Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
.
>>   Essays and poetry by Ron Price
> add tags
Abstract:
In the late 1980s I began to write more and more poetry as the construction projects on Mt. Carmel proceeded and the unfolding magnificence of the Terraces came more and more into view at the Baha'i World Centre
Notes:
Just ten days after the Arc Project and the Terraces on Mt. Carmel were officially completed on May 23rd, 2001 and the "awe-inspiring, worldwide effects" began to be reflected in messages being received from the Baha'i world centre--NASA launched the Wilkenson Microwave Anistrophy Probe(WMAP). This satellite orbited about one million miles above earth and measured microwave radiation that had travelled 13 billion light years and was generated 380,000 years after the Big Bang, so scientists theorized. This poetry, my poetry, orbited around the Baha'i World Centre, measured a spiritual radiation generated in the womb of a travailing age, and was inspired by the construction of these Terraces and the Arc Project at the Baha'i World Centre in the years 1987 to 2001.

The Arc Project: A Poetic Experience:
Pioneering Over Four Epochs, Section VIII Poetry

by Ron Price

published in Pioneering Over Four Epochs: An Autobiographical Study and a Study in Autobiography, Section VIII: Poetry
2006
There were other factors that contributed to the increasing output of my poetry and prose as the 1980s turned into the 1990s: (i) my full compliance with the medications for my bipolar 1 disorder, (ii) the stability of my employment situation, (iii) the increasing stability of my marital status,(iv) the gradual moving into and through adult life of the three children I had been involved in raising, and (v) other factors which I discuss many times in my poetic-opus.

When an artist speaks about the gestation period for their work I like to think, at least in my case, of a long, medium and short term period. In my own case the long term gestation involved my grandfather, my mother and my father in my childhood. These were the primary influences in the first half of the twentieth century, say, until 1957/8. Of course, one must also add the socio-historical influences from this period: the two wars, the decline of tradition, the new media: radio, TV, and the movies. The medium term influences involved my career as a teacher, my pioneering and experience in the Baha’i community, say, from about 1959 to 1978; and short term gestation and influences, especially Roger White and the writing of poetry from 1978 to 1992, my years in the north and west of Australia: 1982 to 1999 and, finally, the Arc Project itself on Mt. Carmel from 1987 to 2000.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 18 July 2000.

Gradually, an emotional engagement,
an imaginative reconstruction,
a crystallizing of attention,
of life’s waiting,
a linguistic enactment,
a private and colloquial voice
an expression of the paradisal
substratum of experience
in a dark and complex age
of the isolation of the individual
of the individual in community
of an emptying out of the articulate
self to clarify and define the Other,
of a lifelong pursuit of a speech
fitting to one’s life,
of an insistent and intense personal presence
in touch with a spiritual world
and with human society,
of inner brightness and darkness,
the precious and the painful,
from place to placelessness,
from now to then,
from here to there
in the power and depth of my solitude.

Ron Price
18 July 2000

A NEW POETIC INFLUENCE

The Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi, which the West comes closest to in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, places the accent in artistic expression, in its aesthetic philosophy, on the rustic, the raw, the rough, on the imperfect, the impermanent, the incomplete; and on nothingness, emptiness, detachment. Since much of my poetry contains accents similar to the tone and texture, meaning and feeling, conveyed by these words; since I have long felt a certain identity with the writings of Henry David Thoreau, that pioneer of yesteryear who also wrote extensively about his everyday experience in the bush, in the rustic places where he lived by himself; since the Writings of the Bahá'í Faith, and of Bahá'u'lláh in particular, also dwell on that same mystical quality of nothingness and emptiness, of detachment and the wilderness of remoteness: this particular Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi has a peculiar relevance to my own writings.-Ron Price with thanks to "The Comfort Zone," ABC Radio National, 3 March 2001, 9:00-10:00 am.

Only recently has it been confirmed
that this galaxy has a billion planets,1
only just the other day while
the Arc Project was being completed,
filling out our world with light,
with fragrances of mercy wafted
as they are over all created things,
over that myriad of planets.

And here, in these words,
I shed a unique light on the lives
of men and women of four epochs,
these protean beings who strike
a thousand postures in their lives
and change their spots swifter
than the twinkling of an eye.2

1 Interview with an astronomer at the American Association for the Advancement of Science(AAAS) on "The Science Show," ABC Radio National, 12:10-1:00 pm, 3 March 2001.
2 Robert Louis Stevenson, "Modern History Sourcebook: Samuel Pepys," 1886. He discusses the chameleon nature of human beings in his introduction.

Ron Price
3 March 2001

A POINT OF COHERENCE

For Baha’is who wrote poetry in the last quarter of the twentieth century and those Baha’is living and writing in the fourth epoch of the Formative Age, the Baha’i World Centre with all its recent and massive embellishments functioned as a point of coherence, a stable base for a superstructure of cultural and spiritual, historical and political imaginings. The master theme of the epoch, a period which began in 1986, the dominant, indeed obsessive concern, was increasingly global peace and the establishment of some kind of unity and coherence in the world. For the Baha’i poet, of course, the identification of the developments on Mt. Carmel, the Arc Project as it was called, with these global concerns was part of such a poet’s very raison d’etre.

Things had just begun to come full circle by the early days of the twenty-first century from the years of the Enlightenment, over two centuries before, at least from a Baha’i perspective. Faith in an apocalypse by revelation had been replaced by one based on revolution and then one based on imagination. Finally revelation was back in the saddle as the foundation of apocalypse. At least this was true for the Baha’i, if not yet for the great mass of mankind. Slowly, there developed over the years of this fourth epoch, the years when the Arc Project was completed, writers and poets whose imaginations could give force to the voice and current of the times. -Ron Price with thanks to Paul Kane, Australian Poetry: Romanticism and Negativity, Cambridge UP, 1996, p. 16.

The complex energies
and impulses of the hour
were slowly becoming
embodied in an intellectual
and imaginative movement,
slowly inaugurating a new age.
Indeed, the second birth of poets
and writers, artists of all kinds,
around their poetic, artistic,
experience, self-authorization,
was coming to be linked
with emerging global forces
associated with an emerging
world religion that would,
in time, be a crucial force
for peace, unity and a whole
planetary civilization in
the twenty-first century.

Ron Price
10 January 2001

GROWTH 1

Yesterday I wrote a poem, Growth, on my life and the development of that fragrance until 1962. This morning I felt like continuing that theme with a focus on the development of my beliefs and that fragrance. The task seems too difficult to get the required depth. In the poem below I have set an overall outline but the depth, the detail, the kind of achievement that Wordsworth attains in his The Prelude I do not seem able to produce, as yet. I have a model in Wordsworth but my personal achievement in that direction must, for now, remain elusive. Perhaps one day I will come back to this theme, this poetic package.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 28 March 2001.

The only one on campus: '63-'66,
nearly lost the plot
in a mix of depression, sex,
career questions, confusion,
lectures, note taking and exams.

Was saved, in the end,
by Martin and Bond,
put on track,
got a direction,
centred my passion,
still fought fear
and depression,
broke the umbilical cord.

Survived those four years
in one piece,
launched to the north,
a real pioneer this time
with a marriage under my belt
to help me make it through.

Lasted, what, nine months?
A mild schizo-affective state!
Patched up and sent out after six
for a final two-and-a-half year
stint by Lake Ontario.

Restored my batteries,
kept my marriage,
continued my career,
pioneered again,
a few hours from Toronto,
taught the Cause, thanks
to the Eastern Proc Team,
put Picton on the map.

Fifty years after His passing1
I was in Australia
and praying again
To light up Whyalla
and my life,
both exploded
into more success
than I could imagine.

Divorce and two years
in South Australia
led to Tasmania, Victoria,
the NT, WA and back to
Tasmania and a thousand
upon thousand events
taking me to 57,
the opening of the Arc Project
and the Terraces.

Always the fragrance
has been there,
but to follow its journey
as Wordsworth followed his
must wait until another day.
1 'Abdu'l-Bahá: 1921-1971

Ron Price
28 March 2001

SMALL DIFFERENCES MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

The completion of the Human Genome Project, the great achievement that it is, is coinciding with the completion of the Arc Project. Both events change and will change the way we think about ourselves. Just as small differences between our genome and those of other animals and plants reveal what make us uniquely human and profoundly different from animals and plants, so do small differences between the Bahá'í Faith and other Faiths make it the unique and profoundly different phenomenon that it is. Both Projects have resulted in great gifts, powerful tools, for humanity's use. Both Projects will help human beings find their place in the complex systems that make up the great adventure of life in this universe. Both Projects were launched by inspired visions, visions that were based on the belief that the pursuit of large-scale fundamental problems in the life-sciences or in religion was and is in the interest of humanity. Both Projects are not endings but beginnings of a new approach to biology on the one hand and global cooperation, peace and a new future on the other. Both Projects are identified with extraordinary new power and with the treatment of disease, one a physical disease and the other spiritual.-Ron Price with thanks to Barbara R. Jasny and Donald Kennedy, "The Human Genome," Science, Vol. 291, No. 5507, 16 February 2001, p.1153.

We get another perspective
on all the life on earth
and on this small and insignificant religion
we have played a part in all these years.

Small differences make
all the difference:
a written Revelation,
a clear statement of succession.
My God, these two factors alone
make it unique and pure.
The unity of life, of religion,
is so obvious, so clear, so true:
I see it on that Hill of God,
still the cynosure of a very few.

Ron Price
24 February 2001

MT. CARMEL

The poetry in this collection celebrates the construction of the Arc on Mt. Carmel and I have included a number of poems as part of this celebration. The history of the developments at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa Israel and especially the recent Arc Project completed in 2001 is provided elsewhere and there are now many photographs available for those who are interested. I have set out below The Introduction to one of my fifty-two booklets of poetry, most of which were sent to the Bahá'í World Centre Library as part of a celebration, one of the thousands of notes around the Baha’i community, part of that "befitting crescendo to the achievements of a century....a period that will have left traces which shall last forever," as the Universal House of Justice put it in April 1995. as well as several poems.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 2 December 2003.

THE CENTRE

The Bahá'í Cause has a World Centre in Haifa, but around this centre is an immense network which participates in so many different ways in this Centre. You don't really have to live and work in that Centre to be part of it, although obviously one's participation in the physicality of that Centre from a distance is not the same as actually being there. The unquestioned center of the Bahá'í World Faith is PO Box 155 Haifa Israel 30 001 or, more especially, the holy dust of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh in Their respective shrines. That unique centrality will never end. As the phenomenal world we live and participate in becomes more and more global, as the local and habitual settings in which we physically move are experienced as only part of that phenomenal world, as distance intrudes into local activities overcoming some of its tyranny, that centrality will become even deeper and more pervasive.

We must resolve various dilemmas, though, if we are to preserve a coherent narrative of self-identity in relation to this phenomenal world. This poem is about the resolution of these dilemmas. -Ron Price with thanks to Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Stanford UP, 1991, pp.187-201.

The one and the many,
integration and fragmentation, bringing it together and splitting things apart, bridging the gap, bridging the gap in a drama, the role, that I and others expect me to be as I participate in the necessary creation of this special ideological culture and my world. And so I put fantasy, make-believe, theatre, game-playing, models, plans and images into a great mix, a repertoire, to be ready for any contingency, limit any engulfment, being overwhelmed by my powerlessness, not haunted, but see it as a natural state and so slowly make a new world, where orchestration, dominance, is limited as I try to balance uncertainties, authorities, personalities, commodities.
Ron Price
10 October 2000

THE ALPHABET OF HOMECOMING

In the months surrounding the opening of the Terraces on Mt. Carmel, March to July 2001, astrophysicists studied the second gamma ray explosion of 22 February 2001. They concluded that in the constant stream of light and energy that constituted this explosion they had seen the nursery for the first stars, the first huge clouds of gas and dust. Stars lived and died in this nursery. Black holes were formed in this same period that astrophysicists called associated with what they called 'the cosmic dark ages.' This gamma ray explosion was, in fact, the biggest bang thusfar discovered in the universe. It gave astronomers a window to our distant universe and to how our first stars were formed. It was from these first stars that all our matter, all the elements in the periodic table that we now know, have their origin. -Ron Price with thanks to "Catalyst," ABC TV, 8:00-8:30 pm., 5 April 2002.

It's more than just coincidence that we got our first big handle on the origins of the first stars just at that very time on earth that the first system for earth, the first world Order finally was given its first outer form in a brilliant Arc of buildings and gardens on God's holy mountain, a rocky hill, Carmel's bony spine. For as a poet said: ...confident stars form new configurations, effortlessly shaping themselves into the alphabet of homecoming.1 It is not enough to marvel. The universe asks more. Let the searchers, drowned, who look and stare in wonder, tell us why, returning from their telescopic haunts, we stand, wistful in our chairs, far from those stars and awe.
1Roger White, Notes Postmarked The Mountain of God, New Leaf Pub., Richmond, BC, 1992, p.3.
Ron Price
4 April 2002

THE CENTRE AND THE PERIPHERY

The poet who is a Bahá'í seeks his identity and his public in an international culture that is too new, too disorganized and too preoccupied with the psychological demands of a world going through a fundamental change in consciousness, a consciousness of humanity's oneness, a world that is moving through a period of social paralysis, tyranny and anarchy, the ultimate consequences of which no one on earth can foresee.1 This theme, this struggle of the poet, also characterized the struggle of the nineteenth century poet in both the USA and Russia. The 'thinness' of the emerging international Bahá'í culture is not unlike the thinness of the American and Russian atmosphere that Henry James describes. "It takes," James argued, "such an accumulation of history and custom, such a complex of manners and types, to form a fund of suggestion"2 for a poet, a novelist, a playright indeed any one of the many creative and performing arts. -Ron Price with thanks to 1The Universal House of Justice, Message, 24 May 2001; and 2Henry James in Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, George Steiner, Penguin Books, 1967(1959), p.40.

There's another shifting now, a migration of the mind from the centre to the perifery and the perifery is everywhere and so is the centre: one, an unprecedented project, a wondrous result, has just stuck its head above the ground, a centre for an unparalleled world civilization, during this momentous transition the pain shall pass. And the thinness of so much of that century of light will acquire that accumulation of history and custom, that fund of suggestion that is at once dense, rich and part of the global spectacle. Ron Price 28 March 2002

OUR DWELLING-PLACE

In a letter dated March 29th 1951, given the title Spiritual Conquest of the Planet,1 Shoghi Effendi announced "the rise of the World Administrative Centre" of the Faith, "a process that had been kept in abeyance for well nigh thirty years, whilst the machinery of the national and local institutions of a nascent order was being erected and perfected." About four months later a lecture was given on "Building Dwelling Thinking" to a group of leading German architects. The lecture "had an immense impact on architecture for it represented an axiomatic definition of architecture itself."2 The speaker's name was Martin Heidegger. -Ron Price with thanks to Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, Wilmette, 1965, p.91; and 2 Gunter Dittmar, "Upon the Earth, Beneath the Sky: The Architecture of Being, Dwelling and Building," Internet, 19 December 2001.

A whole new architectural form and function was just sticking its head up upon the earth, beneath the sky, among mortals, marking the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth and the rise of the World Administrative Centre. To create cosmos out of seeming chaos, at the centre of ninefold articulates, nine concentric circles and holy dust, to create an identity, a tangible location, dwelling place for our being, within the vast, shapeless and infinite continuum of time and space, to affirm our presence, gain a foothold in the universe, generating a matrix where we would work, meet and play. Structuring and articulating our relationship to the sacred, to a vast system, engaging the world around us in an ongoing and creative dialogue, gathering, condensing and giving presence to our inner and outer worlds, bringing them into harmonious congruence, their mystery and meaning becoming manifest to us in this world of existence that we may confess His Oneness. Every bestowal emanates from Thee. Every benediction is Thine.1 This catalyst towards our dwelling, mediating between ourselves and our world; defining our being and our sense of place in the world, the beginning of an architectural idiom in a strong, a deep, a rich cultural tradition, only a century or two old, far more than economics, technology and fashion: and now we search for this place of our dwelling and our meaning and our life.

1 Bahá'í Prayers

Ron Price
20 December 2001

INTRODUCTION TO BOOKLET 34 OF SOME POETRY

Anyone reading my poetry thusfar would easily realize that it expresses a multitude of concerns and interests. Poetry is simply the best means, for me, to express my interests, my beliefs, my values and concerns. Many of my poems deal with my Canadian experience; others deal with the Australian component of my life and still others with an explictly spiritual orientation. Sometimes this spirituality deals with language, sometimes with a universal ethos and quite often with the Baha’i Faith. Poetry can never really capture the reality of life in all its quintessential fullness and beauty, vanity and emptiness. But I try to capture the elusive butterfly, the reality of life, through a clarity of language. Reality is a linguistic creation and must be put into words, if one is writing poetry. There is a vulnerability in the process. There is a walking on glass. One must travel lightly in all the seriousness and deep curves that come along.

The ‘deep curve’ that came along and made the title of this booklet is on the front colonnade of the International Teaching Centre. The photographs and brief descriptions of aspects of the Mt. Carmel Project that come along in the Canadian and Australian Baha’i monthly magazines and that inspire the Baha’i world, I pick up like the elusive butterfly landing lightly on the flowers in a garden; and my heart flies immediately to Mt. Carmel. From time to time an image associated with the Mt. Carmel Project captures my attention and I incorporate it into the title of a booklet of poetry. I have done that here. And then my poetry moves on, like the butterfly.

