I Live My Life In Growing Orbits

Ich lebe mein Leben in wachsenden Ringen,
die sich über die Dinge ziehn.
Ich werde den letzten vielleicht nicht vollbringen,
aber versuchen will ich ihn.

Ich kreise um Gott, um den uralten Turm,
und ich kreise jahrtausendelang;
und ich weiß noch nicht: bin ich ein Falke, ein Sturm
oder ein großer Gesang.

— Rainer Maria Rilke


I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower.
I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

— tr Robert Bly

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Hymn to Science

It was the age of Newton, and the Enlightenment was coming into full flower.  Some saw Science as an unqualified benefit, in fact, a long-awaited deliverance from an age of superstition and authoritarian religious dogma.

There was yet no such thing as an authoritative voice of science; scientists were held to a higher standard than politicians or religious leaders, and asked to demonstrate evidence for every one of their assertions.

Science had not yet been corrupted by a scientific establishment.  There was no professional class of people who found security in a tenured job as scientist, no one who needed to protect his livelihood by buttressing his past assertions.

Most scientists of the era believed in Deistic God, and regarded the laws of science as tribute to His glory.  There was deep hope that the Age of Reason would make government and other human institutions more rational and thereby wiser, more humane.

Born the son of a butcher, Mark Akenside dropped out of divinity school to become a doctor.

Mark Akenside.jpg

Science! thou fair effusive ray
From the great source of mental day,
Free, generous, and refin’d!
Descend with all thy treasures fraught,
Illumine each bewilder’d thought,
And bless my lab’ring mind.

But first with thy resistless light,
Disperse those phantoms from my sight,
Those mimic shades of thee;
The scholiast’s learning, sophist’s cant,
The visionary bigot’s rant,
The monk’s philosophy.

 

O! let thy powerful charms impart
The patient head, the candid heart,
Devoted to thy sway;
Which no weak passions e’er mislead,
Which still with dauntless steps proceed
Where Reason points the way.

Give me to learn each secret cause;
Let number’s, figure’s, motion’s laws
Reveal’d before me stand;
These to great Nature’s scenes apply,
And round the globe, and thro’ the sky,
Disclose her working hand.

Next, to thy nobler search resign’d,
The busy, restless, human mind
Thro’ ev’ry maze pursue;
Detect Perception where it lies,
Catch the ideas as they rise,
And all their changes view.

Say from what simple springs began
The vast, ambitious thoughts of man,
Which range beyond control;
Which seek Eternity to trace,
Dive thro’ th’ infinity of space,
And strain to grasp the whole.

Her secret stores let Memory tell,
Bid Fancy quit her fairy cell,
In all her colours drest;
While prompt her sallies to control,
Reason, the judge, recalls the soul
To Truth’s severest test.

Then launch thro’ Being’s wide extent;
Let the fair scale, with just ascent,
And cautious steps, be trod;
And from the dead, corporeal mass,
Thro’ each progressive order pass
To Instinct, Reason, God.

There, Science! veil thy daring eye;
Nor dive too deep, nor soar too high,
In that divine abyss;
To Faith content thy beams to lend,
Her hopes t’assure, her steps befriend,
And light her way to bliss.

Then downwards take thy flight again;
Mix with the policies of men,
And social nature’s ties:
The plan, the genius of each state,
Its interest and its pow’rs relate,
Its fortunes and its rise.

Thro’ private life pursue thy course,
Trace every action to its source,
And means and motives weigh:
Put tempers, passions in the scale,
Mark what degrees in each prevail,
And fix the doubtful sway.

That last, best effort of thy skill,
To form the life, and rule the will,
Propitious pow’r! impart:
Teach me to cool my passion’s fires,
Make me the judge of my desires,
The master of my heart.

Raise me above the vulgar’s breath,
Pursuit of fortune, fear of death,
And all in life that’s mean.
Still true to reason be my plan,
Still let my action speak the man,
Thro’ every various scene.

