Looking Glass

Who feared, as hope’s flowers unfolded,
that blossoms might fade
with unseasonal change
and petals blow free down the wind?
Who dreamed, when love’s singing first started,
that melodies drifting
through dissonant chords
could keen like a nightbird’s last cry?
Who dared, with life’s dance just beginning,
to partner with fates
unaccustomed to grasp
at the swift, sudden stumbles of time?
Who wept, at the journey’s frail ending,
for the path never taken,
the compass unused,
the years still untrodden, untried?

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Published in: on July 14, 2012 at 7:42 am  Comments (80)  
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  1. Thank you Linda, thank you. I just woke up and found this beautiful piece of looking glass in my computer. I’m fully awake now.

    “Who wept, at the journey’s frail ending,
    for the path never taken,
    the compass unused,
    the years still untrodden, untried?”

    At age 65, these words mean a lot to me, since my days ahead are counted. I have to take advantage at the days ahead since the journey is ending as you say in your poem.

    The picture of the woman looking at the mirror is exquisite. Reminded me of Manet and Monet.

    Thank you again, word weaver,

    Omar.-

    • Omar,

      Isn’t that an exquisite painting? It was auctioned at the same time as Munch’s “Scream”, which of course overshadowed it. I’ve always liked it, and thought it interesting that Munch didn’t show the mirror in the painting. It introduces a bit of delightful ambiguity.

      We’re the same age, and obviously having some of the same thoughts. I’ve given up reality tv in favor of reality.

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s nice to have a good start to the morning, isn’t it?

      Linda

  2. Beautiful. Thank you, Ellen

    • Ellen,

      How kind of you to stop by, and how gracious to leave a comment. Thank you very much!

      Linda

  3. I love the image and what you’ve created. I especially resonate with the words “grasp at the swift, sudden stumbles of time.” Life is full of those changes and chances. Thank you for this lovely start to my Saturday…your words will provoke much reflection in me today.

    • Carol,

      I do believe that’s my favorite line, too. It’s partly the sound of the words, and partly the amusing thought of time itself stumbling along, like a tipsy guest at a wedding reception.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Linda

  4. I agree with Omar, oh weaver of words!
    This is beautiful and so true, and it will surely touch many hearts.
    Z

    • Z,

      I just was thinking about those girls who came to the gallery. Who knows which of them might be set upon a new path, try something different, because of that experience? I suppose part of our task is teaching them to trust their internal compass.

      I’m glad you like the poem – muchas gracias!

      Linda

      • Thanks! Long ago my 4-H calf pulled me half way ’round the arena and back; my mother had wisely urged me not to show the high-spirited animal, and I hoped to prove her wrong! To my dismay, I won first prize in showmanship, and the judge leaned over and whispered, ‘Honey, don’t you EVER lose that smile.’
        I know firsthand, how powerful the words of a stranger can be, and his counsel stuck with me – forever!
        Your poem was/is brilliant, and the praise deserving!
        Z

        • I have my own memories of those 4-H shows, although I tended to be at the end of a curry comb rather than a tether. The beauty is that even those lessons we missed in our early years still are retrievable – and we still can learn from them.

  5. This is absolutely brilliant!

    • Julie,

      You say “brilliant” and the first thing I think of are those peacocks of yours! Thank you so much – glad you like it.

      Linda

      • I wish I could think of better words than ‘brilliant’!

        • “Brilliant” is perfectly good. I like it because it reminds me of a couple of pieces of American Brilliant cut glass I have from my mom. I love their sparkle in the sunlight!

  6. Oh, this is beautiful.

    • nikkipolani,

      You certainly are one who knows something about blossoms that fade with unseasonal change! I’m glad you like the poem.

      Linda

  7. “A writer’s ongoing search for just the right word.” Seems to be, you find the right words over and over again. This is a beautiful, poignant piece, Linda. Maybe it’s too hot to varnish, but your keyboard is certainly on fire!

