Saturday, April 01, 2023

Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II), Secret Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope


Opening Passage:

If the soul dies with the body, as Epicurus wrongly supposed, fame can advantage it nothing. If on the other hand the soul lives on after it is released from this corporeal frame, as Christians and the noblest philosophers tell us, it either suffers a wretched lot or joins the company of happy spirits. Now in wretchedness is no pleasure even from renown and the perfect felicity of the blest is neither increased by the praise of mortals nor lessened by their blame. Why then do we so strive for the glory of a fair name? Do souls in Purgatory perhaps taste some sweetness from the reputation they left on earth? But let the argumentative think what they please about the dead, provided they do no deny that while men live they take pleasure in the glory of the present, which they hope will continue after death. It is this which sustains the most brilliant intellects and even more than the hope of a celestial life, which once begun shall never end, cheers and refreshes the heart of man. This is especially true of the Pope of Rome, whom almost all men abuse while he lives among them but praise when he is dead.... (p. 23)

Summary: This one-volume abridgement of Pius II's sprawling Commentaries (which are in their original form just over twelve volumes) focuses on the portions of the Commentaries that concern matters in which Pius II was a direct participant. He writes about himself in the third person, and thus the work can be seen as the work of a Christian humanist providing a draft of how he hopes posterity will see him. So read, the six-year tenure of Pius II has by his own representation a sort of A-plot and B-plot structure. The B-plot is Pius's continual struggle against the militarily brilliant and rather ruthless Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini. Malatesta seized a number of papal territories at various points, but it's very difficult to determine from Pius's own account exactly what grounded the Pope's completely uncompromising opposition to him. In any case, Pius was more than sufficiently capable of matching Malatesta ruthlessness for ruthlessness, accusing Maltesta of a long list of unnatural vices and threatening to make him the first person in history to be canonized into hell as officially damned. Eventually, through the military work of Federico da Montefeltro, Pius would gain the upper hand.

The A-plot is the Pope's attempt to organize the ever-feuding powers of Europe into a crusade against the Turks. Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, and it is clear from his account that this event affected him deeply, and the rest of his life seems to have been seized by an intense focus on the need to prepare for the inevitable time when the Ottomans would invade the rest of Europe. When he became Pope in 1458, a crusade began one of his chief priorities. He called the Council of Mantua in 1459 for precisely this purpose, but the council was poorly attended and there was almost no follow-up to it. He repeatedly continued to try to pull together support for the crusade, and repeatedly found himself foiled. Finally, he began to get to get some purchase in 1463, when he had made clear to everyone that he would be going himself, and Venice committed to it. Pius himself was under no illusions about why they did so -- it was certainly for improving their markets, increasingly threatened by Ottoman encroachment, and not for the saving of Christendom -- but he was willing to take it. The wheels began to be set into motion, and the opening of Volume XIII of the Commentaries finds Pius starting a new phase of his work in 1464, intended to cover the coming Turkish war, hopeful for the future. And that is where it ends. What Pius could not know was that he would die in August 1464, still waiting for Venetians to come through with enough ships, and the crusade never took place.

As Pope, and despite often having bouts of ill health, due especially to gout, Pius II was a traveler. Much of the interest of the book is his continual traveling combined with his undeniable talent as a travel writer. He went places popes had not before traveled, just to see the sights, both civic and natural, and observe the customs of the people. He was also a building Pope, and the work is filled with his descriptions of city improvements that he initiated throughout the States of the Church. This book is an excellent tour of Renaissance Italy.

Favorite Passage: There are many beautiful passages, especially when Pius is describing scenery, but the following passage I think sums up a great deal of his character and outlook on things:

The Pope had received many insinuations against the architect: that he had cheated; that he had blundered in the construction; that he had spent more than 50,000 ducats when his estimate had been 18,000. The law of the Ephesians, according to Vitruvius, would have obliged him to make up the difference. He was a Florentine named Bernardo, hateful to the Sienese from his mere nationality. In his absence everyone abused him. Pius, when he had inspected the work and examined everything, sent for the man. When he arrived after a few days in some apprehension, since he knew that many charges had been brought against him, Pius said, 'You did well, Bernardo, in lying to us about the expense involved in the work. If you had told the truth, you could never have induced us to spend so much money and neither this splendid palace nor this church, the finest in all Italy, would now be standing. Your deceit has built these glorious structures which are praised by all except the few who are consumed with envy. We thank you and think you deserve especial honour among all the architects of our time' -- and he ordered full pay be given him and in addition a present of a hundred ducats and a scarlet robe. He bestowed on his son the grace he asked and charged him with new commissions. Bernardo, when he heard the Pope's words, burst into tears of joy. (p. 280)

Recommendation: Recommended.


Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II), Secret Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope, Gragg, tr., Gabel, ed.,The Folio Society (London: 1988).

Friday, March 31, 2023

Evening Note for Friday, March 31

 Thought for the Evening: Regimes of Justice with Regard to Bad Situations

Justice is involved in many things, but one part of its range of activities is dealing with bad situations. If we think of full-blown bad situations as cases in which harms are done by wrong behavior stemming from a faulty disposition, then we have three elements here (fault, misbehavior, harm) that can make something a bad situation in some sense. We also have to consider whether remedy is practicable. If we add this, then we get a number of different kinds of bad situations, broadly construed, with which justice may have to deal, based on four variables. We can then represent each kind of situation by a number involving 0's and 1's; for standardization, we'll keep the order always as fault-misbehavior-harm-remediability, with remediability after a decimal. Here are some examples to make that clear:

111.0  This is the full-blown bad situation where there is no adequate remedy for what has been done.

001.1 This would be a case where a harm was done that was wholly accidental (unintentional and the action itself that led to it was not wrong), but something can be done to remedy the harm.

110.0 This would be a case in which someone did a bad thing out of bad motives but no harm was done, and there's nothing particularly adequate that can be done as remedy.

And so forth. In light of these different combinations, we can identify what we might call 'regimes of justice', structurally distinct general patterns of how justice will have to deal with these kinds of bad situations. The situations 000.0 and 000.1 fall outside of anything that we are considering here.

I. Regime of Repair. [111.1, 011.1, 101.1] The regime of repair always, of course, requires that the situation involve remediable harm for which one is in some way responsible. Thus in a regime of repair you are always engaging in some restoration or reparation or satisfaction (if done for yourself) or requiring others to do this (what is historically known as vindication). 

II. Regime of Mitigation [001.1] In the regime of mitigation, there is a harm for which you are not responsible, but you have it in your power to remedy it. As a matter of strict justice, you are not required to engage in repair if it is detrimental to you and yours, but as a matter of the root principles of justice, you should extend your assistance in repairing the situation to the extent that it can be done in a mutually beneficial way. If it's not you but a third party who is involved, your responsibilities are more tenuous, but would involve, to the extent you can reasonably and with mutual benefit do so, assisting and making possible what mitigation can be done.

III. Regime of Correction [100.1, 010.1, 110.1] In the regime of correction, someone acted with a bad disposition, or acted in a bad way, but a remedy is possible and for whatever reason no harm was done; given the situation, the remedy would involve at least self-correction and resolution not to act that way again. Again, if it is not oneself but a third party who has done this, the case may call for rebuke or reprimand, or it may just call for encouragement to improve, or something like that.

IV. Regime of Apology [111.0,  110.0, 101.0, 011.0, 001.0, 010.0, 100.0] The regime of apology deals with bad situations in which there is no adequate remedy. The human way of handling these situations in which nothing substantive can be done is the creation of symbolic remedies and token remedies, which can take a number of forms, but fall broadly under the category of apologizing (although some particular kinds of apologies may be part of repair, mitigation, and correction) or at least sympathetic acknowledgement.

So these seem to be the broad regions of justice in handling cases where something bad has been done, whether intentionally or by accident.

Various Links of Interest

 * Andrew Chignell, Leibniz and Kant on Empirical Miracles: Rationalism, Freedom, and Laws (PDF)

* Kathrin Koslicki, The threat of thinking things into existence (PDF), on Lynne Rudder Baker's account of artifacts

* Michel Dufour, Old and New Fallacies in Port-Royal Logic (PDF)

* Taylor Patrick O'Neill, The Relation of Justice and Mercy in Anselm's Prosogion

* Jon Tveit, A Brief Introduction to the Common Good, at "The Josias"

* David Neuhas, Christians and the Torah, reviews Rabbi Edward Feld's The Book of Revolutions, at "Commonweal"

* Jacob Blumenfeld, The Role of Potentiality in Aristotle's Ethics (PDF)

* John Michael Greer discusses Rudolf Steiner in The Perils of a Pioneer, at "Ecosophia"

