Monday, August 31, 2009

the clouds of dawn

you've probably experienced the long nights . . .

the lonely walk-around-the-house wondering why and whatever nights . . .

the nights when your thoughts are filled
with everything that is sad
or worrisome
or that needs resolving quickly . . .

lists.
insistent lists!

i get those every so often . . .

and when i do,
i've noticed that i don't like the dark.

i also don't like the artificiality of a light "turned on".

and while i wish for the sun . . .
the sun takes forever to rise
and then arrives far too early . . . .

and without exception,
when the sun rises and
i realize that the day has begun
and i'm unprepared . . .
then
i wish
to be in a simpler place,
in a simpler time . . .

come with me for a moment.


at last came the blessed dawn
and the mist lay like a vasty shining cloud on the place,
but as the sun swam up,
full of power and warmship . . .
"lifting mist"

not to be gainsayed,
the mist came loose all in a piece,
and lifted slow,
till there was a space betwixt its under side and the mere,
where the coots swam,
like bees running about between two boards.
"morning breaks"

then one half of the tree trunks came free,
so that the forest seemed to be mounded up with snow.
it lifted and lifted,
and at last went into the sky,
and failed amid the clouds of dawn.
"a summer place"


then the clouds faded,
and there were only the proper heavens,
blue as bird's eye.

all artwork john daniel neubauer
all italicized text mary webb

44 comments:

Kathleen said...

Steven--

Your blog just gets more and more inspired. What an oasis of beauty, and thoughtfulness, and peace.

It's been some time since I've had a night like you describe. And for that I am incredibly grateful. I must figure out why that is the case. So thank you for reminding me, because I love discovering when something big has change, and getting a good night's sleep is BIG.

These images and words are extraordinary. Poetry, perfectly illuminated.

Thank you

~ Kathleen

Nancy said...

Very beautiful - "full of power and warmship"

I wonder how many are walking and worrying in the middle of the night these days? It seems to be a particularly worrisom time, at least here in the US.

Great post.

Sixpence and a Blue Moon said...

A familiar experience, long nights, they visit more often than I like. Strangely, my brain wants to use the night to reflect on the entire day, week, month, ...life - a time to try and find solutions to problems that I was never able to fix anyway, and there I lay, wishing for the sun to find its way into the morning. When it does finally arrive all bright eyes and bushy tailed, I wonder why it decided to arrive just about the time I find sleep. And every now and then, there are those nights when I find my mind wandering about some of my favorite streets of Barcelona, sitting at a cafĂ© in Paris and listening to stories by some of the great artist from long ago, or dancing in the rain under the midnight moon in Vienna. These nights could last…

I’m always wishing for a simpler time and a simpler place. I just never know when it was or where it is.

Beautiful art!

Thanks for sharing, Steven.

xoxo

Alaine said...

I know what you mean; I've had nights like those and have struggled through the day following. Now I get up, make a hot milk and read for an hour or so until I'm drowsy again.

I love those misty pics and must go and read more Mary Webb.

Thanks Steven, hope you sleep tonight!

Rachel Fenton said...

How lovely to rest my sad and tired eyes upon such yearning images - the surface of that lake longs to be broken...

Rinkly Rimes said...

Beautiful poetry, beautiful pictures. And you captured sleeplessness so well! The artificial light never works.

Phoenix said...

Beautifully expressed.. both by you and by John D. Neubauer and Mary Webb.
Often times, I am unprepared for the bright morning that follows a dark, gloomy night.. I end up not being happy either in darkness or in light. Sometimes, externalities worry me so much, that I forget all that is inside of me. I was told that whatever happens to me, happens because I choose it so... but I don't understand how I could have chosen to have these moments....?

Abraham Lincoln said...

Quite an interesting post, Steven. It is almost like one I just came from in Canada. Words that described the season -- getting ready for winter. These pictures remind me of that time too.

Thanks for your visit to my Pick a Peck of Pixels Blog and for your comment there about the squirrel. Pick a Peck of Pixels

steven said...

hello kathleen, the walk around nights are more common during the working portion of my year. i know why. my body and my mind both get "wound" fairly tightly in the course of attending to my teaching to the degree i choose. it's one of the prices. the mind doesn't turn off. the more joyful walk around nights are those where my mind is so busy thinking and creating that it can't shift over to dreams. those are the nights where my journal, my blog, my notebook and my sketchbook become really important!! have a kind day. steven

steven said...