    • Wendy,

      Can you believe it’s too rainy rather than too hot? Down here by the lake we’ve had five inches over the past week, and people are happy. Every time someone starts to grump, someone else says, “Yeh, but… remember what that drought was like?”

      This one’s been tweaked again and again, over time. It’s funny – now and then I just now when it’s time to stop messing and let a piece be. I’m happy with this one, myself.

      Thanks for stopping by – have a good weekend!

      Linda

  8. Linda; Such a wonderful and wise piece of prose! We may lose our petals, mourn dreams that don’t come out as we planned, but as long as we keep daring and dancing and plodding along life’s journey, we can rest assured that we’ve made the most of our time on this planet. And that’s what counts.
    ~ Beth

    • Beth,

      Oh, you are so right. And both the dancing and the plodding are important. Both keep us moving – even if we’re not certain from time to time which path to take. Of course, the venerable Yogi offered some of the best advice in the world – “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” Sometimes, the choosing’s more important than the choice.

      Thanks for stopping by. You always brighten up my piece of the planet!

      Linda

  9. “could keen like a nightbird’s last cry” and “at the swift, sudden stumbles of time.” Yes, ma’m. Excellent word-smithing, that. (I noticed I had written “word-smiting” — a typo, I think — but it occurs to me that smiths do actually smite as part of their job duties. . . )

    Do you ever do any of The Mag’s challenges?
    Are you familiar with ‘small stones?’ Those are fun.

    • WOL,

      Laughing, here. Sometimes it seems like a little smiting’s in order when words just won’t behave. I’m still carrying “keen” around with me to use elsewhere, but it’s such a good word – I was pleased to have found a use for it here.

      I’ve not taken part in any of the challenges or weekly events like “Snapshot Saturdays” and such. I do know people who participate regularly and I enjoy their contributions. (I still want rhubarb pie, thanks to you!) But I’ve got so many ideas/drafts/titles piled up I need to focus on my own direction, at least for the time being.

      Thanks for stopping by – glad you enjoyed the poem.

      Linda

      • The “small stones” are written about whatever you want to write about. It’s more of an exercise in focusing — a “small stone” is to narrative what a haiku or similar is to poetry. I’ve got a blog (WOL’s River of Stones) just for them, like a sketch book as a place to keep ideas or wording.

        • Somehow I’ve missed your River of Stones. Thanks for mentioning that – I’ll take a look.

  10. Beautiful, Linda. Thank you. Love the imagery and the phrasing in this. You are making wonderful use of your “compass”!

    • ds,

      Funny, that when I set this blog up and did my “About” page, one of the hypothetical choices I set out was”compass” or “map”. I choose compass, and I still would. Maps have their use, but for pure exploring? It’s the compass, every time!

      Thanks for stopping by – and for noticing the phrasing. Good gosh, that took some attention!

      Linda

  11. I love this wonderful piece of writing!

    • montucky,

      Thank you so much. It really doesn’t surprise me that it should appeal to you. After all, you know something about blossoms, paths, compasses – and probably even stumbling!

      Linda

  12. Well done.

    It seems only natural for those of us who’ve reached a certain age to think increasingly about the passage of time and the choices we’ve made, especially those for ill and that are now for the most part irreparable.

    We speak of time passing, but therein lies a paradox, as the following poem by the Renaissance French poet Pierre de Ronsard reminds us. Following the French is not an English translation but a paraphrase that the original inspired the Victorian poet Austin Dobson to write.

    Le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va Madame
    Las le temps ! non, mais nous nous en allons,
    Et tôt serons étendus sous la lame.
    Le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va Madame

    Je vous envoie un bouquet, que ma main
    Vient de trier de ces fleurs épanouies ;
    Qui ne les eût à ces vêpres cueillies,
    Chutes à terre elles fussent demain.

    Le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va Madame
    Las le temps ! non, mais nous nous en allons,
    Et tôt serons étendus sous la lame.
    Le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va Madame

    Ceci vous soit un exemple certain
    Que vos beautés, bien qu’elles soient fleuries,
    En peu de temps cherront toutes flétries,
    Et, comme fleurs, périront tout soudain.

