Life

Ambulator nascitur, non fit

Monday, 3 February, 2014 1 Comment

There are those who believe that poeta nascitur, non fit (a poet is born, not made), and those who don’t. The same applies to walkers. Well, that’s what Henry David Thoreau thought. A month after his death from tuberculosis, in May 1862, The Atlantic magazine published one of his most famous essays, “Walking,” which contains the observation, Ambulator nascitur, non fit. To someone who did some serious walking in January, the aphorism rings true. And the following passage is filled with goodness:

“My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for so many years I have walked almost every day, and sometimes for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them. An absolutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see. A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the King of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you.”

In essence, Walking celebrates the rewards of immersing oneself in nature and mourns the inevitable advance of land ownership upon the wilderness.


A Christmas carol, of sorts

Wednesday, 25 December, 2013 0 Comments

For the (birth)day that’s in it, here’s Jesus by Amos Lee. Unexpectedly, the song became a daily listen in summer when illness intervened and inspiration was needed. “Oh Jesus, can you help me now?” In the end, help arrived and it was provided by some wonderful people. Happy Christmas to them and to every reader of Rainy Day!

This recording, by the way, was made in 2011 as part of the fifth Transatlantic Sessions episode, when Lee was joined by Aly Bain, Kathleen MacInnes, Donal Lunny, Sarah Jarosz, Jerry Douglas, Nollaig Casey and Michael McGoldrick, who supplies some truly beautiful accompaniment here on the uilleann pipes.


Phyllis Diller sends a Christmas card to Christopher Hitchens

Sunday, 15 December, 2013 0 Comments

“I had never before been a special fan of that great comedian Phyllis Diller, but she utterly won my heart this week by sending me an envelope that, when opened, contained a torn-off square of brown-bag paper of the kind suitable for latrine duty in an ill-run correctional facility. Duly unfurled, it carried a handwritten […]

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In sickness and in health

Thursday, 31 October, 2013 0 Comments

The Rainy Day team celebrates the annual anniversary of its union today. We have a lot to be grateful for and wish for many more days, rainy or fine, to celebrate our good luck.

Rainy Day hands

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin, Collected Poems


Candles day

Monday, 17 June, 2013 0 Comments

W.H. Auden famously observed that the poetry of Cavafy seemed to survive translation remarkably well, and that it was marked by “a tone of voice, a personal speech immediately recognizable as a poem by Cavafy; nobody else could possibly have written it.” If there is a thread running through Cavafy’s take on life, it’s transience.

Candles

Days to come stand in front of us,
like a row of burning candles —
golden, warm, and vivid candles.
Days past fall behind us,
a gloomy line of burnt-out candles;
the nearest are still smoking,
cold, melted, and bent.
I don’t want to look at them: their shape saddens me,
and it saddens me to remember their original light.
I look ahead at my burning candles.
I don’t want to turn, don’t want to see, terrified,
how quickly that dark line gets longer,
how quickly one more dead candle joins another.

Constantine P. Cavafy (29 April 1863 — 29 April 1933)

Candles


This is the water of life

Thursday, 9 May, 2013 0 Comments

In May 2005, David Foster Wallace, the most brilliant American writer of his generation, delivered the commencement address to the graduating class at Kenyon College Ohio. He talked about the difficulties of daily life and “about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head.” On 12 September 2008, David Foster Wallace committed suicide by hanging himself.

[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/65576562″ width=”100%” height=”480″]

“Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.”

Congratulations to The Glossary for its inspired transformation of David Foster Wallace’s words into video.


Hitchens as Orwell’s Successor

Tuesday, 17 July, 2012

“When looking back on the life of the late Christopher Hitchens, one sees that his persona is oddly like that of Oscar Wilde’s character Lord Henry Wotton from The Picture of Dorian Gray: loved by an assortment of people for assorted reasons, often when they cannot square with him on something else. Like Wotton, Hitchens […]

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People just ain’t no good sometimes

Tuesday, 28 February, 2012

The baker and his wife had seven children. Money was in short supply and troubles raged in the country, but the baker’s family did not want because his loaves and cakes were popular. He would have loved a shop of his own but there simply wasn’t any space. Children and ovens need room and there […]

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