The Door

The door to the invisible must be visible. Rene Daumal in Mount Analogue

(John Duncan – Sleeping Princess)

The sun is shining, the dog is asleep on the porch, and the house empty again from visitors.

I sit listening to music and writing away on the Turf as Mary flutters in and out of the room. I look out the window, and the sun plays across the bamboo.

Let me know if you can think of something better than those moments when the earth is yawning awake, vibrating with life up and down the spheres. Our local wren has returned to the back yard; she does her beautiful dance upon the sod, as she twitches to and fro with excitement. The squirrels chase each other, or should I say a pack of males pursue the female one across the fence, up on the roof, over to the tree, around the tree three times, back to the fence…

Life is renewed, again and again. It is a fountain of joy, of love, of beingness. We are all within this beautiful moment called now.
(There is a vibrancy in these mid spring moments. Life spirals along, within that old wind of eternal change!)

Lots in this entry. Good music, beautiful art, wonderful poetry. Sit back, relax and hopefully enjoy!

Bright Blessings,
Earth Rites!
On The Menu:
The Links
Solar Fields – Sol (Remix)
René Daumal Quotes
Leonard Cohen Poems
Tripswitch – Stereogram (Solar Fields Remix)
Art: John Duncan & John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope
The Links:
Rare animal-shaped mounds discovered in Peru
From foraging to farming: the 10,000-year revolution
Solar Fields – Sol (Remix)


René Daumal Quotes:

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

“Philosophy teaches how man thinks he thinks; but drinking shows how he really thinks.”

“It is still not enough for language to have clarity and content…it must also have a goal and an imperative. Otherwise from language we descend to chatter, from chatter to babble, and from babble to confusion.”

“A knife is neither true nor false, but anyone impaled on its blade is in error.”
― Mount Analogue: A Tale of Non-Euclidean and Symbolically Authentic Mountaineering Adventures

“I am dead because I have no desire,
I have no desire because I think I possess,
I think I possess because I do not try to give;
Trying to give, I see that I have nothing,
Seeing that I have nothing, I try to give myself,
Trying to give myself, I see that I am nothing,
Seeing that I am nothing, I desire to become,
Desiring to become, I live.”

Leonard Cohen Poems

Poem 17 (“I perceived the outline of your breasts …”) from “The Energy of Slaves”

I perceived the outline of your breasts
through your Hallowe’en costume
I knew you were falling in love with me
because no other man could perceive
the advance of your bosom into his imagination
It was a rupture of your unusual modesty
for me and me alone
through which you impressed upon my shapeless hunger
the incomparable and final outline of your breasts
like two deep fossil shells
which remained all night long and probably forever

The Next One (“Things are better in Milan …)” from “Death of a Lady’s Man”

Things are better in Milan.
Things are a lot better in Milan.
My adventure has sweetened.
I met a girl and a poet.
One of them was dead
and one of them was alive.
The poet was from Peru
and the girl was a doctor.
She was taking antibiotics.
I will never forget her.
She took me into a dark church
consecrated to Mary.
Long live the horses and the sandles.
The poet gave me back my spirit
which I had lost in prayer.
He was a great man out of the civil war.
He said his death was in my hands
because I was the next one
to explain the weakness of love.
The poet was Cesar Vallejo
who lies at the floor of his forehead.
Be with me now great warrior
whose strength depends solely
on the favours of a woman.

Song (“I almost went to bed …”) from “The Spice-Box of Earth”

I almost went to bed
without remembering
the four white violets
I put in the button-hole
of your green sweater
and how i kissed you then
and you kissed me
shy as though I’d
never been your lover

I Long to Hold Some Lady from “The Spice Box of Earth”

I long to hold some lady
For my love is far away,
And will not come tomorrow
And was not here today.

There is no flesh so perfect
As on my lady’s bone,
And yet it seems so distant
When I am all alone:
As though she were a masterpiece
In some castled town,
That pilgrims come to visit
And priests to copy down.
Alas, I cannot travel
To a love I have so deep
Or sleep too close beside
A love I want to keep.
But I long to hold some lady,
For flesh is warm and sweet.
Cold skeletons go marching
Each night beside my feet.

Author: Lord Dunsany

(Charon & Psyche – John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope)

Charon leaned forward and rowed. All things were one with his weariness.

It was not with him a matter of years or of centuries, but of wide floods of time, and an old heaviness and a pain in the arms that had become for him part of the scheme that the gods had made and was of a piece with Eternity.

If the gods had even sent him a contrary wind it would have divided all time in his memory into two equal slabs.

So grey were all things always where he was that if any radiance lingered a moment among the dead, on the face of such a queen perhaps as Cleopatra, his eyes could not have perceived it.

It was strange that the dead nowadays were coming in such numbers. They were coming in thousands where they used to come in fifties. It was neither Charon’s duty nor his wont to ponder in his grey soul why these things might be. Charon leaned forward and rowed.

Then no one came for a while. It was not usual for the gods to send no one down from Earth for such a space. But the gods knew best.

Then one man came alone. And the little shade sat shivering on a lonely bench and the great boat pushed off. Only one passenger: the gods knew best. And great and weary Charon rowed on and on beside the little, silent, shivering ghost.

And the sound of the river was like a mighty sigh that Grief in the beginning had sighed among her sisters, and that could not die like the echoes of human sorrow failing on earthly hills, but was as old as time and the pain in Charon’s arms.

Then the boat from the slow, grey river loomed up to the coast of Dis and the little, silent shade still shivering stepped ashore, and Charon turned the boat to go wearily back to the world. Then the little shadow spoke, that had been a man.

“I am the last,” he said.

No one had ever made Charon smile before, no one before had ever made him weep.

Tripswitch – Stereogram (Solar Fields Remix)

(John Duncan – Happiness)

The Celebration Of Spring

Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.

~Albert Laighton

(Paolo Veronese – Venus & Adonis)


Since I celebrate the old calendar, (much to my families dismay of having to hear me going on one more time about the new fangled calendar we live with) I do not celebrate the Equinox as the beginning but to the middle of spring. Colour me peculiar, and rightly so, but I will stick with the old reckonings just the same. Who has not found sweet buds growing so much earlier on, I ask you? No, these are strange days for the season. Every tree is now bursting into flower locally, since the end of January for some, and we have snow ringed about us whilst the rest of the country is wallowing in heat.

It is strange, but not to be unexpected.

I have assembled this entry around spring, and looking back to last year I found that the alignment is nearly the same for this entry as for that entry. I must stop repeating myself, it becomes habit.

