Bamboo Cardinal

No sooner did I put a bamboo pole in the flowerbed to prop up a very large sunflower than a cardinal alit on the pole. A flash of brilliant red, and then it was gone. The contrast of colors was striking. What a beautiful moment!

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton is much beloved by many, reflecting the evolution of his thought, precocious for American readers, to be sure. What is unique about his writings is the combination of a contemporary and informed critique of society combined with an undisguised defense of not only monasticism but also solitude and eremitism. This is one part of the “contradictory” nature of Merton — the more benign part. The other part is the extrovert thriving on writing, talking, planning, “engaging,” and yet the solitary, a contradiction observed by his own fellow monks as well as outside observers. (Entry revised May 12).

Kenneth Rexroth

Reading Kenneth Rexroth’s complete poetry book. I am interested in style and technique, the expression of sentiment, not so much content. I first encountered Rexroth in his Classics Revisited and More Classics Revisited. Then it was the Chinese and Japanese translations, which critics say is more faithful to his feelings than to the originals. But that element of personal sentiment is important and makes his translations very good poetry. Rexroth is a neo-classicist, not a modernist, meaning that he runs everything through the classics (Greek/Latin, French/English, Chinese/Japanese). This despite his radicalism in other areas of thought. On top of that he probably does capture Tu Fu better than a transliteration.

Sunflowers!

The front of the hut is covered with sunflowers … well, not covered, perhaps, but enough of them, with enough space to allow them to grow large. I take no credit: the seeds fell from feeders, scattered by birds — and squirrels and raccoons. I am sure that if I had tried to plant and grow them myself, I would have failed. A perfect example of wu-wei.

Red-shouldered hawk

Saw a red-shouldered hawk this morning, perched triumphantly on a pole feeder. Not having seen one before but knowing this pale white-ish bird with the triumphant head was unusual, I checked the field guide: the picture was identical, and the hawk gave out a “key-yah” to confirm what the guide described as to its call. Perched below him in the feeder, not daring to move, was a frightened woodpecker, so often the bully to smaller birds. (Reminded me of the Gospel story of the indebted servant who cowered before the master but went out and roughed up his own debtors.) With another “key-yah” the hawk flew off.