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Nepalese Notebook: September 10th, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Arughat Bazar 608m

3 hours of muddy road in a pick-up have brought us to our starting point on the banks of the Budhi Gandanki.  We passed buses stuck in ruts the length of a man's leg and watched as the drivers tried to dig their way out, some rocking the bus from one side to the other, others pointing down to the hole and calling out orders, while all the passengers stood alongside, jumping on the moment the bus seemed to free itself, but then hopping back off once they saw it was going nowhere.  Only once or twice did these buses actually block our passage, the rest of the time we drove right by on the edges of the mountain track.
Arughat is the most isolated town I have been to, but it has not the sort of magic and mystery one would expect from such a place.  The street that leads into and out of town, as if it were made from just misplaced rocks, is lined with mountain gear shops, ration stores, and tea-houses; there are no visible Buddhist temples and all…

A Poet's Journal: September 3rd, 2013

September 3rd, 2013


A gray day or a colorful tree is somehow more sacred to my vision because it no longer relies upon the sun to illuminate our thoughts, but whatever has entered and formed our memories, it brings to a hidden relation with the earth.  For we are no longer bearers of the sun, but approach the dark universe with a silence that has fulfilled a journey we knew long ago.  But we are now just setting out and the clouds and the falling leaves are a tale that we must tell again.
Douglas Thornton

A Poet's Journal: August 30th, 2013

August 30th, 2013

On the 27th I began taking notice of the acorns; for we may see them early enough in the season, but the first few that fall to the ground come as unexpectedly and bring as much joy as if I had relied on them for sustenance.  They are now no longer nourishment but for he who has an appetite for reflection, while to life they are a figure, as I pass in regards to their appearance and their fading away, thinking that somehow their coming to maturity is a reason to feel more divine, but this in the end is unfulfilling. The blackberry bush I ate from on the 9th of July now has a sickly look to it and its berries have begun to dry out.  In spite of this, the harvest has already been enough for us to make a pie, yet I am hoping that the next few days will bring an even greater abundance and find me among them with cheer and industriousness.
Douglas Thornton

A Poet's Journal: July 15th, 2013

July 15th, 2013

We say that a little attention is difficult to buy these days, but I wonder if it were not so at any other time.  There is nothing new in forgetfulness and our outward and glaring looks always come from the inside, so that before our attention has focused on something new, we are left to consider what other cause might give us satisfaction.  Yet what it is that we forget has led us into a position where our values and our beliefs are the ruling factors in what we give credit to, and what, in the end, holds our interest.  Attention, or attending to something, is no longer the care we give to it, to bring it within our well-being, but what must already be there for us to attend, giving faith to what is established, though it is only a seeming place of security.  There is but silence before us, and no applause, no cheering, no glory for he whom, artist or not, asks for a moment of attention in light of the care he has given to his own thought.
Douglas Thornton

Newly Published Translation!

We have left the solstice behind and our days are now guided by declining light and the heat of summer.  Let us take a moment then to step toward the pleasures of another world and warm ourselves with poetry.  Please scroll down or click on the following link to read the new translation:

A Translation of André Chénier’s ‘Elegy XX’ by Douglas Thornton
Art, feeble interpretation
Of the soul! Art and only verse,
While the heart alone is poet!
Oppressive to the fruitful mind
Are those adornments, which despite
Themselves, hide within such words
As truth and surety commit
To thought, the loss of thought itself.
The heart speaks, genius writes: master
To obey, his hand turns divine,
But only if loved and happy,
Freed of torment, only if joy
Light-hearted and ardent youth spread
Across his face their beaming glow,
Will his verse, as clear as amber,
Or as flowers blush, find renewed
With their fairest looks, a sweetness
To the world, and in ripe old age
A guide. But mild and generous
If his h…

A Poet's Journal: July 9th, 2013

July 9th, 2013

First blackberries of the season:  I took a handful out of sheer fancy because most were still in flower.  It is pleasant to walk on mornings when there is a coolness to the ground and our feet are wet from the dew; there is a stillness that resides, not from our being alone, but in the change we thought had not yet taken place.
Douglas Thornton