Saturday, November 18, 2017


A cairn is a human-made stack or mound of stones, assembled from prehistoric times to the present, usually as a memorial, landmark, or spontaneous work of found art representing balance and harmony with nature. One might appear as a guidepost on a hiking trail, as a mile - marker on a walking path, or atop a hilltop to indicate the skyline. I came across the one above in a local cemetery -- and the one below on a wellness website.

Here is my little stack of
literary stones for today:

A couple of days ago, I quoted poet Philip Booth:
“I think survival is at stake for all of us all the time. … Every poem, every work of art, everything that is well done, well made, well said, generously given, adds to our chances of survival."

Which in turn reminded me of this Tennessee Williams quotation that seemed so befitting a year ago:
"The world is violent and mercurial - it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love - love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love."

Which made me think of the closing stanza of Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach":
"Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the word, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

Which then brought to mind what my friend and mentor Nancy wrote in her Harry Potter Christmas letter several years back:

"Even if you haven't read
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,
you surely know Harry's life was saved by love."

As well as this gem
from Nancy, a card featuring
one of my favorite quotations from E. B. White:

Inside, Nancy writes: "Informed women have to keep talking, asking questions, challenging, encouraging others to think. . . . The woman depicted on this card, incidentally, is the true me."

I wondered for a minute of it was E. B. White's wife, Katharine Sergeant Angell White; or maybe the Queen of England, or maybe just an anonymous model from the archives, who represents "the true us."

Nancy's wise words, written in mid - June 2016, became our watchword a year ago in mid - November 2016 when our hopes for the presidential election were dashed. In January 2017, Nancy offered further encouragement:
"It has helped me a lot to find a group of like - minded women. My advice is to go to Washington and join the women's March. There is still time. In any case, find something that speaks to your most important issues and volunteer. No time to despair. We must be strong: Warrior Women! Get out of your head and emotions and Act! Righteousness and love have kissed."

In closing,
"let us be true to one another" . . .
"for we live in a perpetually burning building!"

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