Shanty of the Binds

Oh navitar, where are we bound?
My navitar, what paths are found?
Oh navitar, the binds deform,
But waking, we are then reborn.
My navitar, the river is deep,
What falls in, the Nigh will keep.
Where bound, where bound, the keeper cries,
You hear the binds, not the replies.
But sways await, the travelers sleep,
Cast off, cast off, and into the deep.

– a river song,
A World Too Near, Kay Kenyon

Indi, come orologio che ne chiami

nell’ora che la sposa di Dio surge
a mattinar lo sposo perchè l’ami,
che l’una parte l’altra tira e urge,
tin tin sonando con sì dolce nota,
che ‘l ben disposto spirto d’amor turge;
così vid’ io la glorïosa rota
muoversi e render voce a voce in tempra
ed in dolcezza ch’esser non pò nota
se non colà dove gioir s’ insempra.

– from Paradiso, Dante Alighieri
(via George MacDonald)

White-raving storm of molten metals,

[the Sun] is but a coal from the altar of the Father’s never-ending sacrifice to his children. See every little flower straighten its stalk, lift up its neck, and with outstretched head stand expectant: something more than the sun, greater than the light, is coming, is coming – none the less surely coming that it is long upon the road! What matters to-day, or to-morrow, or ten thousand years to Life himself, to Love himself! He is coming, is coming, and the necks of all humanity are stretched out to see him come! Every morning will they thus outstretch themselves, every evening will they droop and wait – until he comes. – Is this but an airdrawn vision? When he comes, will he indeed find them watching thus?

Lilith, chapter XLV,
George MacDonald

The problem of pain

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw–but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally dfferent to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of–something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through[…]? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?

You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it–tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest–if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself–you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.’ We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.

While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.

The Problem of Pain, chapter 10,
C.S. Lewis
(paragraph divisions mine)

But all has not been said,

…for words are the shadow and the light of things and things are only what is being born and being;
And so when there is no bread we need only sit and await the new day, and the new day will bring us bread;
In the heart of the hungry man despair lays its traps and the man weeps and curses;

But all is not said,
And a man does ill to weep and curse when to sit and hope is well;
For as bread comes, comes one who does not know his name yet knows he is called by many names;
One to whom women speak, telling the secrets of women and those of the house and village;
And he who is to come depends on no one, has no one, has nothing: he must make his sandals and his pouches and weave his cloting and braid his belts;
For this he must find for himself food and drink and sleep and shelter and guard himself from the perils of solitude;
And he who is to come must go, always, for there is no whole or true coming or arrival without leaving and departure;

But all is not said, for he goes and comes and goes again;
And he who is to come will be unarmed and will refuse arms though they are made and adorned for him;
And he who is to come will be he who secures the roofs and foundations of your house, he who draws from death and the depths those who are all but lost, he who sees your city and your house because he can se the world, he who knows nothing and may be seen by all for what he is;

For all is not said because night follows day and the wise man sleeps until sunrise;
But the brave man’s eyes are open and he keeps watch for his brother;
And the woman who rules your house and the daughters she has given you, who knows more than your head, your heart, and your belly, accept the night and subdue it and so night works for your good and that of your people;
But he who is to come is he who arises against the night and says to it, Begone;
For this death comes and does his work like a good workman earning his pay;

But all is not said because absence and presence are not opposites but one same and single thing;
For as a moment takes no time though it seems that time is a succession of moments, so a man is not gone though he seems gone: where could he go? When?

No, all is not said because he has gone and returned and goes and returns and will go and will return;
For this when you sit in the kitchen of your house ask your wife and she will tell you to open your eyes by day and close them by night, that this is best to do, because he who came and went away is to return;

No, all is not said.


– Kalpa Imperial, chapter “Down There in the South”,
Angélica Gorodischer (translated by Ursula K. le Guin)

Tea Ceremony

The late Nakano Kazuma said that the original purpose of the Tea Ceremony is the cleanse the six senses. For the eyes there are the hanging scroll and flower arrangement. For the nose there is the incense. For the ears there is the sound of the hot water. For the mouth there is the taste of the tea. And for the hands and feet there is the correctness of form. When the five senses have thus been cleansed, the mind will of itself be purified.

In the poem,

Under the deep snows in the last village
Last night numerous branches of plum blossomed

the opulence of the phrase “numerous branches” was changed to “a single branch.” It is said that this “single branch” contained true tranquility.


– Hagakure, second chapter,
Yamamoto Tsunetomo