Solitude à deux
She's five years old today....

The capacity for awe

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

From Dani Shapiro's Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life:

"Too often, our capacity for awe is buried beneath layers of perfectly reasonable excuses. We feel we must protect ourselves -- from hurt, disappointment, insult, loss, grief -- like warriors girding for battle. A Sabbath prayer I have carried with me for more than half my life begins like this: 'Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles.'

"We cannot afford to walk sightless among miracles. Nor can we protect ourselves from suffering. [As writers] we do work that thrusts us into the pulsing heart of the world, whether or not we're in the mood, whether or not it's difficult or paintful or we'd prefer to avert our eyes. When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives -- and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by a desire to explore the unfamiliar. They enjoy surprise."

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

From Paul Bogard's The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light:

''Most days I live awed by the world we have still, rather than mourning the worlds we have lost. The bandit mask of a cedar waxwing on a bare branch a few feet away; the clear bright sun of a frozen winter noon; the rise of Orion in the eastern evening sky - every day, every night, I give thanks for another chance to notice. I see beauty everywhere; so much beauty I often speak it aloud. So much beauty I often laugh, and my day is made.

''Still if you wanted to, I think, you could feel sadness without end. I’m not even talking about hungry children or domestic violence or endless wars between supposedly grown men...but ‘you mustn’t be frightened if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you even seen,' said Rilke, 'you must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in it hand and will not let you fall.' ''

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

After five years on the flanks of Nattadon Hill, it is deeply familiar, and eternally surprising. Tilly and I never know what we might find: tall spires of foxglove flaming among the trees, badger prints pressed into the mud beside the leat, or a herd of wild ponies resting in the shade at the woodland's edge. Every day there are wonders, large and small. If I stayed inside intent on screen and keyboard, how would I see them? And if I numbed myself against sorrow and despair, how would I feel awe and joy?

Come, says Tilly, it's time to go out again, and she's always right. The world calls us, in all its dark and bright and sun-dappled shade. Full of hardship, yes, but also moments of magic: a quiet, daily, domestic kind of magic. A bright summer day, and a good dog at your side, and wild ponies in the woods.

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods


Hello Terri, I'm almost certain that I've said before that your site and insights challenge my natural and long-nurtured scepticism. This is a thoght provoking post, and it provoked this poem in me.


To carve thought into greatness,
To mould the mundane day
Into the saving of Troy,
Into the finding of the Grail,
Into the day when the God
(Promised in so many beliefs)
Finally came back
And put on the kettle for tea.

To make the common-or-garden hour
The one in which
The cure is found,
The lost child returns,
In which the realisation is made
That the one exclusive
And excluding Truth
Is that there is more than one
Exclusive and excluding Truth
And they all fit
With perfection precision
Each within each
Into a whole.

To make the second
A fibre within the thread
That knits time into that
Passing thing
In which the Mona Lisa is painted,
In which David is carved,
In which war is finally ended
With a hand shake,
And a smile
And a tiny sigh
Of relief
That echoes
Through aeons
And millennia
Like a canticle
To life.

To carve thought into greatness.

It's still as rough as a badger's arse, as the saying goes, but I hope it's OK!

That's a lovely, thoughtful poem, Stuart. Thankyou.

Thank You, Katherine.

Lovely lovely indeed...the poem and the post and the pictures and thoughts...if I were not sitting at this computer in the dead of a City night, all quiet and a wind from the window, before the dawn, before the traffic and commerce commences, I would not have seen the ponies, nor the woods. Now, I can retire for my several hours nap with these images and thoughts to dream upon...more comfort than a pillow.

Walking Through Miracles: An Anthem

". . .we walk sightless among miracles"--Sabbath Prayer

Let me see them, these miracles,
paintbrushing each day.

Let me hear them hosanna the river,
praise-sing the ponds.

Let me smell the incense of the morning,
taste the texture of the night.

Let me touch the miracle but leave
no fingerprints.

Let me reach the glory whole,
teach the glory well,
pass the glory on.

This day, this miracle.

©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reerved

The line 'Perfection precision' should read 'Perfect precision'...I said it was still as rough as a badger's whatsit!

Very uplifting, thank you (both)

What a lovely post. What gorgeous poems. So many precious bits of wisdom and wonder. Thank you all.

OK? OK? it's more than wondrous. Not at all rough. It has all the worries, fears, summed
up and summerizing.

All five senses and more. A third eye poem.

I love the Carl Sefina quotation hidden by mare and colt in greenwood. It all begins with beloved Tilly,
and never ends, really.

Thank you, Phyllis. You've cheered me up, I can now go to bed in peace and hope the cats haven't got there before me and left something unwanted on my pillow(!)

Grin--the one I can't shut,Phyllis!

"Too often, our capacity for awe is buried beneath layers of perfectly reasonable excuses." This opening line by Dani Shapiro is so relevant to my state of mind and situation lately. This essay really touched home and made me think of a poem I wrote recently on this idea. We have planted drought resistant heat in our back yard in the high desert of Southern California along with several rose bushes. I have been too accustomed to just accepting them, knowing they are there and they are beautiful. Yet, I haven't really appreciated or thought about their survival in this horrible furnace like heat we are experiencing. My husband found one of the sprigs on the rose bush blocking our lawn sprinkler head. And he had to cut if off for practical purposes. It had a frail bud beginning to bloom. He brought it inside and we placed it in a vase of cool water. I was awed by what happened to me and the bud.