* Brian Kemple, On Signs and Simulations

Currently Reading

Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II), Secret Memoirs of a Renaissance Pope
John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions: The Church AD 450-680
Michel Rene Barnes, The Power of God

In Audiobook

Roger Zelazny, Roadmarks
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Dashed Off X

 "The sensible realm is in the intelligible realm in the principles and the intelligible realm is in the sensible realm in the representations." Maximus Confessor

the Church as patient glory

honorable orders in the liturgical commonwealth

the Virgin Mary as typus Ecclesiae (Ambrose, Exp. in Luc. 2:7)
the Virgin Mary as the ultimate limit of capax Dei

A people driven by fear cannot be moderate.

conscientious objection & the reserved powers and rights of the people

Half of any skill is getting used to doing the tedious.

Major innovative expansions of communication ability create witch hunt conditions until safeguards appropriate to the new situation can be developed.

Aquinas explicitly gives the Ascension a role in faith, hope, and love; it increases faith, uplifts hope, directs love. (ST 3.52)

The brothers of the Lord are never referred to as sons of Mary; in Mk 6:3, Jesus is referred to as the son of Mary, with a definite article. Further, in Mk 3:31-35 and John 7:2-5, the brothers act as if they were his elders.

congregation as an act of the laity

All the girls in Mansfield Park defy marital expectation in one way or another; Fanny is the only one who does so on principle and with prudence.

In Lk 13:22-30, Jesus does not directly answer, 'Will only a few be saved?', certainly not with an abstract argument, but returns it to personal responsibility: many will attempt and fail, many will come from all over and succeed.

Mary as "the first reparation fo the first fall of our progenitors" (Andrew of Crete)

If the Psalms are prophetic of Christ (as NT use of them implies), they will at times be incidentally prophetic of those associated with Christ (cf. Judas Iscariot in Peter's use of the Psalms in Acts 2). Then PS 131:8 and Ps 45:9-10 are most reasonably seen as prophetic of Mary.

Ex 24:11 and the Eucharist

beings of reason
(1) quasi-entitative nonentities
(2) impossibilia
(3) idealized structures
(4) conceptualized nonentities
(5) group quasi-entities
(6) second intentions

beings known
beings known in light of other beings
beings known on the model of other beings
nonbeings known on the model of beings

sex as physical heteronomy

the quasi-hieratic nature of parenthood

Theou synergoi (1 Cor 3:9)

God gave Scripture to the Church, so it is a sin not to try to read it intelligently.

Marian apparitions as part of the prophetic work of the Church

merits as oratio interpretativa (accredited intercession)

Mary as a sign of salvation (this seems to be established directly in the Magnificat)

citizen, knight, king as examples of temporal order

There is no equity without prudence.

the serpent ouroboros, round and round
in never-ending repitition
glides, its venomed coils
rippling and all else in fury crushing

Human beings index our memories semiotically (especially, although not exclusively, linguistically).

moral improvement & desirable difficulties

One remembers by practicing remembering.

The short-term feeling of learning is often deceptive.

inscrutable probability // category mistake

When people talk about 'centering marginalized voices', they are too often just reasserting their positions as gatekeepers.

Testing theories requires knowing counterfactuals.

Alms atone for sins because they are opposite to sins (cp. Sir 3:29), so the interesting question is the nature of this opposition.

Ps 68 and the Church

The rites of the sacraments are themselves a form of preaching.

Christ as the one, holy, catholic Lord

three rights of the unity of the Church (Tertullian Pr. 21)
(1) communicatio pacis
(2) appellatio fraternitatis
(3) contesseratio hospitalitatis

As man, Christ is a social being.

Like the soul, the Church as social also undergoes periods of aridity, and for much the same reason.

One uses the boundary of an experiment like one uses the frame of a painting: to remove distractions and focus the attention.

Artworks should be seen as communications.

tools of display: frame, pedestal, glass window, etc.

The first part of caring for the future is caring for the past.

All works of art incorporate multiple points of view, usually a range of them.

"The act of knowing is related to the object by participation, just as similitude is to that of which it is a similitude. I do not mean a likeness through the communication of the same form, as in the case of a likeness between two white objects, but a likeness through imitation, as in the case of the likeness of what is ideated to the idea." Scotus, Quod. q 13, n. 12

intersubjectively constituted psycho-physical unities

Society is never confined to the living.

The true peace is the peace of friendship.

