The Everyday Enchantment of Music

02018-03-24 @ 06:03

Brain Pickings – An inventory of the meaningful life.
A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.

Winter is back

02009-04-18 @ 07:04

Winter is back for a day or two and Casa Monte Frio is under 3 inches of white stuff. Piñon branches are bending down in greeting, heavy with wet snow. But it is April and green blades of sturdy Southwest grass are peeking through the sparkling white blanket, which will melt in record time now that the sun glares down from a blue-bue sky.

They say spring has come
and the sky is filled with mist,
Yet on the mountains, no flowers, only snow.

– Ryōkan

Monday: Found

02009-03-16 @ 11:03

This is interesting on so many different levels, but particular in terms of testosterone:
Protect me from what I want.

Poem of the day via Weekly Words of Wisdom:

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter;
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

– Wu-men

Or how about this from the Upaya Newsletter:

Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.

– Hafiz

Stream-and-Cloud Life

02009-03-12 @ 16:03

Unfettered at last, a traveling monk,
I pass the old Zen barrier.
Mine is a traceless stream-and-cloud life,
Of these mountains, which shall be my home?

– Manan (1591-1654)

Thank you IM.


02009-03-05 @ 05:03

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.
– Anais Nin


02009-01-23 @ 11:01

Simply Haiku: An E-Journal – Interview with David Barnhill
RW: Haikai, Hokku, and Haiku. These terms can be confusing. Please explain. Is there a difference between the terms?

DB: Haikai means something like “comic” or “vulgar,” something that does not fit the strict confines of courtly culture. Renga (linked verse) had been a courtly verse, but some wanted to break the mold and expand the range of renga, and so haikai no renga was developed. Basho’s genius was his combination of that free-spiritedness with aesthetic and religious depth. Sometimes he used the term haikai as a broader term for literary art, even art in general, if it had this more complex haikai spirit. So we can think of him as a haikai (not haiku) poet. Hokku, on the other hand, is the opening stanza of a renga sequence. It was so important that it eventually began to take on a life of its own, with poets writing just the hokku without the linked sequence. Basho wrote hokku (not haiku) poems. The great modern poet Shiki wanted to sever hokku from its function in a linked verse, and he emphasized the aesthetic of a “sketch” of a moment of nature. To indicate this change, he used a new term, haiku, for what had been called hokku. So haiku is a modern term Basho did not use. But the term haiku is ingrained in our culture, even when thinking of Basho. The result is indeed confusion. If we want to be historically correct, we should speak of Basho’s hokku. But haiku is the only single term we could use for what Basho wrote and what contemporary poets in Japan and around the world write. I use hokku when I’m in an academic context, haiku when I’m not. We certainly don’t want to get too hung up on terminology.

Basho’s Trail
Basho’s World
Friday in Phoenix
Monday, January 21st
To Translate is to Betray

Wolf Moon

02009-01-10 @ 19:01

On top of Cold Mountain the lone round moon
Lights the whole clear cloudless sky
Honor this priceless national treasure
Concealed in five shadows, sunk deep in the flesh.


The last moon of the lunar year, the first moon of the western calendar, and the biggest full moon of the year. Are you looking?

SPACE.com — Full Moon Names for 2009
Jan. 10, 10:27 p.m. EST — Full Wolf Moon. Amid the zero cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. It was also known as the Old Moon or the moon after Yule. In some tribes this was the Full Snow Moon; most applied that name to the next moon. The moon will also be at perigee (its closest point to Earth) on this day, at 6:00 a.m. EST, at a distance of 222,138mi. (357,497 km.) from Earth. Very high ocean tides can be expected from the coincidence of perigee with full moon.

Nanao Sakaki

02008-12-30 @ 14:12

RIP Nanao Sakaki
From a letter written by poet Gary Snyder:
Last night I got word from Japan that Nanao Sakaki had suddenly died. He was living with friends in the mountains of Nagano prefecture in a little cabin. He had stepped out the door in the middle of the night to stargaze or pee and apparently had a severe heart attack. His friends found him on the ground the next morning. Christmas afternoon they’ll hold the otsuya – intimate friends drinking party in his room, sitting with his body — and a cremation after that. He was one of my best friends in this lifetime.

Intimate friends drinking party, sitting with the body… what a nice custom!

Now within a circle ten billion light years large
All thoughts of time, space are burnt away
And there again you sit, pray and sing
You sit, pray and sing.

Found here

First Snow

02008-12-16 @ 17:12

hatsu yuki ya saiwai an ni makariaru

first snow
great luck to be here
in my own hut.

– Bashō

Thanks Y.

Autumn Moon

02008-10-29 @ 09:10

Mind like an autumn moon…
Pure, transcendent, elegant.
Beyond comparison with anything else.
How could I possibly explain this to you?

