In praise of small things
News from another country

Saint Valentine's Day

Bluebell Honeymoon by Rima Staines

Rima Staines

by Adam Zagajewski
translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

Without silence there would be no music.
Life paired is doubtless more difficult
than solitary existence -
just as a boat on the open sea
with outstretched sails is trickier to steer
than the same boat drowsing at a dock, but schooners
after all are meant for wind and motion,
not idleness and impassive quiet.

A conversation continued through the years includes
hours of anxiety, anger, even hatred,
but also compassion, deep feeling.
Only in marriage do love and time,
eternal enemies, join forces.
Only love and time, when reconciled,
permit us to see other beings
in their enigmatic, complex essence,
unfolding slowly and certainly, like a new settlement
in a valley, or among green hills.

It begins in one day only, from joy
and pledges, from the holy day of meeting,
which is like a moist grain;
then come the years of trial and labor,
sometimes despair, fierce revelation,
happiness and finally a great tree
with rich greenery grows over us,
casting its vast shadow. Cares vanish in it.

* An Epithalumium was composed to celebrate a wedding in ancient Greece and invoke good fortune from the gods.

My valentines

Today's post is for my valentines, one of whom is off doing theatre work in Edinburgh and London right now, while the other (furry and four-footed) pines for his return.

Happy Valentine's Day to each of you too, and to all the people, animals, trees, birds, books, fictional characters and magical places you've given your heart to.

Howard & Tilly 2015

Pictures: The beautiful art above is by Rima Staines, who spreads art, music, and magic all across the UK through Hedgespoken, the house-on-wheels she shares with poet & storyteller Tom Hirons. They're out on Dartmoor for the winter months, close to their community here in Chagford, preparing for further adventures. Go here to see more of Rima's artwork.

Photographs: husband and hound, in the garden and in my studio on World Book Day.

Words: "Epithalamium" by Adam Zagajewski is from The Atlantic magazine ( June 2010).  The poem excerpts in the picture captions are from: "The Country of Marriage" by Wendell Berry, from his book of the same name (Counterpoint, 1971/2013); "The moon rose over the bay, I had a lot of feelings" by Donika Kelly (The American Academy of Poets, November 2017); "Separation" by W.S. Merlin, from his collection The Second Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1993); and "Wedding Reading" by Ben Okri, from his collection Wild (Rider, 2012). All rights reserved by the authors. Related post: "The Narrative of Marriage."


Lovely and pro found

What sweet pictures of your loves. Happy Valentine's Day to you too.

Love Epithalamium, and the rest! Happy Valentine's Day.

When Love Goes

into ash, air
it is still there.

In memory, memisis,
lines of a song,
I sing along.

Into albums, books,
a forlorn sigh.
he is still he, I

am still alone,
but left is air,
ash, a stone, there

is still love.

©2018 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Happy Valentine's Day good wishes and much gratitude for all you give to the world!

So true, so wise... Such touching words! Thank you for the love towards literature, music, animals and Life that you are spreading through this miraculous blog of yours- a place like no other in Blogland! Be healthy and always surrounded by love, Terri!

Observing A Window Near Daybreak

( For my Husband, Jim)

I linger on the stair landing
watching the almond tree
press its branches against my window.
Like a bouquet of moths,
petals quiver and thrive
on light furnished by street lamps.
Spring visits me
in the guise of van Gogh --
unsettled, delivering an impulse
to redeem something lost.

During the last hour, I've spilled buttons
from a glass jar and found
black and olive to mend your dress shirts.
Now they are wearable, garments from a time
when I did not know or love you.
Yet, part of me is stitched
in their fabric, buttons secured
with a brunette threading
I wish I could claim as my hair.

Dear Jane

This is so poignantly beautiful and one that truly moves this reader!!! I can feel the intensity and love echoing throughout this poem. And yes this is so true --

Into albums, books,
a forlorn sigh.
he is still he, I

am still alone,
but left is air,
ash, a stone, there

is still love.

There is still the air, the breath of his presence through memory and the vital energy of love, itself. Love transcends time.

Just beautiful!
Thank you for sharing,

Thank you Terri for this inspiration, and Jane, for yours. Here's one for new love:


You catch water
With a thimble.
No wonder
decades pass
and you’re still
by the well.

Yet they say
there is no better place
to meet a maid.
You learn to look
past waves
of white cloth
to the sickle moon
of a calf,

to see
the sheen that lives
callused heels
rimed with dust.
On the last day
as sand gleams
like a bare knife
in the sun

her sandal
cleaves all
that emptiness.
on the arch of her foot
like copper,
like the end
of an afternoon
to the horizon,
and you

a golden apple
in your throat.

It came out as a great sigh. . .so thanks.


What a fine valentine to your husband, and especially those poignant last lines.


"A golden apple caught in your throat" is a big wow!


Oh, so beautiful! Thank you, Terri! And Jane, Wendy, Judith!
Happy Valentine's Day to all in this loving community.

Dear Jane

Thank you do much for your kind words toward this poem; I deeply appreciate them. Your opinion means alot!!

Take care,
my best always,

As I read all these words, my heart is revived. I hadn’t noticed it wilting. I’d like to think it’s a desert plant, hardy and with a deep tap root, able to hang on and hold onto any moisture that comes along. It’s raining today in the desert, my home. The land and its people breathe a sigh of relief. My eyes are clear and my heart is set to keep moving forward.

George MacDonald says,
“Love will not backward sigh, but forward strain, on in the tale still telling, never told.”

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