by Jonathan Vold

Friday, September 30

TWL, Lines 360-366: On The Road To Emmaus

360 Who is the third who walks always beside you?
361 When I count, there are only you and I together
   362 But when I look ahead up the white road
   363 There is always another one walking beside you
   364 Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
   365 I do not know whether a man or a woman
366 — But who is that on the other side of you?

  361. SHACKLETON’S ACCOUNT: Eliot: “The following lines were stimulated by the account of one of the Antarctic expeditions (I forget which, but I think one of Shackleton's): it was related that the party of explorers, at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted.”

  See Ernest Shackleton, South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage (1919):

  “When I look back at those days, I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the storm-strewn sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of 36 hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards  Worsley said to me, ‘Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.’”  Compare Daniel 3:24-25 (note 0.5):
  “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

  364. HOODED FIGURES also appear at line 369. In an earlier note (note 46), Eliot identified the hooded figure in this passage as Christ on the road to Emmaus (see note 366), and associated him, through the Tarot deck’s Hanged Man card, with Artemis, goddess of fertility (see note 55).
  365. THE PATH OF PURIFICATION: See Bhadantácariya Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimagga ("The Path of Purification," 430 AD, tr. Henry Clarke Warren, 1896):

  “...A certain woman had married into a family of rank, but had quarreled with her husband, and, decked and ornamented, until she looked like a goddess, had issued forth from Anuradhapura, early in the morning, and was returning home to her family. On her way she met the elder, as he was on his way from Mt. Cetiya to go on his begging-rounds in Anuradhapura.  And no sooner had she seen him, than the perversity of her nature caused her to laugh loudly. The elder looked up inquiringly, and observing her teeth, realized the impurity of the body, and attained to saintship. ...Then came her husband, following in her footsteps, and seeing  the elder, he said: ‘Reverend sir, have you seen a woman pass this way?’ And the elder said: ‘Was it a woman, or a man, that passed this way? I cannot tell. But this I know, a set of bones is traveling on upon this road.’”

  Compare Augustine’s experience, just before picking the random bible verse that led to his moment of conversion, at Confessions (note 307) 8.12.29:  “So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, ‘Take up and read; Take up and read.’”

  366. THE ROAD TO EMMAUS passage at Luke 24:13-43 offers another parallel to Shackleton’s account, finally moving the April poem from the pains of Good Friday to a late recognition on the morning of Easter:

  “And behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk , and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:  And how the chief priests and our rulers  delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither  they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.  And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?  And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.  And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.  And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.  And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?  Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.  And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?  And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.  And he took it, and did eat before them.”

Thursday, September 29

Moleskin 5.2: Rivers

  My first home was Owatonna, Minnesota, a town built on the banks of the Straight River, Straight, or Owatonna, being the name of a Dakota princess who was first healed by mineral springs on a tributary, Maple Creek. I lived there as an infant and remember nothing of it. My second home was in Billings, Montana, however many blocks away from the Yellowstone River: I was a toddler here, and I do not recall anything about my toddler years. Third was Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the mighty Mississippi courses through; we lived in a trailer park just east of the Miss, but my memories are only third party suggestions: I am told I first learned my address here, and being told this enough afterwards I still remember it. Fourth was Maddock, North Dakota, with no rivers of its own but the Big Coulee two miles west and the Sheyenne five miles south. I remember Maddock —our house anyway —but not the rivers. Fifth was New Hope, Minnesota, four miles west again of the Mississippi, still in the days before I had ever heard of Huck Finn.

Wednesday, September 28

V. The Celebration!

  The son, just as he planned, began
   to say, Father, I have sinned against
  The heavens, and in your sight I am
   no longer worthy to be your son,
  But before he reached the begging part
   to work as a servant in the fields
  The father wiped his words away
   and turned toward the servants he
       had hired.
  Bring out my finest robe, he said,
   and give it to my son to wear,
  Let him have rings for his fingers
   and put new shoes upon his feet,
  And then bring out the fatted calf,
   have it quartered, chopped and cut
  Into the finest veal for our table
   that we may eat and celebrate
       the day,
  And then as they prepared the feast
   and as the plates of veal were passed
  The father rose and raised his glass
   and gave a toast to all the house:
  My son was dead, he said, but now
   he is alive!  My son was lost
  But here again, you see, my son
   is found!  My little one is home
      at last!

Tuesday, September 27

IV. The Road Home

  But when no one gave him anything,
   he started talking to himself,
  Questioning, remembering
   how servants working for his father
  Always had enough to eat,
   and bread to spare, he said, and here
  Am I, so far away from where
   I was, with less than I need to stay
  I will stand, he said, and go back to
   my father. Father, I will say,
  I have sinned against the heavens, and you
   have seen me.  I have turned away,
  But now I fall before you, one
   no longer worthy to be called your son.
  Instead, I beg you, let me be
   one of the hired servants in
      your fields.

  And the son arose and started walking
   back towards his father’s place,
  But when he was still a long way off
   the father saw the suffering of
  His child and he was greatly moved.
   He ran to him with open arms,
  He fell on him with a strong embrace,
   he held him to his heart and kissed
      his face.

