:::this is the way the world ends:::

Category: Quotes (Page 1 of 2)

This Hit Me of Late


In the Attic by Seamus Heaney


Like Jim Hawkins aloft in the crosstrees

Of Hispaniola, nothing underneath him

But still green water and clean bottom sand,

The ship aground, the canted mast far out

Above a seafloor where striped fish pass in shoals—

And when they’ve passed, the face of Israel Hands

That rose in the shrouds before Jim shot him dead

Appears to rise again . . . “But he was dead enough,”

The story says, “being both shot and drowned.”


A birch tree planted twenty years ago

Comes between the Irish Sea and me

At the attic skylight, a man marooned

In his own loft, a boy

Shipshaped in the crow’s nest of a life,

Airbrushed to and fro, wind-drunk, braced

By all that’s thrumming up from keel to masthead,

Rubbing his eyes to believe them and this most

Buoyant, billowy, topgallant birch.


Ghost-footing what was then the terra firma

Of hallway linoleum, Grandfather now appears

Above me just back from the matinée,

His voice awaver like the draft-prone screen

They’d set up in the Club Rooms earlier.

“And Isaac Hands,” he asks, “was Isaac in it?”

His memory of the name awaver, too,

His mistake perpetual, once and for all,

Like the single splash when Israel’s body fell.


As I age and blank on names,

As my uncertainty on stairs

Is more and more the light-headedness

Of a cabin boy’s first time on the rigging,

As the memorable bottoms out

Into the irretrievable,

It’s not that I can’t imagine still

That slight untoward rupture and world-tilt

As a wind freshened and the anchor weighed.

Just Because I Love It

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.


Election Day

A piece of Walt Whitman on this historic day:


From 1884


If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,


‘Twould not be you, Niagara – nor you, ye limitless prairies – nor your huge

rifts of canyons, Colorado,


Nor you, Yosemite – nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops

ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,


Nor Oregon’s white cones – nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes – nor

Mississippi’s stream:


This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name – the still small

voice vibrating – America’s choosing day…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the movie)

Sara and I had our only date in five months tonight. We ate dinner and saw HP and the Order. It was of course my choice of movie, but she enjoyed it almost as much as I did. We both liked it.

I recently read an article which talked about Rowling’s insistence that the themes and narrative arcs in the story are the product of a deeply felt Christianity. I felt that that was evident with this story more than the other stories that have made it to screen, for sure, but perhaps that is due to the escalting nature of the stories and good and evil. Her books, of course, took a beating from the right in this country, and I am amazed that Rowling managed to keep her Christianity basically a secret for all that time she was lambasted. She is quoted in the article as saying she felt that to state that Christianity undergirded the books was to give away the ending. In some ways I feel guilty for not having read the rest of the series (I thought at the time I finished the third book, years ago, that this series was never going to end and I wasn’t interested in reading the same thing over and over. I also read the first three books of the Series of Unfortunate Events). I do, as Shotts suggested, hope to enjoy them with my children some day, along with the Tolkien books and many others. Eliot has been learning some words with flash cards.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the film (which wouldn’t have been new to any of you readers of the series) was HP’s discovery of his father’s teasing and bullying of Snape. It is jolting and changing, that moment when you realize your parents are not right about everything and perhaps downright wrong about some things. I also read the NY Times article and found it interesting that Hitchens complains about the HP series’ avoidance of Christianity and then encourages readers to “graduate” to the Pullman trilogy.


There was an advertisement for the Golden Compass at the beginning of the film for which New Line cinema appears to have pulled out all the stops. I would strongly urge that anyone who plans to go see the movie (which I assume is all of the Hollow Men) should first read the entire trilogy, not necessarily as a recommendation from me, but because my guess from the preview is that they have toned down much of the philisophical content. And you certainly won’t get the Milton and biblical literary references from the film. It might make good discussion material; since in the very first scene of the book, Pullman deliberately decided to have a girl coming OUT of a wardrobe.

This may be a funny way to end this post, switching topics, but I’m curious as to how the HM would respond to this quote by Wright from the Moral Animal…

“Friends engage in mutual inflation. Being a person’s true friend means endorsing the untruths he holds dearest…it may be that the hallmark of the strongest, longest friendships is the depth of the shared bias; the best friends are the ones who see each other least clearly.”