Some of my poetry, I hope not too much, is uninspiring and prosaic. I have written over four thousand poems in the last seven years. It is my contribution, my offering to the Baha’i World Centre Library. It is a poetic expression in celebration of the period of time in which the Arc was being built: 1992-2000. Not all of this poetry is vigorous, relaxed in its clarity, simple in diction, controlled and containing highly sustained imaginative and intellectual insights. But it aims to capture truth as truth emerges from the contact point between my inner reality and an external world. For poetry is the unity of mind and world in a creative act; it is the weaving of the primary material of sensory experience into a mental coat of many colours. In the end, all things exist for the poet because of a synthesizing, unifying, process of this inner and outer reality.

Much of my poetry is openly polemical and imposes on the reader an argument that I have already been persuaded to be true. Rather than let the argument arise from the poem itself and leave it to the reader to decide, my biases inevitably direct me toward a certain line of thought. This is because I deeply hold various religious and philosphical positions, various convictions and assumptions and they need to be understood if my poetry is to be understood. These positions result in consistent patterns that can be observed with my passion and my sincerity and varying degrees of assimilation in my poetry.

Breakdown, fragmentation and loss of meaning on the one hand and varying forms of integration and meaningfulness is a theme that appears again and again in my poetry. The integrating forces are not so obvious to the generations of this century. Since the discovery and application of the atomic bomb, a force of enormous potential destructiveness, another force of immense potential integration has spread over the earth: the Baha’i Administrative Order. Baha’i themes, which give expression to this force, appear again and again in this poetry.

One such theme is the ultimate value of the "inner life and private character" mirroring the truths of this new Revelation. This inner life is also given a strong accent, a focus, a centre of attention in my poetry. For it is through our "passion and (our) life....whose mountains are within",1 as Coleridge once put it; and it is through the unique form of the Baha’i Order within which we must channel these ‘mountains’, that our civilization will eventually come to an era of peace, experience the spiritualization of the masses of humanity and a future golden age. This is the basis of the shared vision, rooted in language, without which humanity will not survive. This vision permeates my poetry.

What some poets call the life-force, love, a mysterious organizing and regenerating power is also a factor, an underlying principle or focus in my poetry. I call it the Ya’Baha’ul’Abha factor which is: the melody of eternity, the chord of creation, the rhythm of progress, the cry of the universe, the striking of the chord of divine reality, the whole world of creative thought.2 If this factor was to be given a personalification it would be the Supreme Concourse, perhaps the Blessed Beauty, Baha’u’llah, or holy souls in the world beyond. If it were to be given a symbol it would be the Greatest Name as it appears on Baha’i ringstones. Although this symbol is Arabic monogram, it has many English expressions that describe its meaning. For me, this life-force is the emotional-feeling-spiritual pole that balances that other pole: the mind, the rational factor, learning and the cultural attainments of the in tellectual faculty, that is so dominant in the Baha’i teachings.

Much of my poetry deals with historical themes. In fact, I probably have a too excessive concern for time, for continuity, for the integration of the past, the present and the future into one whole. Another way of expressing this overriding concern is to say it is a concern for unity: the oneness of mankind, of God and of religion. But this is not a plea to an ignorant and simplistic emotionalism. It is rather a recognition of the ultimate basis for synthesis, with poetry as a noetic integrator3 within the wider noetic integrator of a world religion which I joined forty years ago.

I have had some difficulty finding objective correlatives, as T.S. Eliot calls them, for complex and powerful emotional states like love and despair, indeed the entire inner life. So occasionally, hopefully not too often, my poetry becomes too abstract, too philosophical, too heavy with polemic and, therefore, suited for a narrow audience of believers, the Baha’is whom I have worked with all my life in the refining of their organizational framework, the Baha’i administrative Order. They might have the patience to stay with me in these philosophical meanderings. Like some other poets, W.B.Yeats and Judith Wright among them, my poetry becomes preoccupied with a set of almost obsessive ideas which permeate its content. The inner life is but one of these obsessions. I think this is impossible for me to avoid given an active involvement all my life with social and spiritual issues that derive their framework and definition from this new Faith. The need to introduce fresh images, and yet maintain some unified structure of reality for my poetic opus, is an ongoing need. So, too, is individuation, the acceptance, at this stage of my life especially, of my imperfections as a human and those of others in this phenomenal world. This accepting process helps release my creativity and helps me come to terms with the shadow side of life, as Jung would have put it.

1 S.T. Coleridge in Flame and Shadow: A Study of Judith Wright’s Poetry, Shirley Walker, University of Queensland Press, 1991, p.11.

2 a noetic integrator is a symbolic or conceptual construction which serves to interpret large fields of reality, to transform experience into attitude and unify factual knowledge and belief. See Daniel C. Jordan and Donald T. Streets, "The Anisa Model: A New Basis for Educational Planning" Young Children, Vol.28, No.5, June 1973, p. 290.

3 ‘Abdu’l-Baha describes the meaning of this expression in an unpublished article I was given while living in Perth.

Ron Price
12 January 1999

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

In many of the inner cities of North America and throughout the West, from about 1890 to 1920, there was what is now called a 'golden age' in the history of city architecture. During this period the central core of a great number of cities was invigorated, given a fresh, a stimulating, exterior. After the years of decline of this core, what is often called the central business district, from about 1950/60 to 1980/90, these CBDs were reinvigorated in many places. Entertainment, fantasy, a new commercial leisure culture began to occupy the central squares. This began to happen all over the world during the fin de siecle and is continuing in this new century. Part of the plan, the central assumptions, the raison d'etre, behind this architectural and leisure culture renewal has been: if you build it they will come. In Haifa this same process has been at work, for fifteen years and perhaps much longer, a process in which an 'exquisite power,' a grace 'so contained as to pose no threat,' has found a home, a 'crystal concentrate of beauty.' It has now been built and they are coming. -Ron Price with thanks to Roger White, "The Artifact," The Witness of Pebbles, George Ronald, Oxford, 1981, p.97.

Faithful to the memory of that appointed hour which he'd assigned so long ago to that design; we have set her in that place of honour in the central square; we find, but hardly know, the exquisite power which she one day will wield; 'tis dismissed as fantasy by the solemn elders and, of course, in history's court, among the present cognoscenti,1 all is arguable and they may be right. For who can doubt their knowing ways. Now she lay there and we grow accustomed to this wondrous crystal concentrate of beauty, as the eye `does to any artefact. We marvel, but we easily forget in our troubled days while our cities are swept with confused alarms and our feet hardly feel, being shod. But my heart says this beauty will not be spent. Here is a freshness, deep down things, dearest, oh morning, eastward springs, a spirit bent over the world broods with her warm brest and with ah! bright wings.2 1 Latin term for 'those who know.' 2 Gerald Manley Hopkins, "God's Grandeur," Gerald Manley Hopkins, Penguin, 1953, p.27.
Ron Price 20 July 2001

MID-MOUNTAIN TERRACES

Very few people seem to care for pure beauty of line. Very few people, as yet, have any idea of the power in this Cause. As yet, it poses no threat .-Ron Price with thanks to Gerald Manley Hopkins in Hopkins: A Literary Biography, Norman White, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992, p.277; and Roger White, "The Artefact", The Witness of Pebbles, George Ronald, Oxford, 1981, pp.96-97.

I caught this morning morning's terrace green. Daylight bringing it all fresh, widely eyed. Rolling, rolling through the steady air; Hanging there in mid-mountain's sleek height. They drank in ordered wonder the rising light And marvelled that they, so round and even Should grow luminous and warm with day. They can not speak alone or in unison But, if they could, they'd chorus loud So clear and crystal pure: The Sun! The Sun! In sweetest ecstacy they'd sing And Carmel would to Zion ring. Holy dust resides here on this Isle Of Faithfulness, shipwrecked ashore— Re-wrapt in a silken shroud, blood-red Dried-up now in purest form A potency beyond all that's born Dust of dust, holy of holies, at this hour This beauty, in this place of honour, Our handiwork, our love, our heart Is here laid out, all loveliness. A power crosses here between the dust And marbles, terraces, between what must Be the grace that keeps our hearts From dieing into eternity's wondrous parts.1 Ron Price 10 August 1998
1 Some of the most remarkable poems ever produced come from the corpus of Gerald Manley Hopkins. They are subtle autobiographical documents. (ibid.,p.vii). This poem is an attempt to immitate Hopkins' style.
CONJURING*

The Baha’i gardens in Haifa are a paradisial symbol of transcendence. They conjure into active imagination a sacred transendent presence; they play a crucial part in restoring a centre and wholeness to everyday life. This transcendence arrests the drift of human action by infusing it with governing spiritual purposes. These purposes arise as much from the depth of the fallen present, the discontinuity and brokenness of humanity from the ultimate and a nostalgia for a lost mythic garden, as from the yearnings for wholeness, for renewal, for reconciliation. There is here, the unobtrusively trickling thread of water that momentarily pools and then passes, reminiscent of the transient in all forms and of purity, sanctity, enlightenment and holiness, in their many forms. The transendent depends on manifested form to be accessible. The manifested form, the manifestation of God, depends on the transcendent, to be real and to escape its transient immediacy. This water leads the pilgrim toward the vision and the mystery that is the manifestation of God.-Ron Price with thanks to Robin Matthews, "In the Trial of the Serpent: A Theological Inquiry," in The Meaning of Gardens, editors, Mark Francis and Randolph Hester, Jr., The MIT Press, London, 1990, pp.46-53.

* conjure: to appeal solemnly to a person to do something

The Cup-bearer bringeth crystal cool water at last,1 with His exalted utterance, the water of life, here in this garden, art form, symbol carrier, statement of our place in the cosmos, of human dominance over nature, the very raison d’etre, the very essence of a garden, symbol of power. And the price for all this: eternal vigilance and never-ending maintenance, a preeminent act of will, nature slowed down to stasis for human delight of the eye, the ear, the mind and the heart.2 Ron Price 6 December 1999
1 the water flowing on Mt. Carmel in the gardens from terrace to terrace.

2 This poem, a vahid, gives special emphasis to control over nature as the essence of a garden in the same way that control over our natures, a preeminent act of our wills, lies at the heart of our lives.

THE TASK

Landscape architect Peter Walker once said that landscaping goes "beyond merely human needs or intervening in natural processes." Its aim is to achieve an expressive landscape, full of feeling and spirituality. The landscaper’s task, Walker went on, is to discover what is already contained within it, the hidden and the dormant, and bring it into the light and, with a little "magic" offer it to the attention of the public. The task at the Baha’i World Centre in the Mt. Carmel Project in the 1990s was to create a connection between the religious history, the memory, the experience of the Baha’i community going back a century and a half and the collective social-psychological and intellectual-spiritual aspirations of this emerging world religion. Equally, the task involved creating an environment worthy of the claim that it was, and is, "the spot round which the Concourse on high circle in adoration" and, in the realm of the spirit the "Point round Whom the realities of the Prophets and Messengers revolve."1-Ron Price with thanks to Peter Walker in The World of Landscape Architects, Francisco Cerver, 1995, p.41; and 1 in Citadel of Faith, Shoghi Effendi, Wilmette, 1965, pp.95-6.

It’s a way of perceiving the world, what is human and relationships, cultural and narrative spaces. For there is a story here and we want the observer to discover the elements and sensations of this modern story that the world knew not, has not noticed, yet. It is an unfolding, a rising and a falling, a going out and a coming in, the roots, the story, of the religion of Western civilization in all its tragedy, its beauty and its grandeur. Ron Price 10 December 1999
HEAL ME! HEAL ME! HEAL ME!

The Baha’i World Centre on the side of Mt. Carmel is like opera music in the sense that it symbolizes, as opera does, beauty, love and truth. It is there, as is opera, for people to behold and wonder. -Ron Price with thanks to Golden Voices of Film, ABC TV, 12 December 1999, 11:15 pm.

Here is beauty, love and truth. They cannot be embodied here, but they can be symbolized and here they are symbolized for the eye to see, the ear to hear in a Word so near, so clear, so rich, so dear, the senses to feel, so real, so real, Heal me! Heal me! Heal me! as I kneel, as I kneel, as I kneel. Ron Price 13 December 1999
THIS POETIC VAULT

.....in poetry the enjoyment of poetic experience of any part of the world is fraught with the necessity of discovering a wider and more inclusive imaginative apprehension, in which more and more elements in experience are caught up and incorporated. The imagination of the great poet at least never rests from this momentous labour which endeavours to encompass the whole of life, and to achieve a comprehensive unity of imaginative pattern. -In Skepticism and Poetry, George, Allen and Unwin, London, 1937; quoted in The New Apologists for Poetry, Murray Krieger, Greenwood press, Westport, conn., 1956, p.107.

Time will tell who and what is great, but there is momentous labour here, just recently embarked, energies transferred to this poetic passion. We joke about it around the house and I don’t talk about it much: all part of keeping the serious unserious, the heavy, light and Murphy’s Law firmly entrenched in an Aussi psyche. When you’re doing something that never seems to let you rest; that hangs around your head waiting to be fed like some new behemoth; that waits to be translated, incorporated, tucked into this comprehensive, imaginative pattern that encompasses the whole of life-- and by God you’ve been trying to play your part, find your place, do your thing, make your home in this global Crystal Palace all your life, with your life, for your life, to your life and the lives of others all over the place, so many specific places-- you get an enormous weariness that keeps coming back after it has sucked out every conceivable energy you’ve got and you die. Of course, morning always comes and a more inclusive imaginative apprehension, some rich and elaborate organizaton of impulses; more and more is caught up and absorbed into this great poetic vault which you offer up to a place as near to your Lord’s casket-- His alabaster sarcophagus, where lies that inestimable jewel--as will be accepted. If this vast construction, which labours like a pregnant woman, will not lie on the spot round which the Concourse on high circle in adoration may it repose nearby in the library as your gift for His gift. 1/12/95.
THIS THRESHOLD

Life, the inner life, the life of the imagination, in which the senses are messengers from the outer world brings joyous and disquieting tidings: this life of crisis, of ecstacy, of a hundred differently defined sensibilities is the life of poetry. Poetry is, then, a language, a language of crisis, of ecstacy, of these varied sensibilities. Poetry arrests these various states in mid-flight and mentally transposes emotions and sensations, creating an atmosphere along the way.

A poem is a becoming, a process. A landscape is magically evoked and blended into a single effect. A sustained impressibility towards the mysterious conditions of man's everyday life, towards the very mystery itself, gives a singular gravity, a quality of joy, of the exquisite, to poetry. Much of life is trite, humdrum, tedious, trite. These emotions of quieter intensity become part of poetry, of poetry's voice. -Ron Price with thanks to Walter Pater and Edward Engelberg in The Symbolist Poem: The Development of the English Tradition, E.P. Dutton and Co., NY, 1967, pp.289-345.

Marble pillars and garden terraces are fellow travellers on this mountain side and with them I did pass several days at a slow step, my mind on fire with emotions of a lifetime. This vastly augmented World Centre reared for that Divine Target of grief, creating a tranquil calm, an efflorescence on God's Holy Mountain, of profound significance, of providential opportunities where tribulations are transmuted into instruments of redemption. And now constructing, landscaping, erecting edifaces imbued with sacred remembrances at this culmination of a cycle of six thousand years in an age of fulfillment of five thousand centuries in which we have just finished the first and a flight of stairs to meet His majestic shrine, this Threshold of the City of God where a welter of concrete, steel and stone are strewn across thousands of square metres. Ron Price 27 April 1996
MEDITATION ON BAHA’I WORLD CENTRE

...............my voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual Mind
...............to the external World
Is fitted. -William Wordsworth, "The Recluse", William Wordsworth: Selected Poems, Walford Davies, editor, Dent, 1975, p.132.

Here I behold a mind that feeds upon infinity, a mind sustained by direct transcendent power and holds converse with a spiritual world of past, present and to come: epoch to epoch, past recorded time.
Here I see days gone by returning from those first glimmerings at the dawn of this Age, enshrined now: the spirit of the Past for our future’s restoration. The characters are, now, fresh and visible in this spot of time with its distinct pre-eminence and its renovating virtue whereby our minds are nourished and invisibly repaired.
Here are those efficacious spirits who have profoundest knowledge of leavening of being and of the workings of One Mind, the character of this Great Apocalypse and the types and symbols of eternity, gathered, as they are, among solitudes sublime.
Here we find our better selves, from whom we have been long departed, and assume a character of quiet more profound than so many of the pathless wastes where we have long walked, too long, its roads.
Here, too, I hear at last my song which with its star-like virtue shines to shed benignant influence, make a better time, more wise desires and simpler and humbler manners. Perhaps some trace of purity may come with me and guide and cheer me with Thy unfailing love which I forget.
Ron Price
19 June 1995

STILL UNOBTRUSIVE

Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. -Nietzsche.

Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.
-Santayana, 1905.

It’s all happening pretty fast in this incredible mix of time-and-space, some kind of speed warp as the century goes down to the wire.
Why, we may have HAL ready. You remember his calm, eerily human voice from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.*
Why, we’re mapping the brain and the universe and a thousand** other things as we welcome the first stirrings of an Order*** that will slowly crystallize and radiate throughout the planet.
Why, we’re building the most beautiful world centre of any of the world religions, a centre which houses a handful of Dust whose potency is world-shaking world-reverberating, but whose exquisite power remains, still, unobtrusive.

