I'll always be happy if they'd leave me alone in that delightful and unknown furthest corner, apart from struggles, putrefactions and nonsense; the ultimate corner of sugar and toast, where the mermaids catch the branches of the willows and the heart opens to a flute's sharpness.
Federico Garcia Lorca
I grew up in a completely bookless household. It was my father's boast that he had never read a book from end to end. I don't remember any of his ladies being bookish. So I was entirely dependent on my schoolteachers for my early reading with the exception of 'The Wind in the Willows,' which a stepmother read to me when I was in hospital.
John le Carre
Have you ever been through a painful season in life and wished for something new, something fresh, or even something healing to come along? Take this journey with Robin Price, a widow and single mother with a big heart and passion for those closest to her as she wades through trying to live, let go, and love again. Wishing on Willows is a story of hope that will find you stepping up to the willow tree and daring to make wishes
But the sound of water escaping from mill-dams, &c., willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts, and brickwork, I love such things. Shakespeare could make everything poetical; he tells us of poor Tom's haunts among "sheep cotes and mills." As long as I do paint, I shall never cease to paint such places. They have always been my delight.
This is surely the most significant of the elements that Tolkien brought to fantasy... his arranged marriage between the Elder Edda and "The Wind in the Willows"-big Icelandic romance and small-scale, cozy English children's book. The story told by "The Lord of the Rings" is essentially what would happen if Mole and Ratty got drafted into the Nibelungenlied.
I have walked this south stream when to believe in spring was an act of faith. It was spitting snow and blowing, and within two days of being May ... But as if to assert the triumph of climate over weather, one ancient willow managed a few gray pussy willows, soft and barely visible against the snow-blurred gray background.
Though you are three times more beautiful than angels, Though you are the sister of the river willows, I will kill you with my singing, Without spilling your blood on the ground. Not touching you with my hand, Not giving you one glance, I will stop loving you, But with your unimaginable groans I will finally slake my thirst. From her, who wandered the earth before me, Crueler than ice, more fiery than flame, From her, who still exists in the ether- From her you will set me free.
Though you are three times more beautiful than angels, Though you are the sister of the river willows, I will kill you with my singing, Without spilling your blood on the ground. Not touching you with my hand, Not giving you one glance, I will stop loving you, But with your unimaginable groans I will finally slake my thirst. From her, who wandered the earth before me, Crueler than ice, more fiery than flame, From her, who still exists in the ether"" From her you will set me free.
Los Angeles was a place after my own heart. The people were hospitable. The country had the same attraction for me that it had for the Indians who originally chose this spot as their place to live. The Los Angeles River was a beautiful, limpid little stream, with willows on its banks. It was so attractive to me that it at once became something about which my whole scheme of life was woven, I loved it so much.
I turn and walk back to the home shore whose tall yellow bluffs still bare of snow I can see nearly half a mile to the north. I find my way as I came, over dusty sandbars and by old channels, through shrubby stands of willows. The cold, late afternoon sun breaks through its cloud cover and streaks the grey sand mixed with snow. As it has fallen steadily in the past weeks, the river has left behind many shallow pools, and these are now roofed with ice. When I am close to the main shore I come upon one of them, not far from the wooded bank. The light snow that fell a few days ago has blown away; the ice is polished and is thick enough to stand on. I can see to the bottom without difficulty, as through heavy dark glass. I bend over, looking at the debris caught there in the clear, black depth of the ice: I see a few small sticks, and many leaves. There are alder leaves, roughly toothed and still half green; the more delicate birch leaves and aspen leaves, the big, smooth poplar leaves, and narrow leaves from the willows. They are massed or scattered, as they fell quietly or as the wind blew them into the freezing water. Some of them are still fresh in color, glowing yellow and orange; others are mottled with grey and brown. A few older leaves lie sunken and black on the silty bottom. Here and there a pebble of quartz is gleaming. But nothing moves there. It is a still, cold world, something like night, with its own fixed planets and stars.
John Meade Haines
Christianity only hopes. It has hung its harp on the willows, and cannot sing a song in a strange land. It has dreamed a sad dream, and does not yet welcome the morning with joy. The mother tells her falsehoods to her child, but, thank heaven, the child does not grow up in its parent's shadow. Our mother's faith has not grown with her experience. Her experience has been too much for her. The lesson of life was too hard for her to learn.