Contemplating A Rose

In the old books, a silk merchant
steals a rose for his daughter
from a private garden. The rose
is fabled to be the most exquisite
in the kingdom. Its pallor
could match that of the fairest maiden.

Often, I dismissed the idea
of a single rose gaining such status
or summoning such desire. After all,
it was a storyteller's song.. Yet, last night
when the desert cooled at dusk
you found a branch of the rose bush
blocking the sprinkler. You snipped
the sprig with a frail bud
about to open -- and brought it inside.

I placed the plant in a glass vase
with water -- expecting it might die. This morning
a symmetrical bloom
leans forward in praying mantis pink. Just there
bidding me to sigh, to trace
its contours with the light hand
of the heroine in the fairytale, to know
and feel as she did when first given
the flower, the coveted gift.

I sense her subtle pulse
radiating through stem, petal
and leaf, the vine work
of my own wrist. This is Beauty's rose
our rose. Summer's offering
in the worst of dry heat and rainless hours
A bribe to believe.
The photographs of Tilly and the ponies are amazing and again that essay and all thoughts in this blog surrounding it, very inspiring and beautiful. Just Gorgeous poems by Stuart and Jane. I love them!

My Best

Hi Jane

Let me touch the miracle but leave
no fingerprints.

Let me reach the glory whole,
teach the glory well,
pass the glory on.

What an exquisite anthem of praise. I love the lyrical voice in this piece and the spirituality of nature. I think you capture so beautifully how each day is a miracle and our need, as humans, to be reassured by its presence and to witness its unfolding.

Love this

Hi Stuart

You may call this "still rough" as its author, but I think you have a very unique and well-crafted poem here. I really like the idea of "carving thought into greatness". Our minds, our imaginations, are the raw ore that can be mined and shaped into something that changes a life, even a cultural trend. But it takes belief, awe and patience as well as the motivation to do so. You show us how this concept unfolds or is achieved with wonderful detail and allusions. All the lines flow in sequential clarity; and in particular, I really can relate to these:

To make the common-or-garden hour
The one in which
The cure is found,
The lost child returns,
In which the realisation is made
That the one exclusive
And excluding Truth
Is that there is more than one
Exclusive and excluding Truth

Thank you for sharing this

Wendy, as I head into major surgery on Tuesday, I thank you for your appreciation. It gives me that added bit of strength.


". . .the vine work
of my own wrist"

***shiver**** gorgeous line.


Thanks so much Jane

for reading this and your kind words. They are very much appreciated!!

My best

Hi Jane

I will hold positive thoughts for you and keep you in my prayers. Best of luck with this health challenge ahead.

Peace and Blessings

Yum: "knits time into that
Passing thing"


Hello Wendy, first of all let me say thank you for your kind words and thoughts about my poem; secondly I also want to thank you for the insight you give to your home. Living in rain-washed England, the idea of 'furnace like heat' is so alien to me. We're experiencing something of a heat wave ourselves at the moment, but I bet it's nothing like the temperatures that you're enduring! Even so I feel like Burl Ives in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' sweltering in a sweat-stained linen suit, while the crickets sing in the darkness and Paul Newman verbally spars with me through the night. I don't know how they had the energy in that heat!

And I also want to thank you for your poem. I love the beautifully crafted conversational style. I almost feel like a literary voyeur peeking at someone's private thoughts on beauty. And this is certainly a beautiful poem.

Hello Jane. Like Wendy I was particularly moved by "Let me touch the miracle but leave/no fingerprints." This is as simple and as perfect as a piece of Shaker furniture.

And the very best wishes for your surgery on Tuesday.

Hi Stuart

So glad you enjoyed the poem and I thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I really appreciate them. I can also appreciate or should say remember the type of heat I think you are experiencing. I grew up in Upper New York State, in the countryside two hours north of NYC. We had lots of Summer rain in-between days of heat and even cooler temps. But after a rainstorm, we were drenched in wet heat, humid and damp. It was uncomfortable; and I can relate to what you are talking about. Now , of course, with the severe drought in California and the desert heat (very dry) but reaching up to 105 degrees farenheight, I would love to go back to those New York Climate days. However, our evenings do cool down into the mid 80's and we have a wind coming down form the mountains that make it quite pleasant after twilight.
I hope you receive some weather relief soon and send us some of your rain.

Again, Thank you

At last, time to read your rose poem. It is already praised beautifully but I do love how
it begins with a fable

And ends up blooming on your table.

This is a rich, thought-provoking poem -- and I agree with the others, not so rough as you think. I adore the image of god coming back and putting the kettle on for tea...

"Let me touch the miracle but leave
no fingerprints."

Oh yes.

I agree with Phyllis, that was what I loved most about it too. Gorgeous poem, Wendy. What a treat to come back to the office this morning and find all these poems waiting here!

Thank you, Terri; words of approval form The Boss are always deeply valued and appreciated.

Hi Phyllis

Thank you so, so much for this lovely compliment regarding my poem and its whimsical rhyme!! That made me smile this morning.

Take care
My Best

Hi Terri

Thank you, too, for the very kind words regarding my poem. I am delighted you enjoyed it and very much appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Take care
My Best

The comments to this entry are closed.