Night Sky

Milky Way viewed from Death Valley
Mikly Way viewed from Lava Beds National Monument
Photographs by the Night Sky Team

"We human beings lose something of ourselves when we can no longer look up and see our place in the universe."
David Crawford of the International Dark-Sky Association, from a must read article on light pollution and the efforts to keep the night sky unimpaired in our national parks.


A Dahlia

Un Dahlia
Paul Verlaine

Courtisane au sein dur, à l'oeil opaque et brun
S'ouvrant avec lenteur comme celui d'un boeuf,
Ton grand torse reluit ainsi qu'un marbre neuf.

Fleur grasse et riche, autour de toi ne flotte aucun
Arôme, et la beauté séreine de ton corps
Déroule, mate, ses impeccables accords.

Tu ne sens même pas la chair, ce goût qu'au moins
Exhalent celles-là qui vont fanant les foins,
Et tu trônes, Idole insensible à l'encens.

Ainsi le Dahlia, roi vêtu du splendeur,
Elève sans orgueil, sa tête sans odeur,
Irritant au milieu des jasmins agaçants!

There is no satisfactory English translation of this poem (at least not that I know of), which reminds me of how impossibly difficult to translate from one language to another. Verlaine's description of a dahlia, the metaphoric flower-woman, is full of rancor. The poem reflects Verlaine's bitterness in the failure of his relationship with his first love, Elisa. His barely contained misogyny is projected into nature, into the guise of the dahlia, an opulent beauty without perfume.

I like the alternating tercets addressed to the courtisan/woman (1 and 3) and to the flower (2 and 4) an interesting structure, something that the two translations I read completely ignored.


The world is so vast

Wild lupines, Norfolk, Connecticut
Frangipani tree, Key West
Palm Beach
Bay Bridge, San Francisco
São Paulo
Paraty, Brazil
Ipanema, Rio de Jainero
Paraty, Brazil
Paraty, Brazil

"I must leave the bonds that kept me confined, and move elsewhere. Move on, move on, move on. Move like the waterfall, like the ocean waves, like the birds at down, like the light at sunrise. That is why the world is so vast, the earth so extraordinary, the sky so infinite... That is why the call of death is nothing but the same call to change one's abode."
Rabindranath Tagore, "Travel"

This is how I used to feel when I was young. I lived in different countries, made my home in different continents, always moving on. Now that I am older, I want to attach myself to a small piece of the earth, to cultivate my garden, and to find what T. S. Eliot so eloquently calls "a still point of a turning world." But the life that I have carved out for myself keeps me moving. These are just some of the places I've been in the last couple of months.