Ron Price 3 January 1996
* Charles Arthur, New Scientist, 4 March 1995, p.26.

** Since the 1953, when according to Shoghi Effendi the Kingdom of God on Earth began, there has been a staggering explosion in knowledge.

*** The first stirrings of this new World Order will occur in the years 1944-2044. Current Baha’i Administration is but the instrument that is the precursor of that Order.

PRECISE DELINEATION

The writer himself left a considerable body of self-depiction....Although precisely delineated each vignette seems to leave the poet's actual self largely untouched and the reader double-guessing. -Michael Ackland, Henry Kendall: The Man and the Myths, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 1995, p.2.

With the precise delineation of the last four years there should be no second guessing as far as my actual self is concerned, at least as far as my own understanding of my own self. Like Kendall I see myself at the dawn of a new consciousness, but in world literature, a Bahá'í consciousness, emerged just in this fourth epoch, hardly seen, barely touched, raised its head above the ground like a universal groundhog testing the waters for the new spring whose rains have been watering humanity for a century or more, unobtrusively, and whose World Centre will soon be completed for all eyes to see, offering humanity a visible evidence of a model that will slowly in the years ahead take the world by storm, based on a very precise delineation of a whole new paradigm.. Ron Price 8 March 1996
WHAT IS GOING ON?

The real, central theme of history is not what happened but what people felt about it when it was happening. -G. M. Young in Representations: Essays on Literature and Society, Steven Marcus, Columbia UP, NY, p.5.

Most have no idea what is going on in this great World Centre and, consequently, have no feelings about the project at all and the few who do, have a range of feelings and attitudes ranging from intense excitement to complete bewilderment at what is taking place. Dear Mr. Young: The central theme of history is not what people feel about the events, but where is the repository of the creative power of the age and the nature of the Providential control over the historical process. There are many things that are going on, too many to list here, but at the core of the process today is a realization that self interest and the collective interest are the same. Ron Price 3 May 1996
BEAUTY’S INSINUATING POWER

Here was a message for the world over ABC radio at 1:30 am from a place of such potency housing the dust which is the spot where the Concourse on high circle in adoration. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 24 May 1996.
It came over my little chirping box, must have been one-thirty am, the hundred and fifty-second anniversary of the declaration of the Bab. They gave a message of beauty, a news item centred on beauty, beauty’s insinuating power coming out of the north, across air- waves, across the earth, right into my head in the middle of the night telling the world of the embellishment of my World Centre, the beautification of the gardens, the Qiblih, the Mountain of God, the sacred precincts of holiest dust. Ron Price 24 May 1996
FOR THE BWCL

I do not mean that once a poet is invited to send his work to the Baha’i World Centre Library he can then sit back and imagine that he is safely fixed in the niche of Baha’i consciousness in poetic literature and history well into the future centuries of the Formative Age, with perhaps some residual existence in the Golden Age. On the contrary, I doubt if an invitation will do any more than cheer him up and make him think that someone, at least, has read and liked his work. Even that is doubted. For the collection of poetry at the Baha’i World Centre Library is there for the researchers of the future, evidence for some theory, information for enhancing an understanding of the fourth epoch of the Formative Age. -Ron Price with thanks to A. Alvarez, Beyond All this Fiddle: Essays 1955-1967, Allen Lane, London, 1968, p. 516.

I’d written histories1 before, brief summaries, usually less than ten thousand words, always seeming superficial, lamentably inadequate, a surface sketch, tip-of-an-iceberg, never down deep, never near the ocean’s abyssal plain, never edging the mountain’s top, the jungle’s heart, the civilization’s embryonic core. And those essays,2 for all their freedom, fertility and fecundity, did not capture my heart, my soul, my mind; only a public place, written for a public race, not as succinctly as these poems in their earnestness, their lightness, their intensity, their fullness, their suppleness, their diffuseness, their utterly personal styles and statements on a life which has been rich in humanity and for laying these earliest foundations for a wondrous Order. Ron Price 14 August 1997
1 I started writing histories of various Baha’i communities in about 1980 an d discontinued the practice about 1990.

2 the essays, begun in 1983, have continued until the present, but not with the same enthusiasm as the poetry.

I CAN SEE YOU NOW

I have found it difficult in the last several years to get my mind off the Arc that is being built on Mt Carmel. It fills me with profound pleasure and ardent expectations. -Ron Price, A comment on the poem which follows.

For if we look back at one hundred years of an unexampled history of unremitting progress, we also look forward to many centuries of unfolding fulfillment of divine purpose...incrementally realized.... -Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1992, p.1.

I can see you now: close and distant, near and far,
with pregnant and tragic import, loosening and tightening, expanding and contracting, separating and compacting, soaring and drooping, rising and falling, dispersive and scattering, hovering and brooding, unsubstantial lightness, massive blow-- such is the stuff you are made of, up on that hill, over there, infinitely diversified, but I can express you here: the significant, the relevant, compressed and intensified in some exalted rising, surging and retreating, the sudden thrust, the gradual insinuation until I am obsessed with your wonder and can hardly take my mind off of you: the enduring, the voluminous, the solid, room, filling, power, energy of position and motion, rightness in placing. And so I am in poised readiness to meet your surrounding forces, to persist, to endure with some energy and some opportunity for action with my unique experience, gradually letting you yield to me in the changing light and moods, your enduring sacredness and charm and your monumental register of cherished expectations. Ron Price 23 December 1995
A DANGEROUS PRESENT FRAUGHT WITH HOPE

The projects underway on this mountain are of profound significance. They represent much more than the erection of buildings to meet the expanding needs of the Baha’i World Centre. -Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1994, p.1.

They were end times for the cataclysmic imagination, huddled masses waiting for judgement day. Just after the great fiery sweep of the mushroom cloud came down from God out of heaven1 and a drift toward unparalleled disaster ushered us toward the gates of a new Eden, what he called the Kingdom of God on Earth,2 back then. These are still terminal times with their apocalyptic temper, poised as we are in the last state of history. He saw them as times for beginnings, the tenth state of history,3 a war, a theatre, a spiritually charged dramaturgical process on a long, tortuous and thorny stage, with sweetness distilled from life’s consecrated joy, and the agony of history with its shifts and changes. We have here on this mountain a gesture of confidence, an urgency and context for an act of moral imagination, giving us a way of living in a dark time. This is no retreat from reality, but a radical reformulation of the nature of reality. When night seems thickest and life an intricate absurdity, a nonchalant breathlessness is injected up there with millennialist spirit. A stirring assertion of dignity and the reassurance that a dangerous present is fraught with hope. Ron Price 21 April 1997
1Revelation 20:9.

2 Shoghi Effendi called 1953, the completion of the mother-temple of the West, the beginnings of this Kingdom.

3 Shoghi Effendi saw 1963 as the beginning of the tenth stage of history.

COSMIC AGE OF LIGHT

The cosmic dark age, perhaps as long as 10 to 12 billion or more years, is one of the great mysteries of astronomy. -John Mather, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Most of our 15 billion year journey has been completely dark and we still know little how galaxies were formed, how stars were generated. It all seemed to happen in that cosmic dark age of, what, 10 billion, 12 billion years? We may just discover in the Next Generation Space Telescope1 to be launched in 2007 , the origins of the universe, of stars and galaxies and the entry, at last, of masses into history’s cosmic light Force2 as it spreads its unifying powers and transforms the globe in ways quite obtrusive, quite sublime, quite celestial, revolutionising the soul of humankind, utterly.3 Ron Price 20 February 1998
1 The Hubble spacecraft’s successor.

2 By 2007, all being well, all the buildings and the major embellishments to the Baha’i World Centre will be completed. The process of entry-by-troops will be well advanced and an eventual and inevitable mass conversion will revolutionize the fortunes of the Cause at some time in the following decades.

3 the initial impetus for this poem came from reading "Let There Be Light", New Scientist, 7 February 1998, pp.26-30.

BLUEPRINTS

In Persepolis, the themes and motifs of the images complement one another to form a new blueprint for a specific concept of Persian kingship and empire. Here we find the expression of a timeless idea of universal and cosmic order upheld by divine assistance and mutual loyalty between king and subjects.....The Achaemenids, and above all Xerxes, were for a long time criticized for arbitrarily mixing the most dissimilar artistic traditions and motifs....What really underlies the Persepolis programme of buildings and imagery is the conscious attempt to impress upon all subjects and visitors the Persian imperial order with its claim to universal and eternal validity. -Josef Wiesehofer, Ancient Persia: From 550 to 650 AD, I.B. Tauris Publishers, London, 1996, pp. 25-26.

In Haifa, the themes and the images of what some call The Hanging Gardens complement one another to form a new blueprint for a specific concept of democracy and theocracy, a specific model of beauty and truth. Here we find, on the side of Mt. Carmel in Israel, the expression of a timeless idea of universal and cosmic order based on the teachings of twin-prophets, two man-Gods whose dust has been laid to rest here in its shrines, and upheld by a claim of continuing divine assistance. There are here, similar and dissimilar, architectural and artistic traditions and motifs and some might be critical of the attempt to arbitrarily mix, such different forms. But this great design here is one which attempts to blend and embody some of the major forms and influences in our now global community. What really underlies this Mt. Carmel Project, as it is currently called, with all its buildings, gardens and forms, is the conscious attempt to impress upon all subjects and visitors a particular concept of democratic theocracy with its claim to universal and eternal truth by means of an imposing, an impressive beauty. For, as Keats once noted, "beauty is truth."-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, April 13, 1999.

You1 went up 2500 years ago, the richest city under the sun, with images from your gift bearing subjects, symbolizing the solidarity between the centre and its perifery, a procession to ‘the holy city’, blueprint for the world, for a timeless and cosmic order, for the eternal realm. And now, you,2 who are just going up before our eyes, our faces set, as we do, towards the splendors of Thy countenance; our mouths prompted, as they are, by our own caprices and, hence, we understand not. But believing, we say, the verses have been sent down. the hour has come and passed and now the light of the countenance of God is lifted here upon you. Ron Price 13 April 1999
1 Persepolis

2 The Baha’i World Centre in Haifa

HIDDEN YET MANIFEST

The image in my mind of Mt. Carmel and the Baha’i gardens exists not as something fixed, architecturally complete and ready-made for my mind and its consumption. This image arises and unfolds before my senses. Its strength resides in a creative process that includes both my emotions and my mind. This is true for all those who view this tapestry, this image, of beauty. Everyone, in correspondence with their individuality, their own style of thinking, their own emotional tone and setting, and out of their own experience-out of the wonder of their fantasy, out of the warp and weft of their associations and all conditioned by the premises of their character, habits and social appurtenances, creates their own image. -Ron Price with thanks to Eisenstein in The Poetics of Gardens, William Turnbull, Jr., et al., MIT Press, London, p.81.

The more powerful the images, the more distant the reality. There were images even back then in those earliest years when my mother became a Baha’i, but I can’t remember any of them.1 Then, in those interregnum years2 and just after, a rush of images hit me, usually slides, so that, by the ‘70s, the overt images got a little tiresome: more slides! But this feeling system got periodic injections, rushes; the warp and weft of associations got coloured and combed, beginning in the Five Year Plan.3 That unravished bride of words, that ocean-source eternal, with her sweet and flowery tale and tune and her silent melodies, this most exalted Spot gradually was set in a tapestry of great beauty, with an angel’s face and as we came to fix our gaze upon it, in our eagerness, we found ourselves captured, consumed by our separation, our remoteness. For the reality was distant, always distant, hidden, but oh, oh so manifest, so manifest.4 Ron Price 4 December 1999
1 In the years 1953 to 1959 before I joined the Baha’i Faith, as a youth and a pre-youth, I can not remember any images of the World Centre. 2 These were the years 1957-1963. 3 1974-1979 4 some of the language in this last stanza comes from Baha’u’llah’s Tablet of Carmel and His prayer in Baha’i Prayers, USA, 1985, p.143.
LODGING

James Dickey said of the poet Richard Wilbur that "the thing that would eventually make him a truly important poet" was the quietly joyful sense of celebration and praise out of which he wrote. This was partly true of Price, but Price also wrote out of other proclivities, the central one being the immense meaning system with its multiple paradigms that was the Baha’i teachings. -Ron Price with thanks to Peter Still, The World’s Hieroglyphic Beauty: Five American Poets, University of Georgia Press, 1985, p.71.

I brought them delights in the mornings and the nights. But they found no lodging these delights,* though they’d come to earth to stay. They seemed to be quite beyond a home, a place to stay, in those hearts I talked to while I was travelling the way. And so I learned to take them into my own place to pray. I kept them close; I kept them far, for distance was no problem. But the world was cold to my delights, so I turned the heat up slowly in the one place: private, lowly. A thaw began to appear in the dark heart of the world, for so dark had it become; and by that time I had started to write with quite a whirl. ** These delights now have a home far from the winds a-storming and though the world is still quite cold a lodging*** now is forming.
Ron Price
1 August 1999

* The Baha’i Writings

** There was an increasing receptivity to new ideas in the world by the 1990s, but it required an energy, a passion of pursuit, that I seemed to have lost by then, in order to promote them by ways that I had done for the previous forty years. So I turned to poetry.

*** Baha’i World Centre

RON PRICE’S LATTER-DAY ULYSSES: ‘THE END OF A JOURNEY’

The following poem is a rewriting of Ulysses’ homecoming. The reader is invited to see Ulysses’ homecoming as analygous to the more general condition of the international pioneer in which homecoming never occurs and the consummation of life’s long awaited hopes lies in "the trials of homelessness and adversity in the path of God" and a deeper realization that "the blessing of homelessness shall endure forever." -Ron Price with appreciation to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Centre, Haifa, 1978, pp. 280-1.

Penelope had been with Ulysses for many a long year out on the sea. There was no expectation that they would see their home again, except, perhaps, on one of those short trips that had become quite easy for them with their advanced boating skills. She, of course, had enjoyed long stays in her home to see her family. Ulysses had met her on one of the islands where he had wandered in search of a job many a long year ago when he was still young. Ulysses had been to so many places on his foreign and domestic journey and talked to so many people that his spirit felt thin, somewhat like glass. He felt he could be seen through, so incapable was he of any pretensions. He had made a home of homelessness; he had tried, as far as possible, to remove strangeness. Now he was quite alone, as alone as he could be, with Penelope, this time at the end of the earth---in Tasmania. His Ithaca would remain far off; here was his new Ithaca; for everywhere was Ithaca with some degree of the inhospitable, the harsh, the uninviting: cares, anxieties and trials. This was part of his reality; it would remain so, forever. Off in the distance, however, he could see his final home rising on the mountain, a celestial retreat, a tapestry of beauty in a tossed and tormented world. Ron Price 17 October 1999
A SENSE OF THE EPIC

In Price's poetry there is action along a central narrative axis; around it, like a spiral, there are passages of recollection, forward-leaping prophecies, digressions, an intricacy of detail that is highly dynamic and interactive. He suddenly feels moved in a direction, along or within a theme, as part of a topic and, in the process, he discribes an age, a society, a time, several epochs, a Bahá'í community in the dark heart of an age of transition, during the early early of the Formative Age or in the seventy-seven years of the Heroic Age. Perhaps Price's work is timeless, even though it is anchored in the early decades of the tenth stage of history with a retrospective and prospective glance at nine other stages of the history of humanity and its glorious future filled, as it obvious is at present, with social paralysis and anarchy.

Price's effort to introduce into his poetry the notion of an epic base was at first subtle, obscure and perhaps a little presumptuous. But the idea grew as his poetry grew so that, by the time of the conclusion of the Arc Project and the opening of the Terraces on Mt. Carmel, Price had a very definite sense of his poetry as epic, as containing the elements of epic, of his life and his poetry being part of an immense epic story, narrative and journey that was at the centre of the Faith he had been associated with for well-nigh half a century.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 31 March 2002.

The action in those other epics
takes place over a week, a few weeks
with, perhaps, retarding conventions:
the formal saga or recitation,
a parenthesis to bring in longer history,
a descent into an underworld.1

Here, we've got a story
as real as blood and sky,
with immortal chroniclers,
saints and heros,
a galaxy of intoxicated souls
who traversed a Persian landscape
even in my time,
gave all that they had
and often found the path
too long and the cross too heavy.2

And the action takes place
over history's tortuous course,
indeed so vast is it
that it is difficult to contain
within unity's heterogeneous
and many-coloured light.

1 Other major epics: The Iliad, The Odyssey, Divine Comedy
2 A.Q. Faizi, Meditations on the Eve of November 4th, London, 1970, p.25.
--------Ron Price 31 March 2002

DYNAMIC SYNCHRONIZATION

By the early 1990s the Arc Project was making large holes in the side of Mt. Carmel. During this same period of time, in 1993, the Hubble Spacecraft was fixed in the heavens. As the Arc Project headed to completion in 2000 and 2001, Hubble sent back data that allowed astrophysicists to determine with some accuracy the age of the universe at 12 billion years. Some 40,000 galaxies could be observed in the sky behind a curvature the size of a grain of sand and there was a vast increase in the knowledge of the origins of stars. The Sun and the Moon were also studied during the construction of the Arc Project telling us much more about these heavenly bodies. The Sun's polar regions were investigated during this period. Asteroids and comets were also examined in more detail than ever before. Mars and Saturn also came under the astronomers' microscopes. -Ron Price with thanks to The Internet: Planetary Science Spacecraft, 24 June 2002.