Monday, September 26

III. The Prodigal Son

  There was a man who had two sons
   and the one who was the younger stood
  Up to his father.  Father, he said,
   give me the part of your estate
  I would inherit now, as I
   can’t wait around for you to die.
  And so the father, still alive,
   took what he had and gave it to
      his sons.
  Then, with his share, the younger son,
   who could have been a blessed one
  And always had a place to stay,
   within a week was out the door,
  Taking a different road and looking for
   a distant land, somewhere to waste
  The substance of his portion, and
   the road took him where he meant
      to go,
  And there he lived in riotous
   abandon, spending all he had,
  But then a mighty famine came
   and he became a beggar of the land,
  An immigrant among the citizens,
   consigned to work their fields
  And feed their pigs, willing to line
   his belly with the husks left for
      the swine.

Sunday, September 25

II. The Housekeeper

  “So will the angels cheer in heaven, and
          how much more their cheering for
  The one returning soul than for
   the ninety nine who never wandered?”
  And even as the Pharisees
   continued with their murmuring, he
  Kept talking to them, questioning
   and challenging them with parables.
  “Imagine you are a woman now
     with only ten coins to your name,
  And then suppose you find one day
   that you had lost one of your coins:
  Which of you would not turn up the lights
   and sweep out your entire house,
  Looking everywhere until you
   found that one lost piece of silver,
  And in that coin would you not find
   the grounds to dance, a cause to call
  Your friends and neighbors, all of them,
   to share the joy with you?  I tell you,
  So do heaven’s angels sing and dance,
   God’s very name pronounced
  With celebration every time
   a single sinner simply turns

Saturday, September 24

I. The Shepherd

  “What one of you who murmur,
     disapproving of the company I keep,
  Who grumble at these sinners
     drawing near that they may hear,
  Who complain about the publicans
     so hungry for my words and
  Would not have me receive them
     at my table —which of you,
  If you were a hired shepherd, and
     you lost one of your hundred sheep,
  Would not leave the ninety nine
     in the ambles of your wilderness
  To go after the one who strayed
     into the mountains?  Wouldn’t you
  Be relieved to find your little one,
     to lift him up, to carry him on
        your shoulders?

  And who among you, coming home
     with news to share with everyone,
  Would hesitate to call your friends
     and neighbors round to celebrate
  The simple fact that you had found
     that little one that you had sought
  And could restore him to the good
     folds of your pasture?  Tell me,
        would you not?”

Friday, September 23

TWL, Lines 331-359 Thirty Good Lines

  331 Here is no water but only rock
  332 Rock and no water and the sandy road
  333 The road winding above among the mountains
  334 Which are mountains of rock without water
  335 If there were water we should stop and drink
  336 Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
  337 Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
  338 If there were only water amongst the rock
  339 Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
  340 Here one can neither stand not lie nor sit
  341 There is not even silence in the mountains
  342 But dry sterile thunder without rain
  343 There is not even solitude in the mountains
  344 But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
  345 From doors of mudcracked houses
  346      If there were water

  347   And no rock
  348   If there were rock
  349   And also water
  350   And water
  351 A spring
  352 A pool among the rock
  353 If there were the sound of water only
  354   Not the cicada
  355   And dry grass singing
  356   But sound of water over a rock
 357   Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
  358   Drop drop drip drop drop drop drop
  359   But there is no water

  331. THIRTY GOOD LINES: T.S. Eliot wrote to Ford Madox Ford in 1923 that there were “about thirty good lines in The Waste Land, can you find them?” Ford declined to take the bait, so Eliot answered himself in a subsequent letter: “As for the lines I mention, you need not scratch your head over them. They are the 29 lines of the water-dripping song in the last part.” See Eliot, Letters II. A few years earlier, in Reflections on Contemporary Poetry, Egoist (November 1917), Eliot had called Ford’s poem Antwerp (1917) “the only good poem I have met with on the subject of the war.” Ford’s poem graphically describes “the trench of gray mud ...turned to a brown purple drain...” See note 61 for references to the war within The Waste Land.

  343. LIMBO: Compare the absence of silence, of solitude and the presence of a dry thunder to the suspended state of limbo in Dante, Inferno 4.41-42 (see note 64).  See also Brooks (note 330), comparing these descriptions to the different sounds and presences to come, when a third will begin to walk beside the travelers (lines 360-366) and the thunder will bring rain and words with meaning (lines 400-423).

  357. THE HERMIT-THRUSH: Eliot: “This is Turdus aonalaschkae pallasii, the hermit-thrush which I have heard in Quebec County. Chapman says (Handbook of Birds in Eastern North America) ‘it is most at home in secluded woodland and thickety retreats.... Its notes are not remarkable for variety or volume, but in purity and sweetness of tone and exquisite modulation they are unequalled.’ Its ‘water-dripping song’ is justly celebrated.”  See Frank M. Chapman, Handbook (1896).

