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* * *

...except the sudden restlessness of a January night.

Only at midnight

When the hands of the clock stood up tall

Did we guess how large

The world was


When the round curve

Of the moon in unbroken deeps

Shivered the scudding clouds

And burst past branches

With a revelation:

The loneliness betwixt

Might be, not in her,

But us. It may be we

(An old deep legend) who

Are broken, while the world

Dances through unspoken

Atmospheres and

Beauty confounds us

By being good.


It is not the dead that

Walk at this deep birth

Of dawn, but the Living

And all things shake loose

Our words, brimming to

Being, and sow us

Speechless with wonder.

* * *

1) first of all, clearly the most relevant thing about the last month of my life is that I am currently wearing a striped nightcap that is edged with fur and has bells at the end. This is because one of my housemates, Rachael, is awesome and made me one over break!
2) classes start on Wednesday: I'm taking intermediate German (GESUNDHEIT!), Artes Liberales (a course on the liberal arts? YES.), Latin prose composition (O TEMPORA O MORES), Shakespeare (maybe auditing?), and writing my thesis...and of course bagpipes and highland dance. And working (stuffing envelopes has never been so glamorous!). Busy, but it should be fun.
3) applying to the University of Dallas for its program in Humanities! Wish me luck. 
4) books over break! I actually got some reading done.

> The Divine Comedy (Dante): for my thesis, though it was equally "pleasure reading." I thought it was good in high school; this time around it was great.  I came back from last semester, after two classes in the Victorian to Modern period (one in English literature, one in American), thoroughly depressed and even a little shaken. Carlyle, Arnold, Tennyson, Frost, Pound, Stevens--strong men with broken hearts, desiring beauty (an impossibility) in an emtpy universe (the last absurdity) and framing that terrible, godless pilgrimage with such intensity and eloquence that it twists your soul to read them. And then men like Beckett and Stoppard, who at last have the honesty to give up the quest. Life is one long wait for death, so you might as well laugh and dance but it means nothing and you mean nothing and the universe means nothing. Hemingway's famous "nada" is over all. No wonder the Great Conversation falters, when even the indignant 20th century monologues to the void trail into silence and the throb of telos wrenched from essence subsides into dull ache of coping with existence, the slow acceptance of final despair. Even your hunger for "truth" meant nothing. Atoms in the void. 2000 years of sophisication later and we have returned to Lucretius, and terror is in his eyes.

Dante lead me back. Back to a world where the Great Conversation could exist because words and humans--and, incidentally, the whole universe--meant something. Back to a literature where a poet could say something that was beautiful not with the piercing elegance of framing an Absence, but with the thundering physical joy of describing that which is. Back to a place where the necessary logical conclusion of philosophy is not the abandonment of philosophy and humanity, things and ideas equally unmeaning, but the affirmation of both as participants in a greater dance, seekers together of the the End of Desire (and neither the End nor the desire denied). Back to a time before the broken heart had lead (as it always must) to a broken mind.
Back, finally, to a place where the search that we call life (and education) is not an eternal wandering--but a Return. Ultimately it may be that that is the only basis on which either can be justified.

> The Discarded Image (Lewis): pleasure reading. A fascinating and succinct summary of the medieval worldview.
> The Roman Triumph (Mary Beard): read for a paper I may or may not be working on. Anyhow, a very in depth treatment of what the triumph meant in Roman culture and how much we actually know about the ceremony itself. Great for hardcore classics nerds!
> The Place of the Lion (Charles Williams): Plato meets Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite...and 20th Century England. My favorite Williams book and my third time through it--another one that has improved with each reading.

Next on the list, besides school stuff: The World of Late Antiquity (Peter Brown) and Gilead (Marilynne Robinson).

I ought to be working on my application. What books have you read of late? :)

* * *
It occurs to me that it has been a very, very long time since I updated. And VPA peeps—I miss you all so much.

It’s November. The time when you start to wonder if you ever weren’t studying. I stayed in Hillsdale over break to work on papers; I have an 11 page draft on the Forum of Augustus and a couple pages on a modern short story (though not much at all on David Copperfield/Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man…) to show for it. (it didn’t help that, according to my Thanksgiving tradition, I got sick on Thursday and haven’t kicked the bug yet.) OOOONNNE MOOOORE DAAAY, OOONE DAAAY MOOORE--and then two swift weeks till finals.

