Story Institute RamblingVerser - Episode 27 - Ending in the Beginning
Childhood connections or Nada…Your path defined by you, the poet, writer, creator…
Featured Quote: “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.”
~ William Faulkner in his speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1950
Ode: Intimations of Immortality
~ William Wordsworth (1807)
Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight, To me did seem Apparelled in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream. It is not now as it hath been of yore;– Turn wheresoe’er I may, By night or day, The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The Rainbow comes and goes, And lovely is the Rose, The Moon doth with delight Look round her when the heavens are bare, Waters on a starry night Are beautiful and fair; The sunshine is a glorious birth; But yet I know, where’er I go, That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song, And while the young lambs bound As to the tabor’s sound, To me alone there came a thought of grief: A timely utterance gave that thought relief, And I again am strong: The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep; No more shall grief of mine the season wrong; I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng, The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep, And all the earth is gay; Land and sea Give themselves up to jollity, And with the heart of May Doth every Beast keep holiday;– Thou Child of Joy, Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy!
Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call Ye to each other make; I see The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee; My heart is at your festival, My head hath its coronal, The fulness of your bliss, I feel–I feel it all. Oh evil day! if I were sullen While Earth herself is adorning, This sweet May-morning, And the Children are culling On every side, In a thousand valleys far and wide, Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm, And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:– I hear, I hear, with joy I hear! –But there’s a Tree, of many, one, A single Field which I have looked upon, Both of them speak of something that is gone: The Pansy at my feet Doth the same tale repeat: Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing Boy, But He beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy; The Youth, who daily farther from the east Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest, And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended; At length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own; Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind, And, even with something of a Mother’s mind, And no unworthy aim, The homely Nurse doth all she can To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man, Forget the glories he hath known, And that imperial palace whence he came.
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses, A six years’ Darling of a pigmy size! See, where ’mid work of his own hand he lies, Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses, With light upon him from his father’s eyes! See, at his feet, some little plan or chart, Some fragment from his dream of human life, Shaped by himself with newly-learned art; A wedding or a festival, A mourning or a funeral; And this hath now his heart, And unto this he frames his song: Then will he fit his tongue To dialogues of business, love, or strife; But it will not be long Ere this be thrown aside And with new joy and pride The little Actor cons another part; Filling from time to time his “humorous stage” With all the Persons, down to palsied Age, That Life brings with her in her equipage; As if his whole vocation Were endless imitation.
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie Thy Soul’s immensity; Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind, That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep, Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,– Mighty Prophet! Seer blest! On whom those truths do rest, Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; Thou, over whom thy Immortality Broods like the Day, a Master o’er a Slave, A Presence which is not to be put by; Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height, Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke The years to bring the inevitable yoke, Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife? Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom lie upon thee with a weight Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
O joy! that in our embers Is something that doth live, That nature yet remembers What was so fugitive! The thought of our past years in me doth breed Perpetual benediction: not indeed For that which is most worthy to be blest– Delight and liberty, the simple creed Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest, With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:– Not for these I raise The song of thanks and praise; But for those obstinate questionings Of sense and outward things, Fallings from us, vanishings; Blank misgivings of a Creature Moving about in worlds not realised, High instincts before which our mortal Nature Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised: But for those first affections, Those shadowy recollections, Which, be they what they may, Are yet the fountain light of all our day, Are yet a master light of all our seeing; Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make Our noisy years seem moments in the being Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake, To perish never; Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, Nor Man nor Boy, Nor all that is at enmity with joy, Can utterly abolish or destroy! Hence in a season of calm weather Though inland far we be, Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither, Can in a moment travel thither, And see the Children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song! And let the young Lambs bound As to the tabor’s sound! We in thought will join your throng, Ye that pipe and ye that play, Ye that through your hearts to-day Feel the gladness of the May! What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now for ever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind; In the primal sympathy Which having been must ever be; In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering; In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves, Forebode not any severing of our loves! Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might; I only have relinquished one delight To live beneath your more habitual sway. I love the Brooks which down their channels fret, Even more than when I tripped lightly as they; The innocent brightness of a new-born Day Is lovely yet; The Clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality; Another race hath been, and other palms are won. Thanks to the human heart by which we live, Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Poetry Writing Prompt:
Write a poem that connects to the emotions and to our drive as people. Connect with the essence and pull out the intensity of the images.
Featured Short Story:
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him.
“Last week he tried to commit suicide,” one waiter said.
“He was in despair.”
“How do you know it was nothing?”
“He has plenty of money.”
They sat together at a table that was close against the wall near the door of the cafe and looked at the terrace where the tables were all empty except where the old man sat in the shadow of the leaves of the tree that moved slightly in the wind. A girl and a soldier went by in the street. The street light shone on the brass number on his collar. The girl wore no head covering and hurried beside him.
“The guard will pick him up,” one waiter said.
“What does it matter if he gets what he’s after?”
“He had better get off the street now. The guard will get him. They went by five minutes ago.”
The old man sitting in the shadow rapped on his saucer with his glass. The younger waiter went over to him.
“What do you want?”
The old man looked at him. “Another brandy,” he said.
“You’ll be drunk,” the waiter said. The old man looked at him. The waiter went away.
“He’ll stay all night,” he said to his colleague. “I’m sleepy now.I never get into bed before three o’clock. He should have killed himself last week.”
