There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
"A Book" by Emily Dickinson
I cannot begin to guess at all the causes of our cultural sadness, not even the most important ones, but I can think of one thing that is wrong with us and eats away at us: we do not know enough about ourselves. We are ignorant about how we work, where we fit in, and most of all about the enormous imponderable system of life in which we are embedded as working parts. We do not really understand nature, at all. We have come a long way indeed, but just enough to become conscious of our ignorance.
The Medusa and the Snail by Lewis Thomas
I will be rocks, I will be water,
I will leave this to my daughter.
Lift your head up in the wind.
When you feel yourself grow colder,
wrap the night around your shoulders
and I will be with you even then,
even when I cannot see your face anymore.
"Rocks and Water," by Deb Talan
And why did I never ask her a simple question?
What was it like where you were born, Mama? Was the countryside beautiful? Did you see mountains? hills? a river? Was the snow very deep in winter? Did you pick berries in the spring?
The truth is that even if I'd asked, Mama wouldn't have been much help. When it came to the natural world, she tended to be a little high-handed, Marxist even; something on the order of nature simply being an instrument in the course of human progress. "It was nice," she might have said. Or, "It wasn't so nice." Or, "It was the way it was. Snow? Berries? Sure, we had them."
How I Came Into My Inheritance by Dorothy Gallagher
THE WEASEL thieves in silver suit,
The rabbit runs in gray;
And Pan takes up his frosty flute
To pipe the cold away.
The flocks are folded, boughs are bare,
The salmon take the sea;
And O my fair, would I somewhere
Might house my heart with thee!
"Somewhere," by John Vance Cheney
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first -- it wet the bed.
"Snowball," by Shel Silverstein
"TO A YOUNG WOMAN"
THOU ART, WHO HAST NOT BEEN!
Pale tunes irresolute
And traceries of old sounds
Blown from a rotted flute
Mingle with noise of cymbals rouged with rust,
Nor not strange forms and epicene
Lie bleeding in the dust,
Being wounded with wounds.
For this it is
That in thy counterpart
Of age-long mockeries
THOU HAST NOT BEEN NOR ART!
There seemed to me a certain inconsistency as between the first and last lines of this. I tried, with bent brows, to resolve the discord. But I did not take my failure as wholly incompatible with a meaning in Soames's mind. Might it not rather indicate the depth of his meaning? As for the craftsmanship, "rouged with rust" seemed to me a fine stroke, and "nor not" instead of "and" had a curious felicity. I wondered who the "young woman" was and what she had made of it all. I sadly suspect that Soames could not have made more of it than she. Yet even now, if one doesn't try to make any sense at all of the poem, and reads it just for the sound, there is a certain grace of cadence. Soames was an artist, in so far as he was anything, poor fellow!
It seemed to me, when first I read "Fungoids," that, oddly enough, the diabolistic side of him was the best. Diabolism seemed to be a cheerful, even a wholesome influence in his life.
Enoch Soames by Max Beerbohm