Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stars and Hermits

Robert Frost's poem Choose Something Like A Star will probably appeal to poetry lovers who also love astrology. The poet appeals to the star, "Say something to us we can learn by heart....", a plea an astrologer might make when contemplating an astrological chart! I'm particularly fond of the last five lines of the poem.
(Illustration: The Hermit card from The Ancestral Path Tarot . Artist: Julie Cuccia-Watts)

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud --
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

"Keats' Eremite"... ?

Eremite is another word for hermit. This is, I understand, a reference to an excerpt from a poem (Bright Star) by John Keats. Keats wanted to take a blissful moment with his lover and store it way like a hermit hides from civilization, to make it last forever. So when Robert Frost says "and steadfast as Keats' Eremite/ not even stooping from its sphere", in the poem Choose Something Like a Star, he's describing the star's constant place in the sky for us to focus on in difficult times. (HERE)

The poem by Keats:
Bright Star
By John Keats

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

Back to THE HERMIT of the Tarot deck, card # 9 of Major Arcana:

Astrologically Hermit links to Saturn, Aquarius and Virgo & the Earth element. Numerically Hermit connects to its card number: 9 (produced by 3 engaging with itself: 3 x 3).

Generally interpreted as a withdrawal into solitude, or retreat from the everyday world, seeking wisdom, self-reflection, introspection, hopefully finding guidance. Negatively, a running away from people or things, leading to loneliness.

In art, a hermit:

 St Anthony the Hermit by  Albrecht Durer

More about St Anthony - several of them in fact, HERE.
I rather like Anthony the Great, but I guess the image above is, as titled,
Anthony the Hermit (c.468–c.520).
I suspect legends of all Saints, St. Anthony included, become entangled over time.

Temptation of St Anthony (or one of 'em) was a popular subject for painters of centuries long gone. Here's an example, this by Bernardino Parenzano (c.1494). Click on image for bigger version.

 The Temptations of St Anthony

Finally: last lines of a poem, Hermits, by James Galvin. The full poem is at
Poetry Foundation, here.
When hermits die
They close their eyes. They never hear
The parson sermonize how somewhere
There is hope where no hope was.

A chance to be alone for a chance to be abandoned,
Everything is lost or given.

Hermits never know they’re dead till the roof falls in.


mike said...

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

“But I'll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you'll come to understand that you're connected with everything.” Alan Wilson Watts

“There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man..." Sam Walter Foss

Well, Twilight, you and anyjazz can be hermits in the cool breezes of your own home and stare at the stars through your window...LOL. It's scorched earth here and I think you are in the 100* range, too, like me.

An old friend of mine, now deceased, and I had a discussion of what we would miss the most, if it should disappear. His answer was toilet paper.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I like the S. W. Foss poem - and coincidentally it came up in an old post of mine (2011), on which I received a new comment a couple of weeks ago, from a relative of the lady involved.

I'm always amazed when things like that happen. :-)

Yes, the cool is, well, cool - it's cool to be cool! ;-)

We're not up to 100* yet today, but will be at least well into the 90s, and same for the next week or so.

I'd miss AC more than toilet paper. As a child during the war we had no toilet paper. We cut up old newspapers into squares and hung them in a string on a hook in the loo. I know - sounds gross doesn't it? Lol! I used to crumple the paper up very well to make it a bit softer. Goodness knows what the printer's ink did to our bums! :-D

mike (again) said...

Quinkydinks abound on "House By the Side of the Road"...Auntie Bee is counting on you, Twilight. If you are still corresponding with Brian, please ask him about the significance of the phrase, "House By the Side of the Road" was important to someone. Of course, the cottage may have simply been known as the house by the side of the road...LOL.

"Internet Archive uploads more than 14 million public domain images to Flickr"

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I think the line from a possibly favourite appealed to Miss Gahan (Auntie B), and she must have looked on the house where she lived as the house by the roadside in the poem.

I'm still trying to decide whether to do another post on the pictures and the story, maybe incorporating some of the old post and adding new information. I have more from Brian and another commenter, "Wendy". I'd decided against doing so, as it seems like an invasion of privacy, but I'll see what I can draft up tactfully, maybe for next weekend.
then, if Brian comments again, we can ask about the :house by the side of the road".

Twilight said...

mike ~ another typo! Dang! Should read " the line from a possibly favourite poem..."