A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 19 January 2009


But do you know, dear Helmuth, what was the most important thing to me? - the fact that I perceived once again that most people take hold of things in order to do something stupid with them (as, for example, to tickle each other with peacocks' feathers), instead of looking at each thing properly and asking it about the beauty it possesses. Thus it comes about that most people simply don't know how beautiful the world is and how much splendour is revealed in the smallest things, in a common flower, in a stone, in the bark of a tree or the leaf of a birch. Grown-up people, who have occupations and cares and who worry themselves about mere trifles, gradually lose the eye for these riches, which children, if they are observant and good, quickly notice and love with their whole heart.

(Taken from the anthology A Year Of Grace)

O, tell us, poet, what you do? - I praise.
But those dark, deadly, devastating ways,
how do you bear them, suffer them? - I praise.
And then the Nameless, beyond guess or gaze,
how can you call it, conjure it? - I praise.
And whence your right, in every kind of maze,
in every mask, to remain true? - I praise.
And that the mildest and the wildest ways
know you like star and storm? - Because I praise.

(Taken from the anthology A Year Of Grace)


Val said...

This sounds like true enlightenment to me.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...


"…most people simply don't know how beautiful the world is and how much splendour is revealed in the smallest things…"

Indeed. I write to share this belief. It is as good a reason as any I know for getting up day after day. The world is a beautiful and splendid place if we only look, only SEE, the wonders all around. Navajos, wise earth-keepers, say "go in beauty" instead of good-bye—a lovely phrase which recognizes both the spiritual and physical, the flesh and soul, of this philosophy.

Too…from this stems to capacity and reason for praise.

am said...

Do you know this one, too, solitary walker? It was read to me a number of years ago, during a time of loss and mourning:



Where praise already is is the only place Grief
ought to go, that water spirit of the pools of tears;
she watches over our defeats to make sure
the water rises clear from the same rock . . .

Dreadnought said...

I think that people who go walking find the beauty this world has to offer, even in a barren wilderness there is beauty to be found. Bob.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for these comments! I must remark how beautifully they all interlink.

From Beauty and Joy - to Praise. It's natural, it's the only thing to do, for the poet, for all of us.

And, as in the Rilke poem I quoted, Praise can also alleviate suffering, and bring some sort of contact with the ineffable.

And, going yet further, in Sonnet VIII of "The Sonnets To Orpheus" Rilke says Grief or Lament ("Klage")should join the sisterhood of our heart's deities together with Joy ("Jubel")and Longing ("Sehnsucht") - and walk side by side with them in the realm of Praise ("Im Raum der Rühmung").

"Yet awkward as she [Grief, Lament] is, she suddenly/lifts a constellation of our voice,/glittering, into the pure nocturnal sky." (From the Stephen Mitchell translation)

Enlightenment indeed.

Jay said...

That first piece speaks to me. I have often marvelled at the way adults just do not see the beauty - or indeed the fascinating detail - in small things. It is brought home to me forcibly at times, like when I've been walking on the beach and the person I'm with has said 'What on earth are you doing?' and I'd say 'Just looking at the stones' or 'I was thinking about the way that seaweed grows' and they've looked at me as if I'm completely nuts. LOL!

But to me, a lot of the beauty of the world is in the small things, and the detail of both small and large things is fascinating.

'To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower'. Says it all really, doesn't it?

The Solitary Walker said...

Absolutely, Jay.