathe thy life.

(William Cullen Bryant)

Now *that's* what we like!

Here. When I first saw the painting, I thought it was a photograph. The cellist looks so real!

Dwarfs on the shoulders of giants

Anachronists in the arts humbly acknowledge that they stand on the shoulders of their predecessors. This image was apparently first used by Bernard of Chartres, quoted by John of Salisbury (Metalogicon 3.4, tr. Henry Osborn Taylor):

Bernard of Chartres used to say that we were like dwarfs seated on the shoulders of giants. If we see more and further than they, it is not due to our own clear eyes or tall bodies, but because we are raised on high and upborne by their gigantic bigness.


quarta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2009

An antiquary

from Characters and Passages from Note-Books (Samuel Butler)

An Antiquary is one that has his Being in this Age, but his Life and Conversation is in the Days of old. He despises the present Age as an Innovation, and slights the future; but has a great Value for that, which is past and gone, like the Madman, that fell in Love with Cleopatra. He is an old frippery-Philosopher, that has so strange a natural Affection to worm-eaten Speculation, that it is apparent he has a Worm in his Skull. He honours his Forefathers and Fore-mothers, but condemns his Parents as too modern, and no better than Upstarts. He neglects himself, because he was born in his own Time, and so far off Antiquity, which he so much admires; and repines, like a younger Brother, because he came so late into the World. He spends the one half of his Time in collecting old insignificant Trifles, and the other in shewing them, which he takes singular Delight in; because the oftener he does it, the further they are from being new to him. All his Curiosities take place of one another according to their Seniority, and he values them not by their Abilities, but their Standing. He has a great Veneration for Words that are stricken in Years, and are grown so aged, that they have out-lived their Employments—These he uses with a Respect agreeable to their Antiquity, and the good Services they have done. He throws away his Time in enquiring after that which is past and gone so many Ages since, like one that shoots away an Arrow, to find out another that was lost before. He fetches things out of Dust and Ruins, like the Fable of the chymical Plant raised out of its own Ashes. He values one old Invention, that is lost and never to be recovered, before all the new ones in the World, tho' never so useful. The whole Business of his Life is the same with his, that shows the Tombs at Westminster, only the one does it for his Pleasure, and the other for Money. As every Man has but one Father, but two Grand-Fathers and a World of Ancestors; so he has a proportional Value for Things that are antient, and the further off the greater.

He is a great Time-server, but it is of Time out of Mind, to which he conforms exactly, but is wholly retired from the present. His Days were spent and gone long before he came into the World, and since his only Business is to collect what he can out of the Ruins of them. He has so strong a natural Affection to any Thing that is old, that he may truly say to Dust and Worms you are my Father, and to Rottenness thou art my Mother. He has no Providence nor Fore-sight; for all his Contemplations look backward upon the Days of old, and his Brains are turned with them, as if he walked backwards. He had rather interpret one obscure Word in any old senseless Discourse, than be Author of the most ingenious new one; and with Scaliger would sell the Empire of Germany (if it were in his Power) for an old Song. He devours an old Manuscript with greater Relish than Worms and Moths do, and, though there be nothing in it, values it above any Thing printed, which he accounts but a Novelty. When he happens to cure a small Botch in an old Author, he is as proud of it, as if he had got the Philosophers Stone, and could cure all the Diseases of Mankind. He values things wrongfully upon their Antiquity, forgetting that the most modern are really the most ancient of all Things in the World, like those that reckon their Pounds before their Shillings and Pence, of which they are made up. He esteems no Customs but such as have outlived themselves, and are long since out of Use; as the Catholics allow of no Saints, but such as are dead, and the Fanatics, in Opposition, of none but the Living.

Trees and tree names I like

Lilac tree. As in "are there lilac trees in the heart of town? / can you hear a lark in any other part of town?". Oh dear Freddy!
Maple tree. I wish we had some of these around here, with those beautiful orange leaves.

