Laughter

Children smiling, some of them cheerfully playing in the sunshine, and a young female soldier laughing with a friend, these are BBC images of second-day truce in Syria that brought to mind – one daydreamer to another – the great Hindu poet and seer Rabindranath Tagore. No matter that he was writing and speaking in another context and in another age: like Alpha and Omega, prophetic vision speaks and inspires in innumerable beginnings and endings – which we understand now are continuing expansions. Both endings and beginnings are new creations – like children playing and a young soldier’s laughter …

I suddenly felt as if some ancient mist had
in a moment lifted from my sight and the
ultimate significance of all things was laid
bare … Immediately I found the world bathed
in a wonderful radiance with waves of beauty
and joy swelling on every side, and no person
or thing in the world seemed to me trivial or
unpleasing.

Rabindranath Tagore
Quoted by Benjamin Walker
The Hindu World, volume 2, page 475

Unmoving majesty

The mist may seem to throw the mountain
into obscurity, but nothing can shake its grand
unmoving majesty!

Rabindranath Tagore
Jottings, 59, page 78

Living here in earth is to have access to art in incalculable forms. The sky above high fells and mountains in our part of the world is a celestial art gallery, and the mood of each and every “painted” sky and landscape changes second by second. Warmed by the sun, cooled and whipped by wind, sparkling with rainwater and overflowing rivers, lightly blanketed, darkly hidden and shrouded, black and blue and brown, and green and grey and gold, purple and red and violet and yellow – and always, beneath the vibrant kaleidoscope, unshaken – as Tagore observed – unmoving majesty. Art leads us to the Heart.

Pen strokes paint

Light oak polished
floor, mantel-shelf,
hundreds of books
lining walls each side
small tables, reading
lamps, wall lights – four

modest tv, and film
collection, clicking
knitting needles, coffee
cups, pens, inks, paper
iPad, Mac, iPhone
Bethle’m nativity scene
star above stable door

bright Persian rug
set centred on the
floor – Libertino’s
Italian magic carpet
rides to places
unheard of heretofore.

Beige leather sofa
and chairs, black
stove warming
hearts and home
low round table
books, journals, arts

Zbigniew Herbert poems
Thomas Merton, Thomas Mann
watercolours, Richard Rohr
Rabindranath Tagore
Ken Wilber, Austin Farrer’s
The End of Man

Rembrandt’s The Artist
in his Studio
has inward
looking eyes – painted-out
dulled and black. His
great paintings seen
in mind’s eye and

nothing did they
lack. So from my
mind’s eye in a
favourite room at
home, pen strokes
paint – in words

alone.

Simon Marsh

Vaster and stranger

We live in a limited world
Enclosed by what is familiar.
An unseen world is close by,
Vaster and stranger.
Messages between the two
Speak in a shadowy metre.
The wail of the distant flute,
The scent of a nameless flower.

Rabindranath Tagore
Particles, Jottings, Sparks: 100, p133
The Collected Brief Poems

“The wail of the distant flute” is carried on the wildness of the gales buffeting our house tonight. Rainwaters lying everywhere. The little river full. A roar in the stove chimney. “An unseen world is close by.”

Did Rabrindranath Tagore intend that his Brief Poems should ever be “collected”? I cannot know that. But I am thankful for them, as for all the other poets who remind me daily that I’m in company with others contemplating life beyond all that is “Enclosed by what is familiar”. Not alone in having strong sense of “an unseen world … close by”.