Drawing (and Writing, Illuminating, Musing) Upon Infinity

Wenceslas Bible (late 14th c.): initial letter 'L'

[Image: the first page — the first letter, a capital L — of the so-called Wenceslas Bible. It’s not the Bible referenced in Jennifer O’Grady’s poem, below (for one thing, the text is in German, not Latin). But I have a feeling it’s in the same general neck of the illuminated-manuscript woods. It’s worth viewing full-size, and while you can do so by clicking the image above, a better way is by clicking this link. I couldn’t find one single authoritative page of information about this Bible edition, but this discussion of its “bathhouse babes” entertained me greatly.]

From whiskey river:

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off — they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

(William Stafford [source: quoted all over the place, including here])


This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

(John Muir [source])

…and (same post as above):

The door to infinity is somewhere in the room with you, right now.

(Gina Rocca)

Not from whiskey river:

Of what happened later in the evening nothing definite can here be stated. None of the guests later on had any clear remembrance of it. They only knew that the rooms had been filled with a heavenly light, as if a number of small halos had blended into one glorious radiance. Taciturn old people received the gift of tongues; ears that for years had been almost deaf were opened to it. Time itself had merged into eternity. Long after midnight the windows of the house shone like gold, and golden song flowed out into the winter air.

(Isak Dinesen [source])

…and (excerpt):

from Sonata

I went to hear a Lecture just last year
About some things which I hold very dear:
The smallest pieces of the universe.
The Lecturer referred to them as Quarks.
He seemed impervious to the mystery
Surrounding their invisibility.
I asked, when he concluded his remarks,
“But are Quarks physical?”
You’d think that he
Were someone nearly martyred and I’d said
Our duty’s to die peacefully in bed.
He took his glasses off and blinked at me.
Were I John Milton, I would now destroy
This moment of high drama and deploy
A thirty-line Homeric simile.
But I’m not Milton, nor was meant to be.
He put his glasses on, and said, “Of course.”

Now, I may be the south end of a horse,
But logically and analogically,
And physically, and metaphysically,
And, if it gets to that, religiously,
And absolutely scientifically,
I don’t believe that Quarks can pass the test
Of Being There, and since they’re fundamental,
Why, then, the world’s a dream, and dreams are mental…

(Gjertrud Schnackenberg [source])


Zen reveals itself in the most uninteresting and uneventful life of a plain man on the street, recognizing the fact of living in the midst of life as it is lived. Zen systematically trains the mind to see this; it opens a man’s eye to the greatest mystery as it is daily and hourly performed; it enlarges the heart to embrace eternity of time and infinity of space in its every palpitation; it makes us live in the world as if walking in the garden of Eden.

(D. T. Suzuki [source])


Illuminated Page

A gold box of Latin words
rests in a dazzling, fanciful field
someone raised to life, lavishing
flowers with untraceable roots, histories
too distant to discern,
upon skin-pale, palm-sized vellum.

Imagine the one who did this, lost
in dwindling light, a trembling flame
and painstakingly lovely colors:
blood red, violet, heavy yellow
and fierce, unnatural green.
Framed like a window

to the artist’s heart, the mother
and child, uncomprehending men
offering what they can: the infant
touches a tiny, gold-leaf casket.
All around him the dark, heraldic blue
of angel winds, night sky, her veil.

And below him, you can see
the word God printed
over infinitely
careful erasures.

(Jennifer O’Grady [source])

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