contemplating a sunset with… Jens Jacobsen

isolation retreat 76th day

excerpt: Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne. A Project Gutenberg of Australia ebook. *

“Niels Lyhne … was not in his poems; he merely put the verses together. But now a change came over him. Now that he wooed a woman and wanted her to love him–him, Niels Lyhne of Lönborggaard, who was twenty-three years old, walked with a slight stoop, had beautiful hands and small ears, and was a little timid, wanted her to love him and not the idealized Nicolaus of his dreams, who had a proud bearing and confident manners, and was a little older–now he began to take a vital interest in this Niels whom he had hitherto walked about with as a slightly unpresentable friend. He had been so busy decking himself with the qualities he lacked that he had not had time to take note of those he possessed, but now he began to piece his own self together from scattered memories and impressions of his childhood and from the most vivid moments of his life. He saw with pleased surprise how it all fitted together, bit by bit, and was welded into a much more familiar personality than the one he had chased after in his dreams. This figure was far more genuine, far stronger, and more richly endowed. It was no mere dead stump of an ideal, but a living thing, full of infinite shifting possibilities playing through it and shaping it to a thousandfold unity. Good God, he had powers that could be used just as they were! He was Aladdin, and there was not a thing he had been storming the clouds for but it had fallen right down into his turban.”

skyscape: Nikon D750 f/8 1/125s 92mm 400 ISO edited Capture One 20

*This ebook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/license.html.

contemplating a sunset with…lens-artists (delicate)

isolation retreat 75th day

I’ve found that my daily walks through a community park has become impacted by the increasing number of people who are gathering without masks, disregarding distance recommendations, and (confusingly) allowing their dogs to run free of their leash.

Seemingly, resistance to limitations has no boundaries.

I’m a bit more anxious about dogs especially when walking with my great granddaughter as we have the choice to distance ourselves, refrain from touching our faces, and engage in the ritual of washing hands and masks upon returning home. Dogs on the other hand are know to bite… and a bite will result in an emergency room visit and a confrontation that most likely will be tinted with ugly aggression. These imagined potentialities serve to intensify anxiety even more so than the possibility of stepping into dog poop and imagined consequences… Oh dear!

So…with the intention to journey through this delicate and uncertain time with a mindfulness that focused more on gratitude than on negative thoughts and feelings, I have chosen to spend my evenings photographing sunsets from the security of my veranda.

Gatha for Donning a Mask

Putting on my mask
I think of protecting and caring for my community.
Seeing someone wearing their mask
I think of how they are caring for me.
Smiling at each other with our eyes,
waving hello with our hands
We are even more connected in care
Despite the distance. ~ Prajna Choudhury

skyscape photography: Nikon D750 f/8 1/25s 32mm 400 ISO edited in Capture One

This post was inspired by Leya’s lens-artists photo challenge: delicate. Thank you Leya and all the lens-artists photographers.

contemplating a sunset with…w h auden

isolation retreat 74th day

W H Auden: “Refugee Blues”

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew;
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said:
‘If you’ve got no passport, you’re officially dead’;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall we go today?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
‘If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread’;
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: ‘They must die’;
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

Moving Poems, Refugee Blues by W H Auden, by Dave Bonta

Set to the verses of W.H. Auden’s 1939 poem, the multi-award winning “Refugee Blues” charts a day in ‘the jungle’, the refugee camp outside Calais. More intimate and unlike much of what has been seen in the mass media, this documentary poem counterpoints the camp’s harsh reality of frequent clashes with the French riot police with its inhabitants’ longing for a better future.

skycape photography: Nikon D750 f/8 1/400s 150mm 400 ISO edited in Capture One and Photoshop

contemplating a sunset with…thich nhat hanh

isolation retreat 73rd day

hello cloud

excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No fear (pdf file)

“… Sometimes people ask you: ‘When is your birthday?’ But you might ask yourself a more interesting question: “Before that day which is called my birthday, where was I?’


“Ask a cloud: ‘What is your date of birth? Before you were born, where were you?’


“If you ask the cloud, ‘How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?’ you can listen deeply and you may hear a reply. You can imagine the cloud being born. Before being born it was the water on the ocean’s surface. Or it was in the river and then it became vapor. It was also the sun be- cause the sun makes the vapor. The wind is there too, helping the water to become a cloud. The cloud does not come from nothing; there has been only a change in form. It is not a birth of something out of nothing.


“Sooner or later the cloud will change into rain or snow or ice. If you look deeply into the rain, you can see the cloud. The cloud is not lost; it is transformed into rain, and the rain is transformed into grass and the grass into cows and then to milk and then into the ice cream you eat. Today if you eat an ice cream, give yourself time to look at the ice cream and say: ‘Hello, cloud! I recognize you.’ By doing that, you have insight and understanding into the real nature of the ice cream and the cloud. You can also see the ocean, the river, the heat, the sun, the grass and the cow in the ice cream.
Looking deeply, you do not see a real date of birth and you do not see a real date of death for the cloud. All that happens is that the cloud transforms into rain or snow. There is no real death because there is always a continuation. A cloud continues the ocean, the river and the heat of the sun, and the rain continues the cloud.


