treasured words submitted by our enigma,
James Lamp
ALL THAT'S LEFT TO ME
There is an hour when wishful dreams
Through sorrowing slumbers glide,
And in that yearning hour it seems
Sweet Mary's by my side.
There is an hour that angels keep
With careworn souls too spent to weep,
Lost haunted child meet me there;
Sweet Mary meet me there.

~James Lamp
5/10/03
The water a cow drinks turns to milk;
The water a snake drinks turns to poison.
He who offends against Heaven has no one to whom he can pray.
In the midst of the plain
The skylark sings,
Free of all things

~Basho


I am certain of nothing
but the holiness of the heart's affections
and the truth of the imagination.

~John Keats



SUNDAY NOON
Crisp October, failing light, and November looming close behind.
December passes, and Sunday noon is upon me.
I despair, and in despair I go on loving.
My love once remarked that I have a soft heart and an open mind.
Lord, how might she know;
That her pain shames and her tears wound me?
Compassion befits mortality: The rattles within remind.
Our thoughts and actions cling to us and accumulate.
This is the plainest meaning of karma.
Truth is less what can be verified, than that which sustains.
Oscar Wilde was right; only the beautiful is true.
Yet the blue sky is visible to all, and we may look as we like.
Invisibility is wedded to transparency .
I had lived my love's words, but not named them.
Maybe it will be easier for me now.
Disappointments are inevitable, but bitterness isn't.
It's always much better to love.
Life's a journey. Death's a parting. Travel light.

~James Lamp
12/28/03



My favorite Millay (line):
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered to death but could not die.


"My Small Devotion"
It is not mine
To make right a world
Where children are crushed
And women are broken
It is not for me
To give back the years
My beloved endured
In sorrow and tears
I can not make right
The scattered tatters
Of battered innocence,
Nor give back what was so pitilessly taken:
Her shining spirit, brave and expectant
Of life to be lived clear and clean
A loving heart, gushing and earnest
Devalued, devoured, and doomed
She was a mere maiden then,
And a maiden she is yet still!
So I will promise her my today
And I will promise her my tomorrows
And I will give the love
That all others have so long forsaken
For surely love today is mine to give,
And mine to give tomorrow
Such is my small devotion-
Yet to what end I can not say
It is little enough I fear -So little!
And too late, too late, too late
Pray, take this small gift, dear
For I'm a man in need of redemption
And may God find mercy for we both
And sorrow loose its black grip

For love is my way - My only way,
And love is my only way
In a world where children are crushed
And women are broken - So broken
In a world where such beauty is broken

c. James Lamp
3/05/00




"For grief indeed is love,
and grief beside."

~E.B. Browning


Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height.
What pleasure lives in height-
In height and cold; the splendor of the hills?
But cease to move so near the heavens, and cease
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted pine,
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire;
And come, for Love is of the valley, come thou down
And find him; by the happy threshold, he,
Or hand and hand with Plenty in the maize.
***
Pale was the perfect face;
The bosom with long sighs labor'd; and meek
Seem'd the full lips, and mild the luminous eyes.
In knowledge, Something wild within her breast,
A greater than all knowledge, beat her down.
Her voice
Choked, and her forehead sank upon her hands,
And her great heart thro' all the faultful past
went sorrowing in a pause I dared not break.
***
Henceforth thou hast a helper, me, that knows
The woman's cause is man's; they rise or sink
together, dwarf'd or godlike, bond or free.
To give and keep, to live and learn and be.
"May these things be!"
Sighing she spoke: "I fear
They will not".
***
I loved the woman. He that wouldst not, lives
A drowning life, besotted in self,
Or pines in sad experience worse than death,
Or keeps his wing'd affections clipt with crime.
Yet was there one whom loved her, one, and she
Not learned, save in gracious household ways,
Not perfect, nay, but full of tender wants,
No angel, but a dearer being, all dipt
In angel instincts, breathing Paradise...

[abridged from]
"The Princess"
~Alfred Lord Tennyson
1809-1892



There are those among you who say;
I would give, but only to the deserving.
The trees in your orchard say not so,
Nor the flocks in your field.
They give that they might live,
For to withold is to perish.

Kahlil Gibran
"The Prophet"



If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling


In our sleep pain that can not forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God

~AESCHYLUS
525-456BC



The Lady of Shallot
[abridged]

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
**********
PART II.
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott..
**********
PART III.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
**********
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott.
PART IV.
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right
The leaves upon her falling light
Thro' the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott....

~~ Alfred Lord Tennyson