Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Be quiet, still, and solitary."

The Garden of Shimmering Peace

In the comment section of the last post, Laini asked a question about the origins of the name of my blog, and led me to a wonderful artist's site. The Kafka quote, which uses the words simply wait was only one of the marvels I found there. Though I hadn't read it before, I love the quote so much that if my blog didn't already refer to it, I would have to rename it in Kafka's honor.

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.


Franz Kafka


Garden of Standing Tall

Interestingly enough, it was another German writer who first haunted me with the words simply wait. I have written about Goethe's "The Second Poem the Night-Walker Wrote" here before. It is a poem that confronts us rather starkly with the silence that will claim us all--and "soon". But it doesn't seem at all morbid to me. Instead, I read it as a reminder to sing now while we have a voice, to sing with gratitude and joy, to sing until the trees chant in response to the power of our voices.


Over the hilltops,
Silence,
Among all the treetops
You feel hardly
A breath moving.
The birds fall silent in the woods.
Simply wait! Soon
you too will be silent.

Goethe

34 comments:

rdl said...

Love both those guys!!

gerry rosser said...

Certainly great sources for your weblog title.

I'm about halfway through the book.

zhoen said...

Those sculptures...

Problem can be when children are silenced too early, and take too long to find their own voice. Especially those with a naturally quiet voice.

MB said...

to sing until the trees chant in response
Beautiful, Patry. I love your singing voice.

Sustenance Scout said...

Soothing thoughts for a frantic morning, Patry. I'd actually thought Simply Wait was a reference to the art of waitressing. You may enjoy tuning into NPR next Monday; the next This I Believe essay is supposed to be by a waitress who celebrates human connections. Your blog is certainly a celebration of such connections, as well as a constant reminder to "simply wait." Which is why so many of us love to visit.

Left-handed Trees... said...

Very interesting question and response...the Kafka quote was amazing, I'm tacking it into my journal.

Mary said...

I can't tell you how helpful this post is for me today. The photographs, the quotations, your words .....

Thanks Patry.

Bill Harrison said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JT Ellison said...

Isn't it amazing how our subconscious pushes the direction? Love both the quotes, and appreciate your always thoughtful posts!

Patry Francis said...

r: Two of our old favorites.

gerry: Hope you're enjoying it!

zhoen: Those sculptures DO kind of suggest cowed children, don't they? I hear you. I, too, was a quiet child, raised in a "seen, but not heard" environment.

mb: If only I could REALLY sing--like you do!

karen: Actually, simply wait is an apt description for both waitressing--and the writing life! Thanks for the wonderfully kind words--and also for the heads up about NPR.

left-handed: I do that, too--fill my journal with quotes. If I could live all the words I copy down, I would probably have reached Nirvana, and would need no more words.

mary: The photographs were taken at The Giving Tree sculpture garden, four spectacular acres of art and nature. When you visit me on Cape Cod, we will make sure to go there!

jt: Thanks, *sugar*! And yes, the subconscious is always working--making connections long before we realize why.

Anonymous said...

Patry, I've always thought Simply Wait was a brilliant play on words...you were simply waiting on tables while you simply waited for your dreams to come true.

xo,
Tish

herhimnbryn said...

Thankyou for this pf. Words that are so appropriate this morning for me .

Tarakuanyin said...

Beautiful quotes, both of them. Thank you.

K-Oh said...

Ah, nice! In the middle of a frantic hour, reading this post was a soothing pause.

Patry Francis said...

tish: Your interpretation is almost as beautiful as Kafka's!

herhimnbryn: I owed you one. Your words always do that for me, too.

tarakuanyin: Glad you enjoyed the quotes.

Patry Francis said...

k-oh: (x-posted) Frantic. There's just too much of that going around these days. (Here, too!)

Patry Francis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MB said...

Tish's interpretation is the one I always assumed was the case, too! And you do sing... in your own way you do!

Edie said...

I love both and both are playing on my mind in a different way. I am in a bit of a spot right now, a cross-road, I might say. My mind has been unquiet because I am in a position where I may have to stop teaching my Creative Writing classes...an offer came up that I have no choice but to take seriously. Don't get me wrong, I count my blessing; know that this is the problem that many might think they'd like to have. But I love my students and if this other position pulls through, my students’ time slots will be nil. Anyway, I’ve tried to hand this decision over the universe...to God...to the power of intention...however you want to think about it but I can't seem to let it go and let it be what will...I’ve had a difficult time quieting my mind from the pull. And here I land on your blog telling me that quiet will come. I think it tells me to trust and perhaps a way to have the best of both will unfold.

tinker said...

Thank you for quotes - and the reminder to "sing now while we have a voice."

tinker said...

Oops! forgot a word or two there - edit the above comment to read: "Thank you for THE LOVELY quotes!"

I hope when I sing, I can remember the words! :D

Anonymous said...

oooh spooky! but yes, a good reminder that we chose to come into this struggle so we might as well dig in before we return to the ether or wherever it is we go--

~bluepoppy

maria said...

Waiting simply and simply waiting are difficult, but rewarding undertakings. Thanks for this post!

donna said...

Heh. Naturally quiet voices actually speak the loudest. ;^)

Patry Francis said...

mb: You and Tish are probably right--though I didn't know it at the time. Strange how the unconscious mind works.

edie: Thank you for sharing your dilemma here--however obliquely. I'm absolutely sure you WILL make the right choice. I will be following your blog to learn more.

bluepoppy: I like it when you say that we chose to come to this struggle. I'm not entirely sure I understand it, but I like it.

maria: Thank you for reminding me that there is a difference, and that waiting simply is equally important. I'm wondering which Maria you are--alembic, maybe?

donna: Those are wise words.

maria said...

Patry, yes, I am maria of alembic (doesn't that sound stilted now), and though I put in the link to my site, it didn't show up....

Patry Francis said...

maria: I thought I recognized that voice!

garnet david said...

Both quotes sound Buddhist in tone, though Goethe has to add the little depressive German twist at the end. "Soon you too will be silent."

Simply wait is a way of saying be empty so then you can be full.

Becca said...

Beautiful - all of it - poems and photos.

Patry Francis said...

garnet: Love your final line. Yes, that sums it up.

becca: Thank you--

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Anonymous said...

I'm sorry : ) but I believe you've misinterpreted Goethe's meaning/entreaty -- for it is the same as Kafka's: which is to Stop. And wait. And do nothing. Until the eternal, primordial silence -- the largest part of ourselves and existence -- is revealed via such an (inactive) meditation. Goethe's poem is not a momento mori that entreats us to sing while we still can. For the trees, birds, woods, and hilltops of which he speaks are all still alive -- and yet naturally silent. Because silence is the natural peaceful state of existence, nature, and ourselves.

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