Thursday, April 30, 2009

I knew they lived and moved . . .

This gorgeous photo taken by a friend of mine shows a portion of the original Applegate Trail that settlers used as the southern route of The Oregon Trail starting in 1846.

The Buried Life

Light flows our war of mocking words and yet
Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
I feel a nameless sadness o'er me roll,
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
We know, we know that we can smile!
But there's a something in this breast,
To which thy light words bring no rest.
And thy gay smiles no anodyne.
Give me thy hand and hush awhile,
And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves - and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

But we my love! - doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices? - must we too be dumb?

Ah! well for us, if even we
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchain'd;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain'd!

Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be -
By what distractions he would be possess'd,
How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity -
That it might keep him from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being's law,
Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us - to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.
And many a man in his own breast then delves,
But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
And we have been on many thousand lines,
And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
But hardly have we, for one little hour,
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves -
Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
But they course on for ever unexpress'd.
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Our hidden self, and what we say and do
Is eloquent, is well - but 'tis not true!
And then we will no more be rack'd
With inward striving, and demand
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
Their stupefying power;
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
From the soul's subterranean depth upborne
As from an infinitely distant land,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
A melancholy into all our day.

Only - but this is rare -
When a beloved hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear,
When our world-deafen'd ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caress'd -
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose
And the sea where it goes.

-Matthew Arnold, 1870


YogaforCynics said...

Beautiful poem...I hadn't heard of the Applegate Trail before, but will have to learn more....

the watercats said...

This poem has a lovely echo to it.... open horizons..

Mark said...

Powerful! Thanks for sharing.

Erin Davis said...

That picture is a poem in and of itself. Reminds me of some I have taken near the Little Spokane. Speaks to me!

raccoonlover1963 said...

Hi Lydia.
Great poem and I love the picture at the beginning.
Did you get your Photoshop yet?
Take care

Lydia said...

@YogaforCynics- Until my friend emailed the shot I was aware of only The Oregon Trail. Now having read up on The Applegate Trail I find its history really fascinating too.

@the watercats- spoken like a true poet yourself!

@Mark- of course you're most welcome. :)

@Erin- The photo speaks to me too. I immediately asked my friend if I could publish it here, and it was agreed upon as long as I identified the photographer as a friend. Modesty!

@RaccoonLover- Hey, Lisa. I'm sorry I didn't email to let you know that I got the link but haven't tried it yet. I really appreciate your help!

Darlene said...

That lovely, moving poem touched me more than I can say.

The emerald green of the vines carpeting the forest is just awesome.

Thank you for sharing.

Rhiannon said...

Hi Lydia,

Bet you thought I disappeared off the face of the earth! I kind of feel like I have! I live near the Applegate area so am familiar with it but have not traveled or been there much at all...beautiful photo and poem.

Wanted to thank you for the award for my blog...I just now read your comment today as I've only just now (finally) gotten set up with an internet server today, here at my place

I had a bad fall right after I moved into my new place, and hurt my foot and ankle pretty bad (along with a few other body parts)...wasn't able to walk or drive until a few days ago....having to have my friends drive me to places and cart me around in a "manual" wheelchair for the last few weeks in order to take care of "life" was quite a growing and learning experience. Before them I was on my own all these years and thought if I had had this accident back then I don't know what I would have done without their help! Guess what? They are missing me already over there..isn't that a hoot! They now are understanding how much I did for them while things have worked out with them..that unconditional love "deal" is really teaching me so many lessons in life right now!

I now have a better understanding of what it's like for people in wheelchairs..thank goodness many have the ones they can drive now with a push of a button! I got lots of good arm work outs with this manual one.

I'm on the slow track for a while as I will come online when I feel I can...I'm so behind and lots to take care of "very slowly" one day at a time.

Other than that I'm doing well. Everything happens for a reason and I'm still learning to accept what is just "is".

Hope your doing well..and I apologize for taking so long to respond to your comment..I did not have any online source until today that someone helped me get connected.

I see I've missed so many of your wonderful post..but will have to start with the news ones...sigh..:o)...oh and thanks for the advice about watching my cat Lizzie so she won't run out the were so right! I'm training her well about this..she's a smart one.

Love and Blessings to you,


Buddha said...

I did not know Matthew Arnold was a Buddhist!
"The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow,"
I guess we all are Buddhists when we look introspective at our life :)
Great post; as usually!

Lydia said...

@Darlene- I'm so glad that both the photo and the poem touched you. We share that!

@Rhi- So good to hear from you, although alarming to hear what has transpired during the time of your move. It wasn't supposed to be this way! Your attitude is wonderful and I think you have everything in perspective. That includes how and when you can be online in the midst of everything else. I will be thinking of you and Lizzie and hoping that each day glows a bit brighter with your load a little lighter.
Take good care,. (((hugs)))

@Buddha- O, I just loved that part that you quoted in your comments. Your insight to the poem adds all the more dimension to it. As ever, thanks much. :)

Rhiannon said...


I will send you a short e-mail from my yahoo e-mail look for it..I'll let you know it's me..

Have a restful nice weekend.


coeline said...

you write majestically!! and i love the classic posts you have here. keep on inspiring other bloggers.. I am inspired by your blog!


Beth Niquette said...

We have many trails from pioneer days here in Oregon. In the Eastern part of our state the rutted road still exists--you can actually see the imprint of wagon wheels.

I've never hard of the Applegate Trail. Your photo is beautiful. The ancient poem touching, even in this day and age--maybe especiall in this day and age.

Thank you for sharing.

M Riyadh Sharif said...

I have read many books about these trails... Books of old west. This is one of my favorite criteria of books as well as of movies.
Love the poem. So meaningful.
& I have seen the movie : Twilight. It's so different.. and the sound tracks are also awesome, specially the 'Full moon'.

Margo said...

What a beautiful poem - thanks for sharing. I lived on the Conestoga Trail for a few years. It was our street name in New Jersey. We found it kind of odd. That photo is lovely as well!

Lydia said...

@Rhi- Got it! Thanks and you have a great weekend.

@coeline- I left a comment at your charming blog to let you know that I didn't write this poem! I'm glad you like my blog and am thrilled to have you here. :)

@Beth- Glad you enjoyed this. I've been to the interpretive center outside of Baker City and those ruts you wrote about are so amazing they are almost mystical. I'd never heard of The Applegate Trail either!

@M Riyadh Sharif- That impresses me so that you have studied this part of U.S. history! I love western movies too and wish they had more on TV. I'm so glad that you liked this poem. It's one that I'll keep close instead of tucking away.
Twilight turned out to be a good movie, I think. It sure was exciting to have it filmed around parts of Oregon. Now I'll have to check out the music.

@Margo- I agree that the poem and the photo are beautiful. You lived in New Jersey! My husband did also, during high school and first years of college. I love his descriptive stories from those days!

Citizen of Earth said...

I am reminded of a passage from “Sand County Almanac” Where Aldo Leopold is recalling the past use of the trail past his farm, the wagons leaving Ohio for points “West”



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