Commonplace Book VII

Literature, fiction, poetry, whatever, makes justice in the world. That’s why it almost always has to be on the side of the underdog.
– Grace Paley

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.
– Sylvia Plath

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche:
When we talk about making greater use of our precious human life, what does this mean? It means practicing the Dharma. It means taking the teachings to heart and trying to realize them. But if you think we’re going to practice next month, next year or in some years to come, after we have gathered all of our needs and circumstances, then we have not realized the impermanence of life or the impermanence of all phenomena.

I say this is a wild dream—but it is this dream I want to realize. Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection.
– Henry Miller, in a letter to Anais Nin.

Vagabondage
by Bruce Cockburn
by Vagabondage

La danse du paysage

Et dans les nuages

Le decoupage

D’un tour billon avec des naufrages

Vagabondage

Toujours en route

Nous sommes encore en route

On joue du tambour

On joue de la flute

Comme l’eau qui bondit d’une chute

Nous sommes en route

Et bientot

Dans le berceau

Un autre petit tzigane

Qui jouera du piano

Pour les chemineaux

Dans les bistros de la lune

Saut perilleux

Subitement il pleut

De la lumiere partout

Et puis tout a coup

Nous sommes trois clowns fabuleux

Faisant des sauts perilleux

Nous cinglons

Dans le wagon

D’un train qui grandit sans cesse

Comme l’univers

Haute dans les airs

Une rose des veuts

Pointe vers des nouvelles plages


Vagabondage
Vagabond
By Bruce Cockburn
Vagabond
Landscape dance
And in the clouds
The cutting
A billon tour with shipwrecks
Vagabond
Always on the way
We are still on the road
We play the drum
We play the flute
Like water leaping from a fall
We are on our way
And soon
In the cradle
Another little gypsy
Who will play the piano
For the trenches
In the bistros of the moon
Perilous leap
Suddenly it’s raining
Light everywhere
And then suddenly
We are three fabulous clowns
Making somersaults
We cant
In the wagon
A train that is constantly growing
Like the universe
High in the air
A rose of the veuts
Point to new beaches
Vagabond

Thanks in Old Age by Walt Whitman
Thanks in old age—thanks ere I go,
For health, the midday sun, the impalpable air—for life, mere
life,
For precious ever-lingering memories, (of you my mother dear
—you, father—you, brothers, sisters, friends,)
For all my days—not those of peace alone—the days of war the
same,
For gentle words, caresses, gifts from foreign lands,
For shelter, wine and meat—for sweet appreciation,
(You distant, dim unknown—or young or old—countless, un-
specified, readers belov’d,
We never met, and ne’er shall meet—and yet our souls embrace,
long, close and long;)
For beings, groups, love, deeds, words, books—for colors, forms,
For all the brave strong men—devoted, hardy men—who’ve for-
ward sprung in freedom’s help, all years, all lands,
For braver, stronger, more devoted men—(a special laurel ere I
go, to life’s war’s chosen ones,
The cannoneers of song and thought—the great artillerists—the
foremost leaders, captains of the soul:)
As soldier from an ended war return’d—As traveler out of
myriads, to the long procession retrospective,
Thanks—joyful thanks!—a soldier’s, traveler’s thanks.

What makes Heroic? — To face simultaneously one’s greatest suffering and one’s highest hope.
– Friedrich Nietsche

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