They1 said we stood on the threshold
of the last decade
of the radiant twentieth century.
The prospects were dazzling:
little did we know
we'd be able to go back
and see our origins
12 billion years ago.

Yes, there was an acceleration
of spiritual forces then
as May 1992 approached.
The suddenness, the speeding-up,
the transformational impact
on my poetic output,
the new feelings of delight
on the dry soil of my heart
and a certain bewilderment
which I have been trying
to understand since those
winter months when
it really began,2
made me slowly realize
that, at last, I could
not do everything
on this long, slippery
and tortuous path
as that dynamic synchronization
at last approached.

1 The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 1990.
2 In the winter months of June to August 1992 I wrote 35 poems, the precursors to an immense poetic unfolding of about 600 poems each year for the next ten years: 1992-2002.

Ron Price
27 June 2002

WHEN THEY BUILT THE ARC

There is an essential social rootedness in poetry. It seems to me there is a reciprocal relationship between poetry written by Baha’is and Baha’i community life. Poetry, generally, is a social record of the kinds of events ordinarily excluded from the histories written by Baha’is. Quite often, though, poetry deals with events that cross time barriers, that bridge the centuries and bridge the differences that can divide people in any community.-Ron Price with appreciation to Carl Woodring and James Shapiro, The Columbia History of British Poetry, Columbia UP, NY, 1994, pp. x-xi.

There’s something deeper here,
different than you’ll find in Balyuzi,
Nabil or one of those collections of
essays from Kalimat Press, something
that takes you down, the flavour of a
diary, a chunk of tenderness, a reaching
for the higher realms in a small space,
a succinct bite, morsel, for many a meal
in a corner, a wordsmith at an anvil,
a delightful lighting up of the world,
the fine delicacy of human relationships,
an inner world like Rilke or Dickinson,
solitude and sociability companionably
playing as Price tries to tell it how it was
when they built the Arc by there on the hill.

Ron Price
6 January 1998

SEIZING THE MOMENT

While famous American writer Saul Bellow was writing his final exams in sociology and anthropology at Northwestern University in 1937 the American Bahá'í community launched its first Seven Year Plan. The first epoch of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan was finally put into action after a hiatus of nearly twenty years. Bellow went on to write 15 books and receive the National Book Award and unprecedented three times. The international Bahá'í community, in 1937 some 100 to 150 thousand strong, went on to more than five million by century's end and the completion of their Arc Project on Mt. Carmel.-Ron Price with thanks to Marian Christy, Boston Globe Online, November 15th, 1989, p.81.

He tried to instruct and entertain
to seize the moment
with his powerful mind.

He said our task
was to understand,
to accept our fate,
not master it.

With age he was less
vulnerable to negative opinions
and had a strong sense of
the impersonal about self.

He prayed when depressed,
as I have for years;
and we seized the moment
as we tried, usually in vain,
to accept our fate
with radiant acquiescence.

Ron Price
16 May 2003

COSMIC COINCIDENCE

While I was writing my 1000+ hundred page autobiography entitled Pioneering Over Four Epochs a great deal was discovered about our universe. Just ten days after the Arc Project and the Terraces on Mt. Carmel were officially completed on May 23rd, 2001 and the "awe-inspiring, worldwide effects" began to be reflected in messages being received at the Bahá'í world centre, NASA launched the Wilkenson Microwave Anistrophy Probe(WMAP). This satellite orbited about one million miles above earth and measured microwave radiation that had travelled 13 billion light years and was generated 380,000 years after the Big Bang, scientists currently theorize. This is the earliest picture we had at the time of the universe. This discovery was made possible by discoveries in the 1960s. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 23 December 2003 and CNN.com/Science & Space, February 13th 2003.

It travelled 13 billion years
to meet a new Light
enshrined at last
in this mountain of beauty,
unparalleled in character
since the dawn of time,
an unprecedented project
with wondrous results
and fulfilled visions,
a change of time,
a new state of mind,
coherence of understanding
and a moment of consciousness,
a dynamic link with the past
when light began to travel and travel
as it now will in these days
to the hearts and souls of men.

Ron Price
23 December 2003

MELANCHOLY'S ANTIDOTE

In 1601, four hundred years before the opening of the Arc Project, the Terraces on Mt. Carmel, William Shakespeare completed his composition, his most famous play, Hamlet. The phenomenon of the character of Hamlet is, as leading Shakespearian analyst Harold Bloom writes, "unsurpassed in the West's imaginative literature."1 Given the preeminent importance of the process of teaching to the growth and development of the Bahá'í community, in the following poem I have given my proto-typical teacher in the Bahá'í Faith during that teaching Plans beginning in 1937 the persona of Hamlet. I have drawn on Harold Bloom's study of Hamlet for much of the text of my poem. I have also made one crucial alteration or inclusion to this persona, the experience of "the most exquisite celebratory joy."2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Penguin, NY, 1998, p.384; and 2The Universal House of Justice, Letter 3 April 1991.

Hamlet is so endlessly suggestive,
his ever-growing inner self
and his infinite consciousness,
often sees himself as a failure,
a failed, tragic protagonist,
an earlier self had died
and a new one born,
in a sea of constant change,
a graciousness in mourning,
the centre of a solemn consciousness
everywhere and tentativeness
the peculiar mark
of an endlessly burgeoning world,
so continuously alive,
a breaking wave of sensibility
pulsating onward.

His bewildering range of freedoms
we can see in ourselves
providing as they do
a will-to-identity
and his sinuous enchantment,
his global self-consciousness,
of two hundred years now.

He needs humanity
to give honour and meaning
to his life for we are not alone.
He lets everything be
and trusts in God
to balance, siphon,
the anxiety,
as he makes us see
the world in other ways.

He makes successful gestures
and so do we with our inwardness
in the theatre of the mind
in the inmost self,
our necessary disinterestedness
where the only enemy is self.
But for us there is joy,
melancholy's antidote.

Ron Price
14 May 2002

GESTATION

When an artist speaks about the gestation period for their work I like to think of a long, medium and short term period. In my own case the long term gestation involved my grandfather, my mother and my father. These were the primary influences in the first half of the twentieth century. Of course, one must also add the socio-historical influences from this period: the two wars, the decline of tradition, the new media, et cetera. The medium term influences involved my career as a teacher, my pioneering and experience in the Baha’i community, say, from about 1953 to 1978; and short term gestation and influences, especially Roger White and the writing of poetry from 1978 to 1992, my years in the north and west of Australia: 1982 to 1999 and, finally, the Arc Project on Mt. Carmel from 1987 to 2000.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 18 July 2000.

Gradually, an emotional engagement,
an imaginative reconstruction,
a crystallizing of attention,
of life’s waiting,
a linguistic enactment,
a private and colloquial voice
an expression of the paradisal
substratum of experience
in a dark and complex age
of the isolation of the individual
of the individual in community
of an emptying out of the articulate
self to clarify and define the Other,
of a lifelong pursuit of a speech
fitting to one’s life,
of an insistent and intense personal presence
in touch with a spiritual world
and with human society,
of inner brightness and darkness,
the precious and the painful,
from place to placelessness,
from now to then,
from here to there
in the power and depth of my solitude.

Ron Price
18 July 2000

A LITTLE MT. CARMEL PROJECT

The philosopher David Hume wrote that when he entered most intimately into what he called himself, he always stumbled on some particular perception or sensation. If his perceptions and sensations were to be removed, he went on, he would lose all sense of himself.1 It is as if he would not exist. In commenting on this idea, the essayist William Gass emphasizes that words hold our thoughts as a dog holds a bone. They come to us as we reflect on our lives, we who would attempt autobiography and everyone else. The memory departs for the past along some line, like a train, or a whisp of cloud passing across the sky and returns through all sorts of fancy slips and spins. It’s not unlike a yo-yo in the hand. And sometimes the thought, yo-yo like, does not return and gets tied up in knots.

The past is recaptured in all sorts of ways but, for the most part, without the anxieties and disappointments of the original experience or occasion. Even the most shameful times and remembrances lack the threatening immersion in immediate emotion that they first had,2 although this is not always true. I find as an autobiographer that the past times can be held like blossoms, fruits, trees, a whole assortment of material forms; they are transformed as I write about them; a different person writes than the one who originally experienced them. A poet hold’s a computer key-board at his finger-tips and can contrive a line that explains from the past what is only partly explainable, provides a context for understanding in an essentially inexplicable and mysterious world and predisposes both himself and his readers in favour of a particular interpretation.-Ron Price with thanks to William Gass, The World Within the Word, A.A. Knopf, 1976, p.119 and p.152.

There’s a beauty here
I want to pull out:
my own little
Mt. Carmel Project.

Make a garden,
a monument,
a scene of delight
that is my life;
for if there were no delight,
what point would there be to life.

It is not so much
remembrance that
I pull out, but
analysis and reflection,
meaning and worth,
that garment of brevity
that gem of Divine virtue.1

1 Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Preamble.

Ron Price
21 July 2000

DIFFERENT DESOLATIONS

On 29 March 1951 Shoghi Effendi referred to the "rise of the World Administrative Centre" of the Bahá'í Faith and "the spiritual conquest of the entire planet." In that same letter the Guardian described a system of nine concentric circles and their heart and centre on Mt. Carmel. Jack Kerouac began writing seriously about this time.-In Citadel of Faith: Messages to America/ 1947-1957, Shoghi Effendi, Wilmette, 1957, pp.91-98; and ABC TV, "On the Road to Desolation", 1 November 1998, 2 pm.

You1 began to churn out words,
a stream-of-consciousness that
brought you fame after he2 died,
exhausted by a labour that had
worn him to the bone, another
writer, shy, another reserved
observer, on a different road,
a different desolation of a world
wholly and spiritually glorious
and made him a culture hero for
generations to come, while you
toyed with Buddhism and jazz,
drowned in alcohol, went West,
becoming TV's first writer-celebrity.

Ron Price
1 November 1998

1 Jack Kerouac died at the age of 47 after writing ten books between 1951 and 1957, his most famous book being On the Road. He was one of the central founders of the 'beat generation.'
2 Shoghi Effendi died exhausted with "a strange desolation of hopes" at 60.(Ruhiyyih Rabbani,The Priceless Pearl, p.451). Kerouac spent 63 days on Mt. Desolation in 1957. Hoping to have a spiritual experience, he had instead an experience of abyssal nothingness in his confrontation with himself.

GROWTH

Yesterday I wrote a poem, Growth, on my life and the development of that fragrance until 1962. This morning I felt like continuing that theme with a focus on the development of my beliefs, that fragrance. The task seems too difficult to get the required depth. In the poem below I have set an overall outline but the depth, the detail, the kind of achievement that Wordsworth attains in his The Prelude I do not seem able to produce, as yet. I have a model in Wordsworth but my personal achievement in that direction must, for now, remain elusive. Perhaps one day I will come back to this theme, this poetic package.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 28 March 2001.

The only one on campus: '63-'66,
nearly lost the plot
in a mix of depression, sex,
career questions, confusion,
lectures, note taking and exams.

Was saved, in the end,
by Martin and Bond,
put on track,
got a direction,
centred my passion
still fought fear
and depression,
broke the umbilical cord.

Survived those four years
in one piece,
launched to the north,
a real pioneer this time
with a marriage under my belt
to help me make it through.

Lasted, what, nine months?
A mild schizo-affective state!
Patched up and sent out after six
for a final two-and-a-half year
stint by Lake Ontario.

Restored my batteries,
kept my marriage,
continued my career,
pioneered again,
a few hours from Toronto,
taught the Cause, thanks
to the Eastern Proc Team,
put Picton on the map.

Fifty years after His passing1
I was in Australia
and praying again
To light up Whyalla
and my life,
both exploded
into more success
than I could imagine.

Divorce and two years
in South Australia
led to Tasmania, Victoria,
the NT, WA and back to
Tasmania and a thousand
upon thousand events
taking me to 57,
the opening of the Arc Project
and the Terraces.

Always the fragrance
has been there,
but to follow its journey
as Wordsworth followed his
must wait until another day.

1 'Abdu'l-Bahá: 1921-1971

Ron Price
28 March 2001

The poetry I have written in the years 1987 to 2001 and sent to the Baha’i World Centre Library in celebration of the Mt. Carmel Project is accompanied by fourteen interviews. These interviews are unusual in the sense that they are interviews with myself. I have found the interview format useful for an exposition, an analysis, of my poetry. At an average of one interview a year over this period these interviews provide a helpful commentary of some twenty to thirty thousand words on a collection of poetry amounting to some two to three million words. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 10 October 2000.

PS there are now 26 interviews as of 2013, and 100,000 words in the interview format.

SHARED CELEBRATION

How we understand and appreciate a work of art has much to do with how we understand ourselves and the world we live in; our relations to art determine in part our relations to a culture and its traditions.-B.R. Tilghman, But Is it Art? The Value of Art and the Temptation of Theory, Basil Blackwell, NY, 1984, p.16.

The fact is that each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future. -Jorge Luis Borges in ibid., p.76.

Being an artist now means to question the nature of art.-Terry Atkinson, ‘From an Art and Language Point of View’, Art Language, 1, February 1970, p.23.

This beauteous place on the hill
is unconsciously surrounded
and enriched by a world
that is created by speech,
like this poetry, which condenses
and abbreviates making an energy
potentially explosive, a universe
in itself, in miniature, self-enclosed,
self-limiting, a little hypnotic,
but not as forcefully as music,
giving body and definiteness,
vividness and depth, even a purity
and undefiledness,
to this major historic thrust
of a mighty process.

The power to unite people
through shared celebration
has profound significance
here among these terraces.
This poetic office reaches out
to all the scenes of life
especially that infallible touchstone
of truth and beauty in the word
of the Mystic Herald
rendering people aware,
as much as he possibly can,
of the unifying forces emanating
from His retreat of deathless splendour.

Ron Price
24 December 1995

A NEW POETIC AMIDST THE WASTELAND

About the time that ‘Abdu’l-Baha was released from prison(1908) and the Bab’s remains found their home on Mt. Carmel(1909), a new poetic began to take shape in the then stagnant sensibility of modern poetry. It attempted to draw into itself both moral and aesthetic qualities to make a richer form, more alive, more intensely expressive of the full human condition. This was evident in T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and W. B. Yeats. By the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 1921 this new poetic and artistic sensibility had become more articulate. It was one that was highly autobiographical, had no fixed centre, was often unintelligible and possessed, what Robert Hughes was later to call “the shock of the new.” -Ron Price with thanks to C.K. Stead, The New Poetic: Yeats to Eliot, The Athlone Press, London, 1998(1964), p. 191.

It had come west and He had gone,
Whose soul could now transform the world
and it did in such a multitude of ways
in science and the arts.
Then His Son came,
the product of that mystic intercourse
opened a whole new spirit.
And when He left
The Wasteland1 would tell
of the music, the emotional tone
of the world He left behind,
the world which rejected
77 years of continued revelation:

fragmented, kaleidoscopic confusion,
full of drought and sterility,
death in our time,
a loathing and horror of life,
a dramatizing of the elusive play of myth,
echoes of Ezekiel,
paradoxes of life and death,
failure of sexual love,
despair and claustrophobia,
pointlessness and artificiality,
revulsion at the sordidness of
the lives of the lower orders,
the animalistic lifestyles,
a growing intimation of the sinister,
all of life turned into a wasteland,
with glimpses of a more spiritual reality.

Ron Price
7 March 1999

1 T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, published in October 1922.

ANTICIPATION

The Four Quartets was not planned. It grew. Parts of it came quickly. Much of it left him feeling that the whole thing might have to be scrapped. It was finally published in England on 31 October 1944. I was three months old at the time. The major sources of the poem are Eliot’s experiences, both actual and revived.-Ron Price, On reading The Composition of Four Quartets, Helen Gardner, Faber and Faber, London, 1978, chapters 2 and 3.

When Eliot was writing The Four Quartets a world was ending; WWII was being fought. While Price was writing Anticipation that old world was still going through its death pangs and the new one, born in the writings of twin-manifestations and their legitimate successors, had in recent years emerged from obscurity. That emergence had yet to be registered on the consciousness of countless multitudes. This poem was written on the day Price received the announcement of the launching of the Four Year Plan one of whose aims was to see that these countless multitudes had registered on their consciousness this emergence from obscurity. Price drew on material in The Four Quartets and he drew on his own experiences past and present. Price derived much pleasure from writing the poem, although he could not help but be skeptical about the poem’s ultimate value to others and to the Baha’i community for whom the poem was ultimately intended as a literary enrichment. -Ron Price, 1:45 pm, Wednesday, 31 January 1996, Comment on the poem below.

I. They Are Coming:

So much time, time and half a time,
future, past and present all rolled
into a line and a dot and concentric
circles as I speculate with memory
and anticipation hugging at my shores,
with His words coming out of my pores.
To what purpose you ask? ‘Tis embedded
in this Dust to which I am wedded.

So many echoes inhabit this garden,
but I can not follow them all. I trust
they won’t all turn to silence; and I
can follow them urgently from my dreams.
With some bird of Paradise or a humble seagull
I can be lifted into their presence, the sound of their
low and mystic call and the magic at their gate where the
groaning of them that are devoted to Thee
can be heard and the beauty of the unseen
is savoured in this dearest home of Dust.

