Source: people were surprised at my behaviour. I looked at no one, I failed to reply, I did not understand what was said to me: my old friends considered me touched by madness. | THE OLD PROVERBIAL RECOVERY
THE GENTLE WATER BIRD
I pray that I will not come empty to the end of my life. I
pray that I may so live that I will not be afraid to die.
FORGET SAFETY. LIVE WHERE YOU FEAR TO LIVE. DESTROY YOUR REPUTATION. BE NOTORIOUS. ― RUMI
Noonday Axeman – Poem by Les Murray
Axe-fall, echo and silence. Noonday silence.
Two miles from here, it is the twentieth century:
cars on the bitumen, powerlines vaulting the farms.
Here, with my axe, I am chopping into the stillness.
Axe-fall, echo and silence. I pause, roll tobacco,
twist a cigarette, lick it. All is still.
I lean on my axe. A cloud of fragrant leaves
hangs over me moveless, pierced everywhere by sky.
Here, I remember all of a hundred years:
candleflame, still night, frost and cattle bells,
the draywheels’ silence final in our ears,
and the first red cattle spreading through the hills
and my great-great-grandfather here with his first sons,
who would grow old, still speaking with his Scots accent,
having never seen those highlands that they sang of.
A hundred years. I stand and smoke in the silence.
A hundred years of clearing, splitting, sawing,
a hundred years of timbermen, ringbarkers, fencers
and women in kitchens, stoking loud iron stoves
year in, year out, and singing old songs to their children
have made this silence human and familiar
no farther than where the farms rise into foothills,
and, in that time, how many have sought their graves
or fled to the cities, maddened by this stillness?
Things are so wordless. These two opposing scarves
I have cut in my red-gum squeeze out jewels of sap
and stare. And soon, witha few more axe-strokes,
the tree will grow troubled, tremble, shift its crown
and, leaning slowly, gather speed and colossally
crash down and lie between the standing trunks.
And then, I know, of the knowledge that led my forebears
to drink and black rage and wordlessness, there will be silence.
After the tree falls, there will reign the same silence
as stuns and spurns us, enraptures and defeats us,
as seems to some a challenge, and seems to others
to be waiting here for something beyond imagining.
Axe-fall, echo and silence. Unhuman silence.
A stone cracks in the heat. Through the still twigs, radiance
stings at my eyes. I rub a damp brow with a handkerchief
and chop on into the stillness. Axe-fall and echo.
The great mast murmurs now. The scarves in its trunk
crackle and squeak now, crack and increase as the hushing
weight of the high branches heels outward, and commences
tearing and falling, and the collapse is tremendous.
Twigs fly, leaves puff and subside. The severed trunk
slips off its stump and drops along its shadow.
And then there is no more. The stillness is there
as ever. And I fall to lopping branches.
Axe-fall, echo and silence. It will be centuries
before many men are truly at home in this country,
and yet, there have always been some, in each generation,
there have always been some who could live in the presence of silence.
And some, I have known them, men with gentle broad hands,
who would die if removed from these unpeopled places,
some again I have seen, bemused and shy in the cities,
you have built against silence, dumbly trudging through noise
past the railway stations, looking up through the traffic
at the smoky halls, dreaming of journeys, of stepping
down from the train at some upland stop to recover
the crush of dry grass underfoot, the silence of trees.
Axe-fall, echo and silence. Dreaming silence.
Though I myself run to the cities, I will forever
be coming back here to walk, knee-deep in ferns,
up and away from this metropolitan century,
to remember my ancestors, axemen, dairymen, horse-breakers,
now coffined in silence, down with their beards and dreams,
who, unwilling or rapt, despairing or very patient,
made what amounts to a human breach in the silence,
made of their lives the rough foundation of legends-
men must have legends, else they will die of strangeness-
then died in their turn, each, after his own fashion,
resigned or agonized, from silence into great silence.
Axe-fall, echo and axe-fall. Noonday silence.