hello nancy, i love mary webbs use of words in their simplest form because they suddenly become incredibly rich. "warmship" leapt out at me off the page also. i know that many people are up in the night for many reasons. i remember in high schol(early seventies) we were told that at this point in human history, our biggest challenge would be to decide what we would do with all of our free time!!! honest!! it was right in the textbook!!! ha!! have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

sixpence - thanks for this rich comment!! you seem to recognize a lot of things about yourself including the simple fact that what has passed can't be altered. but your mind looks for ways in which it could have been better. i think that's more common than not. your comment also suggests a rich life filled with amazing experiences and that's a gift all on its own. as for the quieter, gentler place? well for you - (and i) - at this point it exists purely in our heads - memories and imagination melding. i've always imagined a cabin by a lake. i place myself there on my most difficult nights. have a peaceful day sixpence. steven

steven said...

hello alaine - thanks!!! when the autumn approaches read more mary webb, tolkien, thomas hardy, dickens, mervyn peake all the authors who "feel" to me like autumn days and nights. i was really surprised to come across the artwork of neubauer - his work is new to me but somehow fit the text and my thinking so well. i love serendipitous moments like that. have a lovely day - did you get snow? steven

steven said...

hello rachel - i'm sorry to read that you've been sad and tired. these times always pass but somehow when you're inside them - like the long walking around nights - they seem to go on forever. then you wonder how you ever managed. i hope that you have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hello rinkly!!! thanks for dropping by! i tried artificial light - even using the computer to see if i could tire myself out. who's kidding who? i'm already tired right?!! but the dark has always been a problem for me so i have to find a balance. a light somewhere down a hall with a door ajar seems to work. have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

phoenix - good for you!! why would anyone choose something like that? well, i think that it's a consequence, (not a punishment), something that comes from something else that you chose. like working too hard, playing too hard, worrying about things you can do nothing about. the trouble is convincing yourself of all that!!!! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hello abe, yes with autumn approaching we start to think much more deeply about the reality of winter. it shuts down a lot of the sensory world, is a test of mental and physical endurance, taxes people's spirit, and most challenging of all - it's bloody cold!!!! however, there is beauty to be found in it and i'll find that beauty and share it right here!!!!! thanks for your visit abe. have a great day. steven

willow said...

This is such a typical sunny, golden Leo post! It's a bright clear day, with plenty of sunshine, down here this morning, Steven. Hope you're enjoying the same up in your lovely neck of the woods.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Steven, there is something about the last line of many poems that just hits me. ..."only the proper heavens, blue as a bird's eye" beautiful and so vivid!
Also your words: "the nights when your thoughts are filled with everything that is sad or worrisome..." These words make me think of how a friend who just lost her husband of 47 years must be feeling and the words define the loneliness. Thank you. Lizzy

Goldenrod said...

It's on nights like those you described that I have some of my most convoluted dreams. Dreams have a magical way of working out and resolving the problems of the day, but lists? I have to just get up and do something on the list to resolve that one!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Mary Webb? Didn't she write Precious Bane - or have I got the wrong person?
The words were lovely steven - one can only write like that when one stands and experiences the dawn - you could never make it up. The pictures complement the text beautifully too.

steven said...

hello willow - thanks for the leo bit!!!! the "willow forgot about leos support group" has been meeting weekly and has made some astonishing breakthroughs!!! the weather is very similar to these words and images - hazy, cool, almost foggy in the morning, clear and bright in the afternoons but not hot . . .warm and golden. just right for late summer early autumn time. my favourite time! have a lovely time at the manor today willow. steven

steven said...

hi lizzy - gosh you've been all over this blog today - thanks for your great comments!!! the "blue as a bird's eye" line caught me as well. my mum fit the line "sad or worrisome." she was married over fifty years and then my dad flew away. like your friend, that's lots to be sad and worrisome about. see you again. steven

steven said...

hi goldenrod! when i read that i thought - absolutely right you are goldenrod!!! i forgot about that part. my dreams are the richest, most memorable, and crazy when i stay up half the night. they are the easiest to unpack later one. have a peaceful day. steven

steven said...

hello weaver - yes she did write "precious bane" - good for you. i believe that she was deeply immersed in the natural world but i still think it's astonishing that she could render such exquisite portraits using words. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

ellen abbott said...

Beautiful images steven. I confess, being more of a visual person, I don't always read the poetry, but I see it nonetheless.

herhimnbryn said...

So evocative. Beautiful words and images.

Liza said...

"come with me for a moment"
That made me smile. Thank you for that. Your posts are
masterpieces. Bravo.

Linda said...

