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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thomas Merton

"Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity." 
~ Thomas Merton

After A Month Of Rain, by Linda Paston

Everything I thought I wanted
is right here,
particularly when the sun
is making such a comeback,
and the lilac engorged
with purple has recovered
from its severe pruning,
and you will be back soon
to dispel whatever it is
that overtakes me like leaf blight,
even on a day like this. I can still
hear remnants of the rain
in the swollen stream
behind the house, in the faint
dripping under the eaves,
persistent as memory.
And all the things I didn't think
I wanted, cut like the lilac back
to the root, push up again
from underground.
~ Linda Paston "After a Month of Rain"  


"What matters is how quickly you do
what your soul wants."
~ Rumi

Salutation, by Ezra Pound

O generation of the thoroughly smug
and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,
I have seen them with untidy families,
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are,
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
and do not even own clothing.
~ Ezra Pound, "Salutation"

"The Three Goals" David Budbill

The first goal is to see the thing in itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
No symbolism, please.
The second goal is to see each individual thing
as unified, as one, with all the other
ten thousand things.
In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.
The third goal is to grasp the first and the second goals,
to see the universal in the particular,
Regarding this one, call me when you get it.
~ David Budbill, "The Three Goals"

Ram Dass, Born 6 April 1931

"We're all just walking each other home."
~ Ram Dass 

Rings Of Passage, by Joanne Monte

There is a wind
breaking with eloquence, rain,
a thousand origami cranes for longevity;
and two women, hibakusha, in a garden
of castle rock, stepping stones,
a pond of blue feathers, hiding their faces
behind the fluttering motifs of bamboo
and pine, their skin peeled like a soft plum
exposing the red pit of a muscle. There is a sense
that here in this city, there is a language
we cannot speak. It's the translation we fear most,
like a stone that first glowed,
thrown into the river, widening the rings
of passage, but still visible, still spreading.
The faces we did not see where the mouth
of the river choked on burnt flesh;
where the willow, clutching the dark,
stood weeping over the corpses of children.
~ Joanne Monte "Rings Of Passage"

"This Present Moment" Peter Matthiesen

“When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions - such as merit, such as past, present, and future - our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.”
~ Peter Matthiessen

Spring Follows Winter Once More

Lying here in the tall grass
Where it's so soft
Is this what it is to go home?
Into the earth
Of worms and black smells
With a larch tree gathering sunlight
In the spring afternoon
And the gates of paradise open just enough
To let out
A flock of geese.
~ Tom Hennen, "Spring Follows Winter Once More" (Darkness Sticks To Everything: Collected and New Poems)

A Card Carrying Human Being, Steven Charleston

"I am a card carrying human being. I am not a political party, a denomination, a class, a race, or a demographic. I am just a human being. I am not a nationality, a sexuality, an age, or even a gender since we all start out pretty much the same and we are all going to the same destination. I like to do what human beings like to do: live at peace, enjoy my life, be with the family. I like learning from other human beings, sharing my own thoughts, and finding ways to make this world safer, happier and as natural as we found it. I am a card carrying human being. That means I am proud to be what God made me."
~ The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Choctaw

Such Singing In the Wild Branches, by Mary Oliver

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them
were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last
For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.
~ Mary Oliver, "Such Singing In The Wild Branches"

"A Feast of Being" Mary Rose O'Reilly

"The spiritual life--or the writing life--depends above all on fidelity to objects...whatever your eye falls on--for it will fall on what you love--will lead you to the questions of your life, the questions that are incumbent on you to answer, because that is how the muse works in concert with the eye. The things of this world draw us where we need to go...all contemplative acts, silences, poems, house the world in this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along...A feast of being."
~ Mary Rose O'Reilly from, "The Barn at the Edge of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker Buddhist Shepherd"