Monday, August 26, 2013

William Blake - Auguries of Innocence

(the part of this poem that I understand in part)

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.

A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons
Shudders hell thro' all its regions.
A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.

A horse misused upon the road
Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare
A fibre from the brain does tear.

A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight
Does the rising sun affright.

The wild deer, wand'ring here and there,
Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misus'd breeds public strife,
And yet forgives the butcher's knife.

He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be belov'd by men.
He who the ox to wrath has mov'd
Shall never be by woman lov'd.

The prince's robes and beggar's rags
Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.

It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.

The soldier, arm'd with sword and gun,
Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more
Than all the gold on Afric's shore.

He who mocks the infant's faith
Shall be mock'd in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt
The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.

He who respects the infant's faith
Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons
Are the fruits of the two seasons.

The questioner, who sits so sly,
Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

When gold and gems adorn the plow,
To peaceful arts shall envy bow.
A riddle, or the cricket's cry,
Is to doubt a fit reply.

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

We are led to believe a lie
When we see not thro' the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.

God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night;
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

(The above are part riddle, of course, and might be good for discussion around tea or a campfire. You may also want to visit the similar Rumi riddles in the post just below.)

RUMI on a Closeness Beyond Union

Don’t wish for union.
There’s a closeness beyond that.
This moment this love comes to rest in me,
Many beings in one being.
In one wheat-grain a thousand sheaf-stacks.
Inside the needle’s eye, a turning night of stars.

All the particles in the world
are alive and looking for lovers.
Pieces of straw tremble in the
presence of amber.

Lovers, it is time
for the taste of fire.
Let sadness and your fear of death
sit in the corner and sulk....
The sky itself reels with love.

Poet, let every word tremble its wind bell.
Saddle the horse with great anticipation.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning, a new arrival.
...Meet each at the door laughing...
who has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Rumi ~ The Alchemy of Love

You come to us from another world;
From beyond the stars and a void of space
Transcendent, pure – of unimaginable beauty.
Bringing with You the essence of Love.
You transform all who are touched by You -
Mundane concerns, troubles and sorrows dissolve in Your presence
Bringing joy to ruler & ruled, to peasants and kings.
You bewilder us with Your grace;
All evil is transformed into goodness.
You are the Master Alchemist!
You light the fire of Love in earth & sky,
In heart & soul of every being.
Through Your loving, existence & non-existence merge -
All opposites unite -
All that is profane becomes sacred again.


searched for "Beautiful Stars" & found the above photo on internet cache

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dorothy Day: Saint or Trouble-maker?

Icon Credit DDIconByTsai-sm

This post is a very rough draft. I am sending it out to some friends who knew Dorothy Day (or of her) for personal reflections, quotes and stories. (Yet other readers are welcome to add comments.)

My plan is soon to revise this post (perhaps into a series). Please disregard the unpolished quality here and come back in a week or so for a profile more honoring to a woman who still speaks to us as we walk our own streets where the "landed" and the "desperate" and everyone else in-between aimlessly wander looking for true light.

Dorothy Day has LONG been a part of my life: perhaps she's somehow been with me ALL my life -- ever since I met her decades ago at Jubilee Partners Refugee Community in Comer, Georgia. I met her in the book she wrote years before that: "Loaves and Fishes". Somehow she's been with me even when I was not aware at times of her presence. Her heart has remained sometimes in the shadows of my life. She has fueled my own much weaker one with her passion for peace and her love for those on the outskirts of "usual life". She haunts me when my unsteady feet get out of order with her steps.

Most of all, I can't refuse to see in her eyes, her life and her energy the Love for her Lord and for her Lord's Father. Her life and writings have a way of ordering our steps in the steps of God's word to us in His Son, Jesus.
I can't forget her love for the poorest of the poor as friends. She was was born in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, and raised in San Francisco and Chicago. These are the places which helped shape her life and vision.

