Friday, April 13, 2007


Not all beautiful girls are also great poets. The poem below is translated anonymously from a 1907 edition of an anthology of Italian writings. The girl who wrote it is, to my eye, extremely beautiful, though not a great poet. If her ambition in life was to write great poems, she blew it, and being dead she has no further opportunity to improve on her work. But the chances are good that her life was about far more than poetry, that she had a life satisfying in her loves and friendships and other experiences, a life of the journey through her privacy as it was. The poetry is the reward we have from her travels, ours to admire and to hold though she be gone to the dust.
I have ahead of me the works of four men who travelled: C.M. Doughty, Sir Richard Burton, Wilfred Thesiger, and T.E. Lawrence. Each of these men was in his particular way a traveller through the wastelands of the deserts of Arabia. Each man of them is dead, and each left something behind for us to hold. We can judge and compare ourselves to them, and we might come out favorably in so doing. I have travelled some of the same areas as the men above, and I certainly write famous poetry, as one will see by searching "Dag's Poetry Corner." Yes, I'm also beautiful. Regarding the state of Faith, there I have to wonder if I'm cheated.

Father of heaven! if by thy mercy's grace
A living branch I am of that true vine
Which spreads o'er all-- and would we did resign
Ourselves entire by faith to its embrace!
In me much drooping, Lord, thine eye will trace,
Caused by the shade of these rank leaves of mine,
Unless in season due thou dost refine
The humor gross, and quicken its dull pace.
So cleanse me that, abiding e'er with Thee,
I feed me hourly with the heavenly dew,
And with my falling tears refresh the root.
Thou saidst, and Thou art truth, thou'dst with me be;
Then willing come, that I may bear much fruit,
and worthy of the stock on which it grew.

Vittoria Colonna (April, 1490 - February 25, 1547)

Jules Joseph Lefebvre, "Diva Vittoria Colonna"

All writing is travelogue. Those who go no farther than the stoop go as far as those who fly to the moon and beyond if those who travel leave themselves for further gardens of the works of Man. Many never leave themselves at all regardless of where they go, and in that they miss the journey's point, clinging to the familiar and themselves in the hope of safety in the danger zone. To travel, one might rightly aim for point, purpose, and goal. One must accept the fate of failure and loss. There is a mystery, and one cannot know. Then ones time is done, and all that lays on the ground is bones and poetry perhaps to be found by another later, judged wanting in fineness. One goes on step by step.

A sad, yearning feeling always comes over me as soon as the first burst of joy on returning home have past. There further time flies amid ordinary life, the more this yearning grows, as if something unforgettable previous had been abandoned in the wilderness of Asia which could not be found in Europe... and exceptional bliss-- freedom-- which may be savage it is infringed by nothing, almost absolute.

Nikolai M. Prbhevalsky in Karl E. Myer and Shareen Blare Brysac, Tournament of Shadows.

We meet in our pubilicities each week at the library in Vancouver, Canada, a foreign place of local people living lives of privacy. We have a destination, one we hope to reach safe and sound and rejoicing in our arrival. All of us as different as Doughty and Burton and Thesiger and Lawrence we meet and we journey onward. We would ask you to join us on Thursday evening next at the Vancouver Public Library from 7-9:00 p.m. in the atrium outside Blenz coffee bar to chat and tell us of your travels and your plans. Take that step, friend. Show yourself some faith. Show yourself worthy of the stalk from which you grow.

"Full of turmoil of movement, I had suddenly run out of destinations. I was looking for something. But it was no use. There was nowhere further to go. I had run into the brick wall of arrival."

Stanley Stewart, In the Kingdom of Genghis Khan.

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