American Idyll

yes, the river knows

Friday, August 26, 2016

He Just Thinks He Does

Pentangle: Lady of Carlisle

The difference
between a brave man
and a coward
is a coward
thinks twice
before jumping
in the cage
with a lion.
The brave man
doesn't know
what a lion is.
He just thinks he does.

--Charles Bukowski
Notes of a Dirty Old Man

Pete McBride: Leave It As It Is

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It Has Come To Be A Race For A Dinner

The canyon is wider today.
The walls rise to a vertical height
of nearly three thousand feet.
In many places the river runs under a cliff,
in great curves, forming amphitheaters, half-dome shaped.

Though the river is rapid,
we meet with
no serious obstructions,
and run twenty miles.
It is curious
how anxious we are
to make up our reckoning
every time we stop,
now that our diet
is confined to
plenty of coffee,
very little spoiled flour,
and very few dried apples.
It has come to be
a race for a dinner.
Still, we make
such fine progress,
all hands are in good cheer,
but not a moment
of daylight is lost.
--John Wesley Powell
journal entry for August 24, 1869

Tom Russell: Tonight We Ride

Monday, August 22, 2016

Like Roses Need Rain


Kris Kristofferson:
Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

--e.e. cummings

Laurie Anderson: White Lily

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Clouds Are Playing Again In The Gorges

Curley Maple: Shawnee Town

The day is employed
in making portages,
and we advance
but two miles
on our journey.
Still it rains.
While the men
are at work
making portages,
I climb up the granite
to its summit,
and go away back over
the rust-colored sandstones
and greenish-yellow shales,
to the foot
of the marble wall.
I climb so high
that the men and boats
are lost in the black depths below,
and the dashing river
is a rippling brook;
and still there is more canyon above than below.
All about me are interesting geological records.
The book is open, and I can read as I run.
All about me are grand views, for the clouds are playing again in the gorges. But somehow I think of the nine days rations, and the bad river, and the lesson of the rocks, and the glory of the scene is but half seen.
I push on to an angle, where I hope to get a view of the country beyond, to see, if possible, what the prospect may be of our soon running through this plateau, or at least meeting with some geological change that will let us out of the granite. But arriving at the point, I can see only a labyrinth of deep gorges.
--John Wesley Powell
journal entry for August 18, 1869

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Then Can I Walk Beside You

Joni Mitchell: Woodstock

i came upon
a child of god
he was walking
along the road
and i asked him
where are you going?
and this he told me
i'm going on down
to yasgur's farm
i'm going to join
in a rock 'n' roll band
i'm going to camp out
on the land
i'm going to try
and get my soul free
we are stardust
we are golden
and we've got to
get ourselves
back to the garden

then can i
walk beside you
i have come here
to lose the smog
and i feel to be a cog
in something turning
well maybe it's
the time of year
or maybe it's
the time of man
i don't know who i am
but life is for learning
we are stardust
(million year old carbon)
we are golden
(caught in the dwvil's bargain)
and we've got to
get ourselves
back to the garden