Prayer For The Canonization
of Servant of God
Dorothy Day

Merciful God, you called your servant
Dorothy Day to show us the face of
Jesus in the poor and forsaken.
By constant practice
of the works of mercy,
she embraced poverty and witnessed
steadfastly to justice and peace.
Count her among your saints
and lead us all to become friends of
the poor ones of the earth,
and to recognize you in them.
We ask this through your Son
Jesus Christ, bringer of good news
to the poor. Amen

Distributed by Claretian Publications
205 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL 60606
312-236-7782 ext. 474
Dorothy Day Library

Find items below on The Catholic Worker Library:

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?"

This post and the references below are devoted to the writings and life of Dorothy Day who co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin in 1933.

US bishops currently endorse the sainthood cause of Catholic Worker's Dorothy Day


"Saint Dorothy?"
from Dorothy Day - Saint and Troublemaker By


If Dorothy Day is ever canonized, she will be the patron saint not only of homeless people and those who try to care for them but also of people who lose their temper.

If Dorothy Day is ever canonized, the record of who she was, what she was like and what she did is too complete and accessible for her to be hidden in wedding cake icing. She will be the patron saint not only of homeless people and those who try to care for them but also of people who lose their temper. Dorothy Day was certainly not without her rough edges.

To someone who told her she was too hot-headed, she replied, “I hold more temper in one minute than you will hold in your entire life.” To a college student who asked a sarcastic question about her recipe for soup, she responded, “You cut the vegetables until your fingers bleed.” To a journalist who told her it was the first time he had interviewed a saint, she replied, “Don’t call me a saint — I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

I was 20 years old the first time I saw her. She was ancient, that is to say 62 years old — seven years older than I am today. This means for 35 years she has been scolding and encouraging me on a daily basis. The mere fact of her having died 17 years ago doesn’t seem to get in the way.

I met her at the Catholic Worker Farm on Staten Island in the days when the island still had rural areas, its only link to the rest of New York City being the ferry. People sometimes think of her as the personification of the simple life, but in reality her days tended to be busy, complicated, and stressful. Often she was away traveling — visiting other Catholic Worker communities, speaking at colleges, seminaries, local parishes, getting around by bus or a used car on its last spark plugs.

Her basic message was stunningly simple: we are called by God to love one another as He loves us. If “God” was one key word, “hospitality” was another. She repeated again and again a saying from the early Church, “Every home should have a Christ room in it, so that hospitality may be practiced.” Hospitality, she explained, is simply practicing God’s mercy with those around us. Christ is in the stranger, in the person who has nowhere to go and no one to welcome him. “Those who cannot see the face of Christ in the poor are atheists indeed,” she often said.

A day never passed without Dorothy speaking of the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, caring for sick, visiting prisoners, burying the dead, admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving all injuries, praying for the living and the dead. She helped us understand a merciful life has many levels: there is hunger not only for food but also for faith, not only for a place at the table but also for a real welcome, not only for assistance but also for listening, not only for kind words but also for truthful words. There is not only hospitality of the door but also hospitality of the face and heart. As she said, “We are here to celebrate Him through these works of mercy.”

For all her traveling, most of Dorothy’s life was spent in New York City. Before her conversion, in 1924 when she was 28 years old, she had bought a small beach house on Staten Island that remained part of her life until she too weak to make the trip any more. It was a simple structure with a few plain rooms and a cast iron stove. Walking on the beach or to the post office, rosary in hand, she prayed her way through an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, prayed her way through the Baltimore Catechism, prayed her way to her daughter Tamar’s baptism in a nearby Catholic parish, prayed her way through the collapse of a common-law marriage and to her own baptism, prayed her way through the incomprehension of her atheist friends who regarded all religion as snake oil. Years later it was mainly in the beach house that she found the peace and quiet to write her autobiography, The Long Loneliness.

If she was one of the freest persons alive, she was also one of the most disciplined. This was most notable in her religious life. Whether traveling or home, it was a rare day when Dorothy didn’t go to Mass, while on Saturday evenings she went to confession. Sacramental life was the rockbed of her existence. She never obliged anyone to follow her example, but God knows she gave an example. When I think of her, the first image that comes to mind is Dorothy on her knees praying before the Blessed Sacrament either in the chapel at the farm or in one of several urban parish churches near the Catholic Worker. One day, looking into the Bible and Missal she had left behind when summoned for a phone call, I found long lists of people, living and dead, whom she prayed for daily.