And the ones in portuguese:

It may seem strange, but I can't read a word of these without repeating it to myself a few times. They just sound so good :)


When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million Shinto deities
travel secretly throughout the earth.
Those modest gods touch us—
touch us and move on.

Liberal education, servile education

"The expression “a liberal education” originally meant one worthy of freemen. Such is education simply in a true and broad sense. But education ordinarily so called — the learning of trades and professions which is designed to enable men to earn their living, or to fit them for a particular station in life — is servile."

(Hnery David Thoreau's Journal - 08-Dec-1859. Via.)

The Future of Forestry

How will the legend of the age of trees
Feel, when the last tree falls in England?
When the concrete spreads and the town conquers
The country's heart; when contraceptive
Tarmac's laid where farm has faded,
Tramline flows where slept a hamlet,
And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop from
Dover to Wrath, have glazed us over?
Simplest tales will then bewilder
The questioning children, 'What was a chestnut?
Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk,
Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.
What was Autumn? They never taught us.'
Then, told by teachers how once from mould
Came growing creatures of lower nature
Able to live and die, though neither
Beast nor man, and around them wreathing
Excellent clothing, breathing sunlight—
Half understanding, their ill-acquainted
Fancy will tint their wonder-paintings
—Trees as men walking, wood-romances
Of goblins stalking in silky green,
Of milk-sheen froth upon the lace of hawthorn's
Collar, pallor in the face of birchgirl.
So shall a homeless time, though dimly
Catch from afar (for soul is watchful)
A sight of tree-delighted Eden.

(C.S. Lewis)

Dolce far niente (4)

William Cowper, The Task, Book III, lines 352-360:

How various his employments, whom the world
Calls idle, and who justly in return
Esteems that busy world an idler, too!
Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen,
Delightful industry enjoyed at home,
And nature in her cultivated trim
Dressed to his taste, inviting him abroad—
Can he want occupation who has these?
Will he be idle who has much to enjoy?

Dolce far niente (3)

Let laureates sing with rapturous swing
Of the wonder and glory of work;
Let pulpiteers preach and with passion impeach
The indolent wretches who shirk.
No doubt they are right: in the stress of the fight
It's the slackers who go to the wall;
So though it's my shame I perversely proclaim
It's fine to do nothing at all.

It's fine to recline on the flat of one's spine,
With never a thought in one's head:
It's lovely to lie staring up at the sky
When others are earning their bread.
It's great to feel one with the soil and the sun,
Drowned deep in the grasses so tall;
Oh it's noble to sweat, pounds and dollars to get,
But—it's grand to do nothing at all.

So sing to the praise of the fellows who laze
Instead of lambasting the soil;
The vagabonds gay who lounge by the way,
Conscientious objectors to toil.
But lest you should think, by this spatter of ink,
The Muses still hold me in thrall,
I'll round out my rhyme, and (until the next time)
Work like hell—doing nothing at all.

("Laziness", Robert Service. Feel the irony? heh.)

Dolce far niente (2)

Fain would I shake thee off, but weak am I
Thy strong solicitations to withstand.
Plenty of work lies ready to my hand,
Which rests irresolute, and lets it lie.

How can I work, when that seductive sky
Smiles through the window, beautiful and bland,
And seems to half entreat and half command
My presence out of doors beneath its eye?

Will not the air be fresh, the water blue,
The smell of beanfields, blowing to the shore,
Better than these poor drooping purchased flowers?
Good-bye, dull books! Hot room, good-bye to you!
And think it strange if I return before
The sea grows purple in the evening hours.

("Indolence", Robert F. Murray)

Dolce far niente

Apart, thank Heaven, from all to do
To keep alive the long day through;
To imagine; think; watch; listen to;
There still remains - the heart to bless,
Exquisite pregnant Idleness.

Why, we might let all else go by
To seek its Essence till we die . . .

Hark, now! that Owl, a-snoring in his tree,
Till it grow dark enough for him to see.

("Owl", Walter de la Mare)

terça-feira, 8 de dezembro de 2009

Where the wild things are

So sweet.


somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands


What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee.

(Ezra Pound)