Henry David Thoreau
In the country whereto I go I shall not see the face of my friend Nor her hair the color of sunburnt grasses; Together we shall not find The land on whose hills bends the new moon In air traversed of birds. What have I thought of love? I have said, "It is beauty and sorrow." I have thought that it would bring me lost delights, and splendor As a wind out of old time... But there is only the evening here, And the sound of willows Now and again dipping their long oval leaves in the water. - from "Betrothed
The government tells us we need flood control and comes to straighten the creek in our pasture. The engineer on the job tells us the creek is now able to carry off more flood water, but in the process we have lost our old willows where the owl hooted on a winter night and under which the cows switched flies in the noon shade. We lost the little marshy spot where our fringed gentians bloomed.
He came up flailing and sputtering and began to thrash his way toward the line of willows that marked the submerged creek bank. He could not swim, but how would you drown him? His wrath seemed to buoy him up. Some halt in the way of things seems to work here. See him. You could say that he's sustained by his fellow men, like you. Has peopled the shore with them calling to him. A race that gives suck to the maimed and the crazed, that wants their wrong blood in its history and will have it. But they want this man's life. He has heard them in the night seeking him with lanterns and cries of execration. How then is he borne up? Or rather, why will not these waters take him?
I sat on the bench by the willows and at my honey bun and read Triton. There are some awful things in the world, it's true, but there are also some great books. When I grow up I would like to write something that someone could read sitting on a bench on a day that isn't all that warm and they could sit reading it and totally forget where they were or what time it was so that they were more inside the book than inside their own head. I'd like to write like Delany or Heinlein or Le Guin.
The bowed head, the buried face. She is silent, she will never speak, never forgive, never reach a hand, never leave this frozen present tense. All waits, suspended. Suspended the autumn trees, the autumn sky, anonymous people. A blackbird, poor fool, sings out of season from the willows by the lake. A flight of pigeons over the houses; fragments of freedom, hazard, an anagram made flesh. And somewhere the stinging smell of burning leaves.
Round a turn of the Qin Fortress winds the Wei River, And Yellow Mountain foot-hills enclose the Court of China; Past the South Gate willows comes the Car of Many Bells On the upper Palace-Garden Road-a solid length of blossom; A Forbidden City roof holds two phoenixes in cloud; The foliage of spring shelters multitudes from rain; And now, when the heavens are propitious for action, Here is our Emperor ready-no wasteful wanderer.
I leave to children exclusively, but only for the life of their childhood, all and every the dandelions of the fields and the daisies thereof, with the right to play among them freely, according to the custom of children, warning them at the same time against the thistles. And I devise to children the yellow shores of creeks and the golden sands beneath the water thereof, with the dragon flies that skim the surface of said waters, and and the odors of the willows that dip into said waters, and the white clouds that float on high above the giant trees.
And Mrs. Treaclebunny has promised to speak English from now on as well. In fact, she said when she goes to England, that's all she speaks anyway because the animals speak English there. She says anyone who has read children's books with animals in them set in England would know that. Is The Wind in the Willows written in Mole with a little Ratty thrown in? Is Winnie-the-Pooh written in Bear? No, it's English, because that's what the animals there speak. I didn't know that before. Travel is so broadening.
Question four: What book would you give to every child? Answer: I wouldn't give them a book. Books are part of the problem: this strange belief that a tree has nothing to say until it is murdered, its flesh pulped, and then (human) people stain this flesh with words. I would take children outside and put them face to face with chipmunks, dragonflies, tadpoles, hummingbirds, stones, rivers, trees, crawdads. That said, if you're going to force me to give them a book, it would be The Wind In The Willows, which I hope would remind them to go outside.
By now, at the end of a sloping alley, we had reached the shores of a vast marsh. Some unknown quality in the sparkling water had stained its whole bed a bright yellow. Green leaves, of such a sour brightness as almost poisoned to behold, floated on the surface of the rush-girdled pools. Weeds like tempting veils of mossy velvet grew beneath in vivid contrast with the soil. Alders and willows hung over the margin. From where we stood a half-submerged path of rough stones, threaded by deep swift channels, crossed to the very centre. ("The Basilisk")
R. Murray Gilchrist
But we who remain shall grow old We shall know the cold Of cheerless Winter and the rain of Autumn and the sting Of poverty, of love despised and of disgraces, And mirrors showing stained and aging faces, And the long ranges of comfortless years And the long gamut of human fears... But, for you, it shall forever be spring, And only you shall be forever fearless, And only you have white, straight, tireless limbs, And only you, where the water-lily swims Shall walk along the pathways thro' the willows Of your west. You who went West, and only you on silvery twilight pillows Shall take your rest In the soft sweet glooms Of twilight rooms...
Ford Madox Ford
Suddenly I came out of my thoughts to notice everything around me again-the catkins on the willows, the lapping of the water, the leafy patterns of the shadows across the path. And then myself, walking with the alignment that only comes after miles, the loose diagonal rhythm of arms swinging in synchronization with legs in a body that felt long and stretched out, almost as sinuous as a snake... when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.
