Thursday, June 25, 2015

THE HOLY LONGING Part I - A Diary of Beauty & Bella da Morire

All roads start from the body and lead back to it.
The Body is the Road - Edmond Jabès, Egyptian Poet   
Chateau de la  Mercerie, Magnac-Lavalette  - The stage before arrival of  French-Irish band, Dagan - May 2015

The Holy Longing

Tell a wise person or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death. 

In the calm water of love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten.
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven't experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated from the Germany by Robert Bly

Invocation - Dagan

Italian Tile - Chateau de la Mercerie

Often, I feel like a "troubled guest" upon this earth.  Oh, what to do, what to do? Another cappuccino? glass of wine? Episode of  "House of Cards?"  In French, the word for guest is invité, an endearing word, because it means to be invited.  We are not merely hungry guests or ghosts upon this earth. We received an invitation, which we accepted.  We belong here, for awhile. 

The gorgeous poet, Seamus Heaney said, (paraphrasing), we dwell in the fantasy world as well as the "get-up and at "em" day to day, and if we dwell too much in either one, it's not good.  My antidote:  A Diary of Beauty, wherever you happen upon it.  And beauty is on offer everywhere; cracked and spider-webbed statues, an old dog in the sun, hay bales, wheat fields, a tangle of poppies, cows and cascading roses, or pawing through Leondard da Vinci's Notebooks.  Among his lists of drawings, between Gian Francesco Borso and some completed nude figures, lies several old women's throats.

If only Nora Ephron had seen those drawings, she wouldn't have had to write a whole book about her crinkling neck.  But I'm glad she did.  She made us laugh over and over about our human foibles and especially the vanties of women.  We miss you Nora, your brazen humor and bedazzling brain.

"...the amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming.  Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death."
  ― Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Found on

This Algerian woman doesn't look worried about her neck.  During the late 50's and 60's, many Algerian women tattooed their faces and necks (during the War of Independence) to appear unattractive and thus avoid rape by French soldiers.  How times have changed - as far as tattoos are concerned. 

Bodnant Gardens, Wales - Sphinx-like Statue
Fountain Head, Chateau de la Rochefoucauld
Statue at Canal Terrace, Bodnant Gardens, Wales

Ranier Maria Rilke

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic Orders?
and what if one of them would suddenly take me to his heart:
I would fade away in his stronger presence. Because beauty is
nothing else but the beginning of terror, which we are just able
to bear, and we are stunned by it because it so serenely disdains to
destroy us. Each Angel is terrifying... 

Angel, Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
Swimming Angel - Palazzo Pitti, Florence Italy

Bandes Dessinées Angel, side of building - Angouleme, France

"...Angels (they say) often do not know, whether they are moving among the living or the dead.  The never-ending torrent relentlessly tosses all epochs through both realms forever, and drowns out their voices in both."  First Elegy

Many many moons ago, when I lived in New York, I would wander into the Metropolitan Museum - the wing where they house the collection of Egyptian artifacts. I would sit amongst the Mummies & Daddies (Sarcophagi) for long afternoons.  I know it sounds morbid, but it wasn't.  It was a cool, marble home away from home. It was the detailed gems that often caught my attention, e.g., a small, ivory comb decorated with rows of wild animals.  Embarrassed to admit I had been watching the "Mummy" movies, the originals with Lon Chaney, Jr. (also Wolfman) and Boris Karloff, followed by
the Hammer Studio Horror series with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  I never really became addicted to them as I did to Frankenstein and Count Dracula, but they were just spooky enough to make the heart race, and to imagine that there was an encased mummy a few feet from where I was sitting.  I kept waiting for a scratching or scraping sound from the false lid: the mummy board.  It's fun to scare yourself sometimes.   

The language of Ancient Egypt didn't have vowels.  It was called Kmt.  An aside:  for some odd reason, I got it in my head that the Austrian, Gustav Klimt, was a throwback from Egyptian times?! But, it may not be so farfetched, as Klimt used Greek & Egyptian motifs in many of his paintings and friezes.

Pallas Athene - Vienna, 1898

His image of Pallas Athena, derived from the classical forms, is one of his most compelling, with the emphasis on her divinity - a Goddess with masculine powers - as opposed to the sexuality of his Nuda Veritas.  The desire for power strongly connected to sexual desire.

