Ages of fire and of air
Youth of water
From green to yellow
From yellow to red
From dream to watching
From desire to act
It was only one step and you took it so lightly
Insects were living jewels
The heat rested by the side of the pond
Rain was a willow with unpinned hair
A tree grew in the palm of your hand
And that tree laughed sang prophesied
Its divinations filled the air with wings
There were simple miracles called birds
Everything was for everyone
Everyone was everything
There was only one huge word with no back to it
A word like a sun
One day it broke into tiny pieces
They were the words of the language we now speak
Pieces that will never come together
Broken mirrors where the world sees itself shattered
- Octavio Paz
Here is an amazement - once I was twenty years old
there was a delicious ease,
and in every motion of the green earth
a hint of paradise,
and now I am sixty years old,
and it is the same.
Above the modest house and the palace
- the same darkness.
Above the evil man and the just,
the same stars.
Above the child who will recover
and the child who will
the same energies roll forward
from one tragedy to the next and
from one foolishness to the next.
I bow down.
- Mary Oliver
from Am I Not Among the Early Risers
"I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books."
- C. S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
"For a long time now, every meeting with another human being has been a collision. I feel too much, sense too much, am exhausted by the reverberations after even the simplest conversation. But the deep collision is and has been with my unregenerate, tormenting, and tormented self. I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose - to find out what I think, to know where I stand. I am unable to become what I see. I feel like an inadequate machine, a machine that breaks down at crucial moments, grinds to a dreadful halt, "won’t go," or, even worse, explodes in some innocent person's face."
- May Sarton
Journal of a Solitude
"The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, "If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils."
Said Diogenes, "Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king."
- Anthony de Mello
"History has the cruel reality of a nightmare, and the grandeur of man consists in his making beautiful and lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare. Or, to put it another way, it consists in transforming the nightmare into vision; in freeing ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality - if only for an instant - by means of creation."
- Octavio Paz
The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings
"I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity.
The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes, one of them giggling in a voice yet unbroken; a touch of autumn in the air, a sense of gathering rain."
- Pico Iyer
After a Death
Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.
One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.
It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.
- Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly
The Winged Energy of Delight