No guinea of earned money should go to rebuilding the college on the old plan just as certainly none could be spent upon building a college upon a new plan: therefore the guinea should be earmarked "Rags. Petrol. Matches." And this note should be attached to it. "Take this guinea and with it burn the college to the ground. Set fire to the old hypocrisies. Let the light of the burning building scare the nightingales and incarnadine the willows. And let the daughters of educated men dance round the fire and heap armful upon armful of dead leaves upon the flames. And let their mothers lean from the upper windows and cry, "Let it blaze! Let it blaze! For we have done with this 'education!
Perhpas if I call out to Rat he might hear, " said the Mole to himself, but without much hope. Rat! Ratty! O Rat, please hear me!" he called out as loudly as he could, holding up his lantern as he did so, waving it about/ But the wind rushed and roared around him even more, and snatched his weak words away the moment they were they were uttered, and scattered them wildly and uselessly as if they were flakes of snow, Even worse, the light of the lantern began to gutter, and then, quiet suddenly, an extra strong gust of wind blew it out. Well then, " said the daunted but resolute Mole, putting the spent lantern on the ground, "there's nothing else for it! Frozen rivers are dangerous thinngs, no doubt, but I must try to cross, despite the dangers." -The Willows in the Winter
When he came back, I hid my face within my hands. He said: "Fear nothing. Who has seen our kiss? -Who saw us? The night and the moon." "And the stars and the first flush of dawn. The moon has seen its visage in the lake, and told it to the water 'neath the willows. The water told it to the rower's oar. "And the oar has told it to the boat, and the boat has passed the secret to the fisher. Alas! alas! if that were only all! But the fisher told the secret to a woman. "The fisher told the secret to a woman: my father and my mother and my sisters, and all of Hellas now shall know the tale.
A Blessing Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. And the eyes of those two Indian ponies Darken with kindness. They have come gladly out of the willows To welcome my friend and me. We step over the barbed wire into the pasture Where they have been grazing all day, alone. They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness That we have come. They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. There is no loneliness like theirs. At home once more, They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, For she has walked over to me And nuzzled my left hand. She is black and white, Her mane falls wild on her forehead, And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist. Suddenly I realize That if I stepped out of my body I would break Into blossom.
I bought you something" Willows blurts out. "You bought... What?" Willow closes her eyes for a second. She's a little surprised she's going to give it to him after all, but there's no going back now. She has to. "At the bookstore." She reaches into her bag again, and pushes the package across the table towards him. Guy takes the book out of the bag slowly, Willow waits for him to look disappointed, to look confused that she would buy him such a battered, old- "I love it when used books have notes in the margins, it's the best, " Guy says as he flips through the pages. "I always imagine who read it before me." He pauses and looks at one of Prospero's speeches. "I have way too much homework to read this now, but you know what? Screw it. I want to know why it's your favorite Shakespeare. Thank you, that was really nice of you. I mean, you really didn't have to." "But I did anyway, " Willow says so quietly she's not even sure hears her. Hey, " Guy frowns for a second. "You didn't write anything in here." "Oh, I didn't even think... I, well, I wouldn't even know what to write, " Willow says shyly. "Well, maybe you'll think of something later, " he says. Willow watches Guy read the opening. There's no mistaking it. His smile is genuine, and she can't help thinking that if she can't make David look like this, at least she can do it for someone.
I went down not long ago to the Mad River, under the willows I knelt and drank from that crumpled flow, call it what madness you will, there's a sickness worse than the risk of death and that's forgetting what we should never forget. Tecumseh lived here. The wounds of the past are ignored, but hang on like the litter that snags among the yellow branches, newspapers and plastic bags, after the rains. Where are the Shawnee now? Do you know? Or would you have to write to Washington, and even then, whatever they said, would you believe it? Sometimes I would like to paint my body red and go into the glittering snow to die. His name meant Shooting Star. From Mad River country north to the border he gathered the tribes and armed them one more time. He vowed to keep Ohio and it took him over twenty years to fail. After the bloody and final fighting, at Thames, it was over, except his body could not be found, and you can do whatever you want with that, say his people came in the black leaves of the night and hauled him to a secret grave, or that he turned into a little boy again, and leaped into a birch canoe and went rowing home down the rivers. Anyway this much I'm sure of: if we meet him, we'll know it, he will still be so angry.