“Before it was born, the cloud was already there, so today, when you drink a glass of milk or a cup of tea or eat an ice cream, please follow your breathing. Look into the tea or the ice cream and say hello to the cloud. …”

skycape photography: hello cloud Nikon D750 f/8 1/15s 72mm 400 ISO edited in Capture One and Photoshop

contemplating a sunset with…rilke

isolation retreat 72nd day

breaking through

excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. Trans: MD Herter Norton

“I want to talk to you again… You have had many and great sadnesses, which passed. And you say that even this passing was hard for you and put you out of sorts. But, please, consider whether these great sadnesses have not rather gone right through the center of yourself? Whether much in you has not altered, whether you have not somewhere, at some point of your being, undergone a change while you were sad? Only those sadnesses are dangerous and bad which one carries about among people in order to drown them out; like sicknesses that are superficially and foolishly treated they simply withdraw and after a little pause break out again the more dreadfully; and accumulate within one and are life, are unloved, spurned, lost life, of which one may die. Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, and yet a little way beyond the outworks of our divining, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidences than our joys. For they are moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent. …”

skycape photography: breaking through Nikon D750 f/8 1/80s 190mm 400 ISO edited in Capture One

night clouds began to settle in…

“He fell asleep, and this is what he dreamed.

“The long golden rays seemed to turn into the bars of a cage. Yes, he was in a huge cage! He tried frantically to get out! He beat against the bars! Then he saw what looked like the roots of trees, and brown tree trunks, a grove all around the cage. But the trees moved and stepped about, and, looking up the trunks, instead of leaves he saw feathers, and still farther, sharp beaks, and then bright eyes looking at him. They were birds!

“What he had thought were the roots of trees were their claws, and the trunks of the trees were their legs. But what enormous birds! They were as big as men, while he was as small as a bird.

“‘Let me out!’ he shouted. ‘Don’t you know I am the Emperor, and every one must obey me? Let me out, I say!’

“‘Ah, he is beginning to sing,'” said one bird to another.

“‘Not a very musical song. Too shrill by far! Take my advice, wring his neck and roast him. He would make a tender, juicy morsel for our supper.’

“‘Oh, let me out! Please, please let me out!’ cried the poor Little Emperor in terror.

“He is singing more sweetly now,” remarked one of the birds. 

“‘Too loud! Quite ear-splitting!’ said a lady bird, fluffing out her breast feathers and lifting her wings to show how sensitive she was.

“‘If he were mine I should pluck him. His little yellow silk trousers would line my nest so softly.’

“‘Oh, please, please set me free!’

“‘Really, his song is growing quite charming! But one can’t stand listening to it all day.’

“And with a great whir and flap and rustle of wings the birds flew away and left him in his cage, alone.

“He called for help and threw himself against the bars until he was exhausted. Then bruised, panting, his heart nearly breaking out of his body, he lay on the floor of the cage. Finally, growing hungry and thirsty, he looked in his seed and water cups, drank a little lukewarm water, and ate a dry bread crumb. Now and then birds came and looked at him. Some of them tried to catch his pigtail with their beaks or claws.

“Next day the Little Emperor was thoughtful. Could it be, he wondered, that a little bird’s nest was as dear to it as his own bed with its rainbow coverlets and its moon and stars was to him? That a little bird liked ripe berries and cold brook water as much as he liked ripe peaches and tea with jasmine flowers? That a little bird was as frightened when he tried to catch its tail in his fingers as he was when the birds tried to catch his pigtail?

“And then he thought of how he had felt when the lady bird had wanted his pantaloons to line her nest, and, hot with shame, he remembered his glistening jewel-bright blue cloak made of thousands of kingfishers’ feathers. It had made him miserable to think of their taking his clothes, but suppose his clothes grew on him as their feathers did on them? How would he have felt then, hearing the bird say: “I should pluck him. His little silk trousers would line my nest so softly’?”

“He went to bed thinking about his little brown bird, and before he shut his eyes he made up his mind to set it free in the morning.

“Then he fell asleep, and once again he dreamed that he was in the golden cage.

“Whir-rr! One of the great birds flew down by the cage door. With his claw he unfastened it – opened it! 

“Oh, how exciting! The Little Emperor tore out, so afraid he would be stopped and put back in the cage!

“Oh, how he ran across the room and through the open door! Free! He was free! Tears rushed to his eyes, and his heart felt as if it would burst with happiness.

“But it was winter…”

cited: The Dream Coach
by Anne Parrish, 1888-1957 and Dillwyn Parrish, 1894-1941.
New York: The Macmillan company, 1924. Copyright not renewed. 

68th day of self isolation 

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/400s 135 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20

lie without waking…

…In infinite succession light and darkness shift,

And years vanish like the morning dew.

Man’s life is like a sojourning,

His longevity lacks the firmness of stone and metal.

For ever it has been that mourners in their turn were mourned,

Saint and Sage,—all alike are trapped.

Seeking by food to obtain Immortality

Many have been the dupe of strange drugs.

Better far to drink good wine

And clothe our bodies in robes of satin and silk. …

The above 12th poem is from a series known as the Nineteen Pieces of Old Poetry. Some have been attributed to Mei Shēng (first century b.c.), and one to Fu I (first century a.d.). They are manifestly not all by the same hand nor of the same date. Internal evidence shows that No. 3 at least was written after the date of Mei Shēng’s death. These poems had an enormous influence on all subsequent poetry, and many of the habitual clichés of Chinese verse are taken from them.

cited: Trans: Arthur Waley, A hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems. Project Gutenberg. This ebook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/license.html.

66th day of self isolation 

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/25s 32 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20 and Photoshop