Sunlight glitters on this emerald green grass,
apple green hedges and white marble, a bird
sings: come, come, come, people have need
of celestial beauty and the reality of divinity.
All of time points toward the future, here,
right here, the future is in the bone and a joy,
a joy that defines us. While these words reach into a
silence below all that is history and the future,the now,
the stillness at the centre of this Dust, this holy Dust.

Off in the distance an axis where, spread out like
pearls on an island line, the world is cut in twain
and a dance along this great artery of life is figured
in the drift of stars and this drift of spiritual potency,
like some magnet attracts new life replacing at long last
the old and soon to-be-forgotten wars. While back at
the still point, the world turns; for here is
the real dance where all of time is gathered;
here, at this still point, the dance finds
its origin and its highest wish. For all there
is, is the dance and its wondrous release,
its grace, its boundlessness and what seems like
endless white light, concentrated, partial ecstacy,
protecting humankind from heaven’s endless
mysteries and what the flesh cannot endure.

And time, at last, is conquered and given
order, specificity, pattern and memory
here in this garden-by-the-sea, this place
of affection, where affection is cleansed,
where lucid form is invested with
stillness, shadows are turned into transient
beauty and permanence is tasted.
Here flickers of light dance and fill with
fancy and meaning the intersticies of lives
whirled by cold winds that still blow for more
of time than we’d wish to see.

But unhealthy souls come here, too,
driven by winds that sweep the gloomy
mountainside at times, driven by the
tempest which still blows unprecedented
in its magnitude. They seem unable
to descend into the world of perpetual
solitude, indeed, any solitude at all. Their
words, you find, will often strain, crack,
even break, under the burden, tension and
there will be mocking and more than just
chattering. This new Word in the desert
will be attacked by many voices while shafts
of sunlight continue to fall upon the Dust,
houses will fall and crumble, will be removed
and become as ashes, as the wind breaks loosened panes.

Of course, on a summer evening you can hear
the music here and see a dancing of the spheres.
Dawn points to another day, the long hoped for calm,
an autumnal serenity and, at last, the wisdom of age.
He and They have given us patterns, a foothold, but
there is so much that is new and immensely complex
in the moment and the day. And there is humility.
For the silent funeral is, at long last, ending and
they are starting to walk into the light: civil servants,
directors, men of science, chairmen, industrialists
technologists, engineers, on and on they come.

II: We Are Getting Ready

For that bold and imposing facade is just about rolled away.
The lights are being extinguished in the theatre and
the new action is starting to take place, often tentative,
difficult, no easy trip, sometimes frightening, as it is in
all new begnnings. But we sit and stare: hoping, loving,
waiting with faith and thought---for we are now ready for
thought like the whispering of running streams, a wild
thyme and wild strawberries with laughter, at last, in
our garden, pointing to that consecrated joy, its agony,
its death and its birth and what we do not know, but will
learn slowly, necessarily in our years ahead, sometimes painfully.

For this is a raid on the articulate, a thousand voices with
a million messages and, of course, there are some for me.
My equipment’s getting better and the imprecision of feeling
is being replaced by a discipline to say what must be said,
a trying to say what must be said in this strange and mysterious
home where a lifetime burns in every moment, mostly at a low flame,
otherwise I would burn up in this intensity, but I am mostly cool.

I, too, have never known much about the gods, or God, but in
these forty years I have learned about the river within and the
sea all around; the great abyssal plains into which it flows,
sinks and is still; the beaches on which it tosses while the white
bird calls across the water in low cool notes and a rush of wings;
I have learned of the shells, the delicate algae, the endless sand.
I have lingered by the sea, walking along its shores and swimming
in its refreshing waters, sometimes burning myself in the sun. It
always seems to ask for more, but not urgently, like some compelling
force of attraction over which I have little control.

There are so many voices, though, that come from the sea
and from the world, they drift endlessly to me.
First, there are the silent sounds: the withering of flowers,
the growing of grass, the drifting wreckage of humanity
that I will never see, their heart-aches, the emotion and
emotionless years in this dark-heart of a transitional age.
The boat has gone on drifting with its slow leak and
it has nearly sunk, only a few more bells to toll, only
some more wasteage: for the destination calls now, clearly.
This haul does bear examination and, as you say, there is
no end to it: the flowers will wither and wither and life will
cease to be a mere sequence, experience. We approach
the meaning, that of generations, that of the ineffable.
For the future, here, is both faded song and Royal Rose,
a spray of regret and joy. For the past is never finished,
the future is always here and the fruit of action is now,
this process, this doing, this Presence. And so I pray
for all those who voyage forth and for myself, for I am
the music, the indwelling God, the intersection of eternity
and time. I am the intersection of ardour, selflessness, self-
surrender, the unattended moment, heedlessness, evil doings
His benevolence, a melted heart and boiled blood.

III. The Beginning in the End:

The mystic and the practical, the active and contemplative
become one and right action is freedom in submission, with
past and present enriching all that is and will be. At least
this is the aim, slowly to be realized in this springtime,
seemingly suspended in time, up there on the mountain side,
between pole and tropic, between frost and fire, between
melting and freezing the soul’s sap quivers, neither budding
nor fading, with a bloom more sudden than summer thought to give
and a voluptuary sweetness in the hedges and terraces, sweeter
than you ever thought would be, altered beyond your dreams,
nearest now and in old Israel, home of our fathers, and their fathers.

And what have you come here for: to kneel and pray,
to communicate with the dead whose tongue is on fire
beyond our language, our living, where timeless time
and my moment intersect and the arts and wonders of the
world come to be manifest, unobtrusively. You come here,
too, to be close to the Dust, to taste of the roses before your
petals finally rust and your glad days are gone, torn from
the trees seemingly like unremembered leaves the wind weaves.
And you shall dry up in the dust with a ring to remind the Earth
that you came from God and you return to some new birth.

The dead leaves rattled on like tin, blown toward me like
you thought they’d go on blowing forever, unresistable,
in this urban dawn, half forgotten even now, half remembered,
brown baked strangers intimate yet unidentifiable, things
that have served their purpose, last season’s fruit, last year’s
words waiting for another voice, this voice, this new voice.
Amidst these dreary sounds, this death and birth and change,
amidst the agony and the solitary vigil, the eternal comes nearer
and the two worlds approach and history becomes transfigured,
renewed in its servitude to the living God.

This beginning is also an end, an end of so much that has been.
This beginning has a million words, a billion million, dancing
together in concert: all beginnings in an end, like some wondrous
epitaph, elegy for all that hath been and will be. And we go on
exploring, coming to understand this place for the first time
in this stillness between the waves of non-existence and eternity,
with a simplicity in which we read the book of our self and God.

Ron Price
31 January 1996

INTRODUCTION: Roman Authors

` From 1989 to 1994 I taught ancient history, Greece one year(478 to 404 BC), and Rome(133 BC to 14 AD) the next. It was a matriculation subject producing graduates qualified to enter university in Western Australia if they passed the other requirements at matriculation level. Another result of teaching ancient history was that it produced for my use several volumes of notes for the study of ancient Greece and ancient Rome into the future, into the years of my retirement after 1999. It was my first serious and extended exposure to classical civilization although, as I point out in other places, I did study ancient history and philosophy on other occasions in my lifespan. This particular study and teaching of ancient history occurred at the time when the international Baha’i community was engaged in what was called the Mt. Carmel Project. This project involved the embellishment of the spiritual and administrative centre of this new world Faith, a Faith that claims to be the newest of the Abrahamic religions.

The project was in full swing while I was teaching ancient history. The juxtaposition of these two events in my life brought a special, a particular new meaning into my life as I was about to leave the world of jobs: 1959-1999.

In the 17 years(1995-2012) since completing my teaching of these courses I have drawn on these notes and added to them from time to time. I now have 14 large files of notes: two on Roman writers: poets and historians. The subject of classical civilization is of great interest to me particularly since there are so many obvious parallels and ideas that provide, at least for me, helpful perspectives for understanding my own society and the Baha’i Faith, our history and future. Although I taught many subjects in the thirty years I was a teacher, classical history, literature and philosophy did not occupy a central place in my studies back then.

After my retirement in 1999 they came to occupy an important, if not central, place in the many subjects that occupied my attention. There is a core of information here to build on and that is what I have been doing in the 17 years after my formal history teaching came to an end in November 1994. Except for the notes on Cicero and Sallust, virtually all the material in these two volumes of notes has been added in the years 1995 to 2012.

Ron Price
25/5/’12

I would now like to insert a short essay I wrote on Roger White’s poem on the Baha’i pilgrimage for it places some of the core of this visit to the BWC in perspective even though our visit is not a pilgrimage. I have found White’s words the most cogent, poetic and meaningful context that expresses in words the experience Bahá’ís have who come to Haifa to the BWC.

NOTES POSTMARKED THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD

A second booklet--not a book--of Roger White's poetry was published in 1992 by New Leaf Publishing of Richmond British Columbia. It had already been accepted by Rob Weinberg for inclusion in his forthcoming anthology of reflections on Mt. Carmel. New Leaf Publishing reprinted the booklet, Notes Postmarked The Mountain of God, which consisted of one poem White had written in 1990. It was the longest poem he had written. While not following strictly the program of pilgrimage nor alluding to every point of historic interest visited by Bahá'í pilgrims during the course of their stay in the Holy Land, the poem was structured in nine parts following the nine days of pilgrimage.

What White brings his readers in this poem is what the poet Shelley said the mind in creation must be if it is to be truly successful in the writing of poetry. The mind must be as a fading coal which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness. What he awakens to a wonderful brightness for the reader is his experience of pilgrimage, certainly one of the more introspective and thoughtful pieces written thusfar on this important aspect of the Bahá'í life. White would write poetry for two more years. He brings us, then, his fading coals. In 1990 he had his quadruple bypass operation and he did not anticipate "an enthusiastic return to a full life." At least the goal of a full life was one which he said he limped toward "without much conviction."[1] As he mentioned in one of his poems from the 1980s his old friends from the forties and fifties, in and out of the movie industry, started dieing and complaining of their ailments. In September 1990 his old friend, the person from whom he learned of the Cause, Winnifred Harvey died. As he wrote in the poem Returning[2] in the last four lines, as he was about to leave hospital:

No one had asked him whether he wished to return
from his murky indolence,
human, hapless and vulnerable,
to this profane, irresistible confusion.

And so, this long poem written in 1990 entitled Notes Postmarked The Mountain of God might be seen as a transitory brightness, thirty-three pages of a flash of brilliance, awakened as he was by some invisible influence, some inconstant wind on the fading coals of his life. He had worked at the Bahá'í World Centre for nineteen years. It was fitting that he should at last have his pilgrimage although at sixty-one, as he writes in the first few lines, a pilgrimage is a venture that tastes of beginnings. His plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport and

The luggage he struggles with
bulges with untried convictions,
rusted resolve and unrelinquished disappointments.

............ Hope, his best provision,
is crammed in among random indiscretions,
outworn hesitancies and inappropriate tweeds

He has already won the heart of the reader by the time he gets to the end of that first sixteen line stanza. "Poetic truth" as Wordsworth once wrote, "is operative-it works on us, it carries its own conviction with it."[3] Part of the pleasure we derive from White, achieved for me right at the start, is the pleasure I experience from having my "basic psychological structure touched and illuminated."[4] Among the orange blossoms, the warm tarmac, the Levantine confusion and the humid air are the normal internal complications and conflicts we all have, we who are the followers of the Blessed Beauty trying as best we can to live lives consistent with His teachings.

White gives his loyal readers what is by now a familiar language: the everyday, the colloquial, the ordinary, packed in with the trenchant, the pithy and the profound. Piercing, exact, coherent and complex: words I would use to describe White's rendition of the vision of his Faith, part of his individuality, the experience of one man who has served this new world religion over forty years. His vision is not some set of dogmas saluted to but not contemplated over and over again. It is the personal experience of one man with belief and doubt, passion and thought, memory and desire so closely interwoven that is often difficult to distinguish their separate expressions. White's poem is a whole world of order and beauty; it has little to do with political and religious formulae. White gives his readers what the great American poetry critic Ivor Winters says a poem should give: "a clear understanding of motive and a just evaluation of feeling; it calls upon the full life of the spirit; it is difficult of attainment."[5] Winters continues, and what he writes I think applies to White's poetry of pilgrimage, an experience that pilgrims so often have difficulty putting into words: "by his art he makes clearings of sanity in the encroaching jungle of experience; and because of his skill, these clearings are more lucid, more precise, more generally meaningful than those of other people."[6] By putting his own passions, prejudices and human weaknesses on the line White helps his readers to be more pleased and accepting of their own while, at the same time, he gently encourages his readers to lift their game.

White brings into this poem many stanzas of previous poems. He incorporates into its text relevant passages from poems in earlier volumes, not so much to attain a synthesis of his life's work, but rather to deepen the meaning and affect of this particular poem. The opening section, entitled 'Beginning,' is stage one of his journey, a plane to Tel-Aviv and a hotel. These were part of "the suburbs of authentic arrival" and "the alphabet of homecoming" as he characterizes this "lightweight wardrobe of beginnings."[7]

The reader then proceeds on a poetic journey through nine days of pilgrimage for some thirty pages. It is not my intention to take you through each day step by step; for that you must read the poem. But I would like to comment on some of the aspects of White's pilgrimage and the poem that stood out for me and had a particular meaning. White's aim is not to excite, as T.S. Eliot once wrote of the aim of Dante's poetry, but simply "to set something down." The reader's task is to perceive "what the poet has caught in words."[8]

At the end of Day Three White includes a quotation which he first 'caught-in-words' in his poem A Sudden Music.[9] Indeed much of what White writes about Day Three seems to have had its beginnings in that poem which also became the name of White's novella. He writes about 'the choreography of reverence' and continues:

We deft practitioners
of protocols of piety
are stranded on uncertainty
who had entered and then left
that rare Presence,
rehearsed petitioners,
joylessly
and empty-handed.

There is an honesty here which is central to White's whole poetic opus. This is how so many millions of people, both inside the Cause and out, experience prayer and much that is the routines of traditional religious experience. They know of the words, they know the motions to go through, but little joy is experienced in the process. This may not be as it should, but it certainly is the way it is. And White's task is to tell it as it is or at least how he experiences it. In the process he wins over many readers, for this is their experience too.

Twenty-one years before, in an article in World Order,[10] William Hatcher wrote about "the theoretical uncertainty" that must remain "even with the surest of statements." For it was, he went on, "our explicit awareness of this uncertainty which is our greatest asset in adapting to our human situation."[11] The feeling of certitude, Hatcher pointed out, is a psychological state and can be part of our life even without knowing much at all. He went on to say that, if we accept something as true, then our emotions organize themselves around that something. Then that something becomes part of the way we live. Faith, here, is the process of organizing our emotional life around our assumptions.

"No statement can be held to be absolutely true, for no statement is independent of other statements and facts.....Our knowledge, then, is relative." Hatcher writes again. So it is, when White refers to the believers as "deft practitioners of protocols of piety" and says, in the next line, that we "are stranded on uncertainty," perhaps he is thinking of the kinds of things that Hatcher is saying above.

But uncertainty and doubt do not exclude the experience of certitude and belief. In the first line of Day One: Visit to the Shrine of the Bab White refers to the sense of assurance the pilgrim gets when he has his first glimpse of the shrines and the gardens. For they are as he or she has seen them on postcards and they possess "a sense of familiarity." "Mingling at Pilgrim House," more assurance and certitude are his with "expectations peopled," a "sense of belonging"[12] invading him and the experience of "immediate acceptance" as familiar Allah-u-Abhas greet him with every step. Once in the Shrine of the Bab the pilgrim feels even more assurance in the "awesome silence" and the "mounting ecstasy." White describes the affect on his inner self of the beauties and wonders of the threshold of the Shrine, its exterior and the gardens. By the time the reader is halfway through the second stanza the issue of certitude and doubt is not on his agenda, far from his mind and heart, as he "longs to have his own heart break or conflagrate."

Before going to bed on that first night the Shrine of the Bab and some of the Bab's life is permanently etched on his sensory emporium, freshly minted by the pull of the "exquisite details" that had invaded him during the day:

He Who had no candle
has here, ensconced in circled circle,
amid adoring flowers
and green deferential trees,
this whitest marble taper
tipped in gold.
It gleams serenely from Carmel,
inextinguishably lights the world,
our reverential hearts
the willing wick.

And so the intellectual issue of doubt and certitude disappears in a complex of experiences from Day One: the heart's enthusiasm, reverence, life's disappointments, a past he brought on his pilgrimage and a whole world that he summarizes in a poem which, it appears, he has just written:

PUNCTUATION

Tentative as commas
they balance on wind-swung wires
along which our voices speed,

So goes the first stanza and its allusion to the tentativeness of so much of life, especially our thoughts which balance "on wind-swung wires/along which our voices speed."[13] The poem goes on to express a fascinatingly introspective piece of sociological and psychological analysis. He begins this analysis, in stanza two, by expressing his consciousness of presiding "with feigned indifference" over the things he sends or others send to him(or that we send to ourselves) over those 'crackling wires" with their 'garbled" statement of our anguish and with their news of his triumphs and defeats. He continues referring to some of his writing, his poetry, one of his tragic personal experiences in life and his own inability to "soar." I did not find this section of the poem simple, easy to translate into personally meaningful terms. I shall have to return to it again and again with the years. But given the fact that this one of the few poems, few pieces of analysis, about the inner meaning of a pilgrimage, and given the fact that I am unlikely to go to Haifa again before I die, White's poem will be worth my pursuing.

