Far off, I gaze at the white clouds,
I think deeply of the ancients …
I think of you, recluses:
A thousand years after, I cherish your principles.
Searching their essence, I cannot exhaust it. …
That the ancients cannot be with me
only I can know how sorely I regret it.
Becalmed the profane noise of the crowd.
Toward the risen Moon, the symbolic Bronzes
Curve, in the blue night, their antique nudity
In the sphinx-like majesty of attitudes.
A dream of incense symphonies the lustral Lake,
Enchanted by the sidereal presence of Swans,
Elegiacally swooning their silver-pale lines,
Beneath the sacred music of astral infinitude.
Drunken with silence, the aching lawns
Grow languid in the brightness of calm reveries;
Amid the somnolent shadows of the bowers
Hovers the conjugal slumber of weary birds;
And the mute asphalt of the abandoned pathways
No longer shudders beneath the lascivious step of idylls.
Silently I contemplate
The myriad forms
Spontaneously brought forth
By nature’s hand.
Image: Feathers of a male Bornean peacock pheasant.
The storm has passed,
The sky washed clear.
Rain-drops on twigs
Reflect the moon.
Image: ‘After the Storm, Moonrise’. Ivan Aivazovsky. 1894.
Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a while.
W. B. Yeats
Image: ‘Hope & Memory’. Kenyon Cox. 1900.
Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.
To be great, be whole;
Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.
Phoenixes that played here once, so that the place was named for them,
Have abandoned it now to this desolate river;
The paths of Wu Palace are crooked with weeds;
The garments of Qin are ancient dust.
…Like this green horizon halving the Three Peaks,
Like this Island of White Egrets dividing the river,
A cloud has arisen between the Light of Heaven and me,
To hide his city from my melancholy heart.
High summer’s tyranny has loosed its hold;
From their hot zenith my desires descend
To genial afternoon. Though I grow old,
Autumnal ripeness comes before the cold.
The hostile sun, with whom I would contend,
Tempers his lustful fire, and as a friend
Inaugurates my evening years of gold.
I, who could not give up the world, go free:
This irreligious world renounces me.
Ignored in peace and decently neglected
Till I am safely dead, I lay no claim
To riches, privilege, prestige, degree,
Nor crave the flaring fraudulence of fame,
But work unknown, my only wealth the Name.
Walking along a little path,
I find a footprint on the moss,
A while cloud low on the quiet lake,
Grasses that sweeten an idle door,
A pine grown greener with the rain,
A brook that comes from a mountain source –
And, mingling with Truth among the flowers,
I have forgotten what to say.