  Lines 331-359 present the longest stretch of the poem in Eliot’s own voice without apparent allusions or the need for translation, but the hermit thrush's call at the end of this passage represents  the hint of, or the longing for, a third voice. This itself alludes to  the hermit thrush in Whitman, Memories:

  In the swamp in secluded recesses,
  A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
  Solitary the thrush,
  The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
  Sings by himself a song.
  Song of the bleeding throat,
  Death's outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
  If thou wast not granted to sing thou would'st surely die.)
  Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
  Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the
  Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.
  Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
  Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
  O liquid and free and tender!
  O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!
  You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
  Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.
  Passing the visions, passing the night,
  Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands,
  Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my
  Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-altering
  As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling,
  flooding the night,
  Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet
  again bursting with joy,
  Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
  As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
  Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
  I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with
  I cease from my song for thee,
  From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing
      with thee,
  O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.
  Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
  The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
  And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
  With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full
      of woe,
  With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
  Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to
      keep, for the dead I loved so well,
  For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this
      for his dear sake,
  Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
  There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.”

Thursday, September 22

Moleskin 5.1: Studio

  As I write this, I am sitting on the edge of a river: yes, I am still here. But it is not the same river. My place is the same, for the most part, and my position has barely shifted over time, other than to keep balance and circulation, but the river: maybe this is what my story is really about: the water of seasons, the gravity of upstream, the quiet velocity of now; the accumulation of purpose, the weight of every moment and the immensity of destiny. For the moment, the river seems peaceful enough, but history cuts the river bed and current moves every drop. The course changes without consultation and proceeds past more bends than one can ever see from a random perch. And I, sitting here Siddharta-like, or Huck Finn-like, am constantly thinking of venturing downstream, crossing to the other side or immersing myself and trying not to be seen.

Wednesday, September 21


  September.  I once stayed with you because
  I thought I could distinguish right from wrong:
  The kids were growing up, you had just lost
  Your job and all your confidence was down;
  Yet you hated me and took it out on me
  For all that was and all that couldn’t be,
  And as I watched the shades of summer turn
  I knew I couldn’t leave you on your own.
  A dozen seasons later, your new job
  Is thriving and your confidence is strong,
  The kids are grown up more and anymore
  You’ll be all right.  You don’t need me around.
  I turn to watch the sunlight slip away
  And see the time diminish every day
  And still I stay with you, but now because
  I dread the thought of being left alone.

  The equinox is fleeting, but I try
  To hold on to its balance for as long
  As tilting worlds allow; we lean away
  From warmth and I can feel the harder ground
  Of colder days to come, and even now
  I know I should move on, or move somehow,
  But as the autumn winds blow through the leaves
  Of September my cold feet turn into stone.
 I hope that there may never be an end
  To anything, from dawn to dusk to dawn;
  That fall is just a stop along the way
  To winter; that beyond this we are bound
  Eventually to see another spring
  And then wherever time and fate will bring
  Us, traveling together or apart
  But never, through these autumn woods, alone.

Tuesday, September 20


  Whiplash migration, filling the branches
  one day, on their way the next, so quick it seems,
  four weeks flying by as fast as the flash
  of their yellow posterity, moving in dreams
  from south to north to south again with stops
  and light refreshments.  Free music.  Dancing.
  Life, nothing fancy, but sweet all the same,
  the simplest warble and a two-step shuffle,
  easy going charity with yellow patches
  on the elbows of their sleeves and in the press
  of their hats.  Plain folk simply passing through
  with an unexpected splash of country
  flare, nothing fancy but sweet all the same,
  and only memories with the next flight south.

