Tuesday, May 24, 2016


by Naomi Shihab Nye  b. 1952

The river is famous to the fish. 

The loud voice is famous to silence,   
which knew it would inherit the earth   
before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   
watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   
is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   
more famous than the dress shoe,   
which is famous only to floors. 

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   
who smile while crossing streets,   
sticky children in grocery lines,   
famous as the one who smiled back. 

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   
but because it never forgot what it could do.

See also http://shenandoahliterary.org/blog/2014/10/famous-by-naomi-shihab-nye/

Friday, May 20, 2016


by William Stafford

There's a thread you follow.  It goes among 
things that change.  But it doesn't change.  
People wonder about what you are pursuing. 
You have to explain about the thread.  
But it is hard for others to see.  
While you hold it you can't get lost.  
Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; 
and you suffer and get old.  
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.  
You don't ever let go of the thread.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


by Vaclav Havel

Once I begin, once I try
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying that things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
-to live in harmony
with the "voice of Beings"' as I
understand it within myself
-as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
nor the most important one
to have set out
upon that road.   ...
Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost.  ...

Monday, March 7, 2016

East Coker

by T. S. Eliot

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years--
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it,  and so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion.  And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate--but there is no competition--
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again:  and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious.  But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.  The rest is not our business.

Three Short Selections

Making Contact    by Virginia Satir

I believe
The greatest gift
I can conceive of having
from anyone
to be seen by them,
heard by them,
to be understood 
and touched by them.
The greatest gift
I can give
to see, hear, understand
and to touch
another person.
When this is done
I feel 
contact has been made.

From the book Teaching With Fire

From Teaching a Stone to Talk    by Annie Dillard

In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us.  But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here.  This is given.  It is not learned.

And one for John:

Make Music With Your Life    by Bob O'Meally

Make music with your life
silver tune
cuts every deepday madness
Into jewels   that you wear

Carry 16 bars of old blues
everywhere you go
walk thru azure sadness
Like a guitar player

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Go to the Limits of your Longing

by Rainer Maria Rilke

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

Book of Hours, I 59

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Bare Tree

by Samuel Menashe    American, b. 1925

      My mother once said to me, "When one sees
the tree in leaf one thinks the beauty of the tree
is in its leaves, and then one sees the bare tree."

Dedicated to my family of trees.  M.E.