    Le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va Madame
    Las le temps ! non, mais nous nous en allons,
    Et tôt serons étendus sous la lame.
    Le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va Madame.

    — Pierre de Ronsard

    The Paradox of Time

    Time goes, you say? Ah, no!
    Alas, Time stays, we go;
    Or else, were this not so,
    What need to chain the hours,
    For Youth were always ours?
    Time goes, you say?—ah, no!

    Ours is the eyes’ deceit
    Of men whose flying feet
    Lead through some landscape low;

    We pass, and think we see
    The earth’s fixed surface flee:—
    Alas, Time stays,—we go!

    Once in the days of old,
    Your locks were curling gold,
    And mine had shamed the crow.
    Now, in the self-same stage,
    We’ve reached the silver age;
    Time goes, you say?—ah, no!

    Once when my voice was strong,
    I filled the woods with song
    To praise your “rose” and “snow”;
    My bird, that sang, is dead;
    Where are your roses fled?
    Alas, Time stays,—we go!

    See, in what traversed ways,
    What backward Fate delays
    The hopes we used to know;
    Where are your old desires?—
    Ah, where those vanished fires?
    Time goes, you say?—ah, no!

    How far, how far, O Sweet,
    The past behind our feet
    Lies in the even-glow!
    Now on the forward way,
    Let us fold hands, and pray;
    Alas, Time stays,—we go.

    — Austin Dobson

    • Steve,

      Interesting that Dobson was so dedicated to metrical verse. I was introduced to the villanelle only last year, and didn’t realize that Dobson was instrumental in its popularization in English.

      As for his paraphrase, it’s lovely. And his point’s well-taken. We have our tradition of time as that “ever-rolling stream that bears us all away”, but I’ve never thought the analogy was quite right. Not that I can make any strong argument for my preferences – logical or otherwise – but I do find the thought of passing through time more congenial.

      Of course, how we experience time is more important than how we describe time, and our experience of time changes as we age. Live forever? No, thank you. It may be a little daunting to realize more lies behind than ahead, but more often than not a clearer view of the future sharpens the pleasures of the present.

      Linda

  13. The last two measures of each stanza’s fourth line sent me scurrying to remind myself what the unstressed-unstressed-stressed rhythmic pattern is called. It’s a word I haven’t seen or heard in a long time: anapest.

    • My goodness. Isn’t that something? I had to scurry over to the Great Google to get a grip on “anapest” myself. In the process, I found some of his friends: iamb, trochee, spondee and dactyl.

      Even though I didn’t know an anapest from a Budapest, it’s a fact that the rhythm took over when I was writing this. It really was an interesting experience to fit the words into the rhythm without them sounding forced. Now I have some insight into the structure of what I produced. My goodness!

      • The etymology of anapest is interesting. Here’s how the American Heritage Dictionary explains it: Latin anapaestus, from Greek anapaistos : ana-, ana- ‘back’ + paiein, pais-, to strike (so called because an anapest is a reversed dactyl).

        Curiously, the word anapest itself is (more or less) a dactyl.

        • And what a wonderful connection between the poetic dactyl and the pterodactyls. It certainly re-images those discussions about “setting words free to fly”.

  14. Well, my friend, you have captured so much of my heart with this eloquent and elegant poem. My heart and experience. The first and last stanzas particularly resonated, and I couldn’t help but think when I read,

    Who wept, at the journey’s frail ending,
    for the path never taken,
    the compass unused,
    the years still untrodden, untried?

    that this is indeed connected to much of the depression I have felt in recent months, as I know time is more limited and I am less able to do all I want to enjoy. How much of that can I fit into this lifetime? I just don’t know.

    I am breathless with the spot-on meaning of these last four lines.

    • jeanie,

      Every now and then I come across a blog entry that asks,”Can women have it all?” A couple of weeks ago, I answered that question on one blog by saying, quite simply, “No. Women can’t have it all.”

