William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Reading’

Smoke and Robins

If it takes me as long to read Thoreau’s journal as it did for him to write it, I will never finish. I have, however, read the first four volumes. Ten remain. At the beginning of the fifth, he refers to himself as a mystic, transcendentalist, and natural philosopher, and says that in most cases he finds it best, or at least easiest, to let people think otherwise — that […]

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A Small Boy and Others

The language of Henry James in A Small Boy and Others is a softly spoken dream that gently begs the use of the reader’s own tongue. The dream is in color; it has no corners or edges or sides; it is more like the distance one travels between a robin’s breast and a fully ripe strawberry — the kind of journey a child makes many times each day — even […]

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Loaves, Poems, and Rose Petals

The grapes are just beginning to bloom. The canes on one side have climbed to the roof. On the other, they have found inspiration and support in the apricot tree. And the apricot, in her grace and charm, returns blush for blush. Nationalism, patriotism, and pride are coins — certainty on one side, violence on the other. May humans someday learn to pay their way with loaves, poems, and rose […]

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Valley Days

From the tips of its branches to the deepest, outermost extent of its roots, the cedar that planted itself within a few feet of our front window is as wild as a tree growing in an inaccessible canyon. This is something the sky knows and is always eager to tell. Nor is this truth questioned by squirrels, birds, insects, and worms, all of which are wild and wise in their […]

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The Man Who Lost His Head

The Man Who Lost His Head Notebook Illustration I’m Telling You All I Know June 1, 2009   “When our kids were small, my wife and I used to read them a delightful book from the library called The Man Who Lost His Head. Published in 1942, the story was written by Claire Huchet Bishop and masterfully illustrated by Robert McCloskey. It’s about a man who has lost his head, […]

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My First Summer in the Sierra

The myriad components of this universe may be seen as varying expressions of one grand intelligence, an intelligence itself perhaps still evolving and ripening. No part is greater or lesser than another, or better or worse. Each is indispensable as long as it is needed, and plays its part in the great drama, whether star, waterfall, or blade of grass, elephant, bird, man, or mold. This includes the universe itself, […]

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The Poet Tree

To my mind, John Muir is a poet of the wilderness in the most divine literary sense — his praise and gratitude for the natural world is a song as sublime, inspirational, and wise as any sung by Homer or Whitman; in his hands, a journal entry seems the work of angels, here to recall man from the nightmare of his blind, narrow self. Muir is explorer, artist, scientist, dreamer, […]

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May Day

I’m still reading Vincent’s letters, and will be for quite some time. I continue with Thoreau’s journal, a fourteen-volume project. I’m about fifty pages into William Wetmore Story and His Friends, from Letters, Diaries, and Recollections, by Henry James, published in two volumes in 1904. I’ve begun the Library of America edition of John Muir’s nature writings. And I’ve just finished at Home with Disquiet, a wonderful new collection of […]

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A Mighty Wind Is

Yesterday evening, I learned something: to finish reading The Letters of Henry Adams is to want to read his books all over again; and it is to want to read the lives and letters of his friends. April 7, 2020   A Mighty Wind Is A mighty wind is thrashing the firs. Yesterday, the crows were busy gathering wood for their nests. When the wind dies down, they will resume. […]

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