On Day Two: The Trouble With Mountains White describes Mt. Carmel as a whole. He goes on, as the poem develops, to mention his father, Shoghi Effendi and Bahá'u'lláh before he ponders "why he has waited so long/ to approach this unprepossessing hill" and "whether his commitment is adequate." In the evening he writes a poem. The poem was written some ten years before but, with poetic license, he indicates to the reader that he writes it in the evening. One can only imagine that the poem's contents seem so perfectly appropriate to this pilgrimage poem:

THE TROUBLE WITH MOUNTAINS

We come to this mountain late
in laggard wonder
and atrophied awe,
in distrust of the prompting of angels,
the voice in the thunder.

"Like the old plainsman brought dazed
to the coast to die,
needing to hate
Vancouver and his death,
who glared sullenly at its peaks
which to outwit death
he'd never try
protesting they block the view
and stifle breath.

"An ant's dusty truth. We gaze
at our thorn-stabbed feet.
It is too late, too late,
the bruising stones reveal
to follow to the summit
One Whose feet were steel.

"And do not hear the battered bird
high in the torturing wind: Pass! Pass!
With adamant soul
and sharpest sight
on feet of brass."

This bird comes into his dreams that night. This poem says so much about White and, perhaps, about his readers, at least some of them. That he had come on his pilgrimage too late, that he should have come earlier in his Bahá'í life. But still, whenever we come we must follow Bahá'u'lláh "With adamant soul/and sharpest sight/on feet of brass!"[14] He finishes his poetic exposition about Day Two by referring to 'hope.' He wants to explore its implications with someone, anyone and discuss poetry but concludes "poetry has no place/amid the clatter of cutlery," for "the insistent world is never far away."

And so, in this brief review of White's pilgrimage poem, I have taken you through the first three days of his experience, his thoughts, his private world. He writes on the remaining six days of: the meals, Bahji, Akka, the house of Abbud, writing his poetry each night back in his room, the gardens, the social exchanges with the other pilgrims, the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the inevitable Emily Dickinson, the gravesites on Mt. Carmel, the Pilgrim House and, finally, the cab, "smuggling his convictions past Customs" and the aircraft that takes him away.

White did not have to choose his poetic subjects. They chose him. On Day Six, leaning against a tree at Bahji, "its walks the very corridors of heaven," he writes:

"Is this then all there is, a simple garden,
And a silence that displaces need for words?
What portent in the blood-red wayside poppy?
What message in the music of the birds?

"The hero's heart is hoisted on a cypress,
the saint's is softly folded as a rose;
But mine lies shattered here among the pebbles
On the only path the fainting coward knows."[15]

In these years at the dark heart of an age of transition, with the wider society grappling with a torrent of conflicting interests in the most turbulent period in history, at one of the great--perhaps the greatest--turning points in history, attempting to grasp the significance of the historical transformation that has been the twentieth century, it is not surprising that individuals in the Cause, and poets like White, feel that sense of cowardice, that they have not done enough, that they are far from the requirements of heroism or saintliness they would like to exemplify in their lives.

The victories the Bahá'í Faith had won in the forty years or more since White had joined its army of spiritual teachers in the late 1940s in Canada had indeed been immense, "one of the most enriching periods"[16] it had experienced in its history. But White was giving voice to an experience all Bahá'ís have given the immensity of the task, the social paralysis, the tyranny and anarchy in the world and "the phantoms of a wrongly informed imagination" that they have to do battle with daily in the minds of millions upon millions who are "as yet unaware of the Day in which they are living."[17]

On Day Seven which White describes and analyses in more detail than any of the nine days he visits the Shrine of the Master. While alone here he feels the Master's "warm laughter that offers renewal of courage." It is in this section that one of his modifications of Emily Dickinson's poems is included; the poet George Herbert is mentioned and he composes a poem while "resting on a low stone wall" that he will later include in his last major hard-cover book of poetry, Occasions of Grace. The poem is called The Desert Place.[18]

This poem describes Haifa and Israel especially during the summer season:

"In the sandy convolutions of this landscape
grainy, parched and impersonal as God's brain
perception shifts and shimmers
and the crazed hot wind mutters apocalyptically:
Here, we are beyond the known and possible.

Israel is a difficult place with the heat; White asks:

"Can anything survive the unquenchable sun?
A solitary lizard darting from invisibility
to invisibility like a fleeting thought
leaves no trace.

Having describes so many of Israel's inhabitants succinctly, White goes on to outline the affects of the heat:

"the stinging eye, amazed,
sees the heat as a solid malignancy
hulking on the horizon
mesmerizing the merciless.
..........
Small wonder the Prophets were placed in this oven
where the heat consumes all but compassion.

Anyone who has been in Israel in the summer can appreciate these words. White writes much of the setting, all the settings that are part of the pilgrimage experience. But his autobiographical impulse is less a Lutheran 'I can do no other' than a joy in the dead and a reaching out, a desire to accept, to accept. "Waves of admiration sweep over him./For each dear name a smile of recognition and a prayer,"[19] as he enters the palm-fringed place of the graves of holy ones and their white tombstones with familiar names at the foot of Mt. Carmel.

The many moods, emotions, feelings and thoughts that are the inner experiences of the poet, these autobiographical writings, are as personal as White gets in all his poetic journey. What Peter Steele says of the autobiographical passion,[20] namely, that it "is a species of play....an act of wit," is true of this five to six thousand word poem of Roger White. White's desire in writing this poem is much like the desire of one of his mentors, George Herbert, many centuries before: "to let the variable mind and heart play out the drama of...psychic predicament and aspiration."[21] The examples of this 'psychic predicament seem legion, but to choose one simple example: when he is at the Pilgrim House he writes:

...................................he feels
an unearned excruciating happiness
.......................
Am I feeling this, or is it that
I feel I should feel it? an inner voice challenges,

White is in the last years of his life. Perhaps writing this poem is a means of conversing with his soul, with the divine element in himself and in life. For the Bahá'í pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the world seat of the wondrous System he had been associated with since the Second Seven Year Plan(1946-1953), where that System's heart pulsated, where the dust of its Founders reposed, where the processes disclosing its purposes, energizing its life and shaping its destiny all originated,[22] contained "all the nuggets his heart" could hold. His poem was, as he himself admitted, "a bulwark against fanaticism.," as all art was. Of course, his poem was so much more: an effort to make clear to himself and thereby to others the temporal and eternal questions, as Ibsen would have put it.[23] It was what the poem was to Albert Schweitzer "a poet talking to himself...to grasp his experience in words...the sound inside his head...the record of an inner song."[24] White was suspicious of the motives of the poet. He had written of this before. I think he would have agreed with George Orwell, at least insofar as some writers are concerned, that "at the very bottom of a writer's motives there lies a mystery."

The trouble with most poems is that they are not interesting enough, not revealing enough to impart conviction, not surprising enough to keep a reader reading and wanting more. They don't give enough pleasure. For most people pleasure has moved over to the electronic media during the years since the teaching Plan began in 1937. Print does not have the pull it once had for millions. But in spite of this reality, millions more books are being read than ever before, if only because since the late 1930s, when that great teaching Plan began, the population has gone from about two billion to six billion people. There are more people doing virtually everything.

I have written the above for the increasing numbers since 1980 who have come to enjoy Roger White's poetry. White's audience was still a small vanguard of people, far from that large readership which T.S. Eliot says arises when the poet is not really doing anything new, just giving his readers what they were used to.[26] I have also written the above for those in the future who come across his work. White on occasion quoted the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.[27] The last time he quoted him, before he passed away in 1993, White was writing about how works of art should 'challenge us to change our lives.' Rilke also wrote that: "time passed in the difficult is never lost."[28] Some of White's poetry many find difficult. But like Shakespeare there is a reward for those who make the effort, for those who want to try.

In the end, of course, we can't all enjoy the same stuff, to each his own as it is often said. I think reading the poetry of Roger White is an experience of reading great literature. C.S. Lewis once wrote that "in reading great literature...as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself and am never more myself than when I do."[29]

Notes:
[1] Roger White, Letter to Ron Price, 25 July 1990.
[2] Roger White, The Language of There, p.74.
[3] David Daiches, Critical Approaches to Literature, 2nd edition, Longman, London, 1981(1956), p.91.
[4] idem
[5] Ivor Winters in Beyond All This Fiddle: Essays 1955-1967, A. Alvarez, Allen Lane, London, 1968, p.256.
[6] ibid.,p.257.
8] T.S. Eliot, "Dante," The Sacred Wood, 1922.
[9] Roger White, A Witness of Pebbles, p.81.
[10] William Hatcher, The Science of Religion, World Order, 1969, pp.7-19.
[11] William Hatcher, The Science of Religion, Bahá'í Studies, 1977, p.9. Reprint of the original World Order article.
[12] Roger White, Notes, p.3.
[13] ibid., p.6.
[14] ibid., p.10.
[15] ibid., p.21.
[16] The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p.99.
[17] The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1999.
[18] Roger White, Occasions of Grace, p.97.
[19] Roger White, Notes, p.29.
[20] Peter Steele, The Autobiographical Passion: Studies in the Self on Show, Melbourne UP, 1989, p.2.
[21] ibid., p.77.
[22] Shoghi Effendi, Programme of Pilgrimage, Inside Cover.
[23] Hendrick Ibsen in The Poet in the World, Denise Leverton, New Direction Books, 1960, p.44.
[24] ibid., p.52.
[25] George Orwell in Decline of the New, Irving Howe, Victor Gollanz Ltd., 1971, p.276.
[26] T.S. Eliot, "The Social Function of Poetry," On Poetry and Poets, Faber and Faber, London, 1957, p.21.
[27] Roger White, The Language of There, p.80.
[28] Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters: 1892-1910, WW Norton and Co. Ltd., NY, 1945, p.153.
[29] C.S. Lewis in Through the Open Door: A New Look At C.S. Lewis, Dabney Adams Hart, University of Alabama Press, 1984, p.96.
------------------------------------
THE SETTING

As Day Five of the pilgrimage drew to a close on Friday night, 9 June, I sat in the cool of the evening near a bus stop at the bottom of Ben Gurion Street opposite the inevitable, the at least one in every town, MacDonald’s. I gazed up toward Mt Carmel. The Shrine of the Bab was clothed in white with tributary streams of light all the way from terrace one to eighteen. The city was really stunning at night, at least this part. I looked at my watch: it was 8:20 p.m. Much of the city, of course, was not stunning at all, but dirty, industrial at its core. “How could anything come out of Nazereth?” I remembered the saying. It could very well apply to Haifa. It was not the sort of place a tourist would ever come. That was now changing. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 9 June 2000.

I can see right up to the top of Mt. Carmel,
to the Queen of Carmel who reigns
majestically, silently, stunningly:
she memorializes that savage,
brutal martyrdom one hundred
and fifty years ago. She celebrates
the work of six generations of believers
to construct this new Order everywhere.

She introduces seekers from around the world
to Baha’u’llah’s shrine down the road in Bahji.
She acts as the setting for that Photo I saw today
further up that mountain in a small green cabinet
at the end of a long room. The photo of the most
precious Being ever to draw breath on this planet.

Ron Price
9 June 2000

MOVING TOWARD AN UNFOLDING DESTINY

Between 29 and 19 BC, the first decade of the Roman Empire,Virgil wrote his Aeneid, his life's tour de force. The main character in the Aeneid was Aeneas. Aeneas was the embodiment of Roman ideals and he moved across the world toward what was then the unfolding destiny of a newly created Roman Empire. Virgil wrote about the materialism of Rome and how it brought a spiritual chaos. One of the preoccupations of Virgil in his Aeneid was the unity of Roman society and the need of this Empire for insight into the human predicament.-R Price with thanks to J.K. Newman, The Classical Epic Tradition, Univ. of Wisconson Press, 1986, p.134.

Between 1992 and 2002, at the time when the Bahá'í Faith emerged from obscurity in the global community with the completion of its world centre on Mt. Carmel, Price wrote his Pioneering Over Four Epochs. He wrote about his own experience and his movements across a portion of the world within the context of the unfolding destiny of a new Faith. He liked to think he was the embodiment of Bahá'í ideals, but he was more conscious of his inadequacies. 'Abdul-Baha fulfilled the role of embodiment of Bahá'í ideals, par excellence. Price wrote about his experience and the experience of his community in 'the dark heart of the age of transition', a period that occupied all his pioneering life. He wrote about the spiritual chaos of this dark heart before a dawn which was gradually approaching. Unity, the oneness of humankind, was at the centre of his poetic opus. Price saw his poetry as one of a multitude of sources of insight, one he had difficulty evaluating, into the predicament that faced humanity. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 23 February 2002.

Many times I felt stranded
on uncertainty, as if
the movement toward heaven
had been blocked again, yet again.

The amenities of the journey
and the motion of its vehicles
consoled me from time to time
as I felt like I was drowning,
as I lifted myself up in the sea
by my own exertions,
as I picked up the pieces
of my ship on the beach.

Salvaging fragments of my life,
my hopes blasted,
my life's unfoldment arrested,
its benefits manifesting themselves
to my eyes so painfully slow, slow,
I sought pleasureable work:
occupation, ark and anodyne,1
keeping me busy and away from
the ocean wastes of life.

1 George P. Landow, "Ruskin's Religion, Man and Work," Ruskin's Poetic Argument, Cornell UP, 1985.

Ron Price
23 February 2002

FIN DE SIECLE VISIONS

From the cemetary he looks up to Carmel needing
always to have replenished to his vision the slope’s
white ornaments: a dome gleaming, marble pillars
shining in the sun and green terraces one by one,
white-light on the run.

-Ron Price with thanks to Roger White,
Notes Postmarked The Mountain of God, p.29.

Fin de siecle speculations are often apocalyptic,
end of time stuff, history over, intensified reflections,
chronicalling time’s fate,
tucking a panorama into a short breathed space,
some promise against our vanishing:
poems have been sewn into the end of centuries,
become the warp and weft of millennium’s end,
as if the spray of an inexhaustible fountain of beauty
was blown into our faces giving account of our generation
and our age, with a tinge, a hint, of excitement,
in poetry’s calendric spirit.

The world has long been waiting for the Poet
and He has come with a legion of interpreters:
for the day of the theologian is at hand
and much new poetry is in the wind,
blowing from that mountain top,
that rocky hill, Carmel’s spine.

Ron Price
19 October 1996

PROPULSION

The whole race is a poet that writes down
The eccentric propositions of its fate.
-Wallace Stevens, “Men Make Out Words”, The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play by Wallace Stevens, Holly Stevens, editor, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1971, p.282.

Yes, Wallace, an eccentricity, a strangeness, a puzzle,
a fate, a freedom, a solitude and a sociality: I write
them down---a poet telling of his defeats, dreams,
victories, crises, calamities, those reveries, Wallace,
those reveries, certain propositions and descriptions.

Those terraces, the emerald green grass, Zoysia,
bush-hammered, white sand, fair-faced, special
release agent on a tapestry of beauty so right for
the time, so right for that history of a century and
a half and all those men and women and children.

Italian marble, tonnes of steel fixings, contracts
for this roadwork and that building in a stupendous
architectural ediface at this climacteric of history
with its marble columns, immense stone work and
a Strong Room so fitting for their sacred texts.

And, Wallace, none of it was easy, hard stuff,
the kind of thing to make you cry if you had
not seen the same thing for fifteen decades,
right from the first burn-outs and another
propulsion of a galaxy of God-intoxicated heroes.

Ron Price
22 May 1996

THIS THRESHOLD

Life, the inner life, the life of the imagination, in which the senses are messengers from the outer world brings joyous and disquieting tidings: this life of crisis, of ecstacy, of a hundred differently defined sensibilities. This too is the life of poetry. Poetry is, then, a language, a language of crisis, of ecstacy, of these varied sensibilities. Poetry arrests these various states in mid-flight and mentally transposes emotions and sensations, creating an atmosphere along the way.

A poem is a becoming, a process. A landscape is magically evoked and blended into a single effect. A sustained impressibility towards the mysterious conditions of man's everyday life, towards the very mystery itself, gives a singular gravity, a quality of joy, of the exquisite, to poetry. Much of life is trite, humdrum, tedious, trite. These emotions of quieter intensity become part of poetry, of poetry's voice. -Ron Price with thanks to Walter Pater and Edward Engelberg in The Symbolist Poem: The Development of the English Tradition, E.P. Dutton and Co., NY, 1967, pp.289-345.

Marble pillars and garden terraces
are fellow travellers on this mountain side
and with them I did pass several days
at a slow step, my mind on fire
with emotions of a lifetime.

This vastly augmented World Centre reared
for that Divine Target of grief,
creating a tranquil calm, an efflorescence
on God's Holy Mountain, of profound significance,
of providential opportunities where tribulations
are transmuted into instruments of redemption.

And now constructing, landscaping, erecting
edifaces imbued with sacred remembrances
at this culmination of a cycle of six thousand years
in an age of fulfillment of five thousand centuries
in which we have just finished the first
and a flight of stairs to meet His majestic shrine,
this Threshold of the City of God
where a welter of concrete, steel and stone
are strewn across thousands of square metres.

