Temet Nosce (Know Thyself)

This page exists as what used to be known as a "Commonplace Book" for the purpose of maintaining a log of the poetry and philosophy that inspires and propels much of my own thought and writing, and to share, with fellow sojourners, a collection of the beauty and wisdom of kindred souls throughout time. My hope is that we will collectively work towards the goal of a deep and sustaining self-knowledge that will, then, inspire and guide us to pursue beauty, peace and justice in our world.

“He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Will Try

will try. 
I will step from the house to see what I see
and hear and I will praise it. 
I did not come into this world
to be comforted. 
I come, like red bird, to sing. 
But I'm not red bird, with his head-mop of flame
and the red triangle of his mouth
full of tongue and whistles, 
but a woman whose love has vanished 
who thinks now, too much, of roots
and the dark places
where everything is simply holding on. 
But this too, I believe, is a place
where God is keeping watch
until we rise, and step forth again and--
but wait. Be still. Listen! 
Is it red bird? Or something
inside myself, singing? 

~ Mary Oliver, "I Will Try" from 'Red Bird'

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Response and Reconciliation"

Life never answers.
It has no ears and doesn't hear us;
it doesn't speak, it has no tongue.
it neither goes nor stays.
we are the ones who speak,
the ones who go,
while we hear from echo to echo, year to year,
our words rolling through a tunnel with no end.
That which we call life
hears itself within us, speaks with our tongues,
and through us, knows itself. 
~ Octavio Paz, from "Response and Reconciliation"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This is Water

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” 
David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

Monday, May 20, 2013

Breathe Me In

"Our beautiful planet is wrapped in the protective shield of the atmosphere and beneath this wrap is all the air that ever was. No cosmic cleaning company comes along to replace it every so often. The same ancient air is recycled so that each time we take a breath, we breathe stardust left over from the big bang, air that has circulated through a brontosaurus, air that was breathed by Plato, Mozart and Bach. Every time we fill our lungs, we take in what was a newborn's first breath, and a person's last...the sense of community comes with breathing, the letting go of it all, the truth that we are, indeed, one being in unity with all other beings through time and the entire life of this planet."

~ Annmarie S. Kidder, in her essay, "Solitude"

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I'm taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I'm traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

~ Mary Oliver, "Today" from, 'A Thousand Mornings'

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Way In by Linda Hogan

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food. 

~ Linda Hogan, "The Way In"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fishing In The Keep Of Silence

There is a hush now while the hills rise up
and God is going to sleep. He trusts the ship
of Heaven to take over and proceed beautifully
as he lies dreaming in the lap of the world.
He knows the owls will guard the sweetness
of the soul in their massive keep of silence,
looking out with eyes open or closed over
the length of Tomales Bay that the egrets
conform to, whitely broad in flight, white
and slim in standing. God, who thinks about
poetry all the time, breathes happily as He
repeats to Himself: there are fish in the net,
lots of fish this time in the net of the heart.

~ Linda Gregg, "Fishing In The Keep Of Silence"
~ For Nadia

I wake and spend
the last hours
of darkness
with  no one

but the moon.
She listens
to my complaints
like the good

companion she is
and comforts me surely
with her light.
But she, like everyone,

has her own life.
So finally I understand
that she has turned away,
is no longer listening.

She wants me
to refold myself
into my own life.
And, bending close,

as we all dream of doing,
she rows with her white arms
through the dark water
which she adores.

~ Mary Oliver, "Moon and Water"