The centre of this edition is ‘The Vigil Of Venus’ supposedly composed by Catallus, and most excellently translated by Thomas Parnell. Read it in the spirit of Parnell’s time, and enjoy. It is a bit of wonder. I have included some music, and an article on the Seasonal Rites.

On The Menu:
Brendan Perry – The Carnival Is Over
The Links
The Vigil Of Venus
Seasonal Rites: The Spring Festival
Robin Guthrie – Neil’s Theme
Artist: Various

Brendan Perry – The Carnival Is Over (Live on KEXP)


The Links:
500 Fairytales
Capitalism: A Ghost Story
Neolithic horned cairns near Caithness wind farm scanned
Real ‘Flying Saucer’ Plans Date Back To The 19th Century

The Vigil Of Venus
(Translated by Thomas Parnell)

Written In The Time Of Julius Caesar, And By Some Ascribed To Catullus

Let those love now, who never lovd before ;
Let those who always lovd, now love the more.
The spring 1 , the new, the warbling spring appears,
The youthful season of reviving years ;
In spring the loves enkindle mutual heats,
The feather’d nation choose their tuneful mates,
The trees grow fruitful with descending rain
And drest in differing greens adorn the plain.
She comes ; to-morrow Beauty’s empress roves
Through walks that winding run within the groves ;
She twines the shooting myrtle into bowers,
And ties their meeting tops with wreaths of flowers,

Then rais’d sublimely on her easy throne,
From Nature’s powerful dictates draws her own.

Let those love now, who never lovd before ;
Let those who ahvays lovd, now love the more.

‘Twas on that day which saw the teeming flood
Swell round, impregnate with celestial blood ;
Wandering in circles stood the finny crew,
The midst was left a void expanse of blue ;
There parent Ocean work’d with heaving throes,
And dropping wet the fair Dione rose

Let those love now, who never lovd before ;
Let those who ahvays lov’d, now love the more.

She paints the purple year with varied show,
Tips the green gem, and makes the blossom glow;

She makes the turgid buds receive the breozo,
Expand to leaves, and shade the naked trees :
When gathering’ damps the misty nights diffuse,
She sprinkles all the morn with balmy dews ;
Blight trembling pearls depend at every spray,
And kept from falling, seem to fall away.
A glossy freshness hence the rose receives,
And blushes sweet through all her silken leaves ;
(The drops descending’ through the silent night,
While stars serenely roll their g’olden light,)
Close till the morn, her humid veil she holds ;
Then deck’d with virgin pomp the flower unfolds.
Soon Avill the morning blush : ye maids ! prepare,
In rosy garlands bind your flowing hair :
‘Tis Venus’ plant : the blood fair Venus shed,
O’er the gay beauty pour’d immortal red ;
From Love’s soft kiss a sweet ambrosial smell
Was taught for ever on the leaves to dwell ;

From gems, from flames, from orient rays of light,
The richest lustre makes her purple bright ;
And she to-morrow weds ; the sporting- gale
Unties her zone, she bursts the verdant veil ;
Through all her sweets the rifling lover flies,
And as he breathes, her glowing fires arise.

Let those love now, who never lov’d before ;
Let those who always lovd, now love the more.

Now fair Dione to the myrtle grove
Sends the gay Nymphs, and sends her tender Love.
And shall they venture ? Is it safe to go,
While Nymphs have hearts, and Cupid wears a bow ?
Yes, safely venture, ’tis his mother’s will ;

He walks unarm’d and undesigning ill,
His torch extinct, his quiver useless hung,
His arrows idle, and his bow unstrung’.
And yet, ye Nymphs, beware, his eyes have charms,
and Love that’s naked, still is Love in arms.

Let those love now, who never lov’d before ;
Let those who always lov’d, now love the more.

From Venus’ bower to Delia’s lodge repairs
A virgin train complete with modest airs :
” Chaste Delia, grant our suit ! or shun the wood,
Nor stain this sacred lawn with savage blood.
Venus, O Delia ! if she could persuade,
Would ask thy presence, might she ask a maid.”
Here cheerful quires for three auspicious nights
With songs prolong the pleasurable rites :
Here crowds in measures lightly-decent rove,
Or seek by pairs the covert of the grove,
Where meeting greens for arbours arch above,
And mingling flowerets strew the scenes of love.

Here dancing Ceres shakes her golden sheaves :
Here Bacchus revels, deck’d Avith viny leaves :
Here wit’s enchanting- God in laurel crown’d
Wakes all the ravish’d Hours with silver sound.
Ye fields, ye forests, own Dione’s reign,
And, Delia, huntress Delia, shun the plain.

Let those love now, ivho never lovd before ;
Let those ivho always lovd, now love the more.

Gay with the bloom of all her opening year,
The Queen at Hybla bids her throne appear ;
And there presides ; and there the favourite band,
Her smiling Graces, share the great command.
Now, beauteous Hybla, dress thy flowery beds
With all the pride the larish season sheds ;
Now all thy colours, all thy fragrance yield,
And rival Enna’s aromatic field.

To fill the presence of the gentle court
From every quarter rural Nymphs resort,
From woods, from mountains, from their humble

From waters curling with the wanton gales.
Pleas’d with the joyful train, the laughing Queen
In circles seats them round the bank of green ;
And “lovely girls,” she whispers, “guard your hearts ;
My boy, though stript of arms, abounds in arts.”

Let those love now, ivho never lovd before ;
Let those who always lovd, now love the more.

Let tender grass in shaded alleys spread,
Let early flowers erect their painted head.
To-morrow’s glory be to-morrow seen,
That day old Ether wedded Earth in green.

The Vernal Father bid the spring appear,
In clouds he coupled to produce the year ;
The sap descending o’er her bosom ran,
And all the various sorts of soul began.
By wheels unknown to sight, by secret veins
Distilling life, the fruitful goddess reigns,
Through all the lovely realms of native day,
Through all the circled land, the circling sea ;
With fertile seed she fill’d the pervious earth,
And ever fix’d the mystic ways of birth.

Let those love now, who never lov’d before ;
Let those who ahoays lov’d, now love the more.

‘Twas she the parent, to the Latian shore
Through various dangers Troy’s remainder bore :

She won Lavinia for her warlike son,
And winning- her, the Latian empire won.
She gave to Mars the maid, whose honour’d womb
Swell’d with the founder of immortal Rome :
Decoy’d by shows the Sabine dames she led,
And taught our vigorous youth the means to wed.
Hence sprung- the Romans, hence the race divine,
Through which great Caesar draws his Julian line.

Let those love now, who never loved before ;
Let those who always lov’d, now love the more.