I always have difficulty sleeping when school is approaching or if I am concerned about lessons I have up coming. It has something to do with trying to figure out the planning and scheduling. Once it's all in place and the year unfolds, I sleep way better. The pictures make me think of the hazy "unknowns" in your teaching year that are about to unfold. Things will look brighter as the year "dawns". You need all the sleep you can get so you are well rested for the munchkins next week. I hope the year ahead is beautiful for you. Sleep soundly. =D

steven said...

hey ellen, it's all good!! i look for words that paint pictures for that reason. i'm a very visual person myself. cool comment!!! have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

hi herhymnbryn -cool handle!!! thanks for your nice comment! it's really nice for me to have this place to shape words and images and to visit other people with amazing takes on life. thanks for visiting and i hope to see you again. steven

Eryl Shields said...

I love these yellows and they sit perfectly with Mary Webb's words. I have to confess I've had Precious Bane on my shelf for about five years and not yet read it. One day.

I hope you get some sleep tonight. This having to go back to work takes a bit of getting used to doesn't it?

steven said...

hi liza, hey thanks for that. as i get more confident, more comfortable, you'll hear my own voice more and more in my writing. i really appreciate your noticing!! have a lovely evening. steven

steven said...

oh linda - i knew you'd know!!! yep, it's all that and you so clearly lay it out!!! i'm passionate about my work and the price for that is dealing with the life changing, life shaping "unknowns" i make a special effort to know what's coming - partly for me - and partly for my kids so they can grab whatever's offered and run with it. pretty soon i'll share what i can of my journey to and from school and also what i can of my classroom right here. thanks for your kindness linda and of course i share and feel much the same for you!!!! steven

steven said...

hi eryl, nice to see you here!! thanks for your comment. i first read mary webb's work when i was working and living in toronto. i rode the subway every night and had about an hour of reading time. i so badly wanted to be somewhere with woods and fields and lakes. a place where there was something more earthy. so i read mary webb, thomas hardy, a huge pile of english turn-of-the-century authors - anything that reconnected me to that world. so here i am.
going back to work takes time. reconnecting myself to my work and getting simple pieces like schedules and lifestyle to work!!! ha!!! see you again soon. steven

Golden West said...

Beautiful golden paintings. I've been to the Hudson River valley and it is a stunningly gorgeous area.

steven said...

hi golden west - i've only seen the hudson river valley in paintings. lots of them!!! between your comment and the paintings, i hope i have the chance to visit there one day. perhaps for a bike trip!!! thanks for visiting. steven

Margaret Pangert said...

The gold-tinted paintings are perfect to express the sun burning away the meditative mists until one sees,really sees, the clarity of life. Great metaphor.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Steven. This post really hit home with me. Like almost every teacher I know, I too, have had my struggles with insomnia. As Linda said, it's worst at the beginning of the school year. You'd think after 28 years of it, I'd get over it...but if you're paying attention, we're only getting increasingly aware of and awed by the responsibilities that teachers have to their students. So, as with any journey, the horizon recedes as we progress.

On my first day of school I had 90 minutes of sleep in the tank. My body needed to SLEEP! Every time the adrenaline waned a tad waves of drowsiness would wash through me. Occupational hazard.

And as Linda said, it gets much better once we adjust to the craziness of a teacher's schedule.

You've got company in the wee hours, my friend.

Take care, and sleep better tonight.

Dan

Delwyn said...

Hi Steven

you keep offering me newness - new art, new words, new combinations...that I can follow up on. I love these misty images and enjoyed following the link to his homesite...thank you Steven for yet another piece of newness...

Happy days

steven said...

hello margaret - yes, the summer for a teacher - well anyone really - is a golden misty time. i remember more of my self and i'm able to work from a much stronger presence. in the autumn i focus that presence on my work. primarily. but it's a very large part of my purpose. purpose and clarity go hand-in-hand for me - happily!! have a lovely day. steven

steven said...

hi dan!!! boy oh boy - how we pay for our passion!!!! i used to carry myself through those days on caffeine - which i learned over time was a bad choice - great in the moment!!!! i'm carrying a much stronger inner peace into this year than i have a for a very long time. i'm not sure i can say why but it's there. what remains to be seen is how that plays out given the rigors of the work!!!! i hope that your body and mind settles into a rhythm that works for yo as well dan!!! take care. steven

steven said...

hello delwyn, i'm so glad!! i look for newness in the people i visit. it's not an expectation or a criteria for anything but it is a joy to me to expand my mind's eye!!!! have a lovely evening by the river. steven

Seth said...

Powerful post. And the perfect accompanying images.

steven said...

hi seth, thanks so much for visiting and for your kind comment!!! steven