Occasionally she spoke of her “prayings”: “We feed the hungry, yes. We try to shelter the homeless and give them clothes, but there is strong faith at work; we pray. If an outsider who comes to visit us doesn’t pay attention to our prayings and what that means, then he’ll miss the whole point.”

She was attentive to fast days and fast seasons. It was in that connection she told me a story about prayer. For many years, she said, she had been a heavy smoker. Her day began with lighting up a cigarette. Her big sacrifice every Lent was giving up smoking, but having to get by without a cigarette made her increasingly irritable as the days passed, until the rest of the community was praying she would light up a smoke. One year, as Lent approached, the priest who ordinarily heard her confessions urged her not to give up cigarettes that year but instead to pray daily, “Dear God, help me stop smoking.” She used that prayer for several years without it having any impact on her addiction. Then one morning she woke up, reached for a cigarette, and realized she didn’t want it — and never smoked another.

Dorothy was never “too polite” to speak about God. Nothing we achieved was ever our doing, it was only God’s mercy passing through us. Our own love wasn’t our love. If we experienced love for another person, whether wife or child or friend or enemy, it was God’s love. “If I have accomplished anything in my life,” she said late in her life, “it is because I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about God.”

People sometimes tell me how lucky I am to have been part of the same community that Dorothy Day belonged to. They picture a group of more or less saintly people having a wonderful time doing good works. In reality Catholic Worker community life in Manhattan in the early sixties had much in common with purgatory. The “staff” was made up of people with very different backgrounds, interests, temperaments and convictions. We ranged from the gregarious to the permanently furious.

Not everyone was all thorns but agreement within the staff was as rare as visits by the President of the United States. The most bitter dispute I experienced had to do with how best to use the small amounts of eggs, butter and other treats that sometimes were given to us — use them for “the line” (people we often didn’t know by name who lined up for meals) or the “family,” as had been the custom? Though we worked side by side, saw each other daily, and prayed together, staff tension had become too acute for staff meetings. The final authority was Dorothy Day, not a responsibility she enjoyed, but no one else could make a final decision that would be respected by the entire staff. In this case, when Dorothy returned from a cross-country speaking trip she told the two people running the kitchen that the butter and eggs should go to the family, which led to their resigning from kitchen work and soon after leaving the community trailing black smoke, convinced that Dorothy Day wasn’t living up to the writings of Dorothy Day.

One of the miracles of Dorothy’s life is that she remained part of a conflict-torn community for nearly half a century. Still more remarkable, she remained a person of hope and gratitude to the end.

Dorothy was and remains a controversial lady. There was hardly anything she did which didn’t attract criticism. Even hospitality scandalizes some people. We were blamed for making people worse, not better, because we were doing nothing to “reform them.” A social worker asked Dorothy one day how long the down-and-out were permitted to stay. “We let them stay forever,” Dorothy answered. “They live with us, they die with us, and we give them a Christian burial. We pray for them after they are dead. Once they are taken in, they become members of the family. Or rather they always were members of the family. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

What got her in the most hot water was her sharp social criticism. She pointed out that patriotism was a more powerful force in most people’s lives than the Gospel. While she hated every kind tyranny and never ceased to be thankful for America having taken in so many people fleeing poverty and repression, she was fierce in her criticism of capitalism and consumerism. She said America had a tendency to treat people like Kleenex — use them, and throw them away. “Our problems stem,” she said, “from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

She had no kind words for war or anything having to do with it — war was simply murder wrapped in flags. She was convinced Jesus had disarmed all his followers when he said to Peter, “Put away your sword, for whoever lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” A way of life based on love, including love of enemies, left no room for killing. You couldn’t practice the works of mercy with one hand and the works of vengeance with the other.