In rural seats the soul of Pleasure reigns ;
The life of Beauty fills the rural scenes ;
E’en Love, if fame the truth of Love declare,
Drew first the breathings of a rural air.
Some pleasing meadow pregnant Beauty prest,
She laid her infant on its flowery breast ;
From nature’s sweets he sipp’d the fragrant dew,

He smil’d, he kiss’d them, and by kissing grew.
Let those love now, who never lovd before ;
Let those tvho always lov’d, now love the more.

Now bulls o’er stalks of broom extend their side?,
Secure of favours from their lowing brides.
Now stately rams their fleecy consorts lead,
Who bleating follow through the wandering shade.
And now the Goddess bids the birds appear,
Raise all their music, and salute the year.
Then deep the swan begins, and deep the song
Runs o’er the water where he sails along ;
While Philomela tunes a treble strain,
And from the poplar charms the listening plain.
We fancy love express’d at every note,

It melts, it warbles, in her liquid throat :
Of barbarous Tereus she complains no more,
But sings for pleasure, as for grief before ;
And still her graces rise, her airs extend,
And all is silence till the Siren end.

How long- in coming is my lovely spring ?
And when shall I , and when the swallow sing ?
Sweet Philomela, cease ; or here I sit,
And silent lose my rapturous hour of wit :
‘Tis gone, the fit retires, the flames decay,
My tuneful Phoebus flies averse away.
is own Amycle thus, as stories run,
But once was silent, and that once undone.

Let those love now, who never lovd before ;
Let those who always lovd, now love the more.


Seasonal Rites: The Spring Festival
by Jane Harrison

(Arnold Bocklin – Pan Chasing A Nymph)
We have seen in the last chapter that whatever interests primitive man, whatever makes him feel strongly, he tends to re-enact. Any one of his manifold occupations, hunting, fighting, later ploughing and sowing, provided it be of sufficient interest and importance, is material for a dromenon or rite. We have also seen that, weak as he is in individuality, it is not his private and personal emotions that tend to become ritual, but those that are public, felt and expressed officially, that is, by the whole tribe or community. It is further obvious that such dances, when they develop into actual rites, tend to be performed at fixed times. We have now to consider when and why. The element of fixity and regular repetition in rites cannot be too strongly emphasized. It is a factor of paramount importance, essential to the development from ritual to art, from dromenon to drama.

The two great interests of primitive man are food and children. As Dr. Frazer has well said, if man the individual is to live he must have food; if his race is to persist he must have children. “To live and to cause to live, to eat food and to beget children, these were the primary wants of man in the past, and they will be the primary wants of men in the future so long as the world lasts.” Other things may be added to enrich and beautify human life, but, unless these wants are first satisfied, humanity itself must cease to exist. These two things, therefore, food and children, were what men chiefly sought to procure by the performance of magical rites for the regulation of the seasons. They are the very foundation-stones of that ritual from which art, if we are right, took its rise. From this need for food sprang seasonal, periodic festivals. The fact that festivals are seasonal, constantly recurrent, solidifies, makes permanent, and as already explained (p. 42), in a sense intellectualizes and abstracts the emotion that prompts them.

The seasons are indeed only of value to primitive man because they are related, as he swiftly and necessarily finds out, to his food supply. He has, it would seem, little sensitiveness to the æsthetic impulse of the beauty of a spring morning, to the pathos of autumn. What he realizes first and foremost is, that at certain times the animals, and still more the plants, which form his food, appear, at certain others they disappear. It is these times that become the central points, the focuses of his interest, and the dates of his religious festivals. These dates will vary, of course, in different countries and in different climates. It is, therefore, idle to attempt a study of the ritual of a people without knowing the facts of their climate and surroundings. In Egypt the food supply will depend on the rise and fall of the Nile, and on this rise and fall will depend the ritual and calendar of Osiris. And yet treatises on Egyptian religion are still to be found which begin by recounting the rites and mythology of Osiris, as though these were primary, and then end with a corollary to the effect that these rites and this calendar were “associated” with the worship of Osiris, or, even worse still, “instituted by” the religion of Osiris. The Nile regulates the food supply of Egypt, the monsoon that of certain South Pacific islands; the calendar of Egypt depends on the Nile, of the South Pacific islands on the monsoon.

In his recent Introduction to Mathematics 1 Dr. Whitehead has pointed out how the “whole life of Nature is dominated by the existence of periodic events.” The rotation of the earth produces successive days; the path of the earth round the sun leads to the yearly recurrence of the seasons; the phases of the moon are recurrent, and though artificial light has made these phases pass almost unnoticed to-day, in climates where the skies are clear, human life was largely influenced by moonlight. Even our own bodily life, with its recurrent heart-beats and breathings, is essentially periodic. 2 The presupposition of periodicity is indeed fundamental to our very conception of life, and but for periodicity the very means of measuring time as a quantity would be absent.

Periodicity is fundamental to certain departments of mathematics, that is evident; it is perhaps less evident that periodicity is a factor that has gone to the making of ritual, and hence, as we shall see, of art. And yet this is manifestly the case. All primitive calendars are ritual calendars, successions of feast-days, a patchwork of days of different quality and character recurring; pattern at least is based on periodicity. But there is another and perhaps more important way in which periodicity affects and in a sense causes ritual. We have seen already that out of the space between an impulse and a reaction there arises an idea or “presentation.” A “presentation” is, indeed, it would seem, in its final analysis, only a delayed, intensified desire–a desire of which the active satisfaction is blocked, and which runs over into a “presentation.” An image conceived “presented,” what we call an idea is, as it were, an act prefigured.

Ritual acts, then, which depend on the periodicity of the seasons are acts necessarily delayed. The thing delayed, expected, waited for, is more and more a source of value, more and more apt to precipitate into what we call an idea, which is in reality but the projected shadow of an unaccomplished action. More beautiful it may be, but comparatively bloodless, yet capable in its turn of acting as an initial motor impulse in the cycle of activity. It will later (p. 70) be seen that these periodic festivals are the stuff of which those faded, unaccomplished actions and desires which we call gods–Attis, Osiris, Dionysos–are made.

To primitive man, as we have seen, beast and bird and plant and himself were not sharply divided, and the periodicity of the seasons was for all. It will depend on man’s social and geographical conditions whether he notices periodicity most in plants or animals. If he is nomadic he will note the recurrent births of other animals and of human children, and will connect them with the lunar year. But it is at once evident that, at least in Mediterranean lands, and probably everywhere, it is the periodicity of plants and vegetation generally which depends on moisture, that is most striking. Plants die down in the heat of summer, trees shed their leaves in autumn, all Nature sleeps or dies in winter, and awakes in spring.

