Feng Shui Bedroom

She tells me “This room is unbalanced.
Avoid placing your bed under ceiling features.
No water pictures. Get rid of clutter.
No plants, flowers, books, or electronics here.”

I lie on the bed, feeling unbalanced.

Image: Darkmoon_Art

The Chinese words “feng” and “shui” translate to mean “wind” and “water,” respectively. This concept is derived from an ancient poem that talks about human life being connected and flowing with the environment around it. In the philosophy of feng shui, arranging the pieces in living spaces can create balance with the natural world, harness energy forces and establish harmony between you and the environment.

In my mind, it is connected to the Tao, which translates to mean “the way.” Taoism is the way of nature.

For those who truly follow feng shui principles, they can be used to design towns, homes, rooms, and even the desk and area where you work. The placement of ancient Chinese grave sites used this philosophy in order to bring positive chi to a grave.

For an American practitioner, it will probably mean getting rid of things.

He Never Learned to Swim

Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned at sea,
not yet thirty, off the coast of Italy.
He had learned political poems wouldn’t change
the world, but sailing a stormy sea,
his schooner sank. He never learned to swim.

Percy Bysshe Shelley had been living in Lerici, Italy for about four years. Leaving England, he also left his radical political poetry behind and turned to a more Romantic idealism. He was sailing home from Livorno when they encountered a storm and the boat was swamped. Percy could not swim and drowned along with the crew of three. Shelley’s badly decomposed body washed ashore at Viareggio ten days later and was identified by his clothing and a copy of Keats’s “Lamia” in a jacket pocket.

The conservative London newspaper The Courier, reported, “Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned: now he knows whether there is a God or no.” But his friends and admirers, including his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein, set about to create a Romantic legacy for him. His body was cremated on the beach in a kind of pagan ceremony. Shelley’s heart, which had not burned, was retrieved from the pyre. Mary kept it for the rest of her life, wrapped in a copy of his poem “Adonais” which is an elegy on the death of John Keats, Here is how that poem ends:

The breath whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit’s bark is driven,
Far from the shore, far from the trembling throng
Whose sails were never to the Tempest given;
The massy earth and sphered skies are riven!
I am borne darkly, fearfully, afar;
Whilst, burning through the inmost veil of Heaven,
The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

The rest of his ashes were interred at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome with a monument inscribed with the words Cor Cordium — “heart of hearts” — and lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest:
“Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.”

Leap of Faith

Into the air or into the unknown.
To leap when the faith is lost –
bravery or foolishness? Still, faith requires doubt.
Those who doubt may more likely leap.
I stand at the edge and ponder.

Photo by Myian Prieto on Pexels.com

The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard came from a wealthy Copenhagen family and he was left enough of an inheritance to be financially independent for life. He is considered the father of existential philosophy, but his writing also touched on theology, psychology, literary criticism, and fiction.

Two ideas of his stayed with me all these years after university study. One is the idea of “subjectivity.” He meant that we all perceive the “truth” of the world differently. In my undergraduate mind this, perhaps incorrectly, seemed to me to be related to Einstein’s concept of relativity.

The other thing is his expression of the “leap of faith” and that faith is not possible without doubt. In that confusing philosophical way, he would say that one must doubt the existence of God to have faith in the existence of God. Belief without doubt is just credulity.

I rediscovered Kierkegaard through his influence on novelists like John Updike, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus.

Poem for Petrichor

Photo: Viktorya Sergeeva

After weeks of dry weather, the rain
falls on dry grass, stone, soil, flowers –
sending a fragrance to the playing child
and rising to the gods who once
were the only ones so naturally perfumed.

That pleasant-to-some-of-us smell that can accompany the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather has been given the name “petrichor” (PET-ri-kuhr). It is a modern word, taken from the Ancient Greek words πέτρα (pétra) ‘rock’ or πέτρος (pétros) ‘stone’, and ἰχώρ (ikhṓr), which was said to be the blood of the gods in Greek mythology. This unique, earthy fragrance comes from rain combined with plant oils, compounds in the dry soil, the ozone in the air, and geosmin from soil that is released into the air.

Black Velvet

a black velvet petunia

Her neck rises from the white lace
necklaced with a black velvet band soft
as her pink and purple garden petunias.
Syllables of velvet from a tender perennial.
Flowers blackened by Death still blooming annually.

Emily created as a young girl (before the poetry) a herbarium in which she collected 424 flowers from the Amherst region. She called them “beautiful children of spring,” and arranged them in a 66-page large leather-bound album with labels of the common names and sometimes the official Linnaean ones. All are in her elegant handwriting. I don’ think she had a black petunia in the book, but I think she would have liked the flower.

Emily’s portrait with her black velvet band

A poem by Emily – #334

All the letters I can write
Are not fair as this—
Syllables of Velvet—
Sentences of Plush,
Depths of Ruby, undrained,
Hid, Lip, for Thee—
Play it were a Humming Bird—
And just sipped—me—