Saturday, July 28, 2007


Here are some excerpts from a lovely book based on a true story, The Poet of Tolstoy Park, by Sonny Brewer.

"Henry could not remember when last he had walked barefoot in the rain, mud squishing up between his toes. He believed it was Black Elk, or maybe Chief Seattle, who had said that the man who always wears moccasins thinks the earth is covered with leather." (page 5)

"Black Elk had spoken of the giving-away ceremonies practiced by his people in the springtime: extra pemmican, extra furs, extra horses--these were not hoarded but were given to those who had none or not enough. The joy of giving is more full when the gift is finer, Black Elk said. This is because each thing owned takes a measure of spirit from the owner. And more spirit is paid out into finer things. To make a gift of these things, the more prized things, Black Elk continued, returns a fuller measure of spirit and power to the giver's body." (page 28)

" was not a 'face' he'd put on his leaving. It was permission
that he had claimed. 'We do not owe each other the keeping of some artificial proximity because of our common family name. Love is what we share. And love does not dissipate across distance, falter through the passing of time. It will not succumb to your anger at my leaving.'"
(page 52)

"'Thoreau said that to walk outside and gaze at the full moon is nothing,' said Henry, 'compared to walking along a path alight with the full moon's glow. The one is taste, the other a feast.'" (page 84)

"I am reminded that Socrates was found studying a new language on the night before the morning of his death. A pupil came to see him, and in surprise asked, 'Why do you now study a new language?' And Socrates answered, 'If not now, when?' If I don't build my hut now, dear Leddie, then when shall I ever build a hut?" (page 139)

"...these Alabama woods were remarkably green in winter. The magnolias had their leaves, the sweet bay and holly trees had their leaves; some of the varieties of oak were deciduous, but most of the oaks had their leaves, and the willows, the pines, and cedars were green. Much of the understory vegetation, honeysuckle and briar and privet, was thick with leafy jade. If Henry were a painter, he would set up his easel here. He would cover canvas after canvas with pigment. He would try to awaken an image reflecting the light falling here upon this immense green world. Henry could only stand in reverent awe.
When he shuffled his foot in the sand, he dislodged a fat acorn and it tumbled down to the water's edge. The acorn might have been a piece of wise man's gold, so captivated was Henry by it. He fumbled in his shirt pocket for the small daybook he had brought from his desk drawer in Idaho. He had a piece of pencil in his trousers pocket. He sat on the sand with the journal on his knee and the pencil poised above the clean page. There in the acorn's fall was his own life."
(page 146)