Stones by John Murray
Genesis of a Sculpture by Brian Clark
On a Raised Beach by Hugh MacDiarmid
Selection of Japanese Haiku
Stones by George Quasha
make a geometry of six,
Chalk & Flint
as black as lacquer,
the geisha’s face
gone hard in the drawer,
an empty house
birth lines winding
in an endless galaxy,
the old man’s face
dissolve in the rain,
those empty questions
encrypted in granite,
quickly through time
even as glass,
window on God
infinite floor plans
many beds unmade
silver half seen,
half grasped in the streambed,
that secret wish
paper the rafters,
Within the ‘stony limits’ of haiku form, texts try to contextualise rock types in ten spontaneous responses to aspects of culture. Often this is attempted through references to time, geological or human. Marks made by absent form is a prevailing theme. The puff of breath, an attribute of haikus, as a vehicle for materiality, is ironic.
Etched with sagas from some cataclysmic age
when grains of sand re-formed and turned to stone
whose hieroglyphs hide core secrets
of a mountain’s power entombed
and made ready for an after-life.
Kiss, kiss, kiss awake this rock
with each tap of your chisel unwrap,
take away to reveal
that which was always there.
This poem was inspired by Swiss artist Sybille Pasche’s ‘Genesis’ displayed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I wrote it at the STONE project writing workshop there in April 2010. Leading international sculptors were invited to create work which then became part of a major touring exhibition (STONE touring Exhibition, 2010).
All is lithogenesis—or lochia,
Carpolite fruit of the forbidden tree,
Stones blacker than any in the Caaba,
Cream-coloured caen-stone, chatoyant pieces,
Celadon and corbeau, bistre and beige,
Glaucous, hoar, enfouldered, cyathiform,
Making mere faculae of the sun and moon,
I study you glout and gloss, but have
No cadrans to adjust you with, and turn again
From optik to haptik and like a blind man run
My fingers over you, arris by arris, burr by burr,
Slickensides, truité, rugas, foveoles,
Bringing my aesthesis in vain to bear,
An angle-titch to all your corrugations and coigns,
Hatched foraminous cavo-rilievo of the world,
Deictic, fiducial stones. Chiliad by chiliad
What bricole piled you here, stupendous cairn?
What artist poses the Earth écorché thus,
Pillar of creation engouled in me?
What eburnation augments you with men’s bones,
Every energumen an Endymion yet?
All the other stones are in this haecceity it seems,
But where is the Christophanic rock that moved?
What Cabirian song from this catasta comes?
Deep conviction or preference can seldom
Find direct terms in which to express itself.
Today on this shingle shelf
I understand this pensive reluctance so well,
This not discommendable obstinacy,
These contrivances of an inexpressive critical feeling,
These stones with their resolve that Creation shall not be
Injured by iconoclasts and quacks. Nothing has stirred
Since I lay down this morning an eternity ago
But one bird. The widest open door is the least liable to intrusion,
Ubiquitous as the sunlight, unfrequented as the sun.
The inward gates of a bird are always open.
It does not know how to shut them. That is the secret of its song,
But whether any man’s are ajar is doubtful.
I look at these stones and know little about them,
But I know their gates are open too,
Always open, far longer open, than any bird’s can be,
That every one of them has had its gates wide open far longer
Than all birds put together, let alone humanity,
Though through them no man can see,
No man nor anything more recently born than themselves
And that is everything else on the Earth.
I too lying here have dismissed all else.
Bread from stones is my sole and desperate dearth,
From stones, which are to the Earth as to the sunlight
Is the naked sun which is for no man’s sight.
I would scorn to cry to any easier audience
Or, having cried, to lack patience to await the response.
I am no more indifferent or ill-disposed to life than death is;
I would fain accept it all completely as the soil does;
Already I feel all that can perish perishing in me
As so much has perished and all will yet perish in these stones.
I must begin with these stones as the world began.
Shall I come to a bird quicker than the world’s course ran?
To a bird, and to myself, a man?
And what if I do, and further? I shall only have gone a little way to go back again
And be like a fleeting deceit of development,
Iconoclasts, quacks. So these stones have dismissed
All but all of evolution, unmoved by it,
(Is there anything to come they will not likewise dismiss?)
As the essential life of mankind in the mass
Is the same as their earliest ancestors yet.
Selection of Japanese Haiku Poetry
In the Utter silence of a temple,
A cicada’s voice alone
Penetrates the rocks
It is said that he made this poem at the Risshakuji Temple in Yamagata City during his travel to the northern part of Japan. The phrase “a cicada’s voice penetrates the rock” visualises the sound. “Everlasting time” the rocks have and the voice blend into one.
There is a Noh song titled “Sessyouseki” meaning a stone killing every creature. The stone is made by the gush of volcanic sulferising gas. Basho saw the stone in the Nasu Height during his travel. He said the stone was in the shade of a mountain where a hot spring gushed out, and its poisonous character remained, killing heaps of insects such as bees and butterflies.
The smell of a stone
The summer grass is red
Dew is hot
Over a stone
What is flying
Is only clouds
By Basho’s best pupil
Summer insects are dead on a stone
Using the stone as a pillow
In the first frost of the year
Even a stone killing every creature
Become a part of the view
The autumn wind
Is more white
Than stones in a stony mountain
Basho made this poem at the Nata Temple in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture during his travel. The autumn wind is traditionally called “transparent wind” or “white wind”, and the whiteness of the wind and the whiteness of the stone blend with each other.
In the night of the winter moon
Touch the bottom of my shoes
The feeling that “small stones touch the bottom of my shoes” is so delicate that this poem cannot be made in the noisy society today. It expresses the world where the winter moon is shining quietly and not a sound is heard. Only the feeling of small stones under the shoes is emphasised. We know from the classic poem that people today lose this feeling.
The summer mountains and lava
Their colours are different
Togo Sayu (1908-91)
Under the blazing sky
Going and coming back on the way of lava
On the marble stairs
I have dots’ reflection by the autumn sun
Nakamura Takako (contemporary poet made during her travel in USA)
Are women’s stride
In this poem, Takako seems to be going to attend the tea ceremony in winter. She might usually walk in long strides like a man, but space between the stepping stones in a garden made her walk with short steps as a woman wearing kimono does.
(notes by Tetsuzo Yamamoto)
Stones are only visiting us
here in the realm ofperception.
They have a time
deeper than time.
quiet. They hold
and tilt the continuity
of the empty view.
in the direction of around
but not for
anyone. They long
for their unborn selves —and lean
No feeling is at home amongthem.
No touch touches
The stone is sleeping
and takes away the need tostay
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