Sometimes it is the dying down that attracts most attention. This is very clear in the rites of Adonis, which are, though he rises again, essentially rites of lamentation. The details of the ritual show this clearly, and specially as already seen in the cult of Osiris. For the “gardens” of Adonis the women took baskets or pots filled with earth, and in them, as children sow cress now-a-days, they planted wheat, fennel, lettuce, and various kinds of flowers, which they watered and tended for eight days. In hot countries the seeds sprang up rapidly, but as the plants had no roots they withered quickly away. At the end of the eight days they were carried out with the images of the dead Adonis and thrown with them into the sea or into springs. The “gardens” of Adonis became the type of transient loveliness and swift decay.

“What waste would it be,” says Plutarch, 1″what inconceivable waste, for God to create man, had he not an immortal soul. He would be like the women who make little gardens, not less pleasant than the gardens of Adonis in earthen pots and pans; so would our souls blossom and flourish but for a day in a soft and tender body of flesh without any firm and solid root of life, and then be blasted and put out in a moment.”

Celebrated at midsummer as they were, and as the “gardens” were thrown into water, it is probable that the rites of Adonis may have been, at least in part, a rain-charm. In the long summer droughts of Palestine and Babylonia the longing for rain must often have been intense enough to provoke expression, and we remember (p. 19) that the Sumerian Tammuz was originally Dumuzi-absu, “True Son of the Waters.” Water is the first need for vegetation. Gardens of Adonis are still in use in the Madras Presidency. 1 At the marriage of a Brahman “seeds of five or nine sorts are mixed and sown in earthen pots which are made specially for the purpose, and are filled with earth. Bride and bridegroom water the seeds both morning and evening for four days; and on the fifth day the seedlings are thrown, like the real gardens of Adonis, into a tank or river.”

Seasonal festivals with one and the same intent–the promotion of fertility in plants, animals and man–may occur at almost any time of the year. At midsummer, as we have seen, we may have rain-charms; in autumn we shall have harvest festivals; in late autumn and early winter among pastoral peoples we shall have festivals, like that of Martinmas, for the blessing and purification of flocks and herds when they come in from their summer pasture. In midwinter there will be a Christmas festival to promote and protect the sun’s heat at the winter solstice. But in Southern Europe, to which we mainly owe our drama and our art, the festival most widely celebrated, and that of which we know most, is the Spring Festival, and to that we must turn. The spring is to the Greek of to-day the “ánoixis,” “the Opening,” and it was in spring and with rites of spring that both Greek and Roman originally began their year. It was this spring festival that gave to the Greek their god Dionysos and in part his drama.

In Cambridge on May Day two or three puzzled and weary little boys and girls are still to be sometimes seen dragging round a perambulator with a doll on it bedecked with ribbons and a flower or two. That is all that is left in most parts of England of the Queen of the May and Jack-in-the-Green, though here and there a maypole survives and is resuscitated by enthusiasts about folk-dances. But in the days of “Good Queen Bess” merry England, it would seem, was lustier. The Puritan Stubbs, in his Anatomie of Abuses, 1 thus describes the festival:

“They have twentie or fortie yoke of oxen, every oxe havyng a sweete nosegaie of flowers tyed on the tippe of his hornes, and these oxen draw home this Maiepoole (this stinckying idoll rather), which is covered all over with flowers and hearbes, bound round aboute with stringes from the top to the bottome, and sometyme painted with variable colours, with two or three hundred men, women, and children, following it with great dovotion. And thus beyng reared up, with handkerchiefes and flagges streaming on the toppe, they strewe the ground about, binde greene boughs about it, set up summer haules, bowers, and arbours hard by it. And then fall they to banquet and feast, to leap and daunce aboute it, as the heathen people did at the dedication of their idolles, whereof this is a perfect patterne or rather the thyng itself.”

The stern old Puritan was right, the may-pole was the perfect pattern of a heathen “idoll, or rather the thyng itself.” He would have exterminated it root and branch, but other and perhaps wiser divines took the maypole into the service of the Christian Church, and still 1 on May Day in Saffron Walden the spring song is heard with its Christian moral–

“A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is a sprout that is well budded out,
The work of our Lord’s hands.”
The maypole was of course at first no pole cut down and dried. The gist of it was that it should be a “sprout, well budded out.” The object of carrying in the May was to bring the very spirit of life and greenery into the village. When this was forgotten, idleness or economy would prompt the villagers to use the same tree or branch year after year. In the villages of Upper Bavaria Dr. Frazer 2 tells us the maypole is renewed once every three, four, or five years. It is a fir-tree fetched from the forest, and amid all the wreaths, flags, and inscriptions with which it is bedecked, an essential part is the bunch of dark green foliage left at the top, “as a memento that in it we have to do, not with a dead pole, but with a living tree from the greenwood.”

At the ritual of May Day not only was the fresh green bough or tree carried into the village, but with it came a girl or a boy, the Queen or King of the May. Sometimes the tree itself, as in Russia, is dressed up in woman’s clothes; more often a real man or maid, covered with flowers and greenery, walks with the tree or carries the bough. Thus in Thuringia, 1 as soon as the trees begin to be green in spring, the children assemble on a Sunday and go out into the woods, where they choose one of their playmates to be Little Leaf Man. They break branches from the trees and twine them about the child, till only his shoes are left peeping out. Two of the other children lead him for fear he should stumble. They take him singing and dancing from house to house, asking for gifts of food, such as eggs, cream, sausages, cakes. Finally, they sprinkle the Leaf Man with water and feast on the food. Such a Leaf Man is our English Jack-in-the-Green, a chimney-sweeper
who, as late as 1892, was seen by Dr. Rouse walking about at Cheltenham encased in a wooden framework covered with greenery.

The bringing in of the new leafage in the form of a tree or flowers is one, and perhaps the simplest, form of spring festival. It takes little notice of death and winter, uttering and emphasizing only the desire for the joy in life and spring. But in other and severer climates the emotion is fiercer and more complex; it takes the form of a struggle or contest, what the Greeks called an agon. Thus on May Day in the Isle of Man a Queen of the May was chosen, and with her twenty maids of honour, together with a troop of young men for escort. But there was not only a Queen of the May, but a Queen of Winter, a man dressed as a woman, loaded with warm clothes and wearing a woollen hood and fur tippet. Winter, too, had attendants like the Queen of the May. The two troops met and fought; and which-ever Queen was taken prisoner had to pay the expenses of the feast.