Monday, September 19

Baptism Of Joshua Paul

  A Sermon by Joseph Vold, October 12, 1969
  Text: John 9: 24-41
  If we had a person here in our midst who had been blind from the day he was born, and now on this day, he hears the word of a physician —and follows it and of a sudden —he is no longer blind but can see —SAY WE WITNESSED THIS we would be overwhelmed by the event.  He was blind, but now he can see —oh,! we would be amazed by the fact!  We would be mightily impressed, and would never forget it.  BUT THAT HAPPENED HERE TODAY IN OUR VERY MIDST.  Through baptism.  It has happened to this child, Joshua Paul.
  In the catacombs of Rome where early Christians gathered to hide from hostile authorities to keep from being killed and to live and to worship, they left on the walls frescoes, pictures of what they treasured.  The story of the man born blind appears seven times in catacomb art, most frequently as an illustration of Christian baptism.  This story was taken by the early church as an interpretation of what happens in baptism.
  When the early Christians were about to baptize a person who had been prepared and was brought forward to be a member of the Body of Christ, i.e. the church, they read Chapter 9 of John —the story of the man born blind and healed through washing —they read this chapter together.
  The early Church Fathers referred to baptism as the washing away of blindness.  Tertullian opened his book (or tract) on baptism with the words ‘Happy is the sacrament of our water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set  free unto eternal life.’
  Augustine comments on our text:  “This blindman stands for the human race ....if the blindness is lack of faith, then the seeing (illumination) is faith ....  He washes his eyes in that pool which is
  interpreted ‘one who has been sent’; he was baptized in Christ.”
  I would like to draw from the entire ninth chapter of John for our sermon today to show what God does in baptism.  FOR THE MAN BORN BLIND WHO IS MET BY CHRIST AND HIS LOVING ACTION: Instead of darkness or blindness, there is light and ability to see.  There is much stress on the fact that the man in our text was born blind.  It is mentioned —this fact of being blind at birth —no less than seven times.
  Now when we consider a little child —that cuddly little bundle who is so winning —mostly because he is so small and helpless and dependent —we overlook this fact of his being blind.   Unless he is enlightened, unless he receives the vision of God he will remain in darkness —He will not know who he is and what he came into the world for.  But Christ comes and brings enlightenment starting with the washing of baptism.  The one who has the Christ and his light through faith has the vision of God.
  But how can such a little child be enlightened?  He does not know, surely he does not know what is going on.  He cannot have faith or comprehension.  So some will argue.
  The only way this little one is going to know of Christ (have the vision of God) is if the church loves him —and, loving him, teach him of the good news we have.  The first and second —and third lesson —and all the way through the last lesson we teach should be this: God loves you so much that he has adopted you to be his own, and we, the church, love and care for you as a brother.  You start teaching that lesson from the very first day.  We know that an infant child may not understand much but he surely feeds on love —and he is nourished by the love that people can give to him.  The parents can love him just because Christ has loved us and gave His life for us.  The parents can be patient and forgive because Christ forgives us and is patient with us and keeps bringing us back.
  The child is going to know of Christ as the church shows care for him.  The child will know of Christ as people in the church live the life of Christ, live the way of the cross in the community.  He will not know the fullness of the faith as a baby or as a little boy —or as a young man.  BUT LOVE CANNOT FAIL.  He will know someday.  He will know the greatness of what has happened to him in the claim of God in baptism —the miracle of new life —someday I believe that.  I am filled with high hope for him because of the Word of God.
  Now in the ninth chapter of John we see a gradual dawning —an increase in knowledge for this man who received his sight from Jesus.
  The Jews —it is the way of the world with, or against, the baptized —would not accept that Jesus had accomplished the restoring of sight to this blind man.  They hounded the man who had been born blind.  “How were your eyes opened?”  The man Jesus did it.  “Where is he?”  I don’t know.
  Later on they wanted to press him further on this matter so they asked, “What do you say about Jesus?”  The former blind man said:  He is a prophet.
  Now in the part of the chapter that is the text for today the Pharisees (or Jews) are pressing him again and are trying to teach that Christ is not good or able to heal blindness.  The man says plainly to them: I don’t know whether Jesus is a sinner or not, but once I was blind, now I can see.  The man has great power.
  Growing recognition of the fact and the power of Jesus as the one who gives light and goodness in life —This is the thing that happens to the child who is brought up in the baptismal covenant.  He doesn’t know all the answers about Jesus, but he learns of his life and his power —because of what Christ —and the Body of Christ —can do and has done for him.
  When the man who had been born blind answers the Pharisees that someone who does such great things —so good —has got to be from God —he gets clobbered by the Jews.  The baptized, who live by their baptism, may share the same reaction from the world —but they hold fast to Christ who gives light and life.
  Finally this man is confronted again by the Christ who tells him who he is and asks, “Do you believe?”  He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
  The child who is baptized may not know the fullness of the truth of Christ, but as he experiences the power of God through the Church —through loving people as well as the Word and Sacraments —he will one day also fall down and worship Jesus as the Lord.
  He will someday know how much he needed this act of baptism, this washing away of blindness of the natural man.  He will someday know how necessary it was for God to come to him and to give forgiveness and light.  He will know that he passed from blindness to the vision of God through Christ (Once I was blind —now I can see).  He will know it because of the church, the caring, faithful, loving, teaching, acting church.  And he will be glad for the judgment of God.  The judgment of God upon this little one baptized here today is YES, you are my child.  That’s what I want to teach him to know the rest of the years I have to be his earthly father and his brother in the church.  Will you help me to teach him that?

AMEN: YES, YES and it shall be so.

Sunday, September 18

Songs To Listen To

   ...This next piece is inspired by brother Joshua’s persistent Symposian call for submissions of S2L2A&A: songs to listen to again and again. Thank you Josh.  Here is what my kids and I came up with.

  The state of Massachusetts by Drop Kick Murphy
  Back aginst the wall by Cage the Elephant  
  Horchata by Vampire weekend
  Little lion man by Mumford and Sons
  Fool on the hill by The Beatles
  For what its worth by buffolo Springfield
  Pumped up kids by Fosters the People
  Baby you can drive my car by The   Beatles
  Kids by MGMT
  We dont need no education by Pink Floyd  
  If your going to be dumb you got to be tough by Smut Peddler
  I will walk 500 miles by The Proclaimers
  We are young by Fun.