--joni mitchell

CSNY: Woodstock

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

And Now The Scenery Is On A Grand Scale

John Hartford: Gentle On My Mind

And now the scenery is on a grand scale. The walls of the canyon, 2500 feet high, are of marble of many beautiful colors, and often polished below by the waves, or far up the sides, where showers have washed the sands over the cliffs.
At one place I have a walk, for more than a mile, on a marble pavement, all polished and fretted with strange devices, and embossed in a thousand fantastic patterns. Through a cleft in the wall the sun shines on this pavement, which gleams in iridescent beauty.
I pass up into the cleft. It is very narrow, with a succession of pools standing at higher levels as I go back. The water in these pools
is clear and cool, coming down from springs. Then I return to the pavement, which is but a terrace or bench, over which the river runs at its flood, but left bare at present. Along the pavement, in many places, are basins of clear water, in strange contrast to the red mud of the river. At length
I come to the end of this marble terrace, and take again to the boat.
Riding down a short distance,
a beautiful view is presented.
The river turns sharply to the east, and seems enclosed by a wall, set with a million brilliant gems. What can it mean?
Every eye is engaged, everyone wonders. On coming nearer, we find fountains bursting
from the rock, high overhead, and the spray in the sunshine forms the gems which bedeck the wall. The rocks below the fountain are covered with mosses, and ferns, and many beautiful flowering plants.
We pass through many side canyons today that are dark, gloomy passages back into the heart of the rocks that form the plateau through which this canyon is cut.
It rains again this afternoon. Scarcely do the first drops fall when little rills run down the walls. As the storm comes on the little rills increase in size until great streams are formed. Although the walls of the canyon are chiefly limestone, the adjacent
country is of red sandstone; and now the waters, loaded with these sands, come down in rivers of bright red mud, leaping over the walls in innumerable cascades.
It is plain now how these walls are polished in many places.
At last the storm ceases and we go on. We have cut through the sandstones and limestones met in the upper part of the canyon, and through one great bed of marble a thousand feet in thickness.
In this, great numbers of caves are hollowed out, and carvings are seen, which suggest architectural forms, though on a scale so grand that architectural terms belittle them.
It is a peculiar feature of these walls that many projections are
set into the river, as if the wall was buttressed for support. The walls themselves are half a mile high, and these buttresses are on a corresponding scale, jutting into the river scores of feet. In the recesses between these projections there are quiet bays, except at the foot of a rapid, when there are dancing eddies or whirlpools. Sometimes these alcoves have caves at the back, giving them the appearance of great depth. Then other caves are seen above, forming vast, dome-shaped chambers. The walls, and buttresses, and chambers are all of marble.
The river is now quiet; the canyon wider. Above, when the river is at its flood, the waters gorge up, so that the difference between high and low water mark is often fifty or even seventy feet; but here, high water mark is not more than twenty feet above the present stage of the river. Sometimes there is a narrow flood-plain between the water and the wall.
--John Wesley Powell
journal entry for August 9, 1869

Molly Tuttle: Gentle On My Mind

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

An Atom In The Universe

Debussy: La Mer


I stand at the seashore,
alone, and start to think.
There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding
its own business
trillions apart
yet forming
white surf in unison.
Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding
the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones
are formed.
They make others
like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size
and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern
ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering:
I a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

--Richard Feynman

Dougie MacLean: Feel So Near

Monday, August 01, 2016

So We Name It Music Temple


Grateful Dead: Winterland Ballroom ...10/17-19/74

We drop down two miles this morning, and go into camp again.
There is a low willow-covered strip of land along the walls on the east.
Across this we walk, to explore an alcove which we see from the river.
On entering, we find a little grove of box-elder and cottonwood trees;
and, turning to the right, we find ourselves in a vast chamber,
carved out of the rock. At the upper end
there is a clear, deep pool of water, bordered with verdure.
Standing by the side of this, we can see the grove at the entrance.
The chamber is more than two hundred feet high, five hundred feet long,
and two hundred feet wide. Through the ceiling, and on through the rocks
for a thousand feet above, there is a narrow winding skylight;
and this is all carved out by a little stream, which only runs
during the few showers that fall now and then in this arid country.
The waters from the bare rocks of the canyon,
gathering rapidly into a small channel, have eroded a deep side canyon,
through which they run, until they fall into the smaller end of this chamber.
The rock at the ceiling is hard, the rock below, very soft and friable;
and having cut through the upper harder portion down into the lower and softer, the stream has washed out these friable sandstones;
and thus the chamber has been excavated.

Here we bring our camp.
When Old Shady
sings us a song at night,
we are pleased to find
that this hollow
in the rock is filled
with sweet sounds.
It was doubtless made
for an academy of music
by its storm-born architect;
so we name it Music Temple.

--John Wesley Powell
journal entry for August 1, 1869

Sunday, July 31, 2016

We'll Be Able To Fly

all our times have come
here but now they're gone
seasons don't fear the reaper
nor do the wind
the sun or the rain
we can be like they are
come on baby
don't fear the reaper
baby take my hand
don't fear the reaper
we'll be able to fly
don't fear the reaper
baby i'm your man

To the man whom
death’s wing has touched,
what once seemed important
is so no longer;
and other things become
so which once did not
seem important or which
he did not even know existed.
The layers of
acquired knowledge
peel away from the mind
like a cosmetic and reveal,
in patches,
the naked flesh beneath,
the authentic being
hidden there.

And I would compare myself to a palimpsest ;
I shared the thrill of the scholar who beneath more recent script discovers,
on the same paper, an infinitely more precious ancient text.

--André Gide
The Immoralist

Blue Oyster Cult: Don't Fear the Reaper

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