      On the other hand, neither can men. In fact, whether we’re young, old, male, female, white, black, gay, straight, neurotic beyond all telling or a pillar of our community – none of us can “have it all”. Limits are built into life, and the final limit, death, comes to every one of us.

      In some ways it’s not a happy proposition. On the other hand, people who recognize and begin to come to terms with the inherent limitations of life can begin to breathe a little easier. Or so it seems to me.

      In a way, we’re the lucky ones – alive and awake. We’ll cope differently with the time allotted to us, but we’ll cope. And, we’ll enjoy. In my own case, it seems the “rule of thirds” is shaping my life. The first third was education and academia. The second third was my active season – travel, sailing, overseas work and starting my business. Now, I have time for reflection, for looking back – not with regret, but with gratitude for all that’s been, both the good and the bad.

      As for the rest? I can’t help but think of Annie Dillard’s words. “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”

      Linda

  15. Time stumbling. Nice concept and image.
    Agree with another about this piece easily comparable to one of those cut glass pieces from the Brilliant decorative era. No problem to write a whole comparison companion piece about the two.
    Sharp creation. Finely crafted. Well done. Just brilliant – in all aspects.

    • phil,

      I’ve wondered from time to time if my daily work over the past two decades hasn’t helped to lay the foundation for my writing. Varnishing is, after all, a craft, and attention to detail is critical.

      I’m a great fan of William Zinsser, whose book, “Inventing the Truth”, is sub-titled, “The Art and Craft of Memoir”. One of Zinsser’s best and truest lines is, “Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it.” It seems to me that applies across the board, and it’s the craft of writing that keeps things trimmed up. Once the crafting is over, the table or boat or poem may or may not rise to the level of art, but that’s a different discussion.

      I do like it when writing of any sort sparkles. ;)

      Linda

  16. Beautiful, Linda!

    As an alto, I wonder why I didn’t notice “the dissonant chords” with the melody.

    • Claudia,

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the poem.

      As for that dissonance – sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a composer’s intent and poor performance. I still remember my dad asking mom, during my first year of clarinet lessons, “Is it supposed to sound like that?”

      The same question keeps popping up in a multitude of forms, not the least of which is, “Is it supposed to be like this?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but just as often, as with that abysmal clarinet-playing, the answer’s an emphatic “No!”

      Linda

  17. A sad poem, full of regret for what might have been. We all feel like that occasionally, and more and more often as the years pass; I wish I need neither look back nor into the future, but be content with the present.

    I am working on a poem comparing childhood and maturity, but it just doesn’t come right.

    • friko,

      My own sense of the poem isn’t so much sadness as bemusement, an almost affectionate and certainly sympathetic acceptance of the naiveté of youth. Life never is what we imagine it will be, and often not what we hope for. Being able to have a clear-eyed look at what is – that ability to live in the present you mention – is probably both an achievement and a gift.

      I have a couple of pieces sitting around that also are refusing to “come right”. It can be frustrating, to say the least. This one was in process for at least three years, but it did a lot of sitting around during that time. Eventually, it was right. Yours will be, too.

      And if it isn’t? Well, I’ve learned to appreciate Isaac Bashevis Singer’s view that “the wastebasket is the writer’s best friend”. Hence, the presence on my computer of a file named, “Wastebasket”, About every three months I take a look, just to see if there are signs of life in there. If not, I quietly close it up, and tip-toe away.

      Linda

  18. I can certainly relate to this poem. I am simply going to say BRAVA Linda!

    Maria

    • Maria,

      It’s a pleasure to have you stop by, and thank you. We’ve certainly had occasion for reflection over the past couple of years – it’s a joy to share in it with you.

      Linda

  19. Truly the best piece of poetry I have come across in recent times and the image you have created really complements the words. Just reading this beautiful verse has made my day. Thanks.

    • davidrwells,

      Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the image as well as the words, and were kind enough to leave a comment.

      You’re welcome any time!

