Friday, October 30, 2009

Unnatural Death

Goya 1808

They shot the six ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldier it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting in the water with his head on his knees.

from In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway


Great-hearted Tydeides, why enquirest thou of my generation? Even as are the generations of leaves such are those likewise of men; the leaves that by the wind scattereth on the earth, and the forest buddeth and putteth forth more again, when the season of spring is at hand; so of the generations of men one putteth forth and another ceaseth.


from Book VI of The Iliad, Before attacking Tydeides asks his opponent to identify himself and this is Glaukos's reply (Lang, Leaf, and Myers trans)

Matthias Grunewald about 1500

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Carpet Bazaar

Leave your shoes and cameras. Be absorbed in the bright magical patterns, as alive today as thirty centuries ago. Patterns within patterns. Motifs of trees and leaves repeated through the ages. Pink and yellow leaves of sycamore. Yellow willow blades and long brown pine needles in deep soft piles.

Pools of light radiate from the trees and an autumn sun choreographs a path as sun beams run along spider silk tightropes. By day walking among the carpets feeling the texture beneath my feet and passing the same place many times seeing more, the two sides to the leaves, two tones, two colours and how they dry curling upward and how more leaves are upside down. The smells change as one moves, transient subtle decays, exotic perfumes, the clamour of voices.

In those evenings I leave the bazaar, cross the Bosporus bridge to work the arc light for a dancer's performance, returning at night to sleep in a melon stall, behind the shutters in the pile of green melons.

Today is all wind and rain. The Sycamore leaves madly shake themselves to death, a dance of death as they brake free. Yesterday's yellow ash leaves like discarded fish bones are now only pale spines.

The 19th century rug is Persian with a Tree of Life pattern and made by the Baluch people.

The rustling of the silk is discontinued,

Dust drifts over the courtyard,

There is no sound of foot-fall, and the leaves

Scurry into heaps and lie still,

And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:

A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.

Liu Ch’e by Ezra Pound (post-Cathay)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Autumn evening walk on a Swedish shore.

Ripples in the Baltic.

Rock and thin soil


from from glacial ice.

Birch and Pine

find peace

in the setting sun.