The waiter took the brandy bottle and another saucer from the counter inside the cafe and marched out to the old man’s table. He put down the saucer and poured the glass full of brandy.
“You should have killed yourself last week,” he said to the deaf man. The old man motioned with his finger. “A little more,” he said. The waiter poured on into the glass so that the brandy slopped over and ran down the stem into the top saucer of the pile.”Thank you,” the old man said. The waiter took the bottle back inside the cafe. He sat down at the table with his colleague again.
“He’s drunk now,” he said.
“He’s drunk every night.”
“What did he want to kill himself for?”
“How should I know.”
“How did he do it?”
“He hung himself with a rope.”
“Who cut him down?”
“Why did they do it?”
“Fear for his soul.”
“How much money has he got?” “He’s got plenty.”
“He must be eighty years old.”
“Anyway I should say he was eighty.”
“I wish he would go home. I never get to bed before three o’clock.What kind of hour is that to go to bed?”
“He stays up because he likes it.”
“He’s lonely. I’m not lonely. I have a wife waiting in bed for me.”
“He had a wife once too.”
“A wife would be no good to him now.”
“You can’t tell. He might be better with a wife.”
“His niece looks after him. You said she cut him down.”
“I know.” “I wouldn’t want to be that old. An old man is a nasty thing.”
“Not always. This old man is clean. He drinks without spilling.Even now, drunk. Look at him.”
“I don’t want to look at him. I wish he would go home. He has no regard for those who must work.”
The old man looked from his glass across the square, then over at the waiters.
“Another brandy,” he said, pointing to his glass. The waiter who was in a hurry came over.
“Finished,” he said, speaking with that omission of syntax stupid people employ when talking to drunken people or foreigners. “No more tonight. Close now.”
“Another,” said the old man.
“No. Finished.” The waiter wiped the edge of the table with a towel and shook his head.
The old man stood up, slowly counted the saucers, took a leather coin purse from his pocket and paid for the drinks, leaving half a peseta tip. The waiter watched him go down the street, a very old man walking unsteadily but with dignity.
“Why didn’t you let him stay and drink?” the unhurried waiter asked. They were putting up the shutters. “It is not half-past two.”
“I want to go home to bed.”
“What is an hour?”
“More to me than to him.”
“An hour is the same.”
“You talk like an old man yourself. He can buy a bottle and drinkat home.”
“It’s not the same.”
“No, it is not,” agreed the waiter with a wife. He did not wish to be unjust. He was only in a hurry.
“And you? You have no fear of going home before your usual hour?”
“Are you trying to insult me?”
“No, hombre, only to make a joke.”
“No,” the waiter who was in a hurry said, rising from pulling down the metal shutters. “I have confidence. I am all confidence.”
“You have youth, confidence, and a job,” the older waiter said.”You have everything.”
“And what do you lack?”
“Everything but work.”
“You have everything I have.”
“No. I have never had confidence and I am not young.”
“Come on. Stop talking nonsense and lock up.”
“I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe,” the older waiter said.
“With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night.”
“I want to go home and into bed.”
“We are of two different kinds,” the older waiter said. He was now dressed to go home. “It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe.”
“Hombre, there are bodegas open all night long.”
“You do not understand. This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well lighted. The light is very good and also, now, there are shadows of the leaves.”
“Good night,” said the younger waiter.
“Good night,” the other said. Turning off the electric light he continued the conversation with himself, It was the light of course but it is necessary that the place be clean and pleasant. You do not want music. Certainly you do not want music. Nor can you stand before a bar with dignity although that is all that isprovided for these hours. What did he fear? It was not a fear ordread, It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all anothing and a man was a nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived init and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y naday pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give usthis nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee. He smiled and stood before a bar with a shining steam pressure coffee machine.
“What’s yours?” asked the barman.
“Otro loco mas,” said the barman and turned away.
“A little cup,” said the waiter.
The barman poured it for him.
“The light is very bright and pleasant but the bar is unpolished,”the waiter said.
The barman looked at him but did not answer. It was too late at night for conversation.
“You want another copita?” the barman asked.
“No, thank you,” said the waiter and went out. He disliked bars and bodegas. A clean, well-lighted cafe was a very different thing. Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it’s probably only insomnia. Many must have it.
Short Story Writing Prompts:
1) Improve your dialogue skills. Engage your audience without constantly using “he said”, “she said.” Write your conversations as if someone is there watching the dialogue rather than being told what happened.
2) How do you look at life and how connected are you to your storyline? Write about the compassion, the sacrifice, the endurance of people to help connect your readers to your characters.
Short Story Topics – Storms Rising
The wind shifts and the rain pelts the dry earth below. The sky darkens and the winds increase in intensity. The calming drips of a slow rain as it provides tasty water to the thirsty verdant terrain. It was light just a few moments ago. There were no cars on the road. Now, a parking lot rests on the pavement and darkness scatters among the residents of this small town.
In the distance, the wind is swirling a little too naturally…a little too quickly…a little too threatening. Your main character sees the funnel begin to form. She looks around her at the constant stall ahead of her. She looks to the left sees a man in a collared-shirt and tie paging through messages on his phone. She looks to the right and see a mother and her two small children perched in their car seats.
What are her next actions? Where does she go? Does she find shelter? Does she warn her neighbors? Does she represent something more supernatural? Decide on the details. Decide on the impact. Decide on the emotions to share. Post it here, or share elsewhere, but write and enjoy…
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