The singing wilderness has to do with the calling of the loons, northern lights, and the great silences of a land lying northwest of Lake Superior. It is concerned with the simple joys, the timelessness and perspective found in a way of life that is close to the past. I have heard the singing in many places, but I seem to hear it best in the wilderness lake country of Quetico-Superior, where travel is still by pack and canoe over the ancient trails of the Indians and voyageurs.

I have heard it on misty migration nights when the dark has been alive with the high calling of birds, and in rapids when the air has been full of their rushing thunder. I have caught it at dawn when the mists were moving out of the bays, and on cold winter nights when the stars seemed close enough to touch. But the music can even be heard in the soft guttering of an open fire or in the beat of rain on a tent, and sometimes not until long afterward when, like an echo out of the past, you know it was there in some quiet place or when you were doing some simple thing out-of-doors.

I have discovered that I am not alone in my listening; that almost everyone is listening for something, that the search for places where the singing may be heard goes on everywhere. It seems to be part of the hunger that all of us have for a time when we were closer to lakes and rivers, to mountains and meadows and forests, than we are today. Because of our almost forgotten past there is a restlessness within us, an impatience with things as they are, which modern life with its comforts and distractions does not seem to satisfy. We sense intuitively that there must be something more, search for panaceas we hope will give us a sense of reality, fill our days and nights with such activity and our minds with such busyness that there is little time to think. When the pace stops we are often lost, and we plunge once more into the maelstrom hoping that if we move fast enough, somehow we may fill the void within us. We may not know exactly what it is we are listening for, but we hunt as instinctively for opportunities and places to listen as sick animals look for healing herbs.

Kate Clanchy | Overnight

Then I heard your breathing quicken,

whisper past my ear like the first

inquisitive gust of a storm on the roof,

and saw darkness press through the curtains,

mass there like burdened clouds, and felt

your fingers open in sleep on my shoulders,

settle close as the first snow lining the ground,

and a dream flicker across your eyelids,

swift as the switch of dry leaves in the wind,

and slowly your sleep deepened, gathered,

filled the room, calm as the great feathery flakes

that spin and land, weightless, one on the other,

and your arm loosened around me, suddenly,

as a branch will yield and shed its shelf of snow,

and your head drooped, filled the curve of my neck,

just as a drift might shift, and all night

your fingers brushed my skin, steadily changing

everything, like the levelled white we saw

in the morning, the lawn expectant as an empty page.

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive.

(via explore-blog)

Robert Adamson | The River

A step taken, and all the world’s before me.

The night so clear

stars hang in the low branches,

small fires riding through the waves of a thin atmosphere,

islands parting tides as meteors burn the air.

Oysters powder to chalk in my hands.

A flying fox swims by and an early

memory unfolds: rocks

on the shoreline milling the star-fire.

its fragments fall into place, the heavens

revealing themselves

as my roots trail

deep nets between channel and

shoal, gathering in

the Milky Way, Gemini - 

I look all about, I search all around me.

There’s a gale in my hair as the mountains move in.

I drift over lakes, through surf breaks

and valleys, entangled of trees - 

unseemly? On the edge or place inverted

from Ocean starts another place,

its own place - 

a step back and my love’s before me

the memory ash - we face each other alone now,

we turn in the rushing tide again and again to each other,

here between swamp-flower and star

to let love go forth to the world’s end

to set our lives at the centre

though the tide turns the river back on itself

and at its mouth, Ocean.

Linda Hogan | Two

The weight of a man on a woman

is like falling into the river without drowning.

Above, the world is burning and fighting.

Lost worlds flow through others.

But down here beneath water’s skin,

river floor, sand, everything

is floating, rocking.

Water falls through our hands as we fall through it.

And when a woman and a man come up from water

they stand at the elemental edge of difference.

Mirrored on water’s skin,

they are fired clay, water evaporating into air.

They are where water turns away from land

and goes back to enter a larger sea.

A man and a woman are like those rivers,

entering a larger sea

greater than the sum of all its parts.

