"Listen. Who writes the great books? It is not we who sign our names. What is an artist? He's a man who has antennae, who knows how to hook up to the currents which are in the atmosphere, in the cosmos; he merely has the facility for hooking on, as it were. Who is original? Everything that we are doing, everything that we think, exists already, and we are only intermediaries, that's all, who make use of what is in the air. Why do ideas, why do great scientific discoveries often occur in different parts of the world at the same time? The same is true of the elements that go to make up a poem or a great novel or any work of art. They are already in the air, they have not been given voice, that's all. They need the man, the interpreter, to bring them forth."
- Henry Miller
"An artist has got to be careful never to really arrive at a place where he thinks he's 'at' somewhere. You always have to realize that you're constantly in a state of becoming, you know? And as long as you can stay in that realm you'll sort of be all right."
- Bob Dylan
"A mind fed on words such as heaven, earth, dew, essence, cinnabar, moonlight, stillness, jade, pearl, cedar, and winter plum is likely to have a serenity not to be found in minds ringing with the vocabulary of the present age - computer, tractor, jumbo jet, speedball, pop, dollar, liquidation, napalm, overkill! Who would thrill at the prospect of rocketing to the moon in a billion-dollar spacecraft if he knew how to summon a shimmering gold and scarlet dragon at any time of the day or night and soar among the stars?"
- John Blofeld
live & learn
at the doorway,
ridiculous as it now seems.
What others found in art,
I found in nature. What others found
in human love, I found in nature.
Very simple. But there was no voice there.
Winter was over. In the thawed dirt,
bits of green were showing.
Come to me, said the world. I was standing
in my wool coat at a kind of bright portal -
I can finally say
long ago; it gives me considerable pleasure. Beauty
the healer, the teacher -
death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me,
my beloved life.
- Louise Glück
from 3. October
What Light Does
Today, I did nothing.
Light went on as usual,
throwing leaves against the white wall,
as if no one were watching, as if
there's no meaning in the trembling
of the leaves. Later, light moves
the leaves onto the tile floor,
and once I might have thought them
dancing, or that the shadow
of a thing is more beautiful
than the thing itself, but it's not,
it's just ordinary light, going about
its ordinary business. Now, evening is here,
and I've made it through another day
of shadows. This is not metaphor, or poetry,
it's how the unbearable is
a blade that gleams and remains
visible, long after light has gone.
- Patty Paine
I love these raw moist dawns with
a thousand birds you hear but can't
quite see in the mist.
My old alien body is a foreigner
struggling to get into another country.
The loon call makes me shiver.
Back at the cabin I see a book
and am not quite sure what that is.
- Jim Harrison
Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.
It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves - you may believe this or not -
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers
deep in the woods,
in the reckless seizure of spring.
Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.
Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the
tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.
And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.
- Mary Oliver