As antidotes to the stress (Kelly somehow I think you’ll appreciate this):
Last week, Monday morning at 6:30 AM (OUT OF OUR MINDS) two of my good friends, Rachael and Laura, and I dressed up as a German polka band (Rachael with her accordion (and a stuffed monkey), Laura with a tambourine, I with my fiddle), donned cardboard signs that said “elevator music” and “need a lift?” and proceeded to lurk in the elevator of the teachers’ building from 7-8:30, BURSTING into song every time the door opened. After that we targeted favorite professors (I translated the chorus to “you are my sunshine” into Latin for my Latin professor), culminating in a leisurely, obstreperous stroll down the top floor of the administration building where we amused the provost and associate provost (and their secretaries) with a rousing version of “waltzing with bears.” It was a vision of insanity.

The weather was super warm and spring-like last week, oddly enough…so one night instead of studying at 1am, I took an hour long walk with Laura. We danced in the street and played leapfrog in the grass and lay looking at the cloudy sky, and probably convinced security we were drunk on something besides life and stress and the sharp realization of being seniors.

Now there is ice on the puddles; winter has descended upon the trees and it smells of snow.

I’ll be in Phoenix over Christmas. Will you?
Let’s hang out.

* * *
So, in case any of you don't know, I'm off to Turkey w/ the honors program tomorrow....ergo if/when you try to call me, you will be receiving a very lovely voicemail until about the 30th of May!
Here's the schedule: looks like fun.

Sun, May 09, Depart Detroit (DTW)
Mon, May 10 Arrive Istanbul by KL 1615 at 1:45 pm. Tue, May 11 Hagia Sophia, Archaeology Museum, Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern, Grand Bazaar
Wed, May 12 Travel to Ankara. Visit Ataturk Mausoleum.
Thu, May 13 Anatolian Civilization Museum, Ankara citadel, travel to Bogazköy, Hattusas tour
Fri, May 14 Drive to Cappadocia, Pigeon Valley, Uçhisar, Cave restaurant
Sat, May 15 Derinkuyu underground city, Göreme, Carpet Shop, Sirca Seramik(optional: Whirling Dervish performance)
Sun, May 16 Travel to Urfa- Antioch on the Orontes, St Peter church/cave
Mon, May 17 Abraham cave, Citadel, Church/Mosque Shopping, leisure
Tue, May 18 Travel to Nemrut, Ataturk Baraji, Nemrut climb, sunset.
Wed, May 19 Travel to Içel/Mersin, stop in Tarsus, leisure, swim at hotel, Maiden Castle
Thu, May 20 Travel to Antalya, via the long Mediterranean Coast.
Fri, May 21 Visit Perga, Aspendos and award winning Archaeological Museum.
Sat, May 22 Travel to Pamukkale via Mound of Colossae and Laodicea
Sun, May 23 Hierapolis, Cotton Castle, Aphrodisias
Mon, May 24 Efes, St Mary Church, Museum, St John, shopping.
Tue, May 25 Travel to Pergamum via Sardis, Philadelphia, Thyatira, leisure, swim at hotel
Wed, May 26 Visit Pergamum Acropolis - Drive to Çanakkale
Thu, May 27 Travel to Istanbul via Troy, Ferry across Dardanelles, visit Gallipoli
Fri, May 28 St Chora, Topkapi Palace, Boat Tour, Dinner and Show at Istanbul Inn Night Club. Late evening transfer to Istanbul Airport.
Sat, May 29 Depart by KL 1610 departure at 06:40 am.

Most excited about: "travel to Istanbul via Troy." OH YEAH HEINRICH HERE I COME. In the footsteps of Michael Wood? For sure. Will I be sleeping with a copy of the Iliad under my pillow? It's possible. Watch out, Asia Minor.
Veritas peeps: I miss you guys. Sorry I fail at updating lj pretty much....ever. Let's hang out this summer.
* * *

“Home is where we start from.”

We scanned the stars, but found in them

Scarce food for such a hunger. In our pools

They were no nearer, but they were pure

And so satisfied, for a while, our thirst

For the bright eternal. By day our visions

Mocked us: they had not the gentle tangibility

Of roses, or goblets, or our roofs

At evening when the patterned infinite

Untouchable troubled our souls.

