Glendalough – the valley of the two lakes, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Freddy Malins explained to him, as best he could, that the monks were trying to make up for the sins committed by all the sinners in the outside world. The explanation was not very clear for Mr. Browne…
–The Dead, James Joyce
The hermitage in stone has withered
Out o’ the world as he had wished –
The monastery gone,
The church in stately ruins,
Moss on slanted gravestones
with names that none can read.
The dead have buried their dead.
And rain kisses these stones,
Almost every day, washing them not yet clean,
Keeping the grass its vibrant green,
In the valley of the two lakes.
Washing them not yet clean
In the valley of the two lakes.
The city of San Francisco can be an acquired taste. I have been attempting to acquire it for the past year and a half since moving out here from the midwest. Despite it’s allures of wine and fine weather, it has worked its charms slowly on me. It is a city of food and a city of fog. As beautiful as the sunshine here is, and no matter how fine the food, fog threatens ever so quickly to envelop you.
I believe I have finally acquired that taste. The wine, the first draw for me of northern California, has always enticed. But now the faces I see are more familiar, the hum of the electric buses put me at ease, and the foghorns heard echoing from the bay up to Pacific Heights help me to know we all must make our way through long journeys and cloudy passages.
This is not a city of big shoulders, and it may be a little, soft city, but it is full of subtlety and complexity. And it is my city now, as was Chicago, and Dublin, and London.
And so I hope that you will visit me here soon, and see this city of fog and city of food with neighbouring valleys of silicon and vines. There is a peace here, if one can make their way through the fog.
PS: I think you will like Carl Sandburg’s poem “City of Big Shoulders.”
There is wine, there is wine enough
To outlast the weather
Clouds that hover still, and smother
Rain upon the soul and land
There is wine, but not so much
As to outlast the solitude
Thoughts intrude and stay, unmoved
Because my friend is far from me.
Inspired by the Tao Qian poem “Motionless Clouds”
They bring the gift of knowledge
A preparation for death at birth
The fading of each twinkling star
The suspension of each breath.
With great gifts of portent
At His feet they lay
For swaddling clothes or shrouds,
For kings or unrenownèd dead,
These gifts so easily given
Are harder to receive.
For we must all be friends here, when sharing prose or poetry or deep held passions. I count it a loss that the art of crafting letters has diminished in this age of instant communication. While we are more connected in many ways, we no longer linger over the carefully written words of one friend to another. We see fonts, and not the drawn characters, written by the same hand but impressed by the soul. And even when those fonts are written between dear friends, the tendency is increasingly towards twitter length compliance.
This site is dedicated to lengthy letters between friends and Letters to the world. May you, dear friend, find some enjoyment herein.
There is less plastic around the edges
A little more heft to the keys
To match the quality of these Russian songs
Of unrequited love.
What would a child know of such things?
She stands behind this giant thing
Peering around the side
And as her tiny fingers ply the keys
Stretch forth the bellows
And sound the reeds
Her slender frame, behind
Her second accordion, disappears.