Quotation Monday: Dwight D. Eisenhower

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

We merely want to live in peace with all the world, to trade with them, to commune with them, to learn from their culture as they may learn from ours, so that the products of our toil may be used for our schools and our roads and our churches and not for guns and planes and tanks and ships of war.

Quotation Monday — Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

From a January 1, 2007 New York Times op-ed, Folly’s Antidote.  This is Schlesinger’s last published word on history before his death on February 28.

Sometimes, when I am particularly depressed, I ascribe our behavior to stupidity — the stupidity of our leadership, the stupidity of our culture. Three decades ago, we suffered defeat in an unwinnable war against tribalism, the most fanatic of political emotions, fighting against a country about which we knew nothing and in which we had no vital interests. Vietnam was hopeless enough, but to repeat the same arrogant folly 30 years later in Iraq is unforgivable….

A nation informed by a vivid understanding of the ironies of history is, I believe, best equipped to manage the tragic temptations of military power. Let us not bully our way through life, but let a growing sensitivity to history temper and civilize our use of power….

The great strength of history in a free society is its capacity for self-correction. This is the endless excitement of historical writing — the search to reconstruct what went before, a quest illuminated by those ever-changing prisms that continually place old questions in a new light.

History is a doomed enterprise that we happily pursue because of the thrill of the hunt, because exploring the past is such fun, because of the intellectual challenges involved, because a nation needs to know its own history. Or so we historians insist. Because in the end, a nation’s history must be both the guide and the domain not so much of its historians as its citizens.

Kurt Vonnegut 1922 – 2007


Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

Update, etc.

For those of you who want an update, I received my first response to my letters to my two Congressman and my eight reps. from Ron Kind (democrat in house). It was a form letter, emphasizing that Kind voted for both intitiatives that the White House has passed regarding Sudan and Chad conflicts. The second boasted 242.4 million in relief assistance. And while that may seem a significant amount, the white house in its second term had commited 38 billion to the “war on terror”, most of which has been focused on Iraq. (This was taken from the Department of Defense website). I just feel so helpless about stuff like this.

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Dear friends: Just a note to let you know that at last I finished Gandhi’s autobiography (whew!). Good but tedious at times. It does not even cover the latter part of his life when he really drew the most recognition.

I also recently re-read a book I had first read in NY, called the Ninemile Wolves, by Rick Bass. It is an insightful and well-balanced argument for the re-introduction of wolf packs into the northern United States and Yellowstone, written long before (and perhaps actually galvanized support for) the final re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone. But as well as an engagingly written account of the re-appearance of wolves in northern Montana, almost three decades after they had been driven off by the federal “Predator Control Act”, Ninemile is an example of the new attitude and paradigm shift that needs to take place in how we think of wilderness, bio-diversity, preservation, and our ever-shrinking, truly wild places.

I mention this because of a recent, brief exchange about the Nature Conservancy. For those of you who have seen my painting “Balancing Act” this passage from Rick Bass was part of the creative spark for that image (as well as the cut hill that was the subject theme for the entire series and the Wallace Stevens poem, etc.). He refers to the irrational way in which wolves were demonized and exterminated (hunted, burned, poisoned, trapped, shot at, and beat to death) which will remain a historical fact of the transformation of the west into cattle ranches. The book also features some nice (however small) black and white ink drawings by Russel Chatham.

Is the base of our history unchanging, like some batholith of sin – are we irretrievable killers? – or can we exist with wolves, this time? I believe we are being given another chance, an opportunity to demonstrate our ability to change. This time, we have a chance to let a swaying balance be struck: not just for wolves, but for humans too.

Verse V of a poem I wrote in college

It’s not very good, but I just felt like posting something different…the following is true and I put it in a poem while I was in college.

V. The police called to tell me my car window was reported “found shattered.” I slip on my shoes and white T-shirt and break out of the front door, heavily squinting in the morning sun. I slowly twist my head through where-the-window-should-be to find glass seeding the front seat. I talk to the police officer; taken:

1 rental tape,

26 music discs.


The letter that came this morning:

“Your recent letter came. I have read it and reread it many times. You know you can count on us for prayers for your safety. It’s a problem I have understanding how God answers in so many unusual ways.

Your mother needs you so terribly much. Through her tears is sobbed, ‘I wish he could spend some time with Andrew this summer.’ I really don’t know what else to say.

Congratulations on your graduation.


Grandma C.”

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