Ron Price
27 April 1996

THE NEW JACOB’S LADDER

The Book of Genesis derives the word Babel from balal, confusion, but Babel actually means what Jacob called the place of his vision, the gate of God.1 Jacob’s ladder, or staircase, which in the imagery of the Judaeo-Christain tradition has come to be associated with reaching a higher state of existence than the ordinary one, is sometimes associated with a mountain or a tree, the world tree, the axis mundi, connecting heaven and earth. Indeed, the imagery of ladders, stairs, mountains and trees is almost universal. But humans must climb if they want to ascend; they cannot fly. -Ron Price with thanks to Northrop Frye, The Eternal Act of Creation: Essays, 1979 to 1990, Indiana UP, Bloomington, 1993, pp.38-39.

The mystic has always been attracted to ladders,

staircases: the imagery is compelling. Here is my

historical panegyric leading to this gate of God1.



There were winding stairs in Solomon’s temple,

with its three stories; Persian temples

with seven stories and seven flights of steps

for the seven planets; they say the bride

of the god was laid at the top;

Danae was shut up in a temple

and impregnated with a shower of gold by Zeus;

in Egypt the pharoah ascended a stairway

after his death; here he met Osiris

‘the god at the top of the staircase’.

In Dante there is a seven story mountain

which Dante climbs and at the top

meets Beatrice who symbolises divine grace;

then there is another seven stories

and at the top we see Jacob’s ladder

again-going down-but none of this

would be present without divine power,

God’s love: it is all built by God,

beginning in heaven.


In Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Joyce and many others

the ladder2 continued and we have now,

in this apotheosis on Mount Carmel,

a scale, a comely proportion and method

with everything in this gigantic enterprise

having some trans-historical meaning

in a great new chain of being

from chaos to God, the great sea of life,

from the Dot to the Circles,

from anarchy and savagery

to a great structure of authority,

obedience from within and protection

from without-that great feudal principle

preserved forever-in a significantly altered form.

So is this ladder: now terraces, eighteen

with more steps than you can count,

a task of such urgency, complexity

and sheer titanic power as to challenge

the spirited paintings of animals in caves.


In Paleolithic times, animals

which were extensions of human

consciousness: the beauty created

is eternal as the traffic on Jacob’s ladder,

the communication between God and man,

is eternal.


9 October 1996

1 The Bab means ‘gate of God’.

2 In Latin ‘ladder’ is scala. This extends the image of ladder to ‘scale’ or ‘measurement by degrees’.

Ron Price

9 October 1996


ALL I NEED TO KNOW



For Hayden did Keats an enormous service. He introduced him to the marvellous sculptures...from the Parthenon....to Keats they were sublime because they gave him a vision into the Greek world..-Morse Peckham, The Romantic Virtuoso, Wesleyan UP, London, 1995, p.104.



“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”-that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

-John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”.



Not some vision into the Greek world

do I get here, some sublimity rescued

a hair’s breadth from incrustation of

a dieing Renaissance tradition. Some

beauty in truth and truth beauty that

looks into the future, my future, the

world’s future, utopian vision, takes

your breath away, something not quite

born, here, just off in the distance, hope,

feeling, educating me with instructions and

controls transforming a whole world in infinite

gradations, and me. Now taking these stones

and terraces and giving me an experience of

such value that it is all I need to know.


Ron Price
22 January 1997


IN MEMORIAM: B, B, A.B. & S.E.



On 15 September 1833 Tennyson’s friend Arthur Henry Hallam died. In 1850 Tennyson published anonymously his In Memoriam A.H.H. The poem, footnotes and commentary can be found in Tennyson: A Selected Edition, editor Christopher Ricks, Longman, 1969, pp. 331-484. In the period 9 July 1850 to 4 November 1957 the Bab, Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi passed away. The following eulogy is written like Tennyson’s: “It is...the cry of the whole human race.” (ibid., p.339) It, too, begins with death and ends with the promise of a new life. Tennyson took some seventeen years to finalize his poem. The exercise below is a beginning which the mysterious dispensations of Providence may allow for some expansion as the years go on.-Ron Price, Written over a two day period, on the 23rd and 24th of December 1997.


I

Strong God of love, immortal Love

Who sent two heavenly Beings to give

man a Luminous Book unto those who

Believed and surrendered themselves.


This is Thy kingdom, every atom in

Existence and the essence of all

Created things You have given, too,

For their training with suffering the way.


Also for them the fruits of holiness

You have ordained on the trees of

Wondrous glory for You are just

And they are created from the same dust.


And the rest is found in submission to

Your command and humbleness before

Your face. This they will find as true in

All the expanse of heaven, immensity of space.


Light has grown from more to more

And knowledge, too, its infinite store.

Thanks to them they’re on their way

To one great music as in Pythagorean1 days.


All these great ones had come and gone

Before their life had grown to full.

Make them worthy of their words

Forgive them their sins which push and pull.


II

‘Tis a tragic thing that they’re not known

After all this heat, this sturm und drang

After all their words profound they sang

As if from some eternal fount they rose and rang.



Across the years they come to us now

Like angels of fire and snow

Some spectacular tragedy

They come in meteoric-sombre show.



They look like men who loved and lost

But far from below they sent a flood

Of sweetest sound they gave to drink.

Which comes up silently as if in our blood.



Now these marble, stone places on the hill

And terraces up to mountain top

Tell of inaccessible mysteries and

Ordinary dust flanked by cyprus trees.



What can you and I make of all this?

The obtuseness of the geranium,

Some lavish investment from within

We give to a place where they now all lie.



Now these wondrous souls have a home,

A place of honour on this sacred mount.

They have been coffined clean in glass,

Their beauty set in gems and jewels of mystery.



‘Tis a wonder that their soul now energizes

More, now gone from human temple

And moves the whole world to a degree

Unapproached when their radiance was beclouded.



The Light which had glowed with dazzling

Brightness in the heart of Asia and

Travelled and diffused throughout

The world from plan to plan, baptized by fire.



I wind my thoughts now close to thee

And tell the world you’ve been

A league from immortality

Now draw my chair beside the fire.



I think about those who’ve soared away

To their pure and gleaming Kingdom,

Out of this world of brown-grey dust

Safe in their celestial gathering place of splendour.



Not all, of course, will see their beauty.

Lifeless hearts know only withered bloom.

But those like them will find their pleasure

And in this springtime find their consecrated joy.2


Ron Price
24 December 1997

1 In the sixth century BC at the fount of science during the days of Pythagorus in ancient Greece religion and science walked hand in hand, in harmony.

2 Some poems never feel finished; they never feel they have been polished enough; always feel that the edges are rough. This poem is such a poem. Perhaps that is why some poets, like Tennyson, spent 17 years on a poem.


RELINQISHED AND UNRELINQUISHED



I watch them climb. A panorama and enhanced perspective are the rewards. Some are barely able to withstand the beauty, the acuity of vision, the intensive joy. Others are in laggard wonder and atrophied awe; they distrust the prompting of angels, the voice of the thunder. I can almost hear them say: It is too late, too late. They do not hear the battered bird fly by in the tortured wind near my plate of gold: Pass! Pass! With adamant soul on feet of brass! -Words of Roger White in Notes Postmarked The Mountain of God, New Leaf Publishing, Richmond, BC, 1992, pp.1-10.


I am a cold stone, a gold-inlay tile

set on the top, on the curved roof

of the Shrine of the Bab. I can see

into the far off Mediterranean below

my terraces, so green and white. I am

a very small part of what is loved here,

cherished. I see them come with their

untried convictions, their rusted resolve,

their unrelinquished disappointments, with

their hope, their random indiscretions, their

outworn hesitancies, not knowing that this

trip, this pilgrimage calls for new beginnings.



Many, out of familiarity, feel as if they own me;

they feel accepted in a silence that is resonant

with an anguish deposited by history’s fate. I

am part of that gold tip on the whitest marble

taper which has been gleaming serenely for

fifty years. I watch, endlessly, as unassimilated,

tangled and opaque pasts go home transmuted.

From early dawn, as the sky slowly turns to blue,

prescribed prayers ascend and I find the past is not

so slowly relinquished even on this sun-drenched

vista known as the mountain of God where gardens

have been coaxed from grudging soil and multitudes

advance on feet of brass where once stood feet of steel.





Ron Price

12 August 1997


THE OCEAN FLOODS IN SILENTLY



The most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming, not at that goal itself, but at some more ambitious goal beyond it. This is one of the laws of life.-Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Vol. 7B, Oxford UP, 1963(1954), p.546.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.1



It yields, with the years, to ever-

Lasting beauty, far, far

From this withered bloom, just

One step from eternity.



While on this earth I shall not cease

The mental fight, though I

Shall often slip with sword sleeping

In my hand while we build

Jerusalem on Carmel’s mount and

Green terraces caress that land.



The tired waves continue breaking

And often weariness I gain,

While back in quiet creaks and rivers

The ocean floods in silently

And the Sun which climbs so slowly

Fills my sky with light and joy.



Ron Price

27 December 1997



1 This poems contains lines quoted by Toynbee in the above volume, pp. 513-515.


VISIONARY



Visionary poetry can live with the uncertaintly principle, but not with total skepticism or with the belief of many of the newest critics that poetry is not “about” anything. As it has been said “where there is no vision, the people perish.”(Proverbs 29:18) Without vision behind it this poetry, I’m sure, would not have been written. All perception is theory-laden and we need the power of symbols to extend our perceptual models. Perception itself is a dynamic searching for meaning. Visionary poetry begins in perception, in the ‘suchness’ of things, in us as participants, in the last two centuries, since Shaykh Ahmad left his home to prepare the path for the Bab, about 1792, and since Wordsworth began writing his poetry about the same time. -Ron Price with thanks to Hyatt Waggoner, American Visionary Poetry, Louisiana State UP, Baton Rouge, 1982, pp.1-18.

Something out there on that hill,

quite beyond what I see, running

way down to the ocean depths,

identities of a spiritual world,

beyond my praise, an eternity

of men and women, a thought

rising, calm, like the stars shining

immortal, luminous, real vision,

taking possession of my soul,

celestial light, mystery and weight,

a divine perplexity, the infinite hidden

in the infinite to this peculiarly intimate

bit of world, this joyous seer. Flood tide

above me. I see you, at last, face to face!



Thousands go up with loving and thirsting eyes,

fine spokes of light leading to the unseen.

Grand is the scene here to me

and the unseen buds hidden under the terraces

and marble like babes in wombs, latent, compact,

sleeping, billions of billions beckoning—

out beyond Mars-beyond all these computers,

engineering miracles, medical breakthroughs,

the staggeringly complex knowledge explosion

and that burnt match in the urinal1.

Not just memories of spiritual gates2 here,

intricate iron tracery, real and bathed in blood.

No need for me to create a new Bible

for one has come, spring-board , luminescent

source that helps me stab at truth,

evoke a common consciousness, an innocence,

an absolute beauty amidst all the tears,

the broken bones, all the boredom and chouder.



1 Hart Crane in ibid., p. 78

2 idem


ALWAYS TO TASTE HER HONEYED-TONGUE

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To see forever her green gardens and marble lines,

Awake at last on that sweet mountain side,

Now, always to taste her honeyed-tongue with

My spirit as close to that Dust: abide, abide.

-Ron Price with appreciation to John Keats quoted in The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry, Harold Bloom, Cornell UP, London, 1961, p.437.



I seek more wonder than the human face

here among the terraces and marble, more

beauty than the sweetest lips or breast or

hair falling to a waist, a happiness which

becks my ready mind to fellowship divine,

with essence, on my way to freedom from

space and a religion of heaven which I trust

will grow out of this consciousness like leaves

from a tree, fruit from a tree of endless glory,

born of some seed I found standing within me,

mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.



Ron Price

25 April 1998


FIRST GLIMMERINGS OF LIGHT



Percy Bysshe Shelley began the poem 'The Triumph of Life' in 1822 in the spring. It was unfinished when he died on 8 July 1822. To Shaykh Ahmad , who was in the last several years of his ministry, there was no question what 'the life' meant, or what 'the triumph' would involve. Shelley's poem was as enigmatic to western literary critics as the mission and meaning of Shaykh Ahmad was to the masses in Iran. His poem suddenly breaks off in line 548.

I found many of the lines of Shelley's poem of inspirational value in contemplating the recent developments on Mt. Carmel often referred to by the Bahá'í community as the Mt. Carmel Project.

Ron Price



This old root1 which has grown

to an immense and strange distortion

out of the hill side, a celestial

implantation,2 culmination of the

spheres in this galactic sector and

which now with the weight of my

own words staggers me with weary

contemplation, at times, child of

a fierce hour who seeks to win this

world but, in the end, loses all it

does contain of greatness, with

hope transferred from earthy-rock

and mountain peak where power and

will rule in opposition, irreconcileable.



But while my eyes are sick of this

perpetual flow of people and sad

thought from day-to-day, there is

a golden seam of joy, a kindling

green, a gentle rivulet with its

calm sweep where sweet flowers

and wet stems, a scene of woods

and waters, a Light diviner than

the common sun and sounds

woven into one oblivious melody,

threading the forest maze with

winding paths of emerald fire

and dew, invisible rain, forever

seeming to sing a silver music

on a mossy lawn, a crystal

grass which whispers with

delight, enamoured as if in

dream, to kiss the dancing

foam, on a summer dancing

breeze...it is all emerging here

beside my path, this new Vision

surrounded by a savage and a

stunning music amidst a war

returning and triumphant

wilderness before me eyes,

always returning, tempest of

splendour and chaos, dance

and cheer.


This embroidery of flowers

that does enhance this grassy

vesture in the desert, this

moving chariot whose swift

advance is so still as to pose

no threat, as others gaze and

circle 'round it like the clouds

that swim round a high noon

in a bright sea of air or like

bubbles on an eddying flood

borne onward. And I among

a multitude am swept, my

sweetest flowers with the

thickest billows of this living

storm, and plunged with bare

bosom to the clime of this

holiest spot, love led serene

and awe of this wondrous story,

though the world can hear not

these sweet notes whose sphere

of light is melody to lovers


And so, the earth, though peopled
with dim forms which dance in a

thousand unimaginable shapes,

possesses now a marble brow of

youthful vision: terraces and eagles,
pillars, white and green on mountain
slope. Happy those for whom the fold
did fold and encompass in its eternity
fresh cool waters and fruits of being.

Ron Price
17 May 1998

1 civilization has often been a source of great evil
2 human beings, it is my philosophy, are at the apex of creation, possessed
as they are with the rational faculty.

THE ARCHITECTURE OF OUR MINDS

There exists in Haifa a structure so potent and glorious that I would like to think that its existence in my mind becomes the actual architecture of my mind, a structure through which all my dreams and ideas and hopes are funnelled. While this is partly true, I know only too well, that the architecture of my mind contains much else. Buildings transform space into location and thus perform a function that is essential to human dwelling or emplacement. The buildings, the gardens, the terraces in Haifa do not just connect pieces of land that are already there they designedly cause them to lie beside and across from each other by setting one side against the other, one part in juxtaposition to the other and, in so doing, they bring to the port of Haifa a path for Kings and to the mount of Carmel an expanse of landscape that is redesigned, renewed, rebuilt. The whole entity gathers to itself in its own way earth and sky, divinities and mortals. Borders or boundaries are certainly sites, locations, from which something exquisite begins its presencing. They are also places that demarcate the distinction between Holy Place and Other, perhaps “us” and all “others.”1 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Anthony Wilden and his discussion of the complexities of boundaries or borders as barriers and loci of communication. Anthony Wilden, System and Structure: quoted in D.M.R. Bentley, Essays on Literature and Architecture in Canada: 1759-2005.

I came to stare and walk
upon her, above her,
below her and kiss her
ever-sleeping lips, hands
and beauteous face or,
should I say, gaze on
that portrait, that photo,
so rarified and perfected
there across the room.

What was the exquisite power
she wielded in this huge place,
these big rooms and small,
intimate ones where she had lain
for years in a crystal concentrate
of beauty, in this artefact, placed,
marvelled at, forgotten by many,
by most, by millions who once
stopped to amaze, be amazed.

There was a grace here so contained
as to pose no threat, undeserved
was our age but so needy
and our days have grown
more troublesome, many have wept
beyond the borders. We circumambulate
mostly in our minds where the architecture
of this place will live forever
in our hopes and dreams,
funnelled into everyday reality
half-remembered, half-believed.

Ron Price
September 15th 2005

THEY CAME

They came as separate poems and when I had what seemed like a sizeable number, I think it was usually somewhere between about fifty and a hundred, I made them into a little booklet. The plastic binding cost me five dollars at a local Xerox shop; the paper and the ink cartridge had another cost, let's say seven or eight dollars all up. From 1992 to 2004 I produced 53 booklets of some 6000 poems. It works out to a little more than a poem a day. I started writing poems back in 1962 at the age of eighteen with Cathy Saxe who lived in George Town Ontario. Then, in 1980, I started saving the poems I wrote. I was thirty-six at the time. At 48 I became even more serious about poetry. It was then 1992. As far as direction in my poetry was concerned, well, I really didn’t know where it was going. I had, from time to time, several senses or intimations of direction and, after one period of strong intimation in the mid-1990s, I organized my poetry into four time periods, each with a different heading or title drawing on the historical construction of the Shrine of the Bab and its embellishments in the gardens and terraces on Mt. Carmel as my metaphor, my physwical analogue.