I've got my own moral compass to steer by A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky And all the preaching voices - Empty vessels ring so loud As they move among the crowd Fools and thieves are well disguised In the temple and market place Like a stone in the river Against the floods of spring I will quietly resist Like the willows in the wind Or the cliffs along the ocean I will quietly resist I don't have faith in faith I don't believe in belief You can call me faithless I still cling to hope And I believe in love And that's faith enough for me I've got my own spirit level for balance To tell if my choice is leaning up or down And all the shouting voices Try to throw me off my course Some by sermon, some by force Fools and thieves are dangerous In the temple and market place Like a forest bows to winter Beneath the deep white silence I will quietly resist Like a flower in the desert That only blooms at night I will quietly resist
Live water heals memories. I look up the creek and here it comes, the future, being borne aloft as on a winding succession of laden trays. You may wake and look from the window and breathe the real air, and say, with satisfaction or longing, 'This is it.' But if you look up the creek, if you look up the creek in any weather, your spirit fills, and you are saying, with an exulting rise of the lungs, 'Here it comes!' Here it comes. In the far distance I can see the concrete bridge where the road crosses the creek. Under the bridge and beyond it the water is flat and silent, blued by distance and stilled by depth. It is so much sky, a fallen shred caught in the cleft of banks. But it pours. The channel here is straight as an arrow; grace is itself an archer. Between the dangling wands of bankside willows, and Osage orange, I see the creek pour down. It spills toward me streaming over a series of sandstone tiers, down and down, and down. I feel as though I stand at the foot of an infinitely high staircase, down which some exuberant spirit is flinging tennis ball after tennis ball, eternally, and the one thing I want in the world is a tennis ball.
Summer days, and the flat water meadows and the blue hills in the distance, and the willows up the backwater and the pools underneath like a kind of deep green glass. Summer evenings, the fish breaking the water, the nightjars hawking round your head, the smell of nightstocks and latakia. Don't mistake what I'm talking about. It's not that I'm trying to put across any of that poetry of childhood stuff. I know that's all baloney. Old Porteous (a friend of mine, a retired schoolmaster, I'll tell you about him later) is great on the poetry of childhood. Sometimes he reads me stuff about it out of books. Wordsworth. Lucy Gray. There was a time when meadow, grove, and all that. Needless to say he's got no kids of his own. The truth is that kids aren't in any way poetic, they're merely savage little animals, except that no animal is a quarter as selfish. A boy isn't interested in meadows, groves, and so forth. He never looks at a landscape, doesn'tgive a damn for flowers, and unless they affect him in some way, such as being good to eat, he doesn't know one plant from another. Killing things - that's about as near to poetry as a boy gets. And yet all the while there's that peculiar intensity, the power of longing for things as you can't long when you're grown up, and the feeling that time stretches out and out in front of you and that whatever you're doing you could go on for ever.
Inexpensive Progress Encase your legs in nylons, Bestride your hills with pylons O age without a soul; Away with gentle willows And all the elmy billows That through your valleys roll. Let's say goodbye to hedges And roads with grassy edges And winding country lanes; Let all things travel faster Where motor car is master Till only Speed remains. Destroy the ancient inn-signs But strew the roads with tin signs 'Keep Left, ' 'M4, ' 'Keep Out!' Command, instruction, warning, Repetitive adorning The rockeried roundabout; For every raw obscenity Must have its small 'amenity, ' Its patch of shaven green, And hoardings look a wonder In banks of floribunda With floodlights in between. Leave no old village standing Which could provide a landing For aeroplanes to roar, But spare such cheap defacements As huts with shattered casements Unlived-in since the war. Let no provincial High Street Which might be your or my street Look as it used to do, But let the chain stores place here Their miles of black glass facia And traffic thunder through. And if there is some scenery, Some unpretentious greenery, Surviving anywhere, It does not need protecting For soon we'll be erecting A Power Station there. When all our roads are lighted By concrete monsters sited Like gallows overhead, Bathed in the yellow vomit Each monster belches from it, We'll know that we are dead.
Once to swim I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty son-bird, perished. Never come a-fishing, father, To the borders of these waters, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest daughter Aino. Mother dear, I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors, Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty song-bird perished. Never mix thy bread, dear mother, With the blue-sea's foam and waters, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest daughter Aino. Brother dear, I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty song-bird perished. Never bring thy prancing war-horse, Never bring thy royal racer, Never bring thy steeds to water, To the borders of the blue-sea, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest sister Aino. Sister dear, I sought the sea-side, There to sport among the billows; With the stone of many colors Sank poor Aino to the bottom Of the deep and boundless blue-sea, Like a pretty song-bird perished. Never come to lave thine eyelids In this rolling wave and sea-foam, Never during all thy life-time, As thou lovest sister Aino. All the waters in the blue-sea Shall be blood of Aino's body; All the fish that swim these waters Shall be Aino's flesh forever; All the willows on the sea-side Shall be Aino's ribs hereafter; All the sea-grass on the margin Will have grown from Aino's tresses.