  Beck - Morning
  Samuel Barber - Adagio for Strings, op. 11
  Radiohead - Faust Arp
  Yann Tiersen (Amelie) - Comptine d'un autre été
  Beyoncé - Haunted
  Lana Del Rey - Money Power Glory
  Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk
  Xtreme - Te Extraño
  Die Antwoord - Ugly Boy
  Lana Del Rey - F***ed My Way Up To the Top
  TLC - No Scrubs
  Arctic Monkeys - Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
  Juanes - Fotografía
  Destiny’s Child - Say My Name
  Beck - Turn Away

   1. Adiemus, by YCTC
   2. Forever Young, by Bob Dylan
   3. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts I-V, by Pink Floyd
   4. Tintinabulum, by YCTC
   5. Modern Man, by Arcade Fire
   6. Have a Talk With God, by Stevie Wonder
   7. Modern Love, by David Bowie
   8. Rococo, by Arcade Fire
   9. Widow’s Grove, by Tom Waits
   10. Vincent, by Don McLean
   11. Pictures of You, by The Cure
   12. Take It With Me, by Tom Waits

Saturday, September 17

Meditations of a Waiting Room

  Today we meditated: father, son
  And waited on a Wednesday afternoon
  To see the doctor of attention spans
  Whom we had hoped to meet at four pm
  But found her overbooked and in demand.
  We found ourselves within a waiting room
  Of fellow patients of psychiatry
  (And those of us along for the support)
  For two full hours, and ironically
  Amid the stacks of social magazines
  And with a background television on,
  Among a sampling of the population
  Listening to hear their names be called,
  We meditated. Unexpectedly
  My son, the one who never could sit still,
  Is starting to mature before my eyes.
  He’s waiting here more patiently than me,
  And I begin to wonder anymore
  If he’d been diagnosed with ADD
  A bit to hastily back in the day
  When he was acting all of eight years old
  And telegraphing his apparent need
  For Adderol, if we have come this far
  Again to have his old prescription filled
  More out of habit than necessity,
  And if there isn’t better therapy
  In meditations of a waiting room
  Than medications of amphetamine.

 Today we meditated: everyone
  Who waited with us had a different need,
  A different habit, if their trials be told,
  And yet we seem to be so much the same,
  At least as far as anyone reveals.
  I don’t begrudge the doctor for her role
  In getting us to recognize ourselves
  And realize how simple life can be,
  How we all need this opportunity
  Of time, however given, to reflect
  On simple things, like having empathy
  Or understanding our maturity
  Or sitting in positions of support
  Or being patient in a waiting room.
  My father once was in a waiting room
  For me. The wait was relatively short
  And our trial was a different one to tell,
  A different diagnosis, but the same
  Prognosis: Give it time, give it time.
  The doctor didn’t specify these words
  Or scribble his prescription b.i.d.,
  But as he had my father wait outside
  He talked to me a while, and then he asked
  If I played chess. This took me by surprise,
  But I said yes, and so the troubled teen
  And the Psy.D. played chess while the old man
  Was waiting in the hall, more patiently
  Than I appreciated, until now.

Friday, September 16

TWL, Lines 322-330: After...

  322 After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
  323 After the frosty silence in the gardens
  324 After the agony in stony places
  325 The shouting and the crying
  326 Prison and palace and reverberation
  327 Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
  328 He who was living is now dead
  329 We who were living are now dying
  330 With a little patience

  REORDERING: See line 427: “Shall I at least set my lands in order?” After the disorder of the first four parts of this poem, part five opens with four lines, one for each part, summarizing where we have been so far.  The sections are still out of order for now, but earth, air, fire and water are now revisited with the word “after.” This follows lines 297-280 (“After the event he wept”); see note 279 for what the event may be, but “after,” repeatedly spoken, now suggests an opening willingness to move forward.

  AFTER THE TORCHLIGHT: See the fire of Part III, with its river sweat (line 266), red sails (line 270) and incessant burning (line 308).
  HOLY WEEK is also reflected at lines 322-330, with several specific Gethsemene references (torch, sweat, garden, agony) ; see also notes 71, 321.5, 322, 366 and 393, and see Luke 22: 39-45 (note 0.5):  “And he [Jesus] came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.”

  See also Matthew 26:36 (note 0.5), placing this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; and John 18:3 (note 0.5), adding soldiers’ torches to the scene; and compare these to the torches in Whitman, Memories 6 (see notes 2, 61).

  323. AFTER THE FROST: See the water of Part IV (see note 311.5) and its association with the drowned girl in the hyacinth garden (lines 37 and 38).

  324. AFTER STONY PLACES: See the earth of Part I (see note 0.5), with its stony rubbish (line 20). See also Matthew 13:5 (note 0.5):
  “Some [seeds] fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth.”

  325. AFTER SHOUTING AND CRYING: See the air and talk of Part II (see note 76.5).  “After” is implied here (see note 322), perhaps not uttered to keep with a developing pattern of threes (see note 434).

  330. BEFORE THE EPIPHANY: See Cleanth Brooks, Modern Poetry and the Tradition 7: The Waste Land: Critique of the Myth (1939)., noting the limbo of those “living dying” in split levels of life and death.  See also note 64.  This description of “he”  and “we” also reflects the mood of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (see note 366): in their grieving, before Jesus was revealed to them, they talked to him and walked with him and listened to him and finally asked him to tarry with them longer over a meal, all “with a little patience” (line 330).