This star was different. We followed,

Did not dare to hope—knew not what to hope

Or if the restless dream was more

Than our own inescapable interstices.

When we arrived, after long doubt

And journeying and sunrises

We wanted to think of as meaningful,

We only recognized the end of the journey

When we felt we had reached its beginning.

The common forms which at home had been

A dull ache without revelation, now broke us with joy

As we read the galaxies in his impossible eyes

And worshipped the bodily God.

It's Advent--one of my favorite times of the year. Every day and every night takes on a new meaning, for it is one day and one night Closer; not just to a revelation but to The Revelation. Today, as illustrated--if feebly--by the above, I have been especially struck by the need for Incarnation. I have always been in awe of simple Being--of leaves and tree branches and the edges of things, but while things are in themselves beautiful they stir me also with an inexpressible longing. Every leaf is a revelation and an ache. For there must be in the ultimate stuff of things something deeply personal and particular; yet joined also with this is the need for eternity, infinity, purity, the glory of the perfect Form unconstrained by the physical. The Greeks and Romans felt that need for the incarnate god--but never could fashion for themselves gods quite worthy of their worship. Virgil cries out that there are "tears in things," and from the depths of human memory come the tragically frivolous gods of the disconsolate Homer. We all desire nothing more than to worship, utterly and with the whole passion of our being, something not only beatiful but bodily. Someone not only perfect, but as tangible as our hands and our faces and the dirty, frozen paths that we wander in the frigid December.
TS Eliot said, "home is where we start from." These familiar, physical things, so dear and yet somehow so insufficient, are where we start from. And at the end of the journey may we find at last that our hearts, as well as our minds, have been correct, and Truth has a Face which looks on us--and loves.

If I have seen anything, and if I have communicated anything of the vision, it is by His grace.
Joy and peace to all.

* * *
* * *


I want the spring again, but not this falling.

Or rather both, without the return: each season

Shows us not enough, birth ending

In death, hearts renewed and dried

And restless in the chill October—

Seeking in vain to be shattered


Into joy.


Feet wander under a cerulean sky, alone.

Vermillion hands caress the wind with whispers

Of some fierce and homely thing, so near

That our hearts break for proximity


But cannot remember. What is its name? Do we

Have names?


We cannot see behind the clouds, nor catch

The singing of the trees at dawn. Their leaves are

Drifting. Our hearts fall with them, fluttering

With crimson desire.


Will the wandering lead us home?


And who shall brave for us

The quiet winter

And who shall clothe these thunderings

With words

And who shall grace us

With fire





The old ways surrender

To the unity of snow,

Forgotten. This at last

Is the soul of their pattern.

What mystery troubles the air

With peace? What purity

Glints on the lamp-lit world

And makes it small?

Night is swaddled in stillness and stars,

And everything waits—without

The restlessness of summer,

Or the pang of autumn, or the sudden

Comfort of spring; and patience

Dances at midnight

With joy.


It is the heart of winter

The silent benediction

Soothing daffodils and dead leaves,

Birth and death and aching



Silent waiting for a Coming,

Silent knowledge that it has already come,

And the second coming will justify

The schism of the seasons.