No stranger to prison, she was first locked up as a young woman protesting with Suffragettes in front of the White House during World War I and was last jailed in her seventies for picketing with farm workers. She took pride in the young men of the Catholic Worker who went to prison rather than be drafted — “a good way to visit the prisoner,” she pointed out. Yet she also welcomed back others who had left Catholic Worker communities in fight in the Second World War. They might disagree about the best way to fight Nazism, but — as she often said — “there is no ‘party line’ in the Catholic Worker movement.”

Dorothy was sometimes criticized for being too devout a Catholic. How could she be so radical about social matters and so conservative about her Church? While she occasionally deplored statements or actions by members of the hierarchy, she was by no means an opponent of the bishops or someone campaigning for structural changes in the Church. What was needed, she said, wasn’t new doctrine but our living the existing doctrine.

Pleased as she was when home Masses were allowed and the Liturgy translated into English, she didn’t take kindly to smudging the border between the sacred and mundane. When a priest close to the community used a coffee cup for a chalice at a Mass celebrated in the soup kitchen on First Street, she afterward took the cup, kissed it, and buried it in the back yard. It was no longer suited for coffee — it had held the Blood of Christ. I learned more about the Eucharist that day than I had from any book or sermon. It was a learning experience for the priest as well — thereafter he used a chalice.

Dorothy Day’s main achievement is that she taught us the “Little Way” of love, which it so happens involves cutting up a great many onions. The path to heaven, it seems, is marked by open doors and the smell of onions. “All the way to heaven is heaven,” she so often said, quoting Saint Catherine of Siena, “because He said, ‘I am the Way’.”

It was chiefly through the writings of Saint Therese of Lisieux that Dorothy had been drawn to the “Little Way.” No term, in her mind, better described the ideal Christian way of doing things. As she once put it, “Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”

It’s a century since Dorothy Day was born and nearly twenty years since she died, but she continues to touch our lives, not only as a person we remember with gratitude, but also as a saint — if by the word “saint” we mean a person who helps us see what it means to follow Christ.

“It is the living from day to day,” she once said, “taking no thought for the morrow, seeing Christ in all who come to us, and trying literally to follow the Gospel that resulted in this work.”


Forest, Jim. “Dorothy Day — Saint and Troublemaker.” Canticle Magazine (Winter, 1998).

Reprinted with permission of Canticle Magazine.

Canticle: The Voice of Today’s Catholic Woman is published quarterly by Urbi et Orbi Communications. For subscription information visit their web site at or call 1.800.789-9494.


Jim Forest wrote Love is the Measure, a biography of Dorothy Day and, with Tom Cornell and Robert Ellsberg, co-edited A Penny a Copy: Readings from the Catholic Worker. His most recent book is Praying With Icons. (Orbis). He is secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and editor of its quarterly journal, “In Communion,” and lives in the Netherlands.

Copyright © 1998 Canticle

Also see:

"Don't Call Me a Saint"--James Martin's reflection on bishops endorsement of Day's cause

Dorothy Day - Catholic Worker‎

Dorothy Day, Servant of God. Almost immediately after her death in 1980 controversy arose about whether Dorothy Day should be canonized a Saint. For more on her life, work and this controversy go to references to follow:

Dorothy Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia‎

Dorothy Day: Dorothy Day Guild - The Cause for Canonization‎ (Official Dorothy Day website. The Dorothy Day Guild of the Archdiocese of New York. Dorothy Day)

Saint Dorothy Day? Controversial, Yes, But Bishops Push For the same ... ( saint-dorothy-day-controv_n_2133584.htm )‎

Nov 14, 2012 - Born in Brooklyn in 1897, Day lived a bohemian life in New York City in the ....See:
"Dorothy Day Documentary: Don't Call Me a Saint" May be found on - YouTube.