Hail! queen of manners, light of truth;
Hail! charm of age, and guide of youth;
Sweet refuge of distress:
In business, thou! exact, polite;
Thou giv’st Retirement its delight,
Prosperity its grace.

Of wealth, pow’r, freedom, thou! the cause;
Foundress of order, cities, laws,
Of arts inventress, thou!
Without thee what were human kind?
How vast their wants, their thoughts how blind!
Their joys how mean! how few!

Sun of the soul! thy beams unveil!
Let others spread the daring sail,
On Fortune’s faithless sea;
While undeluded, happier I
From the vain tumult timely fly,
And sit in peace with thee.

— Mark Akenside, born this day in 1721

October

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

— Robert Frost

Image result for falling leaves

Why have I never heard of Cyril Scott?

“Holding the belief that the more subjects one can, within limits, become interested in, the less time and inclination one has to be unhappy, I will make no excuses for what the friends of my music call my versatility and its detractors the dissipation of my energies, for… in a sad plight is the composer who has no side line or pastime to turn to during those desolate periods when musical ideation gives out, leaving but that painful sense of emptiness and frustration so familiar to all creative artists.”

A Twentieth-century renaissance man, Cyril Scott is best known as a composer, where his work is surprisingly accessible and varied.  He also wrote poetry, philosophy, and fiction.  He painted and sought (before its time) to reform medical practice back toward a naturopathic basis.  He wrote 41 books, many more articles, and 400 musical works, from operas to symphonies, chamber music and melodic settings of poetry with piano accompaniment.  His musical styles were late romantic or jazzy-bluesy, or impressionistic, or combinations.

Image result for paintings cyril scott

CScott_ptg_no2_sm.jpgImage result for cyril scott health diet common senseCyril Scott was born this day in 1879

Immanence

I COME in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty, but I have set My Feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod.
There do I dwell, in weakness and in power;
Not broken or divided, saith our God!
In your strait garden plot I come to flower:
About your porch My Vine
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine;
Waits, at the threshold, Love’s appointed hour.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yea! on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confest.
On every nest
Where feathery Patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprize
Of motherhood—
There doth My Godhead rest.

Blade-of-grass

photo by Krista Kulas

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
My starry wings
I do forsake,
Love’s highway of humility to take:
Meekly I fit My stature to your need.
In beggar’s part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead—
As man, to speak with man—
Till by such art
I shall achieve My Immemorial Plan,
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.

— Evelyn Underhill

כָּל נִדְרֵי

I wait all day to fill myself with emptiness
For the silent cacophony of the unseen
If I knew what I wanted, I would not want it
What I must unlearn is unbearable.

Faith is with me yet, undaunted
The bliss that consoles all will make its appearance
Not knowledge, no, but
Release from the need to know.

Even now, all is well.

— Josh Mitteldorf

Renewal of Fountains

Bright universe unseen, yet seen awhile
Precious and brief as a tree bathed in light,
And in shy sudden flowers
In rain, in hasty storm.

Or where the air is moist in trancèd heat
Under the noonday sun remote and high,
We wander and are lost
In golden shadowy lanes.

Or in the hyacinth shadows of the night,
Where the black hill’s immaculate warm lines
Meet with translucent blue,
And dark waters run.

With silver-pointed stars for company,
Light-tipped, soft-shaded, deep the world revolves.
Oh eloquent bright eyes
That pierce through shade.

All this endures, revives and calms the heart
When the harsh day is done, the bitter wars;
And winter’s icy voice
Chills sky and air.

Here, waiting for renewal, fountains play,
Sparkling, inviting, dancing, and withdrawn,
Hope withers and is green
Destroyed, restored.

Wanderer in intricate paths, bewildered soul,
When all that pleased you once shall please no more,
Rest, and desire no rest
Under the common grass.

— Marya Zaturenska,
born this day in 1902