Though I go to the cities, turning my back on these hills,
for the talk and dazzle of cities, for the sake of belonging
for months and years at a time to the twentieth century,
the city will never quite hold me. I will be always
coming back here on the up-train, peering, leaning
out of the window to see, on far-off ridges,
the sky between the trees, and over the racket
of the rails to hear the echo and the silence.
I shoulder my axe and set off home through the stillness.
I Came to buy a smile—today—
But just a single smile—
The smallest one upon your face
Will suit me just as well—
The one that no one else would miss
It shone so very small—
I’m pleading at the “counter”—sir—
Could you afford to sell—
It’s hard to keep from trying to control the lives of others, especially in a family. We can learn from the man whose friend drove twenty miles to and from work on the freeway every day. “How can you do it?” he asked. “I’ve tried, and I can’t go a mile in such traffic without screaming at the crazy drivers who cut in, go too slow, change lanes. Nobody listens. I’d lose my mind if I had to do it your way.” His friend replied, “Your trouble is trying to drive every car around you. I relax and drive only one car–my own.”
As the boat sometimes carries the cart across the stream and the cart sometimes transports the boat to the river bank, so men are subject to reverses in fortune; sometimes they are rich and support others and sometimes they are poor and become dependent on the help of others.
All the things that will never be
The dreams never to be realised
Further simple things we should have shared
You are gone, there will be no more
No more Honeysuckle moments
“They lay on their heathery beds and listened to all the sounds of the night. They heard the little grunt of a hedgehog going by. They saw the flicker of bats overhead. They smelt the drifting scent of honeysuckle, and the delicious smell of wild thyme crushed under their bodies. A reed-warbler sang a beautiful little song in the reeds below, and then another answered.”
Step by step, well directed, we can climb great mountains; even so in promotions; one unguarded step, may prove a frightful disaster to our lives.
“All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.”
The greatest treasure we can seek is wisdom that comes from God
Teach the people of your knowledge, and learn from their knowledge. Hence you would have become adept and learnt that which you do not know
There can be no great smoke arise but there must be some fire. (Lilly).
No better burden can a man carry on the road than a store of common sense.
- Hávamál, st. 10
A reasonable use of intoxicating drink may appear all right ; like a rattlesnake after its fangs are in the flesh, it is all wrong.
That a time of smallness is a time to become great;
And a time of greatness is a time to become small.
For in smallness lies the power to receive
and in receiving lies the power to become great.
And greatness endures only through its power to be small.
In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.. all things tell of Tirawa. All things in the world are two. In our mind we are two — good and evil. With our eyes we see two things — things that are fair and things that are ugly … We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.
“Blessings be on this house,” Granny said, perfunctorily. It was always a good opening remark for a witch. It concentrated people’s minds on what other things might be on this house.”
― Terry Pratchett,
Gary: six years clean, Ipswich, UK
Life is like a party. You invite a lot of people; some go, some join you, some laugh with you, some didn’t come. But in the end, after the fun, there would be a few who would clean up the mess with you. And most of the time, those were the uninvited ones.
“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. Possibly a savoury option would be welcome here too, for example a Scotch egg or a sausage roll.”
Everything has need of reason, and reason has need of experience.
“By the end of the seventies, some nights I was so out of it our road manager, Joe Baptista, would have to carry me onstage. The promoter would be sitting there in the dressing room with a look of horror on his face. I’m almost comatose, he’s hyper-ventilating. He thinks he’s presenting the legendary cash cow Aerosmith, and now he’s going to lose his shirt because the lead singer’s down for the count. Is he dead or alive? What am I going to do? “You’d better get him on that stage. I don’t know how he’s going to do this how, but we’ve got too many kids out there.”
Not to worry. The minute my feet hit the stage, I’m off and running. I don’t know how it happens, but hey, you get up there in front of twenty thousand people and it’s a high in itself, it’s a charged space.
Still, the train kept a rollin’ and we kept getting high until one night in late ’78, I don’t know where we were, maybe in Springfield, Illinois, I blacked out in the middle of “Reefer Headed Woman.”
I got a reefer headed woman
She fell right down from the sky
Well, I got to drink me two fifths of whiskey
Just to get half as high
When the —
And then I hit the stage like a fish out of water.”
― Steven Tyler,