Mystery and Manners

the unkempt and unhoused and unspoken-for
this is not entirely devoid of the con

The question itself has not changed
but only the depths of memory
through which it rises…

—An excerpt from W. S. Merwin's poem "The Blackboard,"

(via newyorker)


It is an artifact
of wood. Wood holds together better
than sea or cloud or sand could by itself,
much better than real sea or sand or cloud.
It chose that way to grow and not to move.
The monument’s an object, yet those decorations,
carelessly nailed, looking like nothing at all,
give it away as having life, and wishing;
wanting to be a monument, to cherish something.
The crudest scroll-work says “commemorate,”
while once each day the light goes around it
like a prowling animal,
or the rain falls on it, or the wind blows into it.
It may be solid, may be hollow.
The bones of the artist-prince may be inside
or far away on even drier soil.
But roughly but adequately it can shelter
what is within (which after all
cannot have been intended to be seen).
It is the beginning of a painting,
a piece of sculpture, or poem, or monument,
and all of wood. Watch it closely.

Elizabeth Bishop, “The Monument”

Woolf in 1909

Woolf in 1909

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

—William Blake, Heaven and Hell (via muirin007)

(via untrooth)

I love the one who chastises his god, because he loves his god: for he must perish of the wrath of his god.

Das Sprach

And our net was woven from the stuff of signs,
Hieroglyphs for the eye and ear, amorous rings.
A sound reverberated inward, sculpturing our time,
The flicker, flutter, twitter of our language.

For from what could we weave the boundary
Between within and without, light and abyss,
If not from ourselves, our own warm breath,
And lipstick and gauze and muslin,
From the heartbeat whose silence makes the world die?

Czeslaw Milosz, “Tidings”

“I love Dante almost as much as the Bible. He is my spiritual food, the rest is ballast.” —James Joyce