#Poetry  #Lit  #Linda Hogan  #Two  
Andy Goldsworthy | Rainbow Splash

Andy Goldsworthy | Rainbow Splash

Charles Simic | Clouds Gathering

It seemed the kind of life we wanted.

Wild strawberries and cream in the morning.

Sunlight in every room.

The two of us walking by the sea naked.

Some evenings, however, we found ourselves

Unsure of what comes next.

Like tragic actors in a theater on fire,

With birds circling over our heads,

The dark pines strangely still,

Each rock we stepped on bloodied by the sunset.

We were back on our terrace sipping wine.

Why always this hint of an unhappy ending?

Clouds of almost human appearance

Gathering on the horizon, but the rest lovely

With the air so mild and the sea untroubled.

The night suddenly upon us, a starless night.

You lighting a candle, carrying it naked

Into our bedroom and blowing it out quickly.

The dark pines and grasses strangely still.

Cecil Day-Lewis | The Magnetic Mountain

Somewhere beyond the railheads

Of reason, south or north,

Lies a magnetic mountain

Riveting sky to earth.

Kestrel who yearly changes

His tenement of space

At the last hovering

May signify that place.

Iron in the soul,

Spirit steeled in fire,

Needle trembling on truth –

These shall draw me there.

The planets hold their course,

Blindly the bee comes home,

And I shall need no sextant

To prove I’m getting warm.

Near that miraculous mountain

Compass and clock must fail,

For space stands on its head there

And time chases its tail.

There’s iron for the asking

Will keep all winds at bay,

Girders to take the leaden

Strain of a sagging sky.

O there’s a mine of metal

Enough to make me rich

And build right over chaos

A cantilever bridge.

Carol Rumens | Above Cuckmere Haven

This is a reachable coast:

the cliff, though it unscrolls

the modest curve of a buttress 

is no young Atlas, 

and doesn’t presume to try 

to shoulder up the sky;

and the sky itself, 

translucent as a harebell, 

pales, but will not disclose 

the point at which it wavers 

into an immortelle 

of gases, stars.

The pillboxes, rust-brown, 

ask to be picnicked on;

no patriotic gull 

wooingly calls 

the farmboys to enlist.

These desultory ghosts

that feed the air again 

must be their grandchildren 

who never went to the Somme, 

Dunkirk or Spain, 

but locked the silos full 

of missile-grain.

Visions, like meadow-blues, 

are dust in the hand, 

seeds where the grass thins 

to light, and the cliff 

perishes, chalk and sand:

this is a coast of bones.

What remains is a view:

the cliff upswept from the beach 

and the drying threads of the mere, 

lifting whitely two 

crumbling wings – on which 

other wings briefly appear.

Four Tet | Unspoken

There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much have you lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror man is - particularly the artist - particularly myself!

(via brownrosy)

Idiot Wind | Mama, You’ve Been On My Mind

Todd Webb | Cow Skull

Todd Webb | Cow Skull

(via indivisiblematter)

Thom Gunn | From the Wave

It mounts at sea, a concave wall

     Down-ribbed with shine,

And pushes forward, building tall

     Its steep incline.

Then from their hiding rise to sight

     Black shapes on boards

Bearing before the fringe of white

     It mottles towards.

Their pale feet curl, they poise their weight

     With a learn’d skill.

It is the wave they imitate

     Keeps them so still.

The marbling bodies have become

     Half wave, half men,

Grafted it seems by feet of foam

     Some seconds, then,

Late as they can, they slice the face

     In timed procession:

Balance is triumph in this place,

     Triumph possession.

The mindless heave of which they rode

     A fluid shelf

Breaks as they leave it, falls and, slowed,

     Loses itself.

Clear, the sheathed bodies slick as seals

     Loosen and tingle;

And by the board the bare foot feels

     The suck of shingle.

They paddle in the shallows still;

     Two splash each other;

Then all swim out to wait until

     The right waves gather.

Angus & Julia Stone | For You