In the Isle of Man the real gist of the ceremony is quite forgotten, it has become a mere play. But among the Esquimaux there is still carried on a similar rite, and its magical intent is clearly understood. In autumn, when the storms begin and the long and dismal Arctic winter is at hand, the central Esquimaux divide themselves into two parties called the Ptarmigans and the Ducks. The ptarmigans are the people born in winter, the ducks those born in summer. They stretch out a long rope of sealskin. The ducks take hold of one end, the ptarmigans of the other, then comes a tug-of-war. If the ducks win there will be fine weather through the winter; if the ptarmigans, bad. This autumn festival might, of course, with equal magical intent be performed in the spring, but probably autumn is chosen because, with the dread of the Arctic ice and snow upon them, the fear of winter is stronger than the hope of spring.

The intense emotion towards the weather, which breaks out into these magical agones, or “contests,” is not very easy to realize. The weather to us now-a-days for the most part damps a day’s pleasuring or raises the price of fruit and vegetables. But our main supplies come to us from other lands and other weathers, and we find it hard to think ourselves back into the state when a bad harvest meant starvation. The intensely practical attitude of man towards the seasons, the way that many of these magical dramatic ceremonies rose straight out of the emotion towards the food-supply, would perhaps never have been fully realized but for the study of the food-producing ceremonies of the Central Australians.

The Central Australian spring is not the shift from winter to summer, from cold to heat, but from a long, arid, and barren season to a season short and often irregular in recurrence of torrential rain and sudden fertility. The dry steppes of Central Australia are the scene of a marvellous transformation. In the dry season all is hot and desolate, the ground has only patches of wiry scrub, with an occasional parched acacia tree, all is stones and sand; there is no sign of animal life save for the thousand ant-hills. Then suddenly the rainy season sets in. Torrents fill the rivers, and the sandy plain is a sheet of water. Almost as suddenly the rain ceases, the streams dry up, sucked in by the thirsty ground, and as though literally by magic a luxuriant vegetation bursts forth, the desert blossoms as a rose. Insects, lizards, frogs, birds, chirp, frisk and chatter. No plant or animal can live unless it live quickly. The struggle for existence is keen and short.

It seems as though the change came and life was born by magic, and the primitive Australian takes care that magic should not be wanting, and magic of the most instructive kind. As soon as the season of fertility approaches he begins his rites with the avowed object of making and multiplying the plants, and chiefly the animals, by which he lives; he paints the figure of the emu on the sand with vermilion drawn from his own blood; he puts on emu feathers and gazes about him vacantly in stupid fashion like an emu bird; he makes a structure of boughs like the chrysalis of a Witchetty grub–his favourite food, and drags his body through it in pantomime, gliding and shuffling to promote its birth. Here, difficult and intricate though the ceremonies are, and uncertain in meaning as many of the details must probably always remain, the main emotional gist is clear. It is not that the Australian wonders at and admires the miracle of his spring, the bursting of the flowers and the singing of birds; it is not that his heart goes out in gratitude to an All-Father who is the Giver of all good things; it is that, obedient to the push of life within him, his impulse is towards food. He must eat that he and his tribe may grow and multiply. It is this, his will to live, that he utters and represents.

The savage utters his will to live, his intense desire for food; but it should be noted, it is desire and will and longing, not certainty and satisfaction that he utters. In this respect it is interesting to note that his rites and ceremonies, when periodic, are of fairly long periods. Winner and summer are not the only natural periodic cycles; there is the cycle of day and night, and yet among primitive peoples but little ritual centres round day and night. The reason is simple. The cycle of day and night is so short, it recurs so frequently, that man naturally counted upon it and had no cause to be anxious. The emotional tension necessary to ritual was absent. A few peoples, e. g. the Egyptians, have practised daily incantations to bring back the sun. Probably they had at first felt a real tension of anxiety, and then–being a people hidebound by custom–had gone on from mere conservatism. Where the sun returns at a longer interval, and is even, as among the Esquimaux, hidden for the long space of six months, ritual inevitably arises. They play at cat’s-cradle to catch the ball of the sun lest it should sink and be lost for ever.

Round the moon, whose cycle is long, but not too long, ritual very early centred, but probably only when its supposed influence on vegetation was first surmised. The moon, as it were, practises magic herself; she waxes and wanes, and with her, man thinks, all the vegetable kingdom waxes and wanes too, all but the lawless onion. The moon, Plutarch 1 tells us, is fertile in its light and contains moisture, it is kindly to the young of animals and to the new shoots of plants. Even Bacon 2 held that observations of the moon with a view to planting and sowing and the grafting of trees were “not altogether frivolous.” It cannot too often be remembered that primitive man has but little, if any, interest in sun and moon and heavenly bodies for their inherent beauty or wonder; he cares for them, he holds them sacred, he performs rites in relation to them mainly when he notes that they bring the seasons, and he cares for the seasons mainly because they bring him food. A season is to him as a Hora was at first to the Greeks, the fruits of a season, what our farmers would call “a good year.”

The sun, then, had no ritual till it was seen that he led in the seasons; but long before that was known, it was seen that the seasons were annual, that they went round in a ring; and because that annual ring was long in revolving, great was man’s hope and fear in the winter, great his relief and joy in the spring. It was literally a matter of death and life, and it was as death and life that he sometimes represented it, as we have seen in the figures of Adonis and Osiris.

Adonis and Osiris have their modern parallels, who leave us in no doubt as to the meaning of their figures. Thus on the 1st of March in Thüringen a ceremony is performed called “Driving out the Death.” The young people make up a figure of straw, dress it in old clothes, carry it out and throw it into the river. Then they come back, tell the good news to the village, and are given eggs and food as a reward. In Bohemia the children carry out a straw puppet and burn it. While they are burning it they sing–
“Now carry we Death out of the village,
The new Summer into the village,
Welcome, dear Summer,
Green little corn.”

In other parts of Bohemia the song varies; it is not Summer that comes back but Life.

“We have carried away Death,
And brought back Life.”
In both these cases it is interesting to note that though Death is dramatically carried out, the coming back of Life is only announced, not enacted.

Often, and it would seem quite naturally, the puppet representing Death or Winter is reviled and roughly handled, or pelted with stones, and treated in some way as a sort of scapegoat. But in not a few cases, and these are of special interest, it seems to be the seat of a sort of magical potency which can be and is transferred to the figure of Summer or Life, thus causing, as it were, a sort of Resurrection. In Lusatia the women only carry out the Death. They are dressed in black themselves as mourners, but the puppet of straw which they dress up as the Death wears a white shirt. They carry it to the village boundary, followed by boys throwing stones, and there tear it to pieces. Then they cut down a tree and dress it in the white shirt of the Death and carry it home singing.

