Blog Archives

Quote for the Week

Interea dulces pendent circum oscula nati,
Casta pudicitiam servat domus.

His cares are eased with intervals of bliss;
His little children, climbing for a kiss,
Welcome their father’s late return at night;
His faithful bed is crown’d with chaste delight.

–Virgil, Georgics (29 BC), Book II, lines 523-524 (translated by John Dryden); courtesy of Wikiquote

Quote for the Week

The bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious, and conscious where he ought to be unconscious. Both errors tend to make him “personal.” Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.

–T. S. Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent; courtesy of Wikiquote.

Nulla Scriptura Revisited

One of the keystones of traditional Protestant theology is the concept of sola scriptura.  This means literally “by Scripture alone”.  That is, all doctrines and practices of Christianity must be derived from Scripture.  Tradition, commentary, and development are not necessarily bad, but they may never be normative for belief and practice.  My post from some time back, “Nulla Scriptura” was a deliberate pun on this, as it means, “by nothing [of] Scripture.”

Back here, I said the following:

Of course, I’d say that open theism, as well as many other flavors of Protestantism, has too high a view of Scripture, anyway. I don’t mean that in the sense of saying that Scripture isn’t inspired, or of encouraging a “low” view of it. Rather, I mean the tendency to take it more or less as is without looking at context or the philosophical implications. I’ve read essays by open theologians in which they’ve gone so far as to say that if the theology or philosophy says one thing, and Scripture says another, then Scripture must be preferred, even if it seems to paint God in peculiar ways (e.g. limited knowledge, changing His mind, etc.). By that logic we’d have to jettison the value of pi!

What I want to do here is to elaborate on that concept, both in a general, theoretical way, as it pertains to Christianity and Christian thought in general; and also in a concrete, specific way, as it pertains to my own church, the Catholic Church, particularly in 21st Century America.

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Omar Khayyám

 

Appropriately, I begin this series with the patron of this blog, ‏‏غیاث الدین ابوالفتح عمر بن ابراهیم خیام نیشابورﻯ, in proper Persian transcription, Ghiyāth ad-Din Abu’l-Fatḥ ‘Umar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Khayyām Nīshāpūrī.  In the West, though, he’s most commonly known as Omar Khayyám (in the Victorian era, when Edward FitzGerald’s famous translation of Omar’s poetry became wildly popular, the custom for indicating long vowels in Persian transcription was to use the acute accent; nowadays, the macron is preferred; hence, “Khayyám” vs “Khayyām”).

Omar is best known in the west as the author of the Rubáʿiyát.  This is the plural of rubáʿi, which simply means “quatrain” (a verse of four lines).  The rubáʿi was a very popular genre of verse in Persia, and hundreds of rubáʿiyát are attributed to Omar.  Beginning in 1859, the English poet Edward FitzGerald translated a number of the rubáʿiyát attributed to Omar, publishing them under the title The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (for keen-sighted readers, I’m not being inconsistent.  The apostrophe, representing the glottal stop, should properly be between the first “a” and the “i” in rubáʿiyát–thus, it’s pronounced “roo-BAH-ee-yaht”, not “roo-BYE-yaht”.  However, FitzGerald left it out, for whatever reason.  Thus, when I print the title as he gave it, I’m following suit; but when discussing the genre as such, I’m leaving the glottal stop in).  Over the remainder of his life, FitzGerald produced five editions of the Rubáiyát.  This book became immensely popular in the Victorian age, and while less well-known now, it is still moderately popular, and has never been out of print.

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One Final Piece on Whitman

The above may–may–be the only existing sound recording of Walt Whitman himself.  The case is complicated, and you can read about it here.  Whether or not it is Walt himself, enjoy!

Farewell, My Fancy

Yesterday I completed publishing the entire Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  It was a follow-up to my series publishing two different translations of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.  Back in November of last year I bogged down on blogging and temporarily abandoned daily updates of the blog.  I let the Daily Whitman series lapse, as well as the Friday music and the Sunday “Quote for the Week”.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I restarted everything.  I was closer to the end than I realized, and it seems like saying goodbye to an old friend to have Daily Whitman finally come to an end.

I will keep posting music on Fridays and quotes on Sundays.  I have a couple of possible contenders for daily poetry to post, but I haven’t made a decision yet.  I think it salutary to take a few days off and decide what I want to do, and then go from there.  In the meantime, I hope all of you who may be regular, semi-regular, or sporadic readers have enjoyed the Daily Whitman, and before it, the Rubá’í of the Day series.  Keep checking this space for poetry to come!

Daily Whitman

a-man-walking-into-the-sunset-in-a-field_vk8xoi3ex__m0000

Good-Bye My Fancy

  Good-bye my Fancy!
  Farewell dear mate, dear love!
  I'm going away, I know not where,
  Or to what fortune, or whether I may ever see you again,
  So Good-bye my Fancy.

  Now for my last—let me look back a moment;
  The slower fainter ticking of the clock is in me,
  Exit, nightfall, and soon the heart-thud stopping.

  Long have we lived, joy'd, caress'd together;
  Delightful!—now separation—Good-bye my Fancy.

  Yet let me not be too hasty,
  Long indeed have we lived, slept, filter'd, become really blended
      into one;
  Then if we die we die together, (yes, we'll remain one,)
  If we go anywhere we'll go together to meet what happens,
  May-be we'll be better off and blither, and learn something,
  May-be it is yourself now really ushering me to the true songs, (who
      knows?)
  May-be it is you the mortal knob really undoing, turning—so now finally,
  Good-bye—and hail! my Fancy.


The End

Daily Whitman

royal-star-magnolia-bud-in-snow

Unseen Buds

  Unseen buds, infinite, hidden well,
  Under the snow and ice, under the darkness, in every square or cubic inch,
  Germinal, exquisite, in delicate lace, microscopic, unborn,
  Like babes in wombs, latent, folded, compact, sleeping;
  Billions of billions, and trillions of trillions of them waiting,
  (On earth and in the sea—the universe—the stars there in the
      heavens,)
  Urging slowly, surely forward, forming endless,
  And waiting ever more, forever more behind.

Daily Whitman

A beautiful forest at dusk.

Grand is the Seen

Grand is the seen, the light, to me—grand are the sky and stars,
  Grand is the earth, and grand are lasting time and space,
  And grand their laws, so multiform, puzzling, evolutionary;
  But grander far the unseen soul of me, comprehending, endowing all those,
  Lighting the light, the sky and stars, delving the earth, sailing
      the sea,
  (What were all those, indeed, without thee, unseen soul? of what
      amount without thee?)
  More evolutionary, vast, puzzling, O my soul!
  More multiform far—more lasting thou than they.

Daily Whitman

milky_way_ir_spitzer

The Unexpress’d

  How dare one say it?
  After the cycles, poems, singers, plays,
  Vaunted Ionia's, India's—Homer, Shakspere—the long, long times'
      thick dotted roads, areas,
  The shining clusters and the Milky Ways of stars—Nature's pulses reap'd,
  All retrospective passions, heroes, war, love, adoration,
  All ages' plummets dropt to their utmost depths,
  All human lives, throats, wishes, brains—all experiences' utterance;
  After the countless songs, or long or short, all tongues, all lands,
  Still something not yet told in poesy's voice or print—something lacking,
  (Who knows? the best yet unexpress'd and lacking.)