I hope you enjoyed a beautiful Christmas and are resting warmly in the afterglow, as I am. Stay snug and comfortable while I share some scenes of winter here.
In our world that is filled with straight and rigid lines constructed by men, it is needful to find balance in the feminine, curving complement of Nature. In their rectangular New York apartment my daughter and her husband grow a pot of basil, its mouth-leaves open to the sun on a wide kitchen windowsill. Nearly all the concrete streets of our towns and cities are softened by trees, their round domes curling up and down curb-shores as if avenues are rivers. Trees grow straight, like roads and buildings, yet they are simultaneously round in girth and leaves.
here.) Even on the man-made pier, Nature festoons circular knobs and curlicues on the steel. Waves curl around metal. Sand, water, wind and freezing temperatures wrinkle and pile circular sculptures on the beach. I find man-made structures more intriguingly beautiful when Nature has weathered them with her own patina.
“Tendril in the Mesh,” threw off his monk’s robe, and chose Nature's dance with her as his spiritual practice. William Everson, aka Brother Antoninus, was a farmer, a fine-press printer, and the only monk among the Beat poets. Everson’s poems remained often erotic and mystical throughout the phases of his life, including the period in the Dominican order. (He famously and controversially wrote erotic poems about his soul's relationship with God, as shown in Dark god of Eros.) There is a very nice bio of him at the Poetry Foundation site here. A few of Everson's poems that can be found online are here.
I'll post one lovely poem of Everson's.
by William Everson
This valley after the storms can be beautiful beyond the telling,
Though our city-folk scorn it, cursing heat in the summer and drabness in winter,
And flee it—Yosemite and the sea.
They seek splendor, who would touch them must stun them;
The nerve that is dying needs thunder to rouse it.
I in the vineyard, in green-time and dead-time, come to it dearly,
And take nature neither freaked nor amazing,
But the secret shining, the soft unutterable sundowns;
And love as the leaf does the bough.
Accompanying Lake Michigan photos from last week I'd like to share a further peek into Everson’s mind-heart, from a book transcription of his “meditations” presented in his year-long course on the poet’s call he taught at Kresge College (UCSC) in the 1970s. The book is titled Birth of a Poet, and these quote-meditations are from Chapter two: Identity. At the foundation of my writing life in the early 1990s, this book helped give shape to my own poet identity, as well as my perspective of Nature and its rhythms.
I would be remiss if I did not mention how very present George's images of beauty in unexpected places were in my mind this day at the beach. If you have not yet visited George's blog Transit Notes, I highly recommend it for more along these lines (and curves) of living in rhythm with Nature.
“Cyclical time is very jealous of itself. When you enter its world of myth and dream, of ritual and wonder, there is an innate revulsion from the processes of linear time.”
“Often, the most profound signature of cyclical time, the spoken voice, simply won’t communicate into linear pattern of print. . . . The page simply can’t register what the voice is saying.”
“When your whole life is structured around winning and losing as key to identity it becomes, literally, a crucifixion.”
“Emily Dickinson wasn’t mad, because she possessed her vocation. It enabled her to skate on the brink of insanity, yet retain her complete integrity. All the hell the Victorians were trying to deny through the accumulation of wealth, she lived out in her beautifully skeptical intelligence. She took nothing for granted, but possessed the sovereign right to see everything to its essential core.”
“Even after eighteen years in a monastery, I can’t claim to be an angelic man. I don’t have the particular kind of vision called the angelic intelligence. I am a sensual man, and my sensual needs become the law of my being. I live out the physical vibration as the impulse of my life, and through its exercise, rather than its denial, I fulfill what I am. That’s a terrible thing. And a terrible beauty.”
“All great art is gauged on that dimension, and, setting aside the collective liturgies, and the detachment of contemplation, it is the most direct means we have of bringing us back into harmony. Art is the aperture through which we slip inside the threshold, momentarily at least, to gain a vision of the two points of view as they come together.”
"I am trembling a bit just going through all of this in my head. I'm like an escapee who trembles when he reapproaches the Iron Curtain, with all its barb wire, electrical charges, and hidden explosives. But the Iron Curtain is really only a symbol of that threshold. We must penetrate it in order to obtain our wholeness, our beatitude. You possess both worlds within you, they are each yours by right. You must not let that outside world, with its emphasis on the linear, deny you your deeper self, which is of the cyclical mode. Your course in life must always be to hold both realms in your being. Your vocation is the process by which you bring them together."