So at the Feast of the Ascension in Transylvania. After morning service the girls of the village dress up the Death; they tie a threshed-out sheaf of corn into a rough copy of a head and body, and stick a broomstick through the body for arms. Then they dress the figure up in the ordinary holiday clothes of a peasant girl–a red hood, silver brooches, and ribbons galore. They put the Death at an open window that all the people when they go to vespers may see it. Vespers over, two girls take the Death by the arms and walk in front; the rest follow. They sing an ordinary church hymn. Having wound through the village they go to another house, shut out the boys, strip the Death of its clothes, and throw the straw body out of the window to the boys, who fling it into a river. Then one of the girls is dressed in the Death’s discarded clothes, and the procession again winds through the village. The same hymn is sung. Thus it is clear that the girl is a sort of resuscitated Death. This resurrection aspect, this passing of the old into the new, will be seen to be of great ritual importance when we come to Dionysos and the Dithyramb.

These ceremonies of Death and Life are more complex than the simple carrying in of green boughs or even the dancing round maypoles. When we have these figures, these “impersonations,” we are getting away from the merely emotional dance, from the domain of simple psychological motor discharge to something that is very like rude art, at all events to personification. On this question of personification, in which so much of art and religion has its roots, it is all-important to be clear.

In discussions on such primitive rites as “Carrying out the Death,” “Bringing in Summer,” we are often told that the puppet of the girl is carried round, buried, burnt; brought back, because it “personifies the Spirit of Vegetation,” or it “embodies the Spirit of Summer.” The Spirit of Vegetation is “incarnate in the puppet.” We are led, by this way of speaking, to suppose that the savage or the villager first forms an idea or conception of a Spirit of Vegetation and then later “embodies” it. We naturally wonder that he should perform a mental act so high and difficult as abstraction.

A very little consideration shows that he performs at first no abstraction at all; abstraction is foreign to his mental habit. He begins with a vague excited dance to relieve his emotion. That dance has, probably almost from the first, a leader; the dancers choose an actual person, and he is the root and ground of personification. There is nothing mysterious about the process; the leader does not “embody” a previously conceived idea, rather he begets it. From his personality springs the personification. The abstract idea arises from the only thing it possibly can arise from, the concrete fact. Without perception there is no conception. We noted in speaking of dances (p. 43) how the dance got generalized; how from many commemorations of actual hunts and battles there arose the hunt dance and the war dance. So, from many actual living personal May Queens and Deaths, from many actual men and women decked with leaves, or trees dressed up as men and women, arises the Tree Spirit, the Vegetation Spirit, the Death.

At the back, then, of the fact of personification lies the fact that the emotion is felt collectively, the rite is performed by a band or chorus who dance together with a common leader. Round that leader the emotion centres. When there is an act of Carrying-out or Bringing-in he either is himself the puppet or he carries it. Emotion is of the whole band; drama doing tends to focus on the leader. This leader, this focus, is then remembered, thought of, imaged; from being perceived year by year, he is finally conceived; but his basis is always in actual fact of which he is but the reflection.

Had there been no periodic festivals, personification might long have halted. But it is easy to see that a recurrent perception helps to form a permanent abstract conception. The different actual recurrent May Kings and “Deaths,” because they recur, get a sort of permanent life of their own and become beings apart. In this way a conception, a kind of daimon, or spirit, is fashioned, who dies and lives again in a perpetual cycle. The periodic festival begets a kind of not immortal, but perennial, god.

Yet the faculty of conception is but dim and feeble in the mind even of the peasant to-day; his function is to perceive the actual fact year by year, and to feel about it. Perhaps a simple instance best makes this clear. The Greek Church does not gladly suffer images in the round, though she delights in picture-images, eikons. But at her great spring festival of Easter she makes, in the remote villages, concession to a strong, perhaps imperative, popular need; she allows an image, an actual idol, of the dead Christ to be laid in the tomb that it may rise again. A traveller in Eubœa 1 during Holy Week had been struck by the genuine grief shown at the Good Friday services. On Easter Eve there was the same general gloom and despondency, and he asked an old woman why it was. She answered: “Of course I am anxious; for if Christ does not rise to-morrow, we shall have no corn this year.”

The old woman’s state of mind is fairly clear. Her emotion is the old emotion, not sorrow for the Christ the Son of Mary, but fear, imminent fear for the failure of food. The Christ again is not the historical Christ of Judæa, still less the incarnation of the Godhead proceeding from the Father; he is the actual figure fashioned by his village chorus and laid by the priests, the leaders of that chorus, in the local sepulchre.

So far, then, we have seen that the vague emotional dance tends to become a periodic rite, performed at regular intervals. The periodic rite may occur at any date of importance to the food-supply of the community, in summer, in winter, at the coming of the annual rains, or the regular rising of a river. Among Mediterranean peoples, both in ancient days and at the present time, the Spring Festival arrests attention. Having learnt the general characteristics of this Spring Festival, we have now to turn to one particular case, the Spring Festival of the Greeks. This is all-important to us because, as will be seen, from the ritual of this and kindred festivals arose, we believe, a great form of Art, the Greek drama.
52:1 Chapter XII: “Periodicity in Nature.”
52:2 Ibid.
55:1 De Ser. Num. 17.
56:1 Frazer, Adonis, Attis, and Osiris,3 p. 200.
58:1 Quoted by Dr. Frazer, The Golden Bough,2 p. 203.
59:1 E. K. Chambers, The Mediæval Stage, I, p. 169.
59:2 The Golden Bough,2 p. 205.
60:1 The Golden Bough,2 p. 213.
61:1 Resumed from Dr. Frazer, Golden Bough,2 II, p. 104.
66:1 De Is. et Os., p. 367.
66:2 De Aug. Scient., III, 4.
73:1 J. C. Lawson, Modern Greek Folk-lore and Ancient Religion, p. 573.
Robin Guthrie – Neil’s Theme

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. – Rainer Maria Rilke
Alexandre Cabanel – The Birth Of Venus

Io! Io!

(Jean François de Troy – Pan & Syrinx)

Hope this finds you well. Spring is upon us, and with that, my thoughts run to the nature of it all. The buds are on the the trees, the weather is wild and beautiful and I can feel the ancient quickening in my heart and limbs.

This edition is all things PAN, and it easily could of been many times longer. Perhaps another one soon.