"Nothing is by essence except God, because every truth and created entity is such by participation." Scotus, Rep 2.16

implied image vs descriptive image vs expressional image in poetry

Peter : apostolicity :: Paul : catholicity

culpable vs piacular violations of personal dignity

discipleship as study

apostolic succession as a kind of union with Christ

pax, fraternitas, hospitalitas, communio

interstitial eisegesis, arising from trying to relate Biblical books and passages by hypotheses (could also be called contextual, as opposed to textual, eisegesis)

cognitive irritations forming pearls

the intoxicating character of vengeance, in all the meanings of 'intoxicating'

sacramental signs as presenting motives for human free will (communication for freely chosen reception)

the sacramental 'dare to be wise' as countering the serpentine 'dare to be wise'

Reasons are only decisive in a context.

Love of beauty is often a seed of liberty.

Treaty power presupposes both legislative power and diplomatic power, since it coordinates both. Thus the Indian tribes in the US must be recognized as having both.

due process as a requirement that the state follow its own laws

Traditionalists by their very nature don't see themselves as turning the clock back to a prior state but as bringing something valuable forward.

Berkeley gives a natural desire argument for immortality in Alciphron 6.11 and a common consent argument for it, briefly, in 6.12.
skeptical theism, 6.14-17

one man, one woman as a sign of the fundamental equality of man and woman

Familiarity lies in cross-references.

God as the most causal causal

The contract lies not in the words but in the agreement memorialized in the words; the document is not the contract but its instrument.

Contracts unite abilities into an intention for a shared task.

"Wholeness is a kind of oneness." Aristotle

The Church is universal as to source, as to means, as to object, and as to end. It is also apostolic as to source, as to means, as to object, and as to end.

Petitionary prayer is the form of prayer that most accurately articulates our actual relationship with God.

Creaturely existence is like a petition for existence.

There are always parents who will sacrifice their children to the gods of the day.

"The freedom of the Church is the fundamental principle governing relations between teh Church and public authorities and the whole civil order." Dignitatis Humanae 13.1

quasi-entia linguae
-- arise from using words as 'algebraic signs' and proxies

privacy as abstracted property (intangibles considered as if property)

a bill of rights as a curriculum for legal pedagogy
-- general preludes in the Platonic sense

plans as sets of possible narrative plots

higher-order art -- photography and synthesizer as perhaps examples, using AI programs to create art works certainly is

Wordsworth on spots of time

Human beings are strangely inclined to be surprised at the obvious facts of time.

Great good is extremely difficult to endure.

suggestion of magic in fine arts

Alciphron 6.31 -- analogy between the dispensations of grace and nature

"Research is formalized curiosity." Zora Neale Hurston

systematic vs interactive harms and benefits (people seem to have considerable difficulty distinguishing them)

To create a 'system of magic' for stories, start with an art (productive skill) and take metaphorical descriptions of its best effects literally. Each art yields a different flavor, liberal-arts-type magic (language, number, diagram) being different from smithing-type magic and from computer-programming-type magic and from gardening-type magic, etc., Likewise types of magic in stories can be classified by the productive arts whose structures and effects they imitate.

Politeness facilitates justice by acknowledging that the right things sometimes involves at least a small cost, thus making it easier to have just interactions that are mutually beneficial.

the beauty of flowers as related to their communicativeness

sacrifices as creating liturgical markets

democracy and 'democracies' -- the people have no recourse in the latter because all the abuses are done in their name

The Body and the Blood are received in prayer before they are received physically.

the Sword in the Stone as a near-perfect image of destiny

In the Incarnation, God takes on the image of God.

human persons as intrinsic signifiers
-- all living beings seme to be such, but personhood has a completeness qua sign-forming, sign-using, sign-enacting

prephilosophical experiences: order, finitude, change, fitness, being

"The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate." Centesimus annus 46
"Authentic democracy is possible only in a state ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of a human person."

The sign of peace in Mass is a penitential rite.

Maturity requires the combination and balancing of a drive outward and a drive inward. It is easy to have one and falsely think that it on its own makes you mature; this is the mistake adolescents often make, of confusing their temperamental inclination to act or to introspect with maturity.

allegory vs imaginative relevance

the prayer of Christ Ascended : major sacrament :: the prayer of the Church as Christ's Body : minor sacrament

In a democratic context, campaigns will use pufferfish tactics, trying to make their numbers look bigger by how they define support.

To recognize change is to recognize that one thing was potentially another, not merely different.

counterfactual analysis under high uncertainty as often necessary for handling new kinds of evidence

A living tradition always has many different modalities.

