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QUINTESSENCE

Warrior, Monk

Bust of Alexander, Museum of Athens

Some things
you know all your life. They are simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter, and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.


- from "The Simple Truth," Philip Levine


I have shared this stanza of Philip Levine's poem "The Simple Truth," before with you. If you are not familiar with Levine's work, please, when you have a moment, read through the entire poem. And then, perhaps, browse the complete poetry collection by the same title. Levine's poems are pithy, fibrous. Earthy and powerful. They sear in your brain. They move your heart.

Distinct and subtle, Levine is sometimes referred to as the working man's poet. A tribute to his attention to the ordinary hours, to working lives, his curiosity and empathy for the fates of others. The stanza above speaks to me as a reflection on loyalty, fidelity, love. The musculature and the power of attachment.

The human heart is capable of great patience, tremendous tenacity. It stretches, builds ever so slowly like bone in the body. All is a journey, this life. Connection and partnership. The hand-bricked construction of that we define as family. Our layers of self, like the rings of the oak, evolve continual ways of being. It is the simple truth to say that living is about ever-becoming. And while neither easy, nor pristinely unmarred, and certainly never perfect in process, for each one of us becoming is whole and perfect intent. Perfect in joy. Grounded in earth, heaven, and the unending soul. The human heart is a warrior and a monk. And speaks a simple truth. Belong.

As we enter the quiet months of winter, listen to the song your life is singing. Speak the things you know to be true. Make these truths the pillars of conscious living.

Let the beauty we love be what we do - Rumi



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2017 Nobel Prize in Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro, signing copies of "The Buried Giant" - Nobel Prize Foundation
Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature today. In an interview in today's New York Times, Ishiguro is quoted as saying he was sitting at his kitchen table in London writing an email when he got the call from his agent relaying today's announcement by the Nobel committee, what will surely become a life-changing phone call. The name is not unfamiliar to readers around the globe. I imagine many of us have read one or more of his exceptional, genuinely splendid novels. Or perhaps watched a public television series or a film, like "Remains of the Day," adapted from his work. Ishiguro, born in Japan but a long-time British citizen, is a writer of prodigious and wide-ranging interests and talents, and his work reflects this remarkable breadth. If you haven't for some reason read any Ishiguro lately, I sincerely hope you will do so soon. Ishiguro's writing is a joy. His stories will stick with you long after the final page.

Some of Ishiguro's commendable works:
Novels
A Pale View of Hills (1982)
An Artist of the Floating World (1986)
The Remains of the Day (1989)
The Unconsoled (1995)
When We Were Orphans (2000)
Never Let Me Go (2005)
The Buried Giant (2015)

Screenplays
A Profile of Arthur J. Mason (Television film for Channel 4) (1984)
The Gourmet (Television film for Channel 4)(1987)
The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
The White Countess (2005)

Short fiction
"A Strange and Sometimes Sadness", "Waiting for J" and "Getting Poisoned" (in Introduction 7: Stories by New Writers, 1981)
"A Family Supper" (in Firebird 2: Writing Today, 1983)
"The Summer After the War" (in Granta 7, 1983)
"October 1948" (in Granta 17, 1985)
"A Village After Dark" (in The New Yorker, 2001)
"Crooner", "Come Rain or Come Shine", "Malvern Hills", "Nocturne" and "Cellists" (in Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, 2009)

Lyrics
"The Ice Hotel", ""I Wish I Could Go Travelling Again", "Breakfast on the Morning Tram" and "So Romantic" on Stacey Kent's 2007 album Breakfast on the Morning Tram, and "The Summer We Crossed Europe In the Rain", "Waiter, Oh Waiter", and "The Changing Lights" on Kent's 2013 album The Changing Lights. *Source credit: Wikipedia

Can we just say, Congratulations! Well done?
Yes, we can.
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