Sunday, October 28, 2007

A talk with Mr Mazda

Off to another 'Rock, Gem and Mineral Fair', and here's my prime acquisition, from my favourite dealer, Mr R D Mazda.

These are little turrets of pale green chalcedony, mingled with pale pink quartz and a single bright green chrystal of apophyllite. The source (Mr Mazda is punctiliously correct about provenance) is a place called Jalgaon, which is in Mahavashtva state, a day's drive north east of Bombay.

My photograph has lost much of the beauty of the piece: the chalcedony is in the subtlest of grey-greens. It reminded me of the 'Rain Flower Pebbles' and other landscape stones the Chinese avidly collected (and I am sorry that so aesthetically and intellectually enriching a blog as 'misteraitch' has run is now brought to an end):

I bought other smaller things, including a dangerous lump of native cinnabar - sealed in a plastic box. I acquired this late acquisitiveness around 2002. As these objects pile up in the house, I tell myself that having an enjoyment of ownership is one thing that distinguishes us from animals...

But, speaking of enriching people, I had a long talk with Mr Mazda, who collects books by the poets of the 1890's. We talked about Swinburne, and Dowson, back to Tennyson, and on to Masefield. And he recited for me a poem by Masefield which I did not know, 'A Creed', and politely indicated that its forthright account of reincarnation was more or less what he himself believed. He also said that Masefield's first line was toned down, under pressure, to the faintly absurd 'I held that' (which would undermine the very title - if you have renounced the idea, it hardly qualifies as much of a creed, does it?). The version on LION does indeed have that diluted past tense. I read David Gervais's life of Masefield on ODNB, which has no indication about Masefield's leaning to Buddhism. Here, Masefield seems so happy with Samsara, that it comes across as a kind of Buddhist Browning, all heartiness and vigour. But here it is, as a thanks to my educator and purveyor of fine rocks:

'A creed'
I hold that when a person dies
His soul returns again to earth;
Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise
Another mother gives him birth.
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain
The old soul takes the road again.

Such is my own belief and trust;
This hand, this hand that holds the pen,
Has many a hundred times been dust
And turned, as dust, to dust again;
These eyes of mine have blinked and shown
In Thebes, in Troy, in Babylon.

All that I rightly think or do,
Or make, or spoil, or bless, or blast,
Is curse or blessing justly due
For sloth or effort in the past.
My life's a statement of the sum
Of vice indulged, or overcome.

I know that in my lives to be
My sorry heart will ache and burn,
And worship, unavailingly,
The woman whom I used to spurn,
And shake to see another have
The love I spurned, the love she gave.

And I shall know, in angry words,
In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear,
A carrion flock of homing-birds,
The gibes and scorns I uttered here.
The brave word that I failed to speak
Will brand me dastard on the cheek.

And as I wander on the roads
I shall be helped and healed and blessed;
Dear words shall cheer and be as goads
To urge to heights before unguessed.
My road shall be the road I made;
All that I gave shall be repaid.

So shall I fight, so shall I tread,
In this long war beneath the stars;
So shall a glory wreathe my head,
So shall I faint and show the scars,
Until this case, this clogging mould,
Be smithied all to kingly gold.

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