Roles are partly constituted by what can be done in them and partly by what is due to people who fill them.

the sacrifice as a broken and contrite heart expressed outwardly

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Seventh Platonic Letter

 James Romm has a very good discussion of the Platonic Letters, What the controversial letters of Plato reveal about us, at "":

I cannot produce an answer to the question of whether Plato wrote some of the Platonic letters (he certainly did not write them all), nor can anyone, for no such answer is possible ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. I rather aim to explore the history of the debate, as confidence in the letters’ authenticity has waxed and waned over centuries, reaching its lowest ebb ever in recent decades but now, perhaps, rising once again. This history reveals a pervasive bias against Platonic authorship of the letters, based on a desire – unconscious, no doubt – to distance the exalted figure of Plato from their less-than-exalted content. Several of the letters relate to an episode in Plato’s life that Plato’s admirers find troubling: a failed attempt to collaborate with Dionysius II, the immensely powerful ruler of Syracuse, in an effort to reform the government of that Sicilian Greek city.

When I did my read-through of the entire Platonic corpus nine (!) years ago, I covered the Letters, of course. I'm not competent to assess the subtler textual-critical arguments about whether (for instance) the language and style are Platonic, but I came to the conclusion that with regard to the Seventh Letter (which is the one most likely to be authentic, and which I discussed here) the only serious content-based argument against its authenticity is that its theory of Forms is slightly different from what one would expect, given Aristotle's account of Plato, although perhaps not too far removed from the kinds of examples that we actually see Plato use in the dialogues (like the notorious metaphor of the three beds in the Republic). My own assessment was analogous to Romm's here, that the primary factor in whether any given Plato scholar regarded the Seventh Letter as authentic was simply whether they wanted it to be authentic.

In any case, as I said, the textual matters I am not competent to judge, but Burnyeat's claim, mentioned by Romm, that the author of the Seventh Letter was 'philosophically incompetent' is just such utterly, blatantly nonsense that it makes me skeptical of everything Burnyeat says about the matter. Whether by Plato or just an astute Platonist, the Seventh Letter is a brilliant discussion of education and rule of law on Platonic principles, and anyone can read it with benefit. You can read it in Bury's translation at The Perseus Project.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Spiritual Almsdeeds

 Spiritual needs are relieved by spiritual acts in two ways, first by asking for help from God, and in this respect we have "prayer," whereby one man prays for others; secondly, by giving human assistance, and this in three ways. First, in order to relieve a deficiency on the part of the intellect, and if this deficiency be in the speculative intellect, the remedy is applied by "instructing," and if in the practical intellect, the remedy is applied by "counselling." Secondly, there may be a deficiency on the part of the appetitive power, especially by way of sorrow, which is remedied by "comforting." Thirdly, the deficiency may be due to an inordinate act; and this may be the subject of a threefold consideration. First, in respect of the sinner, inasmuch as the sin proceeds from his inordinate will, and thus the remedy takes the form of "reproof." Secondly, in respect of the person sinned against; and if the sin be committed against ourselves, we apply the remedy by "pardoning the injury," while, if it be committed against God or our neighbor, it is not in our power to pardon, as Jerome observes (Super Matth. xviii, 15). Thirdly, in respect of the result of the inordinate act, on account of which the sinner is an annoyance to those who live with him, even beside his intention; in which case the remedy is applied by "bearing with him," especially with regard to those who sin out of weakness, according to Romans 15:1: "We that are stronger, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak," and not only as regards their being infirm and consequently troublesome on account of their unruly actions, but also by bearing any other burdens of theirs with them, according to Galatians 6:2: "Bear ye one another's burdens." 

 St. Thomas Aquinas, ST 2-2.32.2

Monday, March 27, 2023

Hampered Games

 As I was driving back from campus today, I started thinking about what might be called 'deliberately hampered games', that is games which are deliberately played in ways that directly interfere with the gameplay itself because of a more fundamental purpose that playing the game serves. It's a fairly common phenomenon, although I don't think I've ever come across anyone discussing it.

A good example of this is found in pole chess. Pole chess is a variant in chess in which you have extra pieces, the poles, that, under the conditions of whatever pole chess rules you are using, you can move around the board to block moves. This makes chess in some ways less interesting, because it massively increases the likelihood that the game will end in a draw. It also usually guarantees that each player can block the other's best moves, so it puts a kind of indirect upper bound on how well each can play. So why do people play it? Well, sometimes it's just to do something different, but another reason is when the people playing are extremely unequal -- for instance, if, purely for mutual fun, a grandmaster is playing a beginner. By almost every internal standard of chess, pole chess is a worse game than tournament chess. But there can be good reasons why the worse game might sometimes be the better game to play.

