And yet it just won’t go away:
I feel it and cannot understand it;
cannot hold on to it;
nor yet forget it;
and if I grasp it wholly
I cannot measure it!
I do not know it – it is without name – it is a word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
There is that in me – I do not know what it is – but I know it is in me.
–Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass
And it’s hard to explain how I feel;
It don’t go in words but I know that it’s real.
I can be moving or I can be still,
But still is still moving to me.
And where we had thought to find an abomination,
we shall find a God; where we had thought to slay another,
we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward,
we shall come to the center of our own existence;
where we we had thought to be alone,
we shall be with all the world.
–Joseph Campbell, A Hero with a Thousand Faces
Now that lilacs are in bloom
she has a bowl of lilacs in her room
and twists one in her fingers while she talks.
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
what life is, you who hold it in your hands”;
(slowly twisting the lilac stalks)
“You let it flow from you, you let it flow,
and youth is cruel, and has no remorse
and smiles at situations which it cannot see.”
I smile, of course,
and go on drinking tea.
–T.S. Eliot, Portrait of a Woman
I am moved by fancies that are curled
around these fingers, and cling;
the notion of some infinitely gentle
infinitely suffering thing.
–T.S. Eliot, Preludes
A flower grows
and blooms and dies
and sometimes is touched
Take this kiss upon the brow!
and, in parting from you now,
thus much let me avow -
you are not wrong, who deem
that my days have been a dream;
yet if hope has flown away
in a night or in a day,
in a vision, or in none,
is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
of a surf-tormented shore,
and I hold in my hand
grains of the golden sand -
how few! yet how they creep
through my fingers to the deep,
while I weep – while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
them with a tighter clasp?
O God! Can I not save
one from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
but a dream within a dream?
– Edgar Allen Poe
We had passed through an initiation
like that of the Tibetan ascetic,
who staggers half dead from a trance,
where he has seen himself eaten
alive and has not yet learned that
the eater was himself.
The battle between the manifest world
and the ancestral darkness
at the end of all things
the too great power of divinity
because in my head, frothy red
more interesting than the words she said
“I cannot say, I cannot say,
these things like little white wings
that carry and bring
yet have no speech
and cannot sing.
The dancing lightness
of sunshine washes (us) clean
I know the cries that cry for all
I’ve known one well enough
to know them all
I know the despair of half-empty streets
under a half-empty moon
that lingers at half past three
in the half-dead, mid afternoon
I know where a yellow wildflower grows
through a half inch crack in black cement
I wonder whether a yellow wildflower knows
it was born in a place it was never meant?
Can a yellow wildflower decide
in the left lane of a highway divide?
Another and another and another -
has anyone ever counted them?
Does anyone know;
The number of waves
in a single day -
rising to crescendo
then receding quietly away?