Go to bed

Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
Ben FranklinMathew HenryJohn Clarke?

Science has determined that going to bed early and rising early makes you happy.  Or maybe it’s the genes that make you an early riser that make you happy.  Or maybe it’s the genes that make you go to bed early, and then going to bed early makes you happy.  It’s hard to tell these things.

IS it not better at an early hour
In its calm cell to rest the weary head,
While birds are singing and while blooms the bower,
Than sit the fire out and go starv’d to bed?

— Walter Savage Landor, born this day in 1775

Joseph Ducreux (French) - Self-Portrait, Yawning - Google Art Project.jpg


God scatters beauty as he scatters flowers____
O’er the wide earth, and tells us all are ours._
A hundred lights in every temple burn,______
And at each shrine I bend my knee in turn.__

Walter Savage Landor


On Prayer

You ask me how to pray to someone who is not.
All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge
And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard,
Above landscapes the color of ripe gold
Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun.
That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal
Where everything is just the opposite and the word ‘is’
Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned.
Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately,
Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh
And knows that if there is no other shore
We will walk that aerial bridge all the same.

~ Czeslaw Milosz ~

Thought is deep, from whatever starting place

You and I believe in Science because we were born into a 20th Century Western culture.  John Donne, born this day in 1572, believed in Christianity, for just the same reason.  Starting from our own framework of thought, we seek to expand the reach of logic and make sense of our world.  Donne was doing the same thing, with his wide-ranging and fecund mind.  Today, we easily perceive the limits of Donne’s theological cosmology.  Perhaps he can help us perceive the limits of our own.

Image of her whom I love, more than she,
Whose fair impression in my faithful heart
Makes me her medal, and makes her love me,
As Kings do coins, to which their stamps impart
The value: go, and take my heart from hence,
Which now is grown too great and good for me:
Honours oppress weak spirits, and our sense
Strong objects dull; the more, the less we see.

When you are gone, and Reason gone with you,
Then Fantasy is queen and soul, and all;
She can present joys meaner than you do;
Convenient, and more proportional.
So, if I dream I have you, I have you,
For, all our joys are but fantastical.
And so I ’scape the pain, for pain is true;
And sleep which locks up sense, doth lock out all.

After a such fruition I shall wake,
And, but the waking, nothing shall repent;
And shall to love more thankful sonnets make
Than if more honour, tears, and pains were spent.
But dearest heart, and dearer image, stay;
Alas, true joys at best are dream enough;
Though you stay here you pass too fast away:
For even at first life’s taper is a snuff.

Filled with her love, may I be rather grown
Mad with much heart, than idiot with none.

— John Donne

We recognize that Donne’s language and usage are different from our own, and it may not be possible to separate this from our difference in framework of our thought.  I therefore tread gingerly on the road of interpretation.

What I get from the first stanza is that Donne is steeped in humility, afraid that the love which has overtaken him is force greater than he can bear, and he is in danger of breaking.  In the second stanza, he seeks the relationship between two parts of himself, the reasoning part which relates to the world of common experience, and the inner world of imagination.  In the third, he associates joy with the imagined world and suffering with the outer.  In the end, I think he comes down on the side of fantasy, where love is more real and more dependable, though he recognizes that to think so is flirting with madness.

I sense there is more here than I am apprehending, and I welcome your thoughts and interpretations.

Fame is a food that dead men eat

Fame is a food that dead men eat,—
I have no stomach for such meat.
In little light and narrow room,
They eat it in the silent tomb,
With no kind voice of comrade near
To bid the banquet be of cheer.

But Friendship is a nobler thing,—
Of Friendship it is good to sing.
For truly, when a man shall end,
He lives in memory of his friend,
Who doth his better part recall,
And of his faults make funeral.