Friday, June 01, 2012

Carpe viam


Carpe viam
"seize the road"
was Horace's alternative
in space
instead of time

diem and viam
both symbols
of the circle
we live

the simple flight
of stones
seized and thrown

first rising
then falling

to become the road
in the end
(that never ends)

June 2012


The Solitary Walker said...

I didn't realise Horace originated the phrase "carpe viam" as well as the better known "carpe diem". How perfect!

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.

Antonio Machado

Ruth said...

Robert, I didn't know either before today.

I ran Machado's verse through an online translater and got a gist of the meaning, though the Spanish is so beautiful; I wish I could understand it as read/written. "Camino" and "caminante" . . . "andar . . . vista . . . pisar . . . " these ring like footsteps on a long road, so satisfying. And ahh, ". . . no hay camino, / sino estelas en la mar." There is no road, but wakes in the sea.

How beautiful.

The Solitary Walker said...

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing back
one sees the path
that must never be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road--
Only wakes upon the sea.

Wikiquote translation

hedgewitch said...

Lovely, Ruth. Whenever I see poems about the road I always think of Tolkein's hobbit song: 'The road goes ever on and on..' It is the eternal somewhere, the greener grass, and the way out as well as the way forward. I love the circular nature of day and way in your Horace quotes, and your poem, and also the Machado quoted above--a beautiful fragment of verse.

Ruth said...

Robert, much better than my translator-grinder. I see a walking wanderer, and the road is only there for the next step, and disappears behind her, into the sea.

Thank you.

Ruth said...

Hedge, and your comment in turn reminds me of C.S. Lewis's Reepicheep's farther up and further in. Like a spiral, I think.

I love the Machado, too. 79% of our body weight is water. Is it any wonder our road is fluid?

Thanks a bunch.

erin said...

i think of you so often when i listen to one of my favorite songs, walking far from home by iron and wine:

I was walking far from home
Where the names were not burned along the wall
Saw a building high as heaven
But the door was so small, door was so small
I saw rainclouds, little babies
And a bridge that had tumbled to the ground
I saw sinners making music
I've dreamt of that sound, dreamt of that sound
I was walking far from home
But I carried your letters all the while
I saw lovers in a window
Whisper, "Want me like time, want me like time"
I saw sickness, blooming fruit trees
I saw blood and a bit of it was mine
I saw children in a river
But their lips were still dry, lips were still dry
I was walking far from home
And I found your face mingled in the crowd
Saw a boatful of believers say i'm talking too loud, talking too loud
I saw sunlight on the water
Saw a bird fall like a hammer from the sky
Saw an old woman on the speed train
She was closing her eyes, closing her eyes
I saw flowers on the hillside
And a millionaire pissing on the lawn
Saw a prisoner take a pistol
And say, "Join me in song, join me in song"
Saw a car crash in the country
Where the prayers run like weeds along the road
I saw strangers stealing kisses
Giving only their clothes, only their clothes
Saw a white dog chase its tail
And a pair of hearts carved into a stone
I saw kindness and an angel
Crying, "Take me back home, take me back home"
Saw a highway, saw an ocean
I saw widows in the temple to the Lord
Naked dancers in the city
How they spoke for us all, spoke for us all
Saw loaded linen tables
And a motherless colt, then it was gone
I saw hungry brothers waiting
With a radio on, radio on
I was walking far from home
Where the names were not burned along the wall
Saw a wet road form a circle
And it came like a call, came like a call
From the Lord



(hope the lyrics are a close approximation)


Vagabonde said...

That is a great poem. It sounds just like a Buddhist poem. It reminds me so much of the Buddhist poem I read at my daughter’s wedding by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, born in 1926 and who lives in France now. His poem is called “Walking Meditation.”

Jeanie said...

Wonderful poem and the graphic is to die for.

elizabeth said...

So well put.
a journey
a pilgrimage in some ways
isn't having a grandchild bliss
and so helpful in getting back in touch with all sorts
of wonderful things
not to mention one's own place in the grand scheme of things.

What is your instagram name? I'm biffwix

Margaret said...

Your poetry often soothes me ... and I enjoyed the comments here just as much! You have such smart and interesting followers ;)

George said...

Beauriful, Ruth, and I really enjoyed the comments, especially the exchange between you and Robert. Carpe diem and carpe viam—seize both the day and the road. What more is there than this? To own the day and lay claim to the path before you, worrying not about other days and other roads. This day, this road, this step—now!

When old Horace is mentioned, I always recall some favorite lines from Dryden's "Imitation of Horace:" "Happy the man and happy he alone, he who can call today his own, he who secure within can say, tomorrow do thy worse, for I have lived today."

ds said...

How I have missed your poems, Ruth. How lovely this one is, and how apt. I did not know what "carpe viam" meant until I read this; I had not heard of Antonio Machado until I saw Robert's comment. What bliss, always, to come here. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, erin, how beautiful. I played it on YouTube to get a sense of the rhythm, and the repetition of those just-right phrases. I love it. Of course the song would remind me of you if it were my favorite, for you witness the unwitnessed, as this song does.

Thank you. xoxo

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, thank you for such high praise. I looked online for a specific walking meditation of Thich Nhat Hanh's without success. But I found a YouTube of him showing followers how to do a walking meditation, and it was lovely. So thank you for that.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jeanie! I just started taking photos with Instagram a couple weeks ago, and I'm having a lot of fun. This shot was of a corner of my desk at work.

Ruth said...

elizabeth, I wonder if you meant to type "is having a grandchild bliss"? If so, I agree completely. A new path for me, watching his new path. I know you so enjoy witnessing yours, too.

I'm glad we are now following each other on IG, and I can see your photos of NYC and your grandson.

Ruth said...

Margaret, thank you for your kind words, so much. And oh yes, I am quite fortunate in my insightful and wonderful friends here.

I am excited for you as you follow your daughter on her plein air painting adventure, and I look forward to photos!

Ruth said...

George, Horace's words urge us to seize time and space. We can't control those entities, of course, but you have said it just perfectly, "to own the day and lay claim to the path before you, worrying not about other days and other roads. This day, this road, this step—now!" Yes! The claim is an interior one, having to do with our own business, the only business we can own, and making the most of it.

Then there is such freedom in Dryden's lines. Freedom and joy. As Robert's shared Machado verse expresses, yesterday's path is gone and can't be trod again. This moment is all we have. Thank you, my friend and fellow sojourner.

Ruth said...

Dear ds, how I have missed you. Only yesterday I was looking for you. And here you are! And here with other rich friends, who bring so many gifts to this room. My road is a very pleasant one, shared with companions like you.

Montag said...


However, I always read "carpe diem" as "carpe, Deum"... ("seize, God,...")

sort of like "Te, Deum"

and I pretend it means "Oh, God, seize..." whatever it fancies me to think the divine may feel like seizing that moment.

Ginnie said...

I usually only hear about seizing the day and/or the night, sister, but the added thought of seizing the path is...delightful. Somehow that seems even better, if that makes sense. Space instead of time and yet both are each.

GailO said...

What is carpe diem without carpe viam? It is the journey that makes our time so worthwhile. Thank you so much for this meditation...Love all the comments with this post!