Another well known example is with the Parker Brothers game, Monopoly. Monopoly played strictly according to the rules is a rather brutal and fairly fast-paced game. Very few people who have ever played Monopoly have ever played a fast-paced game of Monopoly; the game is famous for being interminable. Whence the disparity? It's because people deliberately modify the game to make it worse as a game. Monopoly has auction rules that guarantee that property gets bought up fairly quickly; the vast majority of people who play it ignore the auction rules. Most people add rules to the game -- the Free Parking lottery is the most famous -- that make it difficult for people to go bankrupt, and therefore guarantee that the game goes on and on and on and on. Why would they do it? Well, because usually when you are playing Monopoly, you are doing it with family and friends, and you have big block of time that you want to spend, and most people don't actually care about winning the game. In addition, people are often playing with children, so they deliberately use the simpler non-auction rules and add rules like the pot on Free Parking to reduce the chances of the kids getting knocked out of the game too early. The result is the game that can only be won even by the best players over a grinding period of time by the end of which almost everybody has lost interest in winning. The game was deliberately hampered so that it is almost pointless to try to win it. But, of course, the reason you do this is because the time with friends and family is more important than winning.

Frank Herbert has a number of stories that are about a government agency called the Bureau of Sabotage. The Bureau of Sabotage has the legally required mission of making government less efficient. It's allowed to use any means to do this, as long as it does not sabotage private citizens or public utilities on which they direct depend. In the most memorable story, the protagonist, Jorj X. McKie, becomes the head of the agency when he figures out a way to sabotage the Bureau of Sabotage itself. The point of it, of course, is that the state apparatus in the world of the story is terrifyingly efficient -- procedures have been perfected and processes have been automated to such an extent that the state could do immense damage long before anyone could stop it. Inefficiency of government is a barrier to totalitarianism; that's why all modern free societies are constructed on some kind of system of checks and balances. The checks and balances make it harder to do everything -- but that's the point, because you don't actually want a government that can easily do whatever it decides to do. This seems to be a real-world version of exactly the same thing  that we find in small-sandbox forms in deliberately hampered games.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Four Poem Drafts

 The Poets

The world is many-troped and tangled;
its verses twist and turn with the wind.
Time unravels, a fraying of cord;
all signs decay, all is left traceless,
and only the poet threads the maze.
Every face hides the child of a Muse;
the Graces descend on every house.
However hard or dirt-stained the hand,
a bit of poet smiles in the eyes.
The fisher muses, the farmer sings,
the cowboy beside the fire reflects;
the Word breathed a Spirit upon all.
Thus boldly take your pen, write the words
that bring to life your thought; do not hide;
with practice human tongues speak the world.

The Shadows of the Mind

here I am
thinking of you
as I wonder how
the shadows fall
golden stars
shine above me
but I am walking
in thoughtful halls
what can I say?
how can I
undo the past?
so I am walking
in evening shadows
in the hallways
of my heart
here I am
thinking of you
my mind is mirrors
in endless rows
but this reflection
is not of glory
but of shade on shade
in nightlike forms
how can memory
catch the feeling?
can the evening
recall the dawn?
once the splendor
shone from heaven
now the darkness
covers us all
so I am walking
in my shadows
as I remember
the things of day
do I have them?
can I keep them?
without the light
they may fade away

The Soul Is Filled with Mercy Unbounded

The soul is filled with mercy unbounded,
glimmering like stars through worldly clouds;
from world to world the truth in song resounded
(the buds to blooms are blown where it hits the bough)
until it came to rest upon the graceful ear
of spirit burning brightly like a flame,
with a joy that wipes away all falling tears,
with love that lifts the soul and gives it name.
The truth in mind is nesting; can there cease
the thing that dwells in light forever, giving peace?

Taking Aim

Trust, take aim, and find glory.
Your guarantee is steadfast love.
Despite the illusions of shadow
down below, you are already above.

This world is but shadow; that, is real,
and at journey's end, shining bright,
the city eternal already stands
and you, already, share its light,

but nothing divides the truly good;
take aim, and turn never aside.
Let no storm-cloud hide your sun-mind,
your clear heart, for division has died.