      Linda

  20. I must say your words, so extremely well chosen and crafted, are a gift each week. Thank you for sharing your world, your view, and the nuggets you find. You have an innate ability to express yourself so naturally. You have read much, listened carefully, reflected daily and asked many questions seeking answers to create such an interesting writing place.

    The themes of carpe diem, ephemeral experiences and ineffable feelings are all here, very difficult to achieve. They’re all here in one place. Oh, I salute your fine writing.

    • Georgette,

      Thinking in all its forms – musing, reflecting, pondering, imagining – are as important for writing as being able to construct a coherent sentence. It does take time,

      I’ve always enjoyed a letter Flannery O’Connor wrote to Paul Engle about her experience with the publishers Selby and Rinehart. In it, she says,

      “To develop at all as a writer I have to develop in my own way. I will not be hurried or directed by Rinehart…

      Now I am sure that no one will understand my need to work this novel out in my own way better than you; although you may feel that I should work faster. Believe me, I work ALL the time, but I cannot work fast. No one can convince me I shouldn’t re-write as much as I do.”

      That line – “I work ALL the time, but I cannot work fast” – is hilarious to me. If people knew what was going on in my head when they see me varnishing down on the docks, they might be astonished. But that’s where most of the thinking and reflecting for my writing goes on.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, and for your rich comments. They’re worth pondering, too.

      Linda

  21. Engagement, Life, Nostalgia, Poetry, Possibility, Regret. It’s amazing how tags can direct us in interpreting a poem. Thank you.

    I wondered who the artist was and found the answer in one of your replies. Have you thought about maybe mentioning it in the text next time for those of us who are clueless?

    • Ginnie,

      As I’m sure you know, the process of tagging can be as interesting as the process of making the photograph or writing the piece. Once it’s complete, there’s another process of reflection, asking, “What is this one’s heart? How shall I describe it?”

      If you mouse over the image, you should see the name of the painting, the artist and the year. Images that come from other sites always are clickable – this one should take you to the Sotheby’s site, where there’s more information about its auction.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Linda

  22. I can’t tell you how much this touched me. You’ve reached right into my mind and my heart.

    The painting is perfect for the poem. I’ve never seen it before.

    Thanks for giving me a good reason to stop and reflect quietly this morning. You know I don’t do that often enough :)

    • Becca,

      Isn’t the painting lovely? I never think of Munch without thinking of “The Scream” and all its quirky adaptations. This one surprised me.

      Heaven knows you deserve a little time for reflection – I hope you’re about done with all that paperwork. And I’m really glad you found something for yourself in the poem.

      Linda

  23. The poem touched deep within soul and heart…. my… The painting resonated a type of long ago memories.. reminiscent. Beautiful….

    • Anna,

      Isn’t it funny how words can touch us, and images bring memories to life? Seeing the curtains in this painting, I remembered the curtains in the “back bedroom” at my grandparents’ house. There was no airconditioning then, so the windows always were open in the “good seasons”.

      When it was nap time, I always tried to stay awake, so I could watch the curtains.

      I’m so glad you found some meaning in it, too.

      Linda

  24. Linda, this is a beautiful piece and I especially love –

    Who wept, at the journey’s frail ending,
    for the path never taken,
    the compass unused,
    the years still untrodden, untried

    I may feel different once I have a few more years behind me (grin) but for now my great fear isn’t death but that I will have missed something important ‘today’. Whether it be a country road I’ve never driven or the chance to color with my preschooler, my mind is often occupied with ways to walk more than one path and not missing any of them.

    • Kit,

      That makes perfect sense to me. It reminds me of Annie Dillard’s comment that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. There aren’t all that many Really Big Decisions in life, but every day is filled with decisions of every size and shape. I suppose part of the challenge is to make more decisions, or at least do it more intentionally, rather than running on autopilot. Or empty. ;-)

      Thanks for the kind words – and keep on coloring!

      Linda

  25. The last stanza speaks loud and clearly to me!! Thank you for sharing!! :-)

    • becca,

      Amazing, isn’t it, how just a word or a line can “leap out” at us? I’m glad you found your special stanza. And thank you for sharing a comment!