On The Menu:
The Links
The Waterboys – The Pan Within
Homage To Pan
The Tomb Of Pan
The Waterboys – The Return of Pan
The Links:
Fairy Sighting on Skye
Terror In Portlandia (thanks to Ethan!)
Ancient Peyote Ceremonies?
Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
The Waterboys – The Pan Within

Pan Quotes:

“Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one. May I reckon the wise to be the wealthy, and may I have such a quantity of gold as none but the temperate can carry.” – Phaedrus
“What was he doing, the great god Pan, / Down in the reeds by the river? / Spreading ruin and scattering ban, / Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat, / And breaking the golden lilies afloat / With the dragon-fly on the river.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“All in a moment Hurlow forgot the beauty of the sounds and smelt fear. He smelt it as an animal smells it, the breath cold in his nostrils. He had read about Pan, a dead god who might safely be patronized while poring over a book in a London lodging, but here and at this hour a god not to be scorned. (“Furze Hollow”)”
― A.M. Burrage
And that dismal cry rose slowly
And sank slowly through the air,
Full of spirit’s melancholy
And eternity’s despair!
And they heart the words it said–
Pan is dead! great Pan is dead!
Pan, Pan is dead!
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Dead Pan
Homage To Pan

Hymn To Pan

ephrix erõti periarchés d’ aneptoman
iõ iõ pan pan
õ pan pan aliplankte, kyllanias chionoktypoi
petraias apo deirados phanéth, õ
theõn choropoi anax

Thrill with lissome lust of the light,
O man! My man!
Come careering out of the night
Of Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan! Come over the sea
From Sicily and from Arcady!
Roaming as Bacchus, with fauns and pards
And nymphs and satyrs for thy guards,
On a milk-white ass, come over the sea
To me, to me,
Come with Apollo in bridal dress
(Shepherdess and pythoness)
Come with Artemis, silken shod,
And wash thy white thigh, beautiful God,
In the moon of the woods, on the marble mount,
The dimpled dawn of the amber fount!
Dip the purple of passionate prayer
In the crimson shrine, the scarlet snare,
The soul that startles in eyes of blue
To watch thy wantonness weeping through
The tangled grove, the gnarled bole
Of the living tree that is spirit and soul
And body and brain — come over the sea,
(Io Pan! Io Pan!)
Devil or god, to me, to me,
My man! my man!
Come with trumpets sounding shrill
Over the hill!
Come with drums low muttering
From the spring!
Come with flute and come with pipe!
Am I not ripe?
I, who wait and writhe and wrestle
With air that hath no boughs to nestle
My body, weary of empty clasp,
Strong as a lion and sharp as an asp —
Come, O come!
I am numb
With the lonely lust of devildom.
Thrust the sword through the galling fetter,
All-devourer, all-begetter;
Give me the sign of the Open Eye,
And the token erect of thorny thigh,
And the word of madness and mystery,
O Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Pan Pan! Pan,
I am a man:
Do as thou wilt, as a great god can,
O Pan! Io Pan!
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! I am awake
In the grip of the snake.
The eagle slashes with beak and claw;
The gods withdraw:
The great beasts come, Io Pan! I am borne
To death on the horn
Of the Unicorn.
I am Pan! Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Pan!
I am thy mate, I am thy man,
Goat of thy flock, I am gold, I am god,
Flesh to thy bone, flower to thy rod.
With hoofs of steel I race on the rocks
Through solstice stubborn to equinox.
And I rave; and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end,
Mannikin, maiden, Maenad, man,
In the might of Pan.
Io Pan! Io Pan Pan! Pan! Io Pan!
Pan, Echo, and the Satyr
by: Moschus (fl. 150 B.C.)
translated by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Pan loved his neighbour Echo–but that child
Of Earth and Air pined for the Satyr leaping;
The Satyr loved with wasting madness wild
The bright nymph Lyda–and so three went weeping.
As Pan loved Echo, Echo loved the Satyr,
The Satyr Lyda–and so love consumed them.–
And thus to each–which was a woeful matter–
To bear what they inflicted Justice doomed them;
For in as much as each might hate the lover,
Each loving, so was hated.–Ye that love not
Be warned–in thought turn this example over,
That when ye love–the like return ye prove not.
Pan and the Cherries
by: Paul Fort (1872-1960)
translated by Jethro Bithell

I recognized him by his skips and hops,
And by his hair I knew that he was Pan.
Through sunny avenues he ran,
And leapt for cherries to the red tree-tops.
Upon his fleece were pearling water drops
Like little silver stars. How pure he was!

And this was when my spring was arched with blue.

Now, seeing a cherry of a smoother gloss,
He seized it, and bit the kernel from the pulp.
I watched him with great joy … I came anigh …
He spat the kernel straight into my eye.
I ran to kill Pan with my knife!
He stretched his arm out, swirled–
And the whole earth whirled!

Let us adore Pan, god of all the world!
Pipes of Pan
by: Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)

“I love, you love, we love!”
Trilled the pipes of Pan
On the golden lea, Love,
When the world began.

Birds on every tree, Love,
Caught the mellow notes.
“I love, you love, we love!”
Pulsed their tiny throats.

“I love, you love, we love!”
Hear the echo still
By the summer sea, Love,
On the quiet hill!

So our simple glee, Love,
Ends where it began.
“I love, you love, we love!”
Trill the pipes of Pan.

Offering to Pan
by: Anna de Noailles (1876-1933)
translated by Jethro Bithell

This wooden cup, black as an apple pip,
Where I with hard insinuating knife
Have carved a vine-leaf curling to its tip
With node and fold and tendril true to life,

I yield it up to Pan in memory
Of that day when the shepherd Damis rushed
Upon me, snatched it, and drank after me,
Laughing when at his impudence I blushed.

Not knowing where the horned god’s altar is,
I leave my offering in the rock’s cleft here.
–But now my heart is burning for a kiss
More deep, and longer clinging, and more near . . .
Pan with Us
by: Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Pan came out of the woods one day,–
His skin and his hair and his eyes were gray,
The gray of the moss of walls were they,–
And stood in the sun and looked his fill
At wooded valley and wooded hill.
He stood in the zephyr, pipes in hand,
On a height of naked pasture land;
In all the country he did command
He saw no smoke and he saw no roof.
That was well! and he stamped a hoof.
His heart knew peace, for none came here
To this lean feeding save once a year
Someone to salt the half-wild steer,
Or homespun children with clicking pails
Who see no little they tell no tales.
He tossed his pipes, too hard to teach
A new-world song, far out of reach,
For a sylvan sign that the blue jay’s screech
And the whimper of hawks beside the sun
Were music enough for him, for one.
Times were changed from what they were:
Such pipes kept less of power to stir
The fruited bough of the juniper
And the fragile bluets clustered there
Than the merest aimless breath of air.
They were pipes of pagan mirth,
And the world had found new terms of worth.
He laid him down on the sun-burned earth
And ravelled a flower and looked away–
Play? Play?–What should he play?
The Old Shepherd
Macedonius: 6th century A.D.