The inscription on top of  Nuda:  If you can't please many with your deeds and your art, please only few.  To please many is bad.  Schiller

Klimt - Nuda Veritas, 1899

The Greeks called the people from Kmt, Aegyptos, their culture, "Kemetic".  They didn't believe in death, but rather that we were always coming back and forth from the unknown to the actual.  And the translation of the ancient, funerary Egyptian Papyrus, commonly known as, "The Book of the Dead" is more accurately translated:  "Book of Coming Forth by Day".  Hey, you don't know whether you're coming or going.   That's a line from Lil' Wayne song, featuring Bruno Mars. 

I do digress.  Back to my "Diary of Beauty."
Chateau de Charras - May, 2015

"...Yes, the Spring-time needed you for sure. Many stars waited for you, so that you'd notice them.  A wave from the past swelled up for you, or, as you passed by an open window, a violin presented itself to you."  First Elegy

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Village of Charras, Wood Sculpture

 Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.
Hay Bales - Grassac
Guiness at Le Pontilou
The Siesta - Vincent Van Gogh

"...And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren't so deeply entrenched, and we can imagine other stories, other selves, just drink up quiet and respite...the bigness of the world is redemption..."  Rebecca Solnit from, The Faraway, Nearby

Beauty gives me a sense of belonging, not to any particular group or religion, or even to family and friends, but to life itself. The poet, Robert Haas, said "to learn not to be a stranger is the burden of the Duino Elegies."  What makes me feel like I belong here is seeing laundry drying in the sun; or sharing a moment of mutual joy with the cashier from Grand Frais over an extravagant head of Italian lettuce and a tomato.

In Beauty and the Soul, Piero Ferruci describes "Bella da morire - Beautiful to die for.  A feeling we have when we come face-to-face with beauty, we feel ready to die, as though we have now seen and felt all that is worth seeing and feeling.  We perceive beauty because we are free from worry and regret, or discontent.  We feel so complete and fulfilled, happy almost beyond capacity, we could die at that moment.  It springs from an intense love of life and a state of total surrender, which, by one of the strange paradoxes of beauty, allow us, as we say in Italy, to exclaim:  'Bella da morire'."

La Quinta at La Grande Metairie

I had a true bella da morire experience long ago, hiking in the Ventana Wilderness with my girlfriend.  We became lost for over three days, bushwacking thru brambles and bushes, running out of water in 100 degree temps. At twilight on the fourth night  (with all hope of rescue gone) a couple of moist swallows left, (shades of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"), I felt a sense of peace and quiet ecstasy settle on me as the warm breezes danced around the Madrones.  I'm ready to die, I told my friend.  I hasten to add, she was not ready to join me!  In the end, we found water and I shed another skin. I'm glad I didn't die then, there was so much more I would have missed. 

And now it's time for another adventure in shedding skins - The Chariot is waiting, the Wheel of Fortune is Spinning and the Karmic Key of Destiny is at hand.   Once the Chariot starts moving there is no turning back.  It's my Hermit year & Pallas Athena is at my side, along with a whole cast of guides and wonderful characters. I'm blessed with many Anam Caras (soul friends) and wise owls.

I'm vanishing into pencil dust & ink smudged notebooks - "of all the paths you take in life make sure some of them are dirt." Unknown

"I'm insane for the light"

A poem my brother, Mark, wrote for me; I will keep it close at hand.  

Three Things

The Wind, the Water and the

Cards in the deck of

You, crooked smile, subtle
hands, wise, illuminated, and

Rain visits you, like
tears, like a

But it is always the
Moon that reminds me of

Silver when it wishes and
amber and
yellow and even

You turn the night into
You bring the
tides home and send them
out again to visit the
oceans. You consummate the

Moon. Water.

Light. Truth.

These are the cards that I see in your
eyes. In your
touch. In your

Stone head in wall at La Grande Metairie

Poetry makes nothing happen.  It survives in the valley of its saying.
W.H. Auden

Tree Love - Jaume Plensa - Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Beauty is the true Priestess of individuation - John O' Donohue, Irish Poet

To be continued in:   "The Holy Longing in Cumbria - Part II  - Divine Thoughts & Augurs, Omens, Murmurations" coming soon.  I'm taking a "poetry dream-ladder to God." 

"Something moves without moving"  - Lazaris

No comments:

Post a Comment