At home

Hurts hang within me, moth-balled.

The metaphor says open the doors,

Clear them out, hang fresh thoughts.

 

A sticky layer of thick dust,

Hot sun baking on the carpet,

Choking sick, black candy floss.

 

Cut off air to consciousness

Cut off in a room

My eyelids do not breathe.

 

It will get dark and light again.

 

 

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O my soul

To be dispersed across the hills

Softly as the undulating mist

Which stretches out and dissipates

Through heather banks and bracken

Brushes over shallow valleys’ streams

And drifts up to a highland expanse

To be gathered into sweeping cloud,

A whirl, plunging over the ridge.

 

 

 

 

XXIII – “To use words but rarely”

To use words but rarely

Is to be natural.

Hence a gusty wind cannot last all morning, and a sudden downpour cannot last all day. Who is it that produces these? Heaven and earth. If even heaven and earth cannot go on forever, much less can man. That is why one follows the way.

A man of the way conforms to the way; a man of virtue conform to virtue; a man of loss* conforms to loss. He who conforms to the way is gladly accepted by the way; he who conforms to the virtue is gladly accepted by the virtue; he who conforms to loss is gladly accepted by loss.

Where there is not enough faith, there is lack of good faith.

(*or, heaven?)

Faith requires no words.

 

 

 

XX – “I alone am different from the others”

Exterminate learning and there will no longer be worries.

Between yea and nay

How much difference is there?

Between good and evil

How great is the distance?

What others fear

One must also fear.

And wax without having reached the limit.

The multitude are joyous

As if partaking of the t’ai lao offering

Or going up to a terrace in spring.

Like a baby that has not yet learnt to smile,

Listless as though with no home to go back to.

The multitude all have more than enough.

I alone seem to be in want.

My mind is that of the fool – how blank!

Vulgar people are clear.

I alone am drowsy.

Vulgar people are alert.

I alone am muddled.

Calm like the sea;

Like a high wind that never ceases.

The multitude all have a purpose.

I alone am foolish and uncouth.

I alone am different from others

And value being fed by the mother.

 

The season had left me behind today.

 

“From beta boy to Übermensch”

Andrew O’Hagen’s article in the LRB this week about “beta boys” – the young men who carry out mass shootings – disturbed me. He looked at the manifestos they leave behind. Their shootings were heroic acts of justice, a hammer-blow judgment on this bastard society. They were deeds executed by great men, scorned children, I read.

I look out of the living room window. The trees’ gestures catch my eye. Across the road, the willow nods sadly with the wind. Over the rooftops, transluscent beech-leaves flatter manically. Looking back, behind the willow, I start to gaze into the birch tree. In the breeze, his arms are weighing the matter over and over. Sometimes, he is stunned still. Then high up, the small circlular shifting starts, to and fro, and soon he is swaying – then almost shaking – and settling down into his measured sifting, over again.

An aeroplane accelerates upwards above us. Its engines grind and growl through the gears. The noise then flattens into a blanket of shrill thunder. A black cloud appears, grim as a tank. And then, banquets with the Chinese ambassador, the pigs in Animal Farm, Trident, the climate, cuts in public services. The beech-leaves flatter and pant crazily.

There’s me, the trees, the tanks, cuts, Corbyn, cruel society. The willow nods, inevitably. Blackness: a menacing aeroplane, nuclear weapons, me, beta boys’ poetry, the Übermensch, Eternal Recurrence, World War Two. The plane passes. There’s rustling, birdsong even, momentarily – a covering of greywhite clouds. The birch sways over and over.