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Memory's Landscape

This hour along the valley this light at the end
       of summer lengthening as it begins to go
this whisper in the tawny grass this feather floating
       in the air this house of half a life or so
this blue door open to the lingering sun this stillness
       echoing from the rooms like an unfinished sound
this fraying of voices at the edge of the village
       beyond the dusty gardens this breath of knowing
without knowing anything this old branch from which
       years and faces go on falling this presence already
far away this restless alien in the cherished place
       this motion with no measure this moment peopled
with absences with everything that I remember here
       eyes the wheeze of the gate greetings birdsongs in winter
the heart dividing dividing and everything
       that has slipped my mind as I consider the shadow
all this has occurred to somebody else who has gone
       as I am told and indeed it has happened again
and again and I go on trying to understand
       how that could ever be and all I know of them
is what they felt in the light here in this late summer

W. S. Merwin, “Season,” from The Vixen (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996)

Don’t you see it another way
back in the ridges that bore you, that nature knitted for you?
I don’t know, but something keeps getting in the way
of our orderly patrolling of these rooms.
I suppose it’s that I want to go back, really …

John Ashbery, from “The Old House in the Country,” Your Name Here: Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000)



A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.

—Kathryn SchulzBeing Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (Ecco, 2010)

(via korraled)

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust, from La Prisonnière, the fifth volume of Remembrance of Things Past (Grasset and Gallimard,1923)

Chris Jeth, title and date not given

Chris Jeth, title and date not given

The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.

Walter Benjamin, from “Theses on the Concept of History,” Illuminations: Essays and Reflections  (Schocken, 1969) 



Stories about places are makeshift things. They are composed with the world’s debris.

Michel de Certeau, from The Practice of Everyday Life (University of California Press, 1984)

Through living in it, the landscape becomes a part of us, just as we are part of it.

Tim Ingold, from “The Temporality of the Landscape,” World Archaeology (vol. 25, no. 2, October 1993)

[D]id you really think I’d give you a tie
made of the thread of life? That was a tie
made of silk, which is the memory
of cocoons, which are wombs, you were wearing
birth. I told her her thoughts
are the happy childhood I didn’t have.
The sun was in her hair, where it stayed
until she combed it out that night.

Bob Hicok, closing lines to “The Gift,” New England Review (vol. 31, no. 3, 2010) 

Robb Johnson, Within The Mirror, 2006

Robb Johnson, Within The Mirror, 2006

(via gacougnol)