Fraction 5 of 25
This is what I was really meaning to say when I started 25,000 Dawns, but William Meredith has said it so much better. And oddly, the photo today has a variety of accidental birth images, though it’s obviously just me in the machine.
The gale has blown through, leaving Wellington misty and lovely this dawn. My belly is a little bruised where the capsule went in but not painful at all. Nearly everyone from my little company has gone home, leaving just Keith and Wendy and me in my study working away at the next book project. I’m trying to find the rhythm of this period of hospital trips and open days at home. Here’s a poem that should help us all find ourselves, just a little.
(Thanks for this poem to Carol DeLoach who has a mailing list where she sends out a poem each day. Every dawn they bring me pleasure and gratitude. You can sign up here)
Accidents of Birth
Je vois les effroyables espaces de l’Univers qui m’enferment, et je me trouve attaché à un coin de cette vaste étendue, sans savoir pourquoi je suis plutôt en ce lieu qu’en un autre, ni pourquoi ce peu de temps qui m’est donné à vivre m’est assigné à ce point plutôt qu’à un autre de toute l’éternité qui m’a précédé, et de toute qui me suit. (Pascal, Pensées sur la religion)*
The approach of a man’s life out of the past is history, and the approach of time out of the future is mystery. Their meeting is the present, and it is consciousness, the only time life is alive. The endless wonder of this meeting is what causes the mind, in its inward liberty of a frozen morning, to turn back and question and remember. The world is full of places. Why is it that I am here? (Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House)
Spared by a car or airplane crash or
cured of malignancy, people look
around with new eyes at a newly
praiseworthy world, blinking eyes like these.
For I’ve been brought back again from the
fine silt, the mud where our atoms lie
down for long naps. And I’ve also been
pardoned miraculously for years
by the lava of chance which runs down
the world’s gullies, silting us back.
Here I am, brought back, set up, not yet
But it’s not this random
life only, throwing its sensual
astonishments upside down on
the bloody membranes behind my eyeballs,
not just me being here again, old
needer, looking for someone to need,
but you, up from the clay yourself,
as luck would have it, and inching
over the same little segment of earth-
ball, in the same little eon, to
meet in a room, alive in our skins,
and the whole galaxy gaping there
and the centuries whining like gnats—
you, to teach me to see it, to see
it with you, and to offer somebody
uncomprehending, impudent thanks.
*I see the terrifying spaces of the universe that enclose me, and I find myself attached to a corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am more in this place than in another, nor why this little time that is given me to live is assigned me at this point more than another out of all the eternity that has preceded me and out of all that will follow me. (Thoughts on Religion, Blaise Pascal)