Catholic 'Hero' Dorothy Day's Road To Sainthood : NPR See Dorothy Day at › News › Religion

Dec 1, 2012 - James Martin about the push for the canonization and eventual sainthood of Dorothy Day, the American-born mother of the Catholic Worker

Let's canonize Dorothy Day - Salt of the Earth - Claretian Publications‎

Let's canonize Dorothy Day

From September 1983 See references to following church leaders: Father Henry Fehren Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cypnan, Lawrence, Chrysogonus

Activist Catholic Dorothy Day Considered for Sainthood

See (for dorothy-day) /1562055.html‎

Dec 10, 2012 - Dorothy Day is not a familiar name in the United States or around the world. ... U.S. bishops hope to have Day, who died in 1980, canonized.

Dorothy Day teaches us about the human person, archbishop says, ...1 day ago, He then pointed to Dorothy Day, whose cause for canonization is open. (He spoke of her understanding of herself as a person created by God in his image..‎

If Dorothy Day is ever canonized, she will be the patron saint not only of homeless people and those who try to care for them but also of people who lose their way (and sometimes these two categories of persons are one and the same)...

The following searches relate to the canonization of dorothy day

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•The Life of Dorothy Day (video)
•All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forest.
•Guild for Dorothy Day website
•The Diaries of Dorthy Day Now Published
•An icon of Dorothy Day by Nicholas Tsai

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY: Alan Paton and his masterpiece is still alive today

The following is from internet site: "Cry, the Beloved Country Quotes" from the book by Alan Paton, written 1946-1947, published 1948 (Also see the film by the same name.) The book is a search for justice in a land where injustices kill. The book is a search for forgiveness, a search for a way to go on despite the pain and suffering, despite the fear.

"The book is a search for understanding, a way of coping with reality that a man accused of murder could have been the same person who was once "a child afraid of the dark."

'The book is a search for hope, realizing that hope seems far away--in another country or another world. But, if there is universality to the book, and if there is hope for humanity, there must be a bit left for every part. As for injustice, hate, and evil of all sorts, the book makes us believe that we are not beyond hope. The fragments of the past and the present can be picked up, perhaps rearranged a bit, and they can play a part in a future... The dawn is just making its way over the horizon."

Film reviews here:‎‎

* See more on Paton and this novel at the end of post...

Here are some select quotes:

“What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another? What broke when he could bring himself to thrust down the knife into the warm flesh, to bring down the axe on the living head, to cleave down between the seeing eyes, to shoot the gun that would drive death into the beating heart?”

“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.”

“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and this is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.”

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that's the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”

“ — This world is full of trouble, umfundisi.
— Who knows it better?
— Yet you believe?
Kumalo looked at him under the light of the lamp. I believe, he said, but I have learned that it is a secret. Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering."

“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find that we are turned to hating.”

“Happy the eyes that can close”

“We do not know, we do not know. We shall live from day to day, and put more locks on the doors, and get a fine fierce dog when the fine fierce bitch next door has pups, and hold on to our handbags more tenaciously; and the beauty of the trees by night, and the raptures of lovers under the stars, these things we shall forego. We shall forego the coming home drunken through the midnight streets, and the evening walk over the star-lit veld. We shall be careful, and knock this off our lives, and knock that off our lives, and hedge ourselves about with safety and precaution. And our lives will shrink, but they shall be the lives of superior beings; and we shall live with fear, but at least it will not be a fear of the unknown. And the conscience shall be thrust down; the light of life shall not be extinguished, but be put under a bushel, to be preserved for a generation that will live by it again, in some day not yet come; and how it will come, and when it will come, we shall not think about at all.”

“The truth is, our civilization is not Christian; it is a tragic compound of great ideal and fearful practice, of loving charity and fearful clutching of possessions.”

“The Judge does not make the law. It is people that make the law. Therefore if a law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the law, that is justice, even if it is not just.”

“Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who indeed knows why there can be comfort in a world of desolation? Now God be thanked that there is a Beloved One who can lift up the heart in suffering, that one can play with a child in the face of such misery. Now God be thanked that the name of a hill is such music, that the name of a river can heal. Aye, even the name of a river that runs no more.

Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who knows for what we live, and struggle and die? Who knows what keeps us living and struggling, while all things break about us? Who knows why the warm flesh of a child is such comfort, when one's own child is lost and cannot be recovered? Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand. But this, the purpose of our lives, the end of all our struggle, is beyond all human wisdom.”