* * *

I am like a veritable Jack Bauer. ...except I haven't been saving America every ten minutes. Details.
Speaking of which. Tony. What are you doing, man. Don't do this to me. I thought you were on our side.
I have been very pleased by things today. Here they are.
There were strawberries at dinner. Real, whole, ripe strawberries with delicious, serious chocolate dip stuff. Sooo delicious!
Dr. Freeh, my cheerful Italian English teacher, took us all the way down to the Arb for class today, and it was lovely.
The grass is getting very green and thick. Yay, spring! And there are daffodills coming out, and there were SUCH lovely clouds hustling by today. It was a little cool but after FINALLY turning my paper in I laid under a tree for about 20 minutes. Trees are so EXCITING from that angle! (I mean they are from every angle, but we are rather desensitized from the vertical position). They're so preposterously bristly, strange stiff living things that have shot out of the earth...and all of them have branches, little particular ones against the blue sky and the clouds. And pleasingly patterned bark sticking off at all angles. Things are so beautiful.
Pipe band was good tonight. We played some hard stuff and Iain was happy--those two don't often go together :). And every now and then I just get really pleased that I know how to play the bagpipes, because it seems like something that I should always want to do and never get to, but....I do. What are the chances.
Oh, and I got to go for a wee sunrise walk around 7 this morning, seems how I was awake...
I think the occasional all-nighter is good for one. At least the day of. I've been much more attentive to things just being--good. All the things that usually I'm too awake and busy to notice. There are so many small, beautiful things in this world.
So. I'm feeling a little giddy and in need of sleep, so I better take a whack at my Greek homework and then call it a night.
Exciting news though: Centralhallapalooza (big tent, student bands, blow-up obstacle courses and bouncy things, cotton candy, you know the sort of shindig I mean) is happening on Saturday and THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ELEPHANT. I DON'T KNOW WHY THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ELEPHANT. ONE DOES NOT QUESTION INEXPLICABLE ELEPHANTS. BUT WE CAN RIDE THE ELEPHANT. AND I'm VERY EXCITED! ^_^

* * *

I have been posting most sporadically this semester...but scenes such as the one outside tonight are not such as can be kept to oneself. Long story short: We just had a surprise April snowfall. Short story longer:

I just walked back through one campus and it was possibly the most beautiful I have ever seen it. 3am, early April, and four inches of (still falling) wet, flaky snow that has clung to everything. Every twig, every branch, the bark and the lamps, everything—covered in inches of snow. Everything filled out, made larger, made new and mysterious; and for the first time I saw the lamps dotting campus for what they really are. They are the lights of faerie. They are not the dull orange lamps of the rest of the year; they are the bright eyes of another realm filling the alabaster world with their cheerful, cold, living glow. Trees and bushes bend beneath the weight of the snow, sometimes rustle beautifully in the wind, dropping chunks of their burden (silvae laborantes!); it is faerie. Campus is literally different tonight. There is reality out there, in the snow carefully clinging to every point of the eagles’ wings, and the shining seldom-revealed lights and the tall white enrobed trees; reality that only now and then—perhaps only today, only today out of all eternity—has shown itself to the mortal eyes of a few students, stumbling to their dorms through grace and wonder and falling snow.  
I wish you were all here to see it :)


* * *

A walk back from late night Latin studying, and a new world of fresh fluffy snow to walk through: half an hour's scribbling later, and here we are. Just thoughts, scattered and free as the snow though considerably less delicate and tragically less graceful. Perhaps I shall someday harmonize them into poetry. perhaps not.

The ways that had become familiar

Collide softly with the less known

Campus bisected and defined by circuitous paths

Becomes a mysterious unity of whiteness

Shapes usually large and imposing in the daily air

Shrink before the simple monstrosity of purity


All thoughts are suspended, all daily life

(which should have this at its heart, which should

Through the paths remember the whole

And remember the waiting which our patterns

Are meant to enfold, to reveal) is swaddled in stillness

And everything waits: without the restlessness

Of summer twilight, without the vague dissatisfaction

Of autumn or the sudden comfort of spring, waits

And patience is indissoluble from joy 

In the stillness, between the bleary awe of finals-weary students,

The snow angels cheerfully emblazoned by the more industrious, and

Cloudcover and covered paths and yellow lights of Fairie—

Silent waiting for a Coming, silent knowledge that it has already come

And the second fulfillment will justify the schism of the seasons
Joy and peace to all
And to all a good night...that 8am Latin final is looking less and less agreeable...

* * *

The world hangs gently

Between the stars’ bright eyes

And your dragon breath

On the winter air


Walk softly, lest you wake

Our Savior, coming now with the frost

Sparkling hard on the fall ground

(your heart too frosted, and beautiful

In its breaking, His breaking, and

Rising again)

Through these half-fallen leaves

And branches bare in the restless crisp

Of darkness, walk softly

(at the edges of things, where hope is sharp

And souls are sleeping);

Somewhere behind these trees,

Behind your soul—more bare than they—

One is moving with the deep thrill

Of winter wind

And trees leaf-fallen and fallen heart

Will birth to life again

* * *
* * *