Thursday, September 15

Moleskin 4.9: To Be Continued

  The bus rides were round trip tangents, though, that always seemed to bring me back to my summer of unwanted change. But pardon these flash-forwards and circling back again: I am getting ahead of myself and forgetting my lines. And now, my dear other, the point. These shoes you are being asked to try, just to get their feel and fit, will never be your own footwear; maybe they pinch too much or don’t look like anything you’d ever wear. Maybe they’re too old and boring, or maybe they smell with age. So take them off now, and put your own shoes back on: slip into what you know, the life I do not know, and be on your way. Return to your own summer of twelve, or thirteen or fourteen or forty: but please, let me continue. There is still more to the story.

Wednesday, September 14


  Fire, wind, ground and water: we
  have thrived on these, would hold and harness these.
  Science, passion, faith, philosophy:
  we turn to these and would depend on these
  to understand small sparks, short gusts, the mist
  and dust of east and west, of north and south;
  we cling, we clutch and to the death defend
  the corners of existence of and in

  a universe we cannot comprehend,
  nor are these elements we can control,
  the warmth, the breath, the earth, the very blood,
  of fire and wind, of ground and water: we,
  for all we grasp, remain beholden to
  the God of time and space and land and sea.

Tuesday, September 13

Parting The Waters

  A child asked, where was God
  when the Red Sea waters drowned
  the Pharaoh’s men? Never mind
  Moses and the Pharaoh,
  where was God for the soldiers
  who had no choice but to do
  what they were told to do?
  where was God for those
  who didn’t know the rules
  of Passover, whose children
  were killed for the ignorance
  of their parents?

  This from the mouth of a baptized babe:
  Where? Where was God
  for the unchosen, those
  who were drowned before they had
  a chance to be baptized?
  God leads his sheep to drink
  from still waters, but sends
  his enemies to drown in
  a stormy sea,
  but where was God for the soldiers
  without a promised land?
  This from a little lamb, carried
  so long in the shepherd’s arms:
  I do believe in God
  who created all water
  and quenches all thirst
  and cleanses all impurities,  but where was God
  in the desert and the dirt
  of those who did not know
  where to turn
  when the impartial waters fell?
  This from a child who turns to me,
  and what am I to say?
  My mouth, my faith is parched
  and dry and without words,
  except to admit how much
  I do not know,
  but I try to find words anyway:
  Let it be said that in this house
  we talk about God,
  and every thought is a prayer.

Monday, September 12

Tending The Fire

  from Walled Gardens
  I have no argument
     for you, my friend;
  no matter how the fires of
     conviction burn within,
  I shall remain
     conspicuously calm,
  let others recommend the course
     of conversation,
  let them render
     judgment on us all:
  no less convicted,
     they of the open air,
  until the flicker of their flame
     surrenders to the wind.
  For you, my friend,
     I have no argument
  but the wind itself:
     may it ever fuel your dance
  and feed your soul
     and start your turbines turning;
  and that inner fire,
     may it be your self content:
  even as the wind begins
     to rage against you,
  may you ever keep your spirits
     trimmed and burning.

Sunday, September 11

Waking The Wind

  from Walled Gardens
  Those unable to speak their love
     are as cold as hammered steel;
  Those unable to grieve
     are a vacant wind;
  Those who are ungrateful
     are frightened of themselves;
  and those who cannot remember God
     have grown older than the hills.
  Say the name, O wild rose,
     speak the unpronounceable;
  Moisten your lips, move your tongue
     and praise the indescribable;
  Utter the words of every spring
     waking the divine;
  Open your mouth, O wild rose,
     and reveal your hidden gold.

Saturday, September 10

Kissing the Earth

  Dostoevsky Final (Russian 141, 11/30/90, Prof. Rubchak)
  “Go at once...stand at the crossroads, bow down, [and] kiss the earth,” instructed Sonya (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment 433, 1866, tr. David Magarshack, 1951). It was a command heavy with implications, and at first Raskolnikov refused to comply.  What was she asking?
  First, to stand at the crossroads implied that he was to stand at the center of Haymarket Square, the busiest part of the busiest city in Russia.  There he would be where the whole world could see him, making himself completely vulnerable to whatever reaction his confession would bring.  They might laugh, they might scorn and jeer, they might attack him there, or even stone him; they might just pick him up and take him away, never to return again.  But he would have no way of knowing their reaction until he carried out the instruction.
  At the crossroads he would be at St. Petersburg’s point of orientation,  where there would be street signs and mileage and direction signs; and this would also be his own orientation point.   There, based on all the resulting changes in perspective, he would be able to sort things out.
  And he would be able to determine the path before him, for it is at the crossroads that one decides direction.  As much as one tries to plan such decisions ahead of time, it is only at the crossroads that the choices are actually made and the steps actually taken for the journey’s continuation.
 After Sonya spoke these words she offered Raskolnikov a cyprus cross to hang around his neck.  “We’ll suffer together, so let us also bear our cross together,” she said (435).  Here then was another implication of “crossroads.”  Confessing and asking the world for forgiveness is a praiseworthy religious act and a testimony of faith, and yet it is not an easy step to take.  The cross to bear along this road is heavy and entails a deep humiliation; it conjures no magic remedy before the symbolic  crucifixion, no preview of the resurrection.  Yet, Sonya inferred, it was a necessary step for the sinner to take.
  Thus Raskolnikov was to stand at the crossroads: he was to bear his cross of repentance, stand in front of all people, recognize where he stood, and determine his future.

