Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flowers of Spring

me wa yoko ni
hana wa tate nari
haru no hana

Eyes, back and forth,
nose, up and down--
the flowers of spring!

--Onitsura (1660-1738)

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

The Sound of the Pines

suzu kaze ya
koku ni michite
matsu no koe

How cool the breeze--
the empty sky is filled with
the sound of the pines.

--Onitsura (1660-1738)

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

Springtime Sea

haru no umi
hinemosu notari
notari kana

The springtime sea
all day long goes gently
up and down, up and down.

--Buson (1715-1783)

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo


ki giku shira giku
hito moto wa aka mo

Yellow mums, white mums--
as for me, I crave a red
chrysanthemum too!

--Shiki (1867-1902)

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Life is a cycle."

"The breath you just exhaled is inhaled by a tree. And again, you inhale the breath that the tree exhales. You follow the cycle of life which has no beginning and no end. Life does not disappear. It simply goes round and round."
--Ilchi Lee

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"
by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the black bird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar limbs.

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

"The Fawn"

"The Fawn"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

There it was I saw what I shall never forget
And never retrieve.
Monstrous and beautiful to human eyes, hard to believe,
He lay, yet there he lay,
Asleep on the moss, his head on his polished cleft small ebony hooves,
The child of the doe, the dappled child of the deer.

Surely his mother had never said, "Lie here
Till I return," so spotty and plain to see
On the green moss lay he.
His eyes had opened; he considered me.

I would have given more than I care to say
To thrifty ears, might I have had him for my friend
One moment only of that forest day:

Might I have had the acceptance, not the love
Of those clear eyes;
Might I have been for him in the bough above
Or the root beneath his forest bed,
A part of the forest, seen without surprise.

Was it alarm, or was it the wind of my fear lest he depart
That jerked him to his jointy knees,
And sent him crashing off, leaping and stumbling
On his new legs, between the stems of the white trees?

Photo copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

"Wild Swans"

"Wild Swans"
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

"Fire on the Hills"

"Fire on the Hills"
by Robinson Jeffers

The deer were bounding like blown leaves
Under the smoke in front the roaring wave of the brush-fire;
I thought of the smaller lives that were caught.
Beauty is not always lovely; the fire was beautiful, the terror
Of the deer was beautiful; and when I returned
Down the back slopes after the fire had gone by, an eagle
Was perched on the jag of a burnt pine,
Insolent and gorged, cloaked in the folded storms of his shoulders.
He had come from far off for the good hunting
With fire for his beater to drive the game; the sky was merciless
Blue, and the hills merciless black,
The sombre-feathered great bird sleepily merciless between them.
I thought, painfully, but the whole mind,
The destruction that brings an eagle from heaven is better than mercy.

Photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In the Forest

by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

All photos copyright Anthony F. Chiffolo

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"There is no end."

"All things end as One, but to that One there is no end. With the roots of your being in the One and with a radiant vision in your heart, live your life boldly in the eternal Now."
--Ilchi Lee

"Set a destination and go."

"Your life is a journey if you have a destination to go to, a goal to achieve. Life is no more than wandering if you do not know your purpose here."
--Ilchi Lee

Saturday, July 14, 2012


we're told, is not unlike this,
the banquet celestial,
eternal convivium...
Yes! Around your table we
knew the Holy Spirit, come to bless
the food, the host, the hour, the willing guest."
--Madeleine L'Engle

Blessing of Hospitality

As the fire under the stone floor of my dwelling place burns brightly to warm my house
So may the love of God warm my heart and the hearts of those who step over my threshold.
--Formosan prayer

Every Tree Speaks

"Mighty One, in the woods I am blessed. Happy is everyone in the woods. Every tree speaks through You. O God! What glory in the woodland!"
--Ludwig van Beethoven

Where to Pray

"As often as you can, take a trip out to the fields to pray. All the grasses will join you. They will enter your prayers and give you strength to sing praises to God."
--Rabbi Nachman of Breslov 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Use Life

"You can never know how life began or from where it originated. But you have the right and responsibility to choose how you will use this life and what purpose you will use it for."
--Ilchi Lee

Blossom Fully

"A flower that is afraid of withering will never blossom into the beauty that is its potential. Flowers are born for the purpose of the blossom."
--Ilchi Lee