Week VII: Text-only version
Walking the World: On Music, Poetry and Flowing Movement
(1) Formwhether that of a musical composition or of a poem emerges
out of movement; it is the outward envelope of the pulse of life.
(2) All Art is balance in flowing movement demonstrated. At the same time,
Art is about balance in the metaphysical sense: balance within ourselves,
between ourselves, and in our relationships with the world around us. We
may begin a poem with a scream, but the scream itself instantly moves
to find its proper counterpoint in the gentleness of a whisper.
(3) A melody or the line of a poem is not built up of parts like a wall is
made of bricks. Fold into fold, the parts reflect and refer to the whole,
while the whole gives structure, order and coherence to the parts. It is the
quality of the movement of the whole, however, that is primary. Vitally
important is that this movement can only partially be seen or studied
on the printed page.
(4) We rehearse information, but perform meaning.
(5) In both music and poetry, what is important is not so much what
we think of as style or aesthetics, but rather the quality of energy which
manifests in a piece as we bring it to life in performance. What makes music
or poetry relevant or new, regardless of when it was composed, who is
playing or saying it, or from which world culture it originates, is the strength
of resonance its energy has with the repertoire of metaphysical and spiritual
urgencies of the present moment.
A die falls.
Isn't it strange?
Randomness repeated does
not look like
it gives one a sense
of an intelligence near by.
what they had in mind
in laying the two sides of a
split marble slab, one next to the
other, the intricate weave of
the dragon veins, left the reverse of
These patterns in two's
bring us somehow closer to home.
The die comes to rest
on a '3'
but we need a '2' since one of
makes no difference,
makes no place
for our butterfly, waiting so
patiently till now, to spread its
A Daisy of Dry Meadows
Flowers are to the background green
of meadow and forest what a poem is
to the constant chatter of sounds which
surrounds us. How strikingly beautiful
they are, these centers where essences
We count the rays, knowing
that the metamorphosis
of plants is also our own,
clear centers which turn
around the great play
of loss and rebirth.
Pray for just 10 more days of summer.
Hay cut, carefully dried, put up
in the winter barn.
Work finished, the farmer
knows what the philosopher
only longs for
No stone, but a song
which snaps shut resolutely,
without a thought,
leaving plenitudes of questioning
silence between so many
unnamed stars and the
snows which are sure to fall
Ringing the Changes
Perhaps empty time has structure,
just a wood has grain. The central moments
of the rhythms of the natural year manifest much like
sparkling springs chanced upon in a journey
of a thousand miles. How shall we rediscover and
celebrate such things?
Drifting, cold, deep snow everywhere,
filling all the unseen cracks in the houses.
The furry snow bunnies are meeting up on
winter mountain, and the priests have run
out of money and have all gone home.
The children light candles for each
star in the night sky while the
grownups drink hot coffee, sit at
the round table, and speak in earnest
of getting rid of all the tanks.
Heavy metal, slow metal, cold metal,
the sound of bells, thousands
of bells, swaying back and forth,
a wave of joyful sound,
passing on from city to city
to city, some say,
as swiftly as
the turning of the Earth itself
Have you ever noticed how the shape of the Earth
always seems to be asking
Sometimes it's just teasing us; others,
asking the most serious questions of all.
The way a...
trail folds into the gentle turn
of a hill, half a mile from a lonely shack,
each morning asking,
"Is someone coming? Is someone coming?"
Or a long day's journey over endless spring
snow and rugged scree, an unexpected
green meadow, small pond,
a soft-spoken query, hesitant, like a
shy young man asking,
"Aren't you going to spend the night?"
And further to the East, irresistible, pulling
one towards it like the edge of an airy cliff,
a huge V-like opening cut straight through
the high walls of a granite ridge,
"A way through to the other side?"
The possibility of a passageway.
It's there. Ever-present. Massive.
Written in the rocks.
Rilke: Love Song
How shall I hold on to my soul, so that
it does not touch yours? How shall I lift
it gently up over you on to other things?
I would so very much like to tuck it away
among long lost objects in the dark
in some quiet unknown place, somewhere
which remains motionless when the depths resound.
And yet everything which touches us, you and me,
takes us together like a single bow,
drawing out from two strings but one voice.
On which instrument are we strung?
And which violinist holds us in the hand?
O sweetest of songs.
Rainer Maria Rilke
New Poems: c. 1907
(tr. Cliff Crego)
(For more Rilke poems in translation, go to
The Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke )
Neon Graffiti: Simplicity
Complexity is another name
for simplicity unfolding in time.
In Politics, the most radical
idea is simplicity;
In Art, the most difficult
idea is simplicity;
In Science, the most necessary
idea is simplicity;
In Religion, the most mysterious,
arduous, complex idea
The High Country Moor
It is possible that there are places so powerfully peaceful
and quiet, that, if one were to play a properly tuned, long
wooden alpine horn in the right direction, at the right moment,
the sound of the higher partials would carry over every visible
peak and beyond, and in some deeply forested, remote valleys,
not be heard for more than a million years.
Bang goes the gun,
two grouse, females.
Like the hunters, camouflage
colors of dark, dry juniper and heather.
Startled, they always jumpstart
straight out into the valley air,
heavy, rapid wing beats,
then glide steeply down
just like that.
Tonight, ears ringing, gizzards full
of tart red mountain cranberries,
the light of a hunter's moon on
patchy snow, melted, then
frozen solid again.
Walking back up to the moor,
the sound of boots, heavy,
kicking steps too loud to bear...
Crunch goes the geode, mind
cracked open, for the first time,
the sight of amethyst stars.
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