  And he was to kiss the earth: “...the earth which you have defiled,” Sonya said in full (433), implying that at the crossroads he would be making his apology directly to the world.  By murdering, he had not only wronged his particular victims, who now lay under the soil, he had also sinned against all humankind across the globe.
  Furthermore, kissing the earth was a demonstration of the deepest humility.  He was to bow down and prostrate to the world as low as he possibly could, showing with face to the ground that he deferred to everyone.
  By touching the soil this way he would also atune himself with “Holy Mother Earth,” from whence he came, upon which he walked, and whither he was going.  Thus, in one action he would recognize his origin, his existence and his mortality, acknowledging his defilement with respect to all three.
 But finally, kissing the earth is more than a humble, atoning apology.  It is experiencing a purgatory cleansing by bringing sensuality to its fullest: the taste, the smell, the feel of city dirt next to one’s nose and on one’s lips would stir the soul.  And indeed, when Raskolnikov put Sonya’s directions into practice, his sensuality was so dramatic that one observer remarked that he was drunk.  “He simply plunged... into this new and overwhelming sensation... tears gushed from his eyes... and [he] kissed the earth with joy and rapture” (537).

Friday, September 9

TWL, Part V: Understanding

  321.5 V. What The Thunder Said

  Eliot: “In the first part of Part V three themes are employed: the journey to Emmaus, the approach to the Chapel Perilous (see Miss Weston's book) and the present decay of eastern Europe.”  

  For the journey to Emmaus, see lines 328-330 and then 360-366; for the decay of eastern Europe, see lines 367-385; and for the approach to the Chapel Perilous, see lines 386-395. See also Weston, From Ritual To Romance (note 0.2).  These themes, and the more prominent emergence of Eliot’s own voice without allusions (see lines 331-359), will lead to the poem’s “thunder” culmination, beginning at line 396.  After the sections of earth, air, fire and water, this might be called the quintessential “spirit” section of the poem, in which the poet begins to find understanding, or more properly a peace that passes understanding (see note 434).
  THE VOICE OF THUNDER is the culminating metaphor of Prajapati’s lesson in the  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (see note 400), but thunder is also heard at lines 327 and 342.  It is also called upon by Flamineo in note 44, precedes the witches’ entrance at Macbeth 4.1.1 (notes 0.1 and 308) and, while not alluded to directly, is the opening and prevailing “tempestuous sound” in The Tempest (1.1.1).  

  Thunder’s voice is also heard in Revelation 10:4 (note 0.5):
  “And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.”

  See also John 12:27-30 (note 0.5):

  “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say ? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.  Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.”

  And see Job 26:14 (note 0.5):

  “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?”

  Finally, see the "thunder of infinite ululations" in Dante (note 0.1), Inferno 4.1-9:

  “Broke the deep lethargy within my head
  A heavy thunder, so that I upstarted,
  Like to a person who by force is wakened;

  And round about I moved my rested eyes,
  Uprisen erect, and steadfastly I gazed,
  To recognise the place wherein I was.

  True is it, that upon the verge I found me
  Of the abysmal valley dolorous,
  That gathers thunder of infinite ululations.”

Thursday, September 8

Moleskin 4.8: Shortening The Distance

  Our original dad was still in our lives, but from a distance now that was usually shortened to phone calls and letters and a few weeks of vacation time. But suddenly, one Christmas break, I was deemed old enough to get on a Greyhound for the first of a series of year-end visits. It was a sixteen hour night run from Chicago to Minneapolis to Detroit Lakes. The bus culture was more than my siblings could endure, at least not in my care, but for a kid turning thirteen and fourteen it was an adventure my mother and stepfather were willing to allow. On the other end my real dad never questioned their wisdom and was simply happy to see me. And I enjoyed those bus rides, talking for hours with whomever I was seated beside, learning how to sleep sitting up, eating more vending machine food than was good for me, taking curious note of the people who seemed to live in and around bus terminals, but best of all, going to see my dad.

Wednesday, September 7

9. Scratchpad

  (...of a thousand five hundred words.)
  indent.  empty space.  leftover poetry, endless stories,
  Yahweh (simple self pronoun, present tense being)
  variations.  free association.  blank verse.  filler.  everything
  matters, articles, prepositions, objects, conjunctions,
  interjections, river bed metaphors, parched desert similes...
  consciousness streams, trickles, floods, sates, holds. final
  judgment awaits. stillwater, someday. we’re halfway there.

Tuesday, September 6

8. Facepost

  (...and then looking for reason you discover the art...)
  reflection...premise...perception...truth, fundamentally faith
  alone explains God’s nature; thus, man’s (woman’s, child’s)
  ritual immersion, each gender, age, every creed’s splash
  therapy, aqua conscience, awakening, rejuvenation; believe:
  reincarnation, return, rebirth, baptism; sprinkling; accept:
  drowning, spiritual surrender inwards, outwards, upwards:, sacramentally.

