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.

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

the man who dreamed of fairies*

There was once a man who dreamt he went to Heaven:

His dream-body soared aloft through space.

He rode on the back of a white-plumed crane,

And was led on his flight by two crimson banners.

Whirring of wings and flapping of coat tails!

Jade bells suddenly all a-tinkle!

Half way to Heaven, he looked down beneath him,

Down on the dark turmoil of the World.

Gradually he lost the place of his native town…

~Po Chü

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.

65th day of self isolation 

Skyscape photograph Nikon D750 f/8 1/80s 92 mm 400 ISO edited: Capture One 20

*Po Chü’s (AD 772-846) poem is an attack on the Emperor Hsien-tsung, a.d. 806-820, who “was devoted to magic.” A Taoist wizard told him that herbs of longevity grew near the city of T’ai-chou. The Emperor at once appointed him prefect of the place, “pour lui permettre d’herboriser plus à son aise” (Wieger, Textes III, 1723). When the censors protested, the Emperor replied: “The ruin of a single district would be a small price to pay, if it could procure longevity for the Lord of Men.”

the distant parting

the distant parting

III. 1. The Distant Parting

“Long ago there were two queens* called Huang and Ying. And they stood on the shores of the Hsiao-hsiang, to the south of Lake Tung-t’ing. Their sorrow was deep as the waters of the Lake that go straight down a thousand miles. Dark clouds blackened the sun. Shōjō** howled in the mist and ghosts whistled in the rain. The queens said, ‘Though we speak of it we cannot mend it. High Heaven is secretly afraid to shine on our loyalty. But the thunder crashes and bellows its anger, that while Yao and Shun are here they should also be crowning Yü. When a prince loses his servants, the dragon turns into a minnow. When power goes to slaves, mice change to tigers.

“’Some say that Yao is shackled and hidden away, and that Shun has died in the fields.

“’But the Nine Hills of Deceit stand there in a row, each like each; and which of them covers the lonely bones of the Double-eyed One, our Master?’

“So the royal ladies wept, standing amid yellow clouds. Their tears followed the winds and waves, that never return. And while they wept, they looked out into the distance and saw the deep mountain of Tsang-wu.

“’The mountain of Tsang-wu shall fall and the waters of the Hsiang shall cease, sooner than the marks of our tears shall fade from these bamboo-leaves.’”

Cited:

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Poet Li Po, by Arthur Waley and Bai Li This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere 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 License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org

Notes:

*These queens were the daughters of the Emperor Yao, who gave them in marriage to Shun, and abdicated in his favour. Shun’s ministers conspired against him and set “the Great Yü” on the throne. A legend says that the spots on the bamboo-leaves which grow on the Hsiang River were caused by the tears of these two queens

**A kind of demon-monkey

Skyscape photography at sunset on 62nd day of self isolation – Nikon D750 f/8 1/640 90mm 400 ISO edited Capture One 20

evening contemplations

Safer at Home: 5th day plus day 46

…the fairest dreams and the deepest longings do not add an inch to the stature of the human soul.

Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne Trans: Hanna Astrup Larsen, Project Gutenberg of Australia
sunset… April 28, 2020

“She loved poetry.

“But the poems! They teemed with new ideas and profound truths about life in the great outside world, where grief was black, and joy was red; they glowed with images, foamed and sparkled with rhythm and rhyme. They were all about young girls, and the girls were noble and beautiful–how noble and beautiful they never knew themselves. Their hearts and their love meant more than the wealth of all the earth; men bore them up in their hands, lifted them high in the sunshine of joy, honored and worshiped them, and were delighted to share with them their thoughts and plans, their triumphs and renown. They would even say that these same fortunate girls had inspired all the plans and achieved all the triumphs.

“She lived on poems, dreamed poems, and put her faith in them above everything else in the world. Parents, sisters and brothers, neighbors and friends–none of them ever said a word that was worth listening to. Their thoughts never rose above their land and their business; their eyes never sought anything beyond the conditions and affairs that were right before them.

“Why might not she herself be such a girl? They were thus and so–and they never knew it themselves. How was she to know what she really was? And the poets all said very plainly that this was life, and that it was not life to sit and sew, work about the house, and make stupid calls.

“When all this was sifted down, it meant little beyond a slightly morbid desire to realize herself, a longing to find herself, which she had in common with many other young girls with talents a little above the ordinary. It was only a pity that there was not in her circle a single individual of sufficient distinction to give her the measure of her own powers. There was not even a kindred nature. So she came to look upon herself as something wonderful, unique, a sort of exotic plant that had grown in these ungentle climes and had barely strength enough to unfold its leaves; though in more genial warmth, under a more powerful sun, it might have shot up, straight and tall, with a gloriously rich and brilliant bloom. Such was the image of her real self that she carried in her mind. She dreamed a thousand dreams of those sunlit regions and was consumed with longing for this other and richer self, forgetting–what is so easily forgotten–that even the fairest dreams and the deepest longings do not add an inch to the stature of the human soul.

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

sunset…April 28, 2020: Nikon D750 f/8 1/30s 45mm 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.

in the distance…

Stay at Home Order … day 5 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

Seeping through the dawn,

the voice

of a Canadian goose–

in the distance…alone

mountain village in spring

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

“The counselor was a friend of nature, nature was something quite special, nature was one of the finest ornaments of existence. The councilor patronized nature, he defended it against the artificial; gardens were nothing but nature spoiled, but gardens laid out in elaborate style were nature turned crazy. There was no style in nature, providence had wisely made nature natural, nothing but natural. Nature was that which was unrestrained, that which was unspoiled. But with the fall of man civilization had come upon mankind; now civilization had become a necessity; but it would have been better, if it had not been thus. The state of nature was something quite different, quite different. The councilor himself would have had no objection to maintaining himself by going about in a coat of lamb-skin and shooting hares and snipes and golden plovers, and grouse and haunches of venison and wild boars. No, the state of nature really was like a gem, a perfect gem.” (cited: Project Gutenberg’s Mogens and Other Stories, by Jens Peter Jacobsen, pg 7)

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