Commonplace: Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison, “Day 39” from Meditations from the Mat

“Long after all our other practices have fallen by the wayside, and no matter how much pain we are in or how self-destructive we have been, prayer is available to us. And prayer will find us the energy we need to come back from the brink. The message of the Buddha, of Christ, and of yoga is the possibility of resurrection, redemption, rebirth. Prayer is the locomotive that drives the resurrection train. […] Prayer is the means by which we formally surrender. Going to the mat is a form of surrender; abstaining from violence and being truthful are forms of surrender. Prayer is surrender.”

~ Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison, “Day 39” from Meditation from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga.


Commonplace: Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch

"Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it's a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself. There are books that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree.

This kind of book becomes part of our own experience, and part of our own endurance. It might lead us back to the library in midlife, looking that eluded us before."

Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch

Commonplace: William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
~ William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Commonplace: Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

“But Grandmother sat in the forest and carved outlandish animals. She cut them from branches and driftwood and gave them paws and faces, but she only hinted at what they looked like and never made them too distinct. They retained their wooden souls, and the curve of their backs and legs had the enigmatic shape of growth itself and remained a part of the decaying forest. Sometimes she cut them directly out of a stump or the trunk of a tree. Her carvings became more and more numerous. They clung to trees or sat astride the branches, they rested against the trunks or settled into the ground. With outstretched arms, they sank in the marsh, or they curled up quietly and slept by a root. Sometimes they were only a profile in the shadows, and sometimes there were two or three together, entwined in battle or in love. Grandmother worked only in old wood that had already found its form. That is, she saw and selected those pieces of wood that expressed what she wanted them to say.”

~Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

Commonplace: Orlando Gough, “Cook Cheaply, Cook Intelligently and Cook Well”

“In the world of food, it’s quinoa and za’atari v. sugar-in-everything, and is it line-caught v. can I afford fish, and organic chickens v. scarily cheap chickens, and has Jamie O betrayed his roots, and oh dear, why are poor people so fat, or rather obese, fat sounds a bit, er, uncaring. Can we eat healthily and ethically but cheaply? Actually, the great (if irritating) man, in his heroic school dinners crusade, proved, to my satisfaction at least, that we can. And he got the children cooking, wonderful. But how much do we want to, either eat healthily or indeed cook? Why not obey those daft ads that say ‘Just Eat’, go to the kebab shop and have done with it? Do poor people even have stoves? The debate rages. Meanwhile in Dartmouth Park, where we used to live, in North London za’atari heartland, everyone’s given up everything, from caffeine to alcohol and beyond, and is existing on a diet of massaged kale and early-morning runs. Do they even need their stoves?”

~ Orlando Gough, “Cook Cheaply, Cook Intelligently and Cook Well,” Toast Travels. Link here.

Commonplace: Ogden Nash, “To My Valentine”

“More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That’s how much I love you.

I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.

As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests unexpected guests,
That’s how much you I love.

I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.

I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oathes,
That’s how you’re love by me.

~ Ogden Nash, “To My Valentine”

Yep, the boyfriend is in town today 😉

Commonplace: Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth”

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons. 
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, 
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires. 
What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes. 
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds. 

~ Wilfred Owen, "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

Commonplace: John McRae, “In Flanders Fields”

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place, and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high!

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

~ John McRae, “In Flanders Fields”

Commonplace: Jessie Pope, “The Knitting Song”

SOLDIER lad, on the sodden ground,

Sailor lad on the seas,

Can’t you hear a little clicketty sound

Stealing across on the breeze?

It’s the knitting-needles singing their song

As they twine the khaki or blue,

Thousands and thousands and thousands strong,

Tommy and Jack, for you.

Click — click — click,

How they dart and flick,

Flashing in the firelight to and fro!

Now for purl and plain,

Round and round again,

Knitting love and luck in every row.

The busy hands may be rough or white,

The fingers gouty or slim,

The careful eyes may be youthfully bright,

Or they may be weary and dim,

Lady and workgirl, young and old,

They’ve all got one end in view,

Knitting warm comforts against the cold,

Tommy and Jack, for you.

Knitting away by the midnight oil,

Knitting when day begins,

Lads, in the stress of your splendid toil,

Can’t you hear the song of the pins?

Clicketty, click — through the wind and the foam

It’s telling the boys over there

That every “woolly” that comes from home

Brings a smile and a hope and a prayer.

Click — click — click,

How they dart and flick,

Flashing in the firelight to and fro!

Now for purl and plain,

Round and round again,

Knitting love and luck in every row.

Commonplace: Dorothy Frances Gurney, “The Coming of the Colonies”

I OF the bleeding heart, bent head, and stricken tongue,

Old, old with years, and honours, and despairs,

Watch them go forth to fight and die, last heirs

And children of my womb, the happy young.

I took the challenge, by the oppressors flung,

I and my peers, — and far my beacon flares,

“Up, up, ye lion cubs, from out your lairs!”

Wide o’er the world my cry of need has rung.

They came, my splendid daughters — to the fray —

India and Australasia and the Isles,

Swart Afric, and my swift cold Canada —

With ardour, and with laughter and with smiles;

And, though my every son of Britain fall,

With these no man shall hold me as a thrall.