Monday, September 5

7. Clipboard

  (..., adjusting the speed and exposure...) 
  cleansing, cleaning, washing, rinsing.  (repeating,
  remembering how mother / other, taught, still teaches me)
  necessary, yes, she says this was, shall always be,
  evermore her favorite time, season, place:  praying amen,
  hearing “heavenagain,” feeling particulate waves,
  letting herself become immobilized, moved, emotional,
  willingly becoming elementary, simplified, soothed.  

Sunday, September 4

6. Quicknote

  (...taking the time, waiting for lighting...)
  yet, everpresent, effervescent reason shows itself now, hinted
  within renegade rays of subtlest sunlight revealing rain-
  water’s constant beauty: sparkling, living, even as it falls:
  you will see green grass again, these angels say, speaking,
  singing hard working droplets they: we’ll roll those heavy
  clouds away, restore your great forgiven sky, clean slated,
  blue, more breathable, renewed.  holy, fresh, clear water!

Saturday, September 3

5. Weblog

  (...better than your cell phone’s“can you hear me now?”...)
  suddenly walking ruins shoes, driving turns weary chore, it’s
  all souls / machines can do keeping rubber feet / wheels moving
  simply getting home, housed, parked, finding anywhere dry,
  accepting anything, settling, seeking temporary cover like
  poor tired refugees, huddled under square box umbrellas
  with fogged windows, streaked panes: our world’s eyes,
  distorted from unwanted tears, saltlessly wondering why

Friday, September 2

TWL, Lines 312-321: Translating the Water Section

  312 Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
  313 Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
  314 And the profit and loss.
  315 A current under sea
  316 Picked his bones in whispers.  As he rose and fell
  317 He passed the stages of his age and youth
  318 Entering the whirlpool.
  319                                           Gentile or Jew
  320 O you who turn the wheel and look windward,
  321 Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

  312. THE PHOENICIAN, it seems, has been dead since his opening appearance (see line 47); and from the start he was also given an enigmatic identity. See note 39, and see lines 47-52, when Madame Sosostris successively introduced the already drowned and pearly-eyed Phoenician Sailor and the one-eyed merchant.  Eliot later suggested, at note 219, that the merchant would melt into the sailor.  Eliot also associated the Phoenician with the hyacinth girl (see note 125) and with the originally pearly eyed Prince Ferdinand (see note 218, referring  to Shakespeare, The Tempest (note 0.1) 1.2.376-402)).  See also note 12 for the Phoenician origins of Queen Dido. Phoenicia literally means “land of purple” in Greek, so named for its purple dye trade.  See note 380.

  314. FORGETTING: A sailor who has drowned is like a merchant who is undone by the mechanics of profit and loss; he has not  only lost the mastery of his environment, he has succumbed to it.

  318. THE WHIRLPOOL: The dead body, rising and falling with the waves, begins to decompose, or “melt,” into the pool of the undercurrents.  Compare the cauldrons of St. Augustine and MacBeth (notes 307 and 308).  The stages of age and youth are behind him now, as are the identities of gender and religion.

  GENTILE OR JEW: The speaker now turns ambivalently to the Gentile or Jew, i.e., one without distinction whether one is in the faith or out of it; compare line 365 (“I do not know whether a man or a woman”). See also Romans 3: 9-10 (note 0.5):

  “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.”
  320. TURNING THE WHEEL: The whirlpool imagery of line 318 continues.  Recall the Wheel card drawn by Madame Sosostris (line 51), but now “you,” the reader, are said to be turning it and looking windward as you go; see note 311.5.

  321. PHLEBAS alludes to Plato’s Philebas, one who held pleasure over intellect, in contrast to Socrates, who put knowledge first.  See Plato, Philebus (360 BCE), tr. Harold N. Fowler (1925), 48e:
  “Socrates: ‘And there are still more who think they are taller and handsomer than they are...’”

  DANS LE RESTAURANT: The entire water section loosely restates the third stanza of Dans le Restaurant (1920), a poem Eliot had originally written in French. Here is my translation, prompted by Eliot’s partial restatement and adding my own take of the “Dans” variations:

 “Phlebas the Phoenician, fifteen days dead,
  Forgot the cry of gulls and the swell of Cornwall
  And the profits and losses and the cargo of tin:
  A current under sea took him far away,
  Past the stages of his former life.
  You have to consider, it was a painful exit;
  All the same, he was a man who once was
  handsome and tall.”

Thursday, September 1

Moleskin 4.7: New World

  Meanwhile, for all the resistance to change this old man was showing, my own world was like Richard Nixon: full of it, with a banner headline of unasked for, unexpected news. Not only the house and the dad, but we were dropped into a new neighborhood with none of my old friends. I had to give up the paper route job, and in the fall I would be going to a new school —a bigger junior high school, no less. We started going to a new church, a Baptist church, where my mom was now working as an organist and where my step-dad was the treasurer. And the change kept a-coming: I was given chores: mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage; and a behavior code: being told to speak more courteously to adults, or better, not to speak at all. At ages eight and five my malleable, eager to please brothers seemed impervious to all this, but they had not had more than incidental friendships and didn’t have to quit a job and were still in the first half of elementary school. But I was almost a teenager, brimming with angst and anger, and I did not want all this change.