Stanlty Kunitz On The Layers

 Stanley Kunitz  (July 29, 1905 – May 14, 2006)

 Stanley Kunitz  (July 29, 1905 – May 14, 2006)

The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle not to stray.

When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written,
I am not done with my changes.

 

Listen to Stanley Kunitz reading his poem “The Layers“ here.

Louis Menand On Poetry

Louis Menand (January 21, 1952 -)

Louis Menand (January 21, 1952 -)

I started out as a poet, too, but I eventually realized that whatever my poems were expressing, it wasn’t me. They were too obsessed with looking like poems, I think—and sometimes they did, just poems that somebody else had written. I switched to nonfiction prose, and found, to my astonishment, that I could express myself much better by writing about things I had nothing to do with. (Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised.)

But I got the same painful pleasure out of writing prose that I did out of writing poetry—the pleasure of trying to put the right words in the right order. And I took away from my experience with poetry something else. I understood that the reason people write poems is the reason people write. They have something to say.

Martin L King On Racism

Martin L King (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Martin L King (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today... it is an unhappy truth that racism is a way of life for the vast majority of white Americans, spoken and unspoken, acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle. The disease of racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic.

 

🎂 Happy Birthday Martin

Tim Cook On Engagement

Tim Cook (November 01, 1960 -) 

Tim Cook (November 01, 1960 -) 

Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a debate of ideas.

Mary Oliver On The Journey

 Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 -)

 Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 -)

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew 
what you had to do, and began, 
though the voices around you 
kept shouting 
their bad advice— 
though the whole house 
began to tremble 
and you felt the old tug 
at your ankles. 
"Mend my life!"each voice cried. 
But you didn't stop. 
You knew what you had to do, 
though the wind pried 
with its stiff fingers 
at the very foundations, 
though their melancholy 
was terrible. 
It was already late 
enough, and a wild night, 
and the road full of fallen 
branches and stones. 
But little by little, 
as you left their voices behind, 
the stars began to burn 
through the sheets of clouds, 
and there was a new voice 
which you slowly 
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper 
into the world, 
determined to do 
the only thing you could do— 
determined to save 
the only life you could save.

 

Listen to Mary Oliver read her poem "The Journey" here.

Anaïs Nin On Artists

Anaïs Nin (February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977) 

Anaïs Nin (February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977) 

For me the artist simple means one who can transform ordinary life into a beautiful creation, with his craft. But I did not mean creation strictly applied only to the arts. I meant creation in life, the creation of a child, a garden, a house, a dress. I was referring to creativity in all its aspects. Not only the actual products of art, but the faculty for healing, consoling, raising the level of life, transforming it by our own efforts.

 

Elizabeth Bishop On One Art

Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911 – October 6, 1979) 

Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911 – October 6, 1979) 

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you

meant to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident

the art of losing's not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

 

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James  Mathes (August 07, 1934 - January 08, 2017) You are remembered and missed my dear friend.

Tao Writer On Friendship And Solitude

Tao Writer (April 17, 1948 -) 

Tao Writer (April 17, 1948 -) 

I do not have many friends because friendship requires a lot of time and for me, time is a premium commodity in rather short supply these days. I do not have the energy and time necessary to have and develop more new friendships. “To have a friend takes time,” said Georgia O'Keeffe.

I find solitude is my best friend. We never argue or disagree. I do not have to plan lunch or dinner dates for us to be together, and she is completely understanding when I choose not to engage in activities I no longer wish to partake in. We share naps, food, books, music, movies, and life together. She is as comfortable with me as I am with her. My time in this world is shrinking. The same can be said for the number of my friends, many have already died, but my friend solitude will be with me till my own death. Some may think this is the easy way out, not having to engage with the world through others, and I am okay that thinking. In the end the fact that solitude and I cherish our remaining time together is all that matters.

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Hazel L Phillips (January 06, 1926 - July 12, 2012) Happy Birthday Mom. My first, longest, and best friend, always.

Steve Jobs On Death

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955– October 5, 2011) 

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955– October 5, 2011) 

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Shirley Jackson On Inner Vision

Shirley Jackson (December 14, 1916 – August 8, 1965) 

Shirley Jackson (December 14, 1916 – August 8, 1965) 

I was thinking what it must feel like to be a prisoner going to die; you stand there looking at the sun and the sky and the grass and the trees, and because it’s the last time you’re going to see them they’re wonderful, full of colors you never noticed before, and bright and beautiful and terribly hard to leave behind. And then, suppose you’re reprieved, and you get up the next morning and you’re not dead; could you look again at the sun and the trees and the sky and think they’re the same old sun and sky and trees, nothing special at all, just the same old things you’ve seen every day? 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau On Ownership

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 02, 1778) 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 – July 02, 1778) 

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying “This is mine,” and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.

Seneca On Happiness

Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD65) 

Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD65) 

It was nature’s intention that there should be no need of great equipment for a good life: every individual can make himself happy. External goods are of trivial importance and without much influence in either direction: prosperity does not elevate the sage and adversity does not depress him. For he has always made the effort to rely as much as possible on himself and to derive all delight from himself.

Hannah Arendt On Totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906 – December 04, 1975) 

Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906 – December 04, 1975) 

What he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.

 (Speaking of Adolf Eichmann in 1963, but also applicable to Donald Trump in 2017.)