Daphnis, I that piped so rarely,
I that guarded well the fold,
‘Tis my trembling hand that fails me;
I am weary, I am old.
Here my well-worn crook I offer
unto Pan the shepherd’s friend;
Know ye, I am old and weary;
of my toil I make an end!
Yet I still can pipe it rarely,
still my voice is clear and strong;
Very tremulous in body,
nothing tremulous in song.
Only let no envious goatherd
tell the wolves upon the hill
That my ancient strength is wasted,
lest they do me grievous ill.

The Tomb Of Pan
Lord Dunsany

“Seeing,” they said, “that old-time Pan is dead, let us now make a tomb for him and a monument, that the dreadful worship of long ago may be remembered and avoided by all.”

So said the people of the enlightened lands. And they built a white and mighty tomb of marble. Slowly it rose under the hands of the builders and longer every evening after sunset it gleamed with rays of the departed sun.

And many mourned for Pan while the builders built; many reviled him. Some called the builders to cease and to weep for Pan and others called them to leave no memorial at all of so infamous a god. But the builders built on steadily.

And one day all was finished, and the tomb stood there like a steep sea-cliff. And Pan was carved thereon with humbled head and the feet of angels pressed upon his neck. And when the tomb was finished the sun had already set, but the afterglow was rosy on the huge bulk of Pan.

And presently all the enlightened people came, and saw the tomb and remembered Pan who was dead, and all deplored him and his wicked age. But a few wept apart because of the death of Pan.

But at evening as he stole out of the forest, and slipped like a shadow softly along the hills, Pan saw the tomb and laughed.
The Waterboys – The Return of Pan

( Pan and Syrinx – Edmund Dulac)


‘Life’ is the leaves which shape and nourish a plant, but ‘art’ is the flower which embodies its meaning. (Charles Rennie Mackintosh)

(Nouveau – Gwyllm Llwydd)

Conspiracy: There is a conspiracy within consciousness, to awaken itself from it’s slumber of matter and dreams. It conspires through acts of love, through every act of kindness, of every moment of awareness. Everything seems to want to merge with something greater, to enter into the great marriage that has been promised. We catch a hint of it in the sky, the trees, the plants, the animals, and within each other.

It is like a secret fire, a current running just below the surface of everything. It wants us to awake to our beingness. Every act is a sacred act, in this moment of the eternal now. I can’t gather the words to express it correctly, but perhaps in time. We all have our part in the great unfolding, it’s a conspiracy

This Edition:
Years ago when I worked off and on at Rhino Records I had the pleasure of meeting and being around Richard Grossman, who played with many of the jazz musicians I had the pleasure of knowing back then. (Richard was an amazing Pianist/read the link!) Richard worked at Rhino, and ran the Jazz section. It bloomed while he was there, and I learned a lot about various artist from him. He introduced to his wife, Dottie (Dorothea) at a party of Nels Cline & D.D. Faye’s in the early 80′s. Richard and Dottie had the east coast Bohemian charm. I was in awe of their work, and their relationship. They were very fun to be around. Mary and I left L.A. (again) in 1988, and we lost touch with them. Richard died in 1992, and off and on we would hear about Dottie through friends. I am featuring her poetry today, heaven knows why I never did before. She has a wonderful touch to her work.

I hope you enjoy this entry, it has some very diverse elements to it! I have included two new art pieces. (“Nouveau” & “Her Presence” both probably working titles) Don’t forget the new site: EarthRites

On The Menu:

The Stranglers: Longships
A.E. Housman Quotes
The Poetry Of Dorothea Grossman
Touching the Elements
The Stranglers – The Raven
The Stranglers: Longships

A.E. Housman Quotes:
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think.

And malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out… Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.

Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.

Great literature should do some good to the reader: must quicken his perception though dull, and sharpen his discrimination though blunt, and mellow the rawness of his personal opinions.

Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; but young men think it is, and we were young.

The Poetry Of Dorothea Grossman

I knew something was wrong

I knew something was wrong
the day I tried to pick up a
small piece of sunlight
and it slithered through my fingers,
not wanting to take shape.
Everything else stayed the same—
the chairs and the carpet
and all the corners
where the waiting continued.

For Allen Ginsberg

Among other things,
thanks for explaining
how the generous death
of old trees
the red powdered floor
of the forest.

Love Poem

In a lightning bolt
of memory,
I see our statue of Buddha
(a wedding gift from Uncle Gene)
which always sat
on top of the speaker cabinet.
When a visitor asked,
“So, does Buddha like jazz?”
you said, “I hope so.
He’s been getting it up the ass
for a long time.”

It is not so much that I miss you

It is not so much that I miss you
as the remembering
which I suppose is a form of missing
except more positive,
like the time of the blackout
when fear was my first response
followed by love of the dark.

I allow myself

I allow myself
the luxury of breakfast
(I am no nun, for Christ’s sake).
Charmed as I am
by the sputter of bacon,
and the eye-opening properties
of eggs,
it’s the coffee
that’s really sacramental.
In the old days,
I spread fires and floods and pestilence
on my toast.
Nowadays, I’m more selective,
I only read my horoscope
by the quiet glow of the marmalade.


The murderer,
on his way to work,
stops to admire the wisteria
framing his doorway,
and waves
to the bug-eyed azaleas
Touching the Elements

(Shetland Islands)

A fiddler belonging to Yell was waylaid and carried off by the trows while on his way to supply music to a Samhain gathering that was being held in a neighboring district. After playing for some considerable time he was allowed to depart, and immediately proceeded homewards. When he came to his house, however, he saw with amazement that the roof was off, the walls decayed and crumbling into ruins, and the floor grown over with rank grass. He questioned the neighbors, but they were utter strangers to him and could cast no glimmer of light on the remarkable situation. The place had been in that ruinous condition all their time, they said. He sought out the oldest inhabitant, but even he had no recollection of anyone staying in the place, but he did remember hearing a tale to the effect that at one time the guidman [master] of that house had mysteriously disappeared, and never returned. It was commonly supposed that the hill-folk had taken him.

The fiddler, of course, knew no one, and had nowhere to go, and when the old man asked him to spend the night at his house, he very gladly accepted the invitation. It so happened that the following day was Sacrament Sunday, and they both went to church. The fiddler asked to be permitted to communicate. This request was granted, but no sooner did he touch the “elements” [bread and wine of the Eucharist] than he crumbled into dust.
The Stranglers – The Raven

(Her Presence – Gwyllm Llwydd)