– Han Shan

From the Upaya newsletter.

Clouds now and then

02008-10-18 @ 07:10

kumo oriori hito wo yasumeru tsukimi kana

clouds now and then
give us a rest:
moon viewing

– Bashō 1685

Beautiful, isn’t it.
Why that is not a Haiku – makes me wonder how the next person followed up that opening verse… how does one follow those lines!!!
Other related links here, here and here.
Thanks Y.

Gary Snyder Wins 2008 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

02008-09-03 @ 09:09

Gary Snyder Wins 2008 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize : TreeHugger
Few people may have seen as much of this beautiful planet and also looked as deeply within for inspiration as poet Gary Snyder. When he won the 2008 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize earlier this summer I was deeply moved.


Jean Cocteau in 1952

02008-08-06 @ 08:08

Diary entry by Jean Cocteau on December 25, 1952:

The more hairs fall out, the more antennae grow in.

Journalist: What would you like to see hanging on your Christmas tree?
J.C.: Journalists

From the book Assassin’s Cloak, an anthology of the world’s greatest diarists, which I finished last night. Great read.

The Scent of Light

02008-06-12 @ 13:06

Like a great starving beast.
My body
Is quivering,
Fixed on
The Scent of Light
– Hafiz

Laughing Nuisance

02008-05-30 @ 11:05

When the guitar
Can forgive the past,
It starts singing.

When the guitar can stop worrying
About the future,
You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance
That God
Will lean down
And start combing you into his hair.

When the guitar can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts singing.

– Hafiz

Well, I will admit that Hafiz wrote violin instead of guitar.
Thanks Y.

Milan on Sunday

02008-05-25 @ 00:05

(…and then there is Milan in September, a piece we recorded in 1993 for the album “The Hours between Night + Day”, but not included on the CD)

Last night’s performance at the Blue Note was ideal. A quiet and attentive audience that applauded enthusiastically and thereby encouraged further explorations, which I was happy to embark on. I am grateful to all of you.

This ad drew in tourists from Houston, who were in Milan for one day only. A German listener also saw the ad and came to the club. As in the days before, some people had traveled from Rome and other cities in Italy to hear me play – ah, when do I get to perform in Rome!! And on Friday I met three fans who came all the way from Romania for the show. My sincere thanks to all that came to hear me play at the Blue Note.

Y. sent me this part of a poem by Hafiz:

…When Hafiz plays his lute,
My notes ascend into the air and form
Infinite blue crystals
That will move on the wind’s breath for hundreds of years
As my sacred debris, as the divine dust
Rising as a gift from my
Singing bones.


Music rising as a gift from my singing bones! That’s what it feels like. I don’t use a set list for my solo performances and improvise a lot. I make up new melodies, discover new sections, play new medleys and try to simply follow the whims of inspiration. Every performance is quite different and is as much a discovery for me as it, hopefully, is for the audience.

I’ll be back at the Blue Note in Milan and there is also talk of bringing the band to Italy for a tour next year.

Light and Scent

02008-03-23 @ 08:03

The halo of the moon,
Is it not the scent of plum blossoms
Rising up to heaven?
– Buson

Moonlight, reflected by the river, with birds conversing and a train crossing the iron bridge.

Street Light. The yellowish light of street lanterns, reflected by wet cobblestones. Clouds of cigarette smoke, the sound of footsteps nearby and car-horns in the distance.

Unscented beeswax candles nevertheless have a certain scent.

Firelight. Shadows dancing. TV for the stone age. Stare into the flickering shadows and create your own story.


02008-03-20 @ 13:03

How can we lose interest in life?
Spring has come again
And cherry trees bloom in the mountains.

– Ryōkan

Thank you Y.

Rainer Maria Rilke

02008-03-12 @ 09:03

Rainer Maria Rilke – Der Einsame – The lonely

His poems must be some of the most difficult to translate, because he creates wonderful word-trains… in the German language one can tie words together without a hyphen to create a new meaning or a sharper definition.

The above linked translation is well done and pretty accurate, but the rhymes are lost and so the sound of the poem is changed completely.

Years ago a friend showed me a book of Rilke translations by Stephen Mitchell – it might have been this one – and I commented that Mitchell had written new poetry inspired by the Rilke poems, but I felt that they were not translations. Fine line, of course. What is translation and what is re-writing (neudichten)?

Sometimes I marvel at our human ability to communicate complex meanings at all!

Now if I can only find some nice poetic titles for the new album (my cue to get up and walk over to the studio and work…)

This is what you shall do…

02008-03-04 @ 09:03

your very flesh shall be a great poem

Thanks Y.


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