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Between Going and Staying
by Octavio Paz (translated by Eliot Weinberger)
Between going and staying the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause
“A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands,
How could I answer the child?
I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition,
out of hopefull green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child,
the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means,
Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff,
I give them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring
taken soon out of their mothers’ laps.
And here you are the mothers’ laps.
This grass is very dark
to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate
the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers,
and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think have become of the young and old men?
And what do you think have become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life,
and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
~ from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
“Liza, go steep your long white hands
In the cool waters of that spring
Which bubbles up through shiny sands
The colour of a wild-dove’s wing.
Dabble your hands, and steep them well
Until those nails are pearly white
Now rosier than a laurel bell;
Then come to me at candlelight.
Lay your cold hands across my brows,
And I shall sleep, and I shall dream
Of silver-pointed willow boughs
Dipping their fingers in a stream.”
– Elinor Wylie, Spring Pastoral
Your vision will become clear
only when you look into your heart.
Who looks outside, dreams.
Who looks inside, awakens.
~ Carl Jung
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe,
a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself,
his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the
rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This
delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our
personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to
us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living
creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
~ quotation by Albert Einstein
“What everyone forgets is that passion is not merely a heightened
sensual fusion but a way of life which produces, as in mystics,
an ecstatic awareness of the whole of life.”
– Anais Nin
(This quotation was found on the lovely blog of Charlotte Hutson)