      Linda

  26. This is lovely! I just recently heard about an old coworker – a former chief financial officer for a company I worked for – who decided that she was tired of accounting. She decided to become a registered nurse – at age 50. It inspired me to consider that the future is wide open – there doesn’t have to be an age limit!

    • The Bug,

      There certainly doesn’t have to be a limit. I was 43 when I decided to leave my high heels and suits behind and start my own boat varnishing business. Despite a lot of scepticism on the part of my friends and absolute disbelief from my mom, it worked!

      You’ve reminded me of a very interesting congregation I was involved with once. Over time, the pastor got the whole bunch to see Sunday worship as a kind of pivot point between past and future. Instead of the standard “go in peace, serve the Lord” as final benediction, it always was “the past is forgiven, the future is open”. People liked it.

      Linda

      • I like that too – I should mention it to my Rector :)

  27. Linda you are a skilled, meticulous writer and this poem is so *perfect* that I fear I’ll ruin it with my ramblings… I love the opening word “who” in each stanza, the word pictures you gave us like
    “…hope’s flowers unfolded,
    that blossoms might fade…
    with unseasonal change
    and petals blow free down the wind?”

    and the sad regretful ending! Oh we who are of a similar age as you can weep with you at the path never taken the compass unused…
    but we can still up and follow our dreams, as I did when I walked in Spain.

    I also love the painting. I’ve never seen it before.

    • dearrosie,

      I suspect you’ll be tickled to know that the first “who” that showed up was in the hackneyed, modern “who knew?” That got tossed pretty quickly, but it did begin to set the direction for the poem as I paired “who” with “dreamed”, “feared”, and so on. I was a little like Horton – I kept hearing Whos!

      Speaking of the Camina, I’ve been meaning to tell you that a marvelous local photographer made the walk at about the same time you were there. He will be posting his photos on Flickr – you can see the first set here. He’s a Houston ship pilot – I first met him when I contacted him for permission to use one of his photos from the Houston Ship Channel for one of my posts.

      If you search his photostream using “camino”, all of the photos will come up, including one of the stylized scallop shell used on the markers.

      There never will be enough time to experience all the wonders of the world – thank goodness we’re able to share so much with each other!

      Linda

  28. You know, this is very meaningful, both the visual and the words. And I can but hear sighs all over the comment section. I too let out a sigh or two, esp. when I came to the last stanza.

    But then upon reading it again this morning, I hear Robert Frost’s words speaking to me: “…Yet knowing how way leads on to way…” There are bound to be paths not taken, roads left untrodden, sigh… but I can only claim the ones I’ve walked as my own, none other. As for the unused compass, now, that’s another matter. ;)

    • Arti,

      That’s right. For every road not taken, there’s a path that was trod – and the stories that arise along that path surely are as compelling as any stories we imagine.

      I’m getting old enough now to notice another interesting phenomenon. People in their middle-ages – the 40s and 50s – seem to experience the pangs of “I’m not going to be able to do it all!”, more sharply than people in their 60s and 70s. I can’t be sure, but I think it’s called “coming to terms with life”. As the realization comes that we’ll never finish the bucket list, it can be quite a relief to throw the list away and see what life itself has to offer.

      That’s one reason I’m inclined to a compass over a map. When I discover I’m roaming Kansas with a map of Rhode Island I mistakenly threw in the car, the compass still will work!

      Linda

  29. Ah silly me, geometrical me: it took a long time for me to stop thinking about the draws-an-arc kind of compass and start thinking about the finds-a-direction kind of compass that you meant.

    • Steve,

      But don’t forget – the draws-an-arc kind of compass also can be used as dividers, which measure distance on a nautical chart, which is useful if you’re finding your direction on water rather than land!

      Linda

      • True enough, but this land-lubber wouldn’t have thought of that. Our backgrounds condition our associations: you on water, I in a math classroom.

  30. What subtle, true words. Devastating yet beautiful.

    I think that humanity has a talent for sadness. To feel regret, loss…it is one of our sorry definitions; the by-product of reason and rational thought. It’s our birthright, and yet we never recognize it until it is too late.

