I’m wrangling. Busy in the head. Scattered. Lost.
So I went to one of my old notebooks, opened it, and found this. It cut through my internal clamour. Only trouble is, I want more of it, but don’t know where I got it. The notebook is ten years old, and I didn’t credit the quote. Any ideas? At least if I knew who penned it, I’d be baffled about one less thing…
There are, it seems, two muses: the muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the muse of Realisation, who returns again and again to say “Is it yet more difficult than you thought?”
The muse of Realisation works with us best when we welcome these obstructions – this is also the muse of form, and form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. Why? – because when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey…perhaps…perhaps all this is, is a play of words – though the mind that is not baffled is unemployed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Even if you don’t know it, I hope it feeds you as it has me. Or at least gives solace!
And while we are on the subject of solace, this is what was written on the next page of that notebook – the words of the gifted and tender Nick Enright, who died ten years ago. We lost a great writer and a great spirit when he passed, and this says it all.
I’m grateful for the experience of love, it is the only reality. Love is the only reality and everything else is the negation of that.
All the horror and stupidity of the world is the negation of our capacity to love and care for each other.
There can be no doubt about who wrote those words.
A postscript – do scroll down through the comments if you are a poetry hound. Some beautiful stuff has been left here, for which I am very grateful to my subscriber family!
18 thoughts on “Musing…”
Its by Wendell Berry
Whacko!!! Thanks Emily. Will seek out more. Xx
Ailsa – it is a brilliant insight isn’t it – that the unimpeded is not working – makes no sound – but that which suffers some kind of obstruction sings – babbling brooks indeed! I tried a search – and found – your entry! Four hours ago! Your ending with Nick ENRIGHT’s words – so true. These days sitting more and more with my beloved mother-in-law in her end-days time – speaking about the things of life – of her life – the positives of existence and love – less and less the fiery negativity of the political sphere and the “news” delivery media! Thank-you. I shall relay those words to her this evening!
Yes, I loved it and I am glad I found it again after all these years. A reminder that notebooks are worth revisiting!
And I’m glad that Nick’s words spoke to you. They are a perfect distillation of his life, and I hope that your mother-in-law responds to them as you have. What an incredibly rich time you sound like you are having. I trust she is pain-free as she passes her final days. Thinking of you all as you gather and sending love.
PS The time on this blog seems still to be set at Daylight Saving/Summer Time: And brava to Emily BERRY!
Oops! Have rectified that. Not sure why it didn’t do it automatically. And yes, the sleuths are out! There probably should have been a prize for Emily to claim!
This site gives you the quote:
Wendell Berry, as Emily says. I can’t claim to have recognised it … good old Mr Google found it for me in a microsecond when I cut and pasted the first sentence.
As you say, they’re fantastic words. Timely for me, uncannily so.
And Nick’s words resonate deeply, don’t they? Sue x
Maybe I didn’t think to do it because I was looking at an old notebook, handwritten and scrawled. Who knows?
So glad we have all found it though, because now I’m getting lashings of Wendell Berry, which is beyond wonderful. I have just read that he was taught by Wallace Stegner – a hero. Can see some synergies already. Glad it’s timely.
And as for Nick – well…His work lives on and will for many a decade I think. But it doesn’t make up for him, and what was yet to be written. Such a loss. xx
And we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of sharing this journey of re-discovery with you. Clearly, Wendell Berry has crossed your path before, where he’s new to me.
While computers give us joys such as easy access to the world of words, and to instant communication of ideas – such as this blog – there is something simply wonderful about the ‘snail trail’ of your handwritten words.
I wonder if we computer users will have the same ability to look back on our trail of thoughts that you have as you turn the pages of one of your journals.
I miss them so much. Letters particularly. Once I recognised the form of all my friends’ handwriting. Now, I’m not so sure I would. And that does feel like a loss. Email cuts out corrections too, so we can’t guess at the thought half expressed, then corrected.
I miss it. I do.
But then we get access to SO much, as you say…
Losses and gains. Swings. Roundabouts.
More Wendell Berry for a pilgrim to ponder:
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.
Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
? Wendell Berry
I think I have definitely had a fox of a day – tracks in all directions, leading nowhere. But Mr Berry has inspired.
Gracias. Muchas gracias, guapa! xx
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Oh Patrick, thank you. Perfect for this day, this autumn, this dying fall. You know, I think I read it only recently, but can’t for the life of me think where. Clearly I am meant to reconsider it, re-read it. And so I will sit with it a while, and send out gratitude to you.
I think Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver are kin!
…and of course Szymborska, and R M Thomas, who whispered this poem to me in Iglesia de Santa Maria Real in O’Cebreiro on my journey to Santiago de Compostela not six months ago.
Moments of great calm,
Kneeling before an altar
Of wood in a stone church
In summer, waiting for the God
To speak; the air a staircase
For silence; the sun’s light
Ringing me, as though I acted
A great rôle. And the audiences
Still; all that close throng
Of spirits waiting, as I,
For the message.
Prompt me, God;
But not yet. When I speak,
Though it be you who speak
Through me, something is lost.
The meaning is in the waiting.
Another that is new to me, Patrick. And what a gift. Perfection.
Funny I have just written a piece about waiting. This feels like a kind of restoration. And hope.
Thank you again. Where would we be without poets?
Thanks for the link to Wendell Berry, Ailsa.
A wonderful find.
I very much like this quote:
“There comes . . . a longing never to travel again except on foot.”
? Wendell Berry, Remembering
I hope all is well with you.
Oh and I know that longing all too well, Janet.
I’m finding I’m being asked to do a lot of travelling while seated just now. And it is hard!
I hold great hopes for some plodding travel this weekend – even if just for a few hours.
Revival and survival, I call it.
Thanks again. Wendell is speaking to us all.