Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sufi poem

The moths and the flame
By Farid ud-Din Attar

English version by
Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis

Original Language

Muslim / Sufi
12th Century

Moths gathered in a fluttering throng one night
To learn the truth about the candle light,
And they decided one of them should go
To gather news of the elusive glow.
One flew till in the distance he discerned
A palace window where a candle burned —
And went no nearer: back again he flew
To tell the others what he thought he knew.
The mentor of the moths dismissed his claim,
Remarking: “He knows nothing of the flame.”
A moth more eager than the one before
Set out and passed beyond the palace door.
He hovered in the aura of the fire,
A trembling blur of timorous desire,
Then headed back to say how far he’d been,
And how much he had undergone and seen.
The mentor said: “You do not bear the signs
Of one who’s fathomed how the candle shines.”
Another moth flew out — his dizzy flight
Turned to an ardent wooing of the light;
He dipped and soared, and in his frenzied trance
Both self and fire were mingled by his dance —
The flame engulfed his wing-tips, body, head,
His being glowed a fierce translucent red;
And when the mentor saw that sudden blaze,
The moth’s form lost within the glowing rays,
He said: “He knows, he knows the truth we seek,
That hidden truth of which we cannot speak.”
To go beyond all knowledge is to find
That comprehension which eludes the mind,
And you can never gain the longed-for goal
Until you first outsoar both flesh and soul;
But should one part remain, a single hair
Will drag you back and plunge you in despair —
No creature’s self can be admitted here,
Where all identity must disappear.

As seen here:

Palettes of famous painters and my favourtie shorts

This post on How To Be A Retronaut reminded me of how I often would wait for my aunt to toss her painting clothes out so I could save her “palettes” and wear them… my favourite were a pair of pants that had been my grandfathers and which she had turned into cut offs…


btw – I think I am in awe of the palette that belonged to Georges Seurat

My favourite line is…

My faithful friends draw nigh
And look us in the eye
It is a wealthy man who has good friends like you.
Through darkness, cold, and snow,
Wherever you may go,
You bear my friendship true, you bear my friendship true.

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind,”
by William Shakespeare.

As seen on:

But I love this whole poem:
Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night.
To see the land I love.
“Night Journey” by Theodore Roethke, from Theodore Roethke: Selected Poems.

As seen on:

One of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had with Squink, so far…

Last night Squink asked why I had two earrings in one ear and only one earring in the other.
I told him it was a long story, and asked if he wanted to hear the story from the beginning. He said yes. I warned him it might make him a little sad.

My story went something like this:

I was once told by a real sailor that when sailors cross the equator or sail all the way around the earth that they are ready for their earring. Many sailors will put in a gold earring that can be used to pay for a “proper” funeral should they happen to die at sea.

I got the earring because of grandpa Honey (this is not his real name but is what I called him when I was little. (aside: He hears me mention Grandpa Honey a lot as every time I drive by the cemetery, which is close to my home, I say out loud “Hello grandpa Honey, I love you” and has joined me in saying that).

When I was not much older than you, I went on a boat trip with my family and that included me, uncle Trent, Nana, grandpa cowboy, a cousin, your great uncle Sam, your great aunt Claire, A lady named Anis, Your great-grandma Zun and Grandpa Honey.  We rented a boat and went to some islands that just happened to be on the equator. Those islands are called the Galapagos islands, and they are very famous and have lots of fabulous animals (I had my lap to handy and showed him pictures of things like the blue and red footed boobies, the frigate birds, seals, rays, penguins and iguanas). On night grandpa Honey felt very sick and he died.

Squink asked me what happened. I told him that we did not know but we thought he might have had a stroke. He asked what a stroke was and I ended up saying that it is like the blood blows up and stops going to your brain. Your brain can’t work and tell your body to keep breathing and moving your blood.

So, there was a sailor on the boat with us who did something called CPR on grandpa for a really long time, with out stopping. Like 6 hours long as our boat tried to get to the nearest island that had a doctor.

Squink became very agitated that we would do something where we did not have a doctor very close. He said doctors and dentists and those people are very important and that we should have had one with us. I did not feel like telling him that he is lucky to be a first world child and that many people live in places that don’t ever get to see a doctor much less a dentist. So I told him he was right, and that was something we had not considered. He threw me a loop at this point and said he wished he had been born earlier so he could have been on that trip with us and told us we had to have a doctor with us that way he could know grandpa Honey. He was very distressed and I was beginning to feel helpless and started to reconsider my philosophy to answer all Squinks questions as truthfully and as simply as I could. He started asking a lot of questions and I ended up having to explain what a nervous system was, what a circulatory system was, I even had to show him a picture of a brain that had a stroke. I told him that your heart is like a carwash for your blood and that it cleans the blood as it moves through your system. I told him that blood gets made in your bones. He was fascinated and asked me if he could tell his friends about these systems.

We talked about death, and how it was not a bad thing and a part of being human. That it was OK to be sad. That some people die because they are sick, but some because they are old and bodies just do that. He continued to be upset that he did not get to meet grandpa Honey so I told him that he can feel him with his heart which led to a discussion on spirit and how it is not something you can feel by touching, but is a feeling you feel like being happy.

It was undoubtedly one of the more difficult and fascinating conversations I have had with Squink.