    With the initial rush of joy, one never stops to think of its end. But I’ve always worried about this ending since I was young. Which made me rather a dour teenager.

    Yet now that I’m so vastly older, I now think that though that compass might lay unused, could I not look to see if that glass is still sealed – and that it might be used to take me further?

    • aubrey,

      I think you’re exactly right – a talent for sadness is a mark of our humanity. Self-consciousness, our awareness of having both a beginning and an end, separates us from the rest of creation.

      On a purely emotional level, I suspect that’s why I find the concept of immortality unappealing – it seems to denigrate human experience. At least in death and resurrection there’s a place for endings of every sort – individual life, but also relationships, jobs, health, sunsets. The transitory nature of life is part of the package, whether we accept it or not. I suppose that’s why these words of Annie Dillard seem so true: “Last forever!’ Who hasn’t prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying.”

      As for the compass – it’s still there. Nothing left to do but pick it up and get going!

      Linda

  31. Who wept, at the journey’s frail ending,
    for the path never taken,
    the compass unused,
    the years still untrodden, untried?

    That says it all. Loved it, Linda.

    • Bella Rum,

      On we go. I’ve got an extra compass or two over here if you need it. ;)

      Linda

  32. As usual I’m late getting around to commenting.
    Received an older model Brunton Compass/Transit t’other day as a birthday gift. Also somewhere on the shelves in the shop are the helm binnacles from two (sunk,burned or sold) old boats. One handy “Silva”, the built in compass in the Zuiho transit and a few magnets in tiny aluminium flasks make up the rest of the inventory.What did they call the early compass? “Lodestone”?

    • Ken,

      I’m not sure they called the earliest compasses lodestones, but I know the lodestones were used to magnitize iron needles that floated in water or were suspended, sometimes over a compass rose. The earliest date I found for the magnetized needles was in the 1200s, but by the 1500s they were fairly common. I’ve got a wonderful .gif of a “swinging” compass, but we can’t post images in the comments so I’ll get it to you otherwise.

      In the beginning, I had the dangest time getting my mind around deviation and variation. It seemed like north should be north, period. Maybe it would be useful to create deviation cards for our internal compasses, too!

      Linda

  33. A beautiful art work to complement your exquisite writing, Linda. Time is a great teacher…

    • Andrew,

      Isn’t the Munch beautiful? I started out trying to photograph an art nouveau mirror I have. My goodness – it’s hard to photograph a mirror! The, I found the painting, and it was much better.

      Time does teach, and does much more, if we’re willing to be a little patient.

      Linda

  34. Linda,
    Just beautiful and well said.
    Patti

    • Thanks, Patti. I’m glad you enjoyed it – although that reflective, looking back tone isn’t quite what your life’s all about these days! Babies and such tend to keep us pretty firmly anchored in the present!

      Linda

  35. A most beautiful poem that needs to be read and thought about and read again. Our inner compass – why don’t we trust it more?
    I would not have associated this painting with Munch’s works; those various blue shades are exquisite. Thank you Linda.

    • Isa,

      Isn’t the painting wonderful? I never would have thought of Munch, either. Funny how a painter gets defined by this or that work, and so much else falls by the wayside and almost disappears.

      As for that inner compass – so hard to say why it gets ignored. Sometimes, of course, we’re intent on not believing it! There it is, pointing us straight north, and the terrain looks so rocky we say, “Oh, no. That can’t be north! That’s south – we’ll go this other way!”

      There’s a funny and true story about the other side of that coin. A friend had a dashboard compass in her car which was just about 90 degrees off. One day, we were in the country looking for an old cemetery, with written instructions to go south. She headed west. When I asked why, she explained she was following the compass, which indicated we were going south. I asked why the sun was setting in front of us…. Eventually, we agreed it was the compass that was wrong, and adjusted course.

      So – perhaps we need to keep an eye on our internal compasses, too!

      Linda


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