“There is not much talking now. A silence falls upon them all. This is no time to talk of hedges and fields, or the beauties of any country. Sadness and fear and hate, how they well up in the heart and mind, whenever one opens pages of these messengers of doom. Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end. The sun pours down on the earth, on the lovely land that man cannot enjoy. He knows only the fear of his heart.”

“There is a man sleeping in the grass. And over him is gathering the greatest storm of all his days. Such lightening and thunder will come there has never been seen before, bringing death and destruction. People hurry home past him, to places safe from danger. And whether they do not see him there in the grass, or whether they fear to halt even a moment, but they do not wake him, they let him be.”

“For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing.”

“What broke in a man when he could bring himself to kill another? What broke when he could bring himself to thrust down the knife into the warm flesh, to bring down the axe on the living head, to cleave down between the seeing eyes, to shoot the gun that would drive death into the beating heart?”

“because life slips away, and because I need for the rest of my journey a star that will not play false to me, a compass that will not lie.”

“It is not permissible for us to go on destroying the family life when we know that we are destroying it.”

In the deserted harbour there is yet water that laps against the quays. In the dark and silent forest there is a leaf that falls. Behind the polished panelling the white ant eats away the wood. Nothing is ever quiet, except for fools.”

“We do not work for men. We work for the land and the people. We do not even work for money.”

“For mines are for men, not for money. And money is not something to go mad about, and throw your hat into the air for. Money is for food and clothes and comfort, and a visit to the pictures. Money is to make happy the lives of children. Money is for security, and for dreams, and for hopes, and for purposes. Money is for buying the fruits of the earth, of the land where you were born.”

“Sorrow is better than fear. Fear is a journey,a terrible journey, but sorrow is at least an arrival.

When the storm threatens, a man is afraid for his house. But when the house is destroyed, there is something to do. About a storm he can do nothing, but he can rebuild a house.”

“One thing is about to be finished, but here is something that is only begun. And while I live it will continue”

“Would age now swiftly overtake him? Would this terrible nodding last now for all his days, so that men said aloud in his presence, it is nothing, he is old and does nothing but forget? And would he nod as though he too were saying, Yes, it is nothing, I am old and do nothing but forget? But who would know that he said, I do nothing but remember?”

“They were your friends?"

"Yes, they were my friends."

"And they will leave you to suffer alone?"

"Now I see it."

"And until this, were they friends you could trust?"

"I could trust them."

"I see what you mean. You mean they were the kind of friends that a good man could choose, upright, hard-working, obeying the law?

Tell me, were they such friends?

And now they leave you alone?

Did you not see it before?"

"I saw it.”


"Cry, the Beloved Country is a novel by South African author Alan Paton. It was first published in New York City in 1948 by Charles Scribner's Sons and in London by Jonathan Cape. The protagonist is Stephen Kumalo, a black Anglican priest from a rural Natal town, who is searching for his son Absalom in the city of Johannesburg.
The American publisher Bennett Cerf remarked at that year's meeting of the American Booksellers Association that there had been "only three novels published since the first of the year that were worth reading ... Cry, The Beloved Country, The Ides of March, and The Naked and the Dead."

Two cinema adaptations of the book have been made, the first in 1951 and the second in 1995. The novel was also adapted as a musical called Lost in the Stars (1949), with a book by the American writer Maxwell Anderson and music composed by the German emigre, Kurt Weill. It was recently produced by the Glimmerglass Opera of New York in 2012, directed by Tazewell Thompson.

(The notes at top and here at end of post were found: at wikipedia/general internet cache. The painting at top is from: Small Impressions: California Hills--Landscape Oil Painting This is how I visualized some of the description in Paton's novel. )

Advice for new writers (old ones too) By Ron Koertge

Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?"

Ron Koertge

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhh."

Then start again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

On Joy and Sorrow

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

"There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior,
like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us."

From Kahlil Gibran:

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup
that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is
only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping
for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow,"
and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver,
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.