Monday, January 3, 2011

the hostage


across the great spaces
defined
by time and distance

- and most especially
the undefined space
between
who i am
and who i wish to be -

i see myself
so often
as a hostage
of my own design

-

i am endlessly yearning
...insects hum of autumn by the gold brim of the well;
a thin frost glistens like little mirrors on my cold mat;
the high lantern flickers; and. deeper grows my longing.
i lift the shade and, with many a sigh, gaze upon the moon,
single as a flower, centred from the clouds.
above, i see the blueness and deepness of sky.
below, i see the greenness and the restlessness of water....
heaven is high, earth wide;
can i dream through the gateway, over the mountain?
endless longing
breaks my heart



edmund blair leighton the hostage

26 comments:

Elisabeth said...

I sometimes feel a sense of being held hostage to the land while I look out to sea, Steven. It is an uncomfortable thought.

Pauline said...

How true! We hold ourselves hostage with our thoughts. But likewise our thoughts can set us free.

aguja said...

The painting is wonderful. I love the wistfulness of it. Your words are beautiful and express the sentiment 'Hostage'. An intriguing concept, besides.

steven said...

yes aguja - intriguing and perplexing. oberving the state is the first step towards resolving it and then leaving it. steven

steven said...

pauline - yes and entirely within my experience. the dilemma usually is to do with observing the state and then choosing to leave it. fear of the unknown enters the equation. steven

steven said...

elisabeth - here are times when the grand vista spreads before me and i wonder at the ties that bind. who put them there? why do i continue to need them? need. that's the key. look behind the solitary figure . . . . steven

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love that picture steven - it is so dated and yet so moving.

steven said...

weaver you can well imagine how commonplace and then also how difficult this must have been for women in arranged or not quite so arranged circumstances. far from home, in a foreign land, an intruder or an outcast in the eyes of the rest of the household. steven

ellen abbott said...

'so often we live our lives in chains never knowing we hold the key' - song lyrics which when heard one day were like a light bulb going off inside my head.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think of yearning as a bridge between myself and the divine. It is such a sweet-sour emotion. Sometimes I feel a bit held/bound by it, but mostly I am exalted by my yearning.

You see? This is why I can never be a Buddhist!

steven said...

ellen yeah it's a magic moment when you suddenly realize that you hold your self. no one else has that role. steven

Linda Sue said...

I am that woman against the rock wall, yearning for the open sea, banging against it until it breaks and then scurrying to get back into the familiar confines of the inside! I never get any where this way - I want to be everywhere all at once. such a dilemma.I do not move gracefully from green grass to greener grass back to greenest grass.

steven said...

reya - yeah! the space between who or where we are and who or where we wish to be is such a sweet and painful place. i wonder why it's necessary to be a "anything". steven

steven said...

linda sue when i first saw this painting i thought that the poor girl leaning over the battlements was from another country. then perhaps she had been brought to this castle as a wife for someone. but as it's opened out through my thinking and that of the commentators here i see a much more internal battle being fought. to be free of the rigours of expectation while also honouring commitments. it isn't a new battle in that sense as i expect it is very much a piece of the human condition. steven

Dulce said...

brilliant- especially that last stanza.
Going beyond the beauty of that picture.

Steven, Your way with words really is like a balm to my soul... and hey i do not go saying these such things to bloggers, except when exceptionally exceptional to me...
Dulce

steven said...

dulce - thanks for your generous words. i shared the writing here with the great chinese poet li bai whose words are incredible. creds to li!!! steven

Jo said...

I'm so happy I was able to check your blog today! Leighton is one of my favorite artists, combining beauty and fantasy and mysticism in such thought provoking ways!

As you've so aptly pointed out through words and illustration, it's all a matter of perspective, isn't it? When viewed through a single, narrow perspective, we feel very differently than when we see the bigger picture.

Brilliant, as always...I'd say it's the perfect lesson for your students one day soon!

steven said...

jo- i've come across leighton's work before and i share your appreciation for the quality he imbues his work with of worlds intersecting worlds.
"for your students one day soon". i'm a teacher of little children now. are there other plans afoot?! steven

Jo said...

Maybe so...I've always imagined you as a sort of John Keating from "Dead Poet's Society." Fancy that...you teach small children. How cool is that? As mother of four and grandmother of two, and lover of children of all ages, I now confer upon you the title of 'My Hero'.

So the real question becomes this; is it ever too early to teach children about the importance of perspective? After all, seeing an issue from all sides before forming an opinion is much like viewing a statue from all sides before knowing what it really looks like, right?

I can well imagine the fun and games with an excercise in perspective with small children!

steven said...

hey jo i get to teach grade 5 and 6 children. i get to teach six more classes and then i move to the next stage of my work. teaching is very hard work and very honourable work and also very very cool and fun!!! very cool. very fun! i've been teaching for twenty years! perspective is a very big piece of working with my students - moreso now than at any time in my work. they are usually well-informed, definitely opinionated, and soak up thinking like sponges. thankyou for the title!!! thanks for your kind comment jo. steven

Linda said...

I agree whole heartedly with Jo. I feel like I am that girl leaning on the wall and looking out to sea. I am imagining what it would be like to have a poet for a teacher or to have you for a teacher? Opening my mind to new perspectives everyday.... I know the curriculum is heavy, but this is teaching style. Wonderfully educated students along the Otonabee River! =D

deb said...

I am fascinated by this concept,
this painting.
I find myself in this pose , too often, I think.
It bothers me in a sense, but then , I suppose there exists a certain longer for a home in all of us.

Golden West said...

The lady's outfit is remarkable - leg of mutton sleeves, richly embroidered over dress, hand made slippers - fascinating!

steven said...

linda! i've been really really fortunate to have been a teacher for the past twenty years! the kids i get - well they're the full range of kids out there but i get to offer them a possibility for one year. i feel lucky to have that opportunity. steven

steven said...

deb i think you're right. i think that it's part of being human to think and wonder and to allow some of tose wonderings to become yearnings. steven

steven said...

golden west - she's beautifully dressed i agree. i love the material especially. steven