I don’t write books of poetry as books. I don’t write them like, say, my autobiography, or my critical work on the study of Roger White's poetry. I don't lay them out like my website, my letters, my essays or my attempts at novels. My poetry has some inner evolution which, even after 42 years, is essentially mysterious.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, May 12, 2004.

Back in the '80s

I took little interest

in rhyming bed & head:

there were enough, I thought,

banalities in life

without my adding to them.



There was so much

I did not need to know:

the Hang Seng, the FTSE

the price of gold,

the price of a new hoe.



My eye, as Shakespeare said,

was in a fine frenzy rolling

from earth to heaven and

heaven to earth........,with

my imagination bodying forth,

turning things I did know

into a shape, giving them a name,

a habitation--something more

than airy nothing.



Ron Price

May 12 2004


REFLECTION, ACTION AND SORROW

Several days before the official opening of the Mt. Carmel Project I opened on the internet my website entitled Pioneering Over Four Epochs. It needed to be given a face lift; it needed it in 2001 and it still needs it, but I have not had the technical skills to do the job. In the three years, three months and three weeks(19.5.’01-3.9.’04) since that website opened, I have accumulated between 600 and 700 websites, approximately four hundred of which were suitable for posting my writing and various kinds of references to the Baha’i Faith. Most of this website accumulation and posting was done in two of these years with the remaining time devoted to writing an 800 page autobiographical study also called Pioneering Over Four Epochs. Both these projects are ongoing ones, but in this first week of spring in Tasmania I have reached a point of saturation with respect to each of them. I am now ready to go back to (i) reading, (ii) note-taking and (iii) trying to write a novel.

I am ready for His guidance “in all that pertaineth to the exaltation of Thy Cause and the magnification of the station of Thy loved ones.” I shall now reflect and do “what comes to mind.”1 -Ron Price with thanks to the words of Baha’u’llah, sent to me by Roger White from an unauthenticated Tablet.

Urgent and sustained attention,

accelerated advance in the process,

continuity in systematic endeavour

in a Plan that has seen unprecedented

writing, a pause, a review of a life

and a Cause, a sharing of the Bread

which has come down from heaven,

an ushering to the banquet table

of the wondrous Lord of Hosts

the souls that hunger after truth.



This unprecedented project,1

this momentous transition to a time

when the world’s great pain shall pass

has seen in these years of this Plan

a stimulus that has been exhausting,

especially with the approach of night

when, yet again, exhaustion sets in,

a sense of disillusionment and a sorrow

at my utter inability to conquer

the pitfalls of self, of instinctual urges,

to subordinate my natural inclinations

and overcome the allurements

and trivialities of the world.



1 The Universal House of Justice, “Statement on the Official Opening of the Terraces,” May 22, 2001.



Ron Price

2 September 2004


SEVERAL TURNING POINTS

If one reads my poetry over the last ten years or over more than twenty, going back to, say, the first two poems I wrote in the winter of 1980 after finally being treated for a bi-polar disorder, such a reader will get the overwhelming impression of a very personal spiritual journey,1 a journey of healing. One will see spiritual crises, complexity and depth of struggle engaged in as the stuff of life that underpins my poetry and its emotional tension. There is a vulnerability and an openness underneath a bittersweet complex poetic design etched in an acid of remorse and sadness, a meditative and solemn consciousness and an identification with powerful and wise prophetic Figures in my religion. My poetry found several critical turning points: it began its spiritual journey with a special healing; it developed and became associated with the building of the Terraces on Mt. Carmel, especially beginning in that Holy Year of 1992-1993; and it developed still further when I retired at the age of 55 from my profession. That solemn consciousness,2 one that had been with me as far back as the first months of my pioneering experience from August to December 1962, became the wellspring of the most exquisite celebratory joy. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Stuart Hirschberg in Poetry Criticism, Vol.7, Drew Kalasky, editor, Gale Research Inc., Detroit, 1994, p.155; and 2The Universal House of Justice, Letter April 3, 1991.

My poetry proclaims and acclaims
the pivotal centre
> of the unity of humankind
in the Covenant.

My poetry illustrates
the dynamic effect
of the Covenant
on the struggle, spread
and redemptive achievements
of the Bahá'í community
since His passing
in that fin de siecle
when His soul proceded
to energize the world

There is here a thankful gladness,
a celebratory joy,1
a journey into an inner world,
an exploration of a genuine self,
an unlocking of a door of many mansions,
of deep complexity, of inaudible music.

Here is a protective structure
I negotiate as I conjure into being
people from the past
and take the long journey of healing.

1 The Universal House of Justice, Letter, April 3, 1991.

Ron Price 5 March 2002

A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

If one reads my poetry over the last ten years or over more than twenty, going back to, say, the first two poems I wrote in the winter of 1980 after finally being treated for a bi-polar disorder, such a reader will get the overwelming impression of a very personal spiritual journey. One will see spiritual crises, complexity and depth of struggle engaged in as the stuff of life that underpins my poetry and its emotional tension. There is a vulnerability and an openness underneath a bittersweet complex poetic design etched in an acid of remorse and an identification with powerful and wise prophetic Figures in his religion. My poetry found its critical turning point in its spiritual journey, associated as it was with the building of the Terraces on Mt. Carmel, especially beginning in that Holy Year of 1992-1993. A solemn consciousness, one that had been with me as far back as the first months of my pioneering experience from August to December 1962, became the wellspring of the most exquisite celebratory joy. -Ron Price with thanks to Stuart Hirschberg in Poetry Criticism, Vol.7, Drew Kalasky, editor, Gale Research Inc., Detroit, 1994, p.155; and The Universal House of Justice, Letter April 3, 1991.

THOSE MINARETTES OF THE WEST

Today we all witnessed on our television screens the collapse of the twin-towers of the World Trade Building. Thousands were killed and another eight-hundred in the Pentagon when a jet crashed into its centre. The heart of America's military and industrial complex shattered in the most savage act of terrorism in American history. This poem is an attempt to make some sense, to express some understanding of the tragedy that occurred.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 12 Sept 2001.

He called them minarets

with such gentle irony

that we nearly missed His point.



I'm sure He knew they would

come crashing down upon our heads

as our civilization was to come

undone in the years, the decades,

perhaps, centuries ahead....



For those time-honoured

and powerful strongholds

of orthodoxy, political

and religious, can not save us....



And this military and industrial

complex, blown apart

in front of our eyes

one-hundred-and-twelve days

after the Opening of the Terraces.



Is there any connection, Horace?1

You always said:

religion is cause

and history is effect

in a tortured interaction

just about beyond reason.



It reminded me of the Kennedy

tragedy, World War II and I,

horrific events following

in rapid succession:

(i) the election of the House,

(ii) the beginning of the Plan, and

(iii) 'Abdu'l-Bahá's trip west,

....respectively...respectively....



1 Horace Holley, secretary of the NSA of the United States for many years and Hand of the Cause.



Ron Price 12 September 2001


THERE'S A LOT RIDING THERE


The past is the domain of contingency, uncertainty, in which we accept events and from which we select events in order to fulfill our potentialities and to gain satisfaction and security in the immediate future. It is there for our exploration and study, especially the autobiographer. We remember what has significance for our present style of life. This remembering is a creative process; it is a mirror in which we examine our lifestyle in the present. What we seek to become determines what we remember we have been. Whether we can even recall the significant events of the past depends upon our decisions with regard to the future. Our past will not even become alive if nothing matters enough to us in the future we envisage. If we want our uncovering, our examination, of the past to have reality we must possess some hope and commitment toward working and changing the future, toward integrating ourself for future creativity. -Ron Price with thanks to Rollo May, The Discovery of Being: Writings in Existential Psychology, W.W. Norton and Co., NY, 1983.

We've got a lot riding

on that vision,

those buildings of light

up there on the hill.



My life, all that's gone

before, is riding there

in an aliveness, a reality

born in those very terraces,

in that water trickling down,

in a tall marble column,

in the spirit and lives sown

in a history oh so solemn

but with a consciousness,

itself a wellspring of

an exquisite celebratory joy.



Ron Price

13 November 2001


NEW STRUCTURE


After reading and indexing my poetry from 1980 to 1995 I feel as if the entire body of work is "Warm-Up." The period September 1992 to June 1995 inclusive I shall now call "The Golden Dome." It is phase three of my 'warm-up.' The period July 1995 to May 2001, nearly six years, I shall now call "The Terraces." Reading my poetry from phase three, perhaps the first time I have read it as a whole body of work, allowed me to make the first overall assessment of my poetry from this phase of its development. It still seems to be, for the most part, 'juvenilia,' immature and, except for the occasional poem, singularly unimpressive. And so I have established a new general struture for my poetry during the years 1980 to 2001, a twenty-one year(less two months) time span. It is a structure that follows the names of the general phases of architectural development for the Shrine of the Bab and the gardens and terraces which embellish it. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 17 April 2001.

I am that modern hero

who preserves and maintains

a face of my own--no epic

or romantic hero--just

a personal self now formed

around more than twenty years

of poetry symbolically developed

as the Shrine of the Bab was developed

over more than one hundred years.

And here I have access to such power

as can generate the attitudes and names

of God1 as citizen and philosopher,

as public and private poet and person

in this the beginning of the fifth epoch.



1 Thomas Lysaght, "The Artist as Citizen," The Creative Circle: Art, Literature and Music in Bahá'í Perspective, editor Michael Fitzgerlad, Kalimat Press, 1980, pp. 121-157.



Ron Price

18 April 2001.


THIS SILENT GRASS-GROWING MOOD

The 14th Dalai Lama left his home in Tibet in 1959 along with one hundred thousand Tibetan Buddhists when the Chinese invaded his homeland. He found political asylum in India. This man, who has claimed to be the incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, has spent the last forty years promulgating Buddhist teachings around the world from his centre in India. Six months after this invasion of Tibet, while the Dalai Lama was preparing to enter his country of exile, India, and the Chinese were occupying his Tibetan home, I became a Bahá'í in Canada. I began to promulgate the teachings of a Man Who claimed to be the Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha of Universal Fellowship.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 4 July 2001.

It has been a delicate operation since 1959

promulgating the teachings

of another Claimant to the throne

of that Buddha of Compassion

Whose home was invaded

a hundred years before

by men of His homeland

and sent Him to His exile

for forty years.



I have had to keep faith

in myself and my beliefs

while the world assailed

me in its utter disbelief.

I have had to stand up

against humankind

as if I was the sole disciple

of this precious Being.



And now in this calm,

this coolness, this silent

grass-growing mood,

I write, not for fame,

that most transparent

of all vanities,

but for what I feel to be

so terrifically, terribly, true.1



1 Herman Melville's words about writing. Price's poetry, like Melville's Moby Dick, is not uniformly excellent or interesting. But, like Melville's work, it dares greatly and soars high. Melville completed his work in the 17 months after the Bab was martyred; Price completed his initial poetic opus while the Terraces, the embellishment of the Bab's holy place, were being completed.



Ron Price

4 July 2001


A MANIFESTATION OF BARBARISM?



In December 1989 The Simpsons aired for the first time on television. In the last 12 years, 1989 to 2001, this program and its characters have become an institution, a mass phenomenon. I was first introduced to the program by a class of 18 year old boys in a Tafe College in Perth about 1990. In the dozen years since its inception, I have met people who love The Simpsons and people who hate it, appauled by its moral tone. It was with interest that I came across an article yesterday "Simpsons at the Gates: Intimations of the Coming Barbarism" located at The Simpsons Website. The author, Keith Gessen, makes many points about The Simpsons in his article. He talks about stories we tell in order to live. We order, he says, the anarchy of our experience into useful narratives. Glessen refers to Allan Bloom's book The Closing of the American Mind and Bloom's concern at the collapse, the irrelevance, of the referenceable reality of the classical canon of western literature, the once critical provider of our stories. Glessen sees The Simpsons, among a host of other programs, as devouring western culture with their idiocy and videocy, their humour and their delight. A plethora of cultural material has entered society since WW1. One thread among the millions of threads of the many garments in the current cultural melange is this poem. -Ron Price with thanks to Keith Glessen,"Simpsons at the Gates: Intimations of the Coming Barbarism," Internet, 13 October 2001.

We were just experiencing

some of that longed for

entry-by-troops,

signs of an acceleration

yet to come....


We were just experiencing

our first heightened expectations

from the architectural design

just adopted for the Terraces

and the realization

of the Guardian's vision

along the path of the kings.....


We were just experiencing

those changes in attitude

in the early stages of

the fourth epoch

and thought, perhaps,

peace was breaking out.....



We were also experiencing

the verve, vision and versatility

of the International Teaching Centre

with warm admiration.......



As we entered the second half

of the then Six Year Plan1

what some thought to be

a manifestation of barbarism

entered our culture.

It insinuated itself

into the hearts of millions

with a laugh and a chuckle.



The barbarians had finally arrived.

Were their names The Simpsons?



1 The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1989.



Ron Price

15 October 2001.


THIS SHIPWRECKED VICTIM STILL POSES NO THREAT





Here I am on a lower terrace, enjoying a spot of shade on a hot afternoon in early summer in Haifa. It is Day Three of a nine day pilgrimage program. We are walking up from the fifth to the ninth terrace below the Shrine of the Bab. It is a very steep incline. I can hear the water of two fountains. I can see two huge eagles at the gate to the ninth terrace. There is much for the eye to see and the ear to hear. We approach the Shrine of the Bab and around this place conversation, small-talk, ceases. This is a place of prayer and meditation. It is now 3:25 pm. Our afternoon on the terraces has ended.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 8 June 2000.

I looked at the dome,

that gold dome,

after all these years

of a post-card Faith.

It’s bigger than I thought

and it’s all the fulfillment

of my heart’s desire, on

this Isle of Faithfulness.



Yes, this shipwrecked Victim

has been washed ashore and

coffined in glass. I have come

to stare and lean on Her.

I have sobbed many a time

these long years for Her.



There is beauty here,

but it poses no threat,

at least not yet.

It fits into the mountain-side

like an accommodating moss.1

But come close and you will

be filled with delight

and your eyes cheered.2





1 Roger White, “Artefact”, The Witness of Pebbles, p.96.

2 Baha’u’llah, Tablet of Carmel.



Ron Price

8 June 2000


THRUSTING GROWTH



On the second last morning of the pilgrimage, Day Eight, Monday 12 June, I slept late: too tired for more walking, talking, listening and diarrhoea. About mid-morning, too late for breakfast in the hostel, I headed for the nearby MacDonald’s for its air-conditioning and some soft food to swallow with my pills. For there were aspects of life that had to go on even during pilgrimage. One advantage of MacDonald’s small cheeseburgers is that they hardly require any chewing before swallowing, an excellent accompaniment, therefore, to one’s necessary morning medication. I then walked to the Pilgrim House from the end of Ben Gurion Street, a half hour walk, and arrived in a bath of sweat.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 12 June 2000.

The first Coke-Pepsi-MacDonald’s

generation: going through to 2000,

trying to make it with their affluence,

their knowledge explosion and, for a few,

a very few, their new religion from Iran.



And me, after forty years, here I sit

below the terraces, below that

immense project-in-green

up on the hill, nearly completed,

And this pilgrimage nearly ended,

after a long wait for that salient dove

and that Living Twig. Devotion has

often been a lean provision for this journey.1

Indeed, one often wondered just what prayer

would do beside producing the heart’s voice.



But now, as I gazed up at that Shrine,2

I got an inner sense of having fertilized

the thrusting growth of, what was it, love?

Yes,love has, indeed, thrived in the desert.

It has insinuated through the socket

of despair’s bleached skull

with the aid of those souls, that leaven

that leaveneth the world of being:

surely that is what it is? Yes,

love renews itself under the cool metallic stars

and is the taste of wet leaves on the tongue

It seems, Roger, that even neglect

has fostered its thrusting growth.



1 Roger White, Pebbles, p.70.

2 From the window of the Pilgrim House.



Ron Price

12 June 2000.


SILENT WORKINGS

The Christianity and Islam of the Middle Ages made their way partly by their aesthetic and intellectual beauty. It was a beauty, so profoundly felt by artists, writers and thinkers who for one moral or spiritual sentiment had a hundred sensuous images.1 When one adds to this sentiment a passion of which the outlets are sealed a tension of nerve results in which the sensible world comes to one with a reinforced brilliancy and relief. This sensible world comes to the imaginative mind in the repetition of its own silent workings; it comes continually to the Spirit with a fine suddenness.2

So is this true of the Baha’i Faith and the poet inspired by its force. Slowly this new Faith has been making its way by an especial aesthetic and intellectual beauty, a beauty profoundly felt by increasing numbers. For them, a whole world has become alive through art’s distinguishing capacity of restoring consciously, on the plane of meaning, the union of need, creed, impulse and action. For art, for poetry, is essentially a conscious idea, the greatest intellectual achievement in the history of humanity.3 Moments become charged with accumulations of long-gathering energy and poetry is the result.-Ron Price with thanks to 1 Walter Pater in John Dewey, Art as Experience, Perigee Books,NY, 1980(1934), p.31; John Keats in ibid., p.33; and John Dewey, ibid., p.25.



Here are deeper moments

running unseen below

these grey waves and

stormy white-edged waters.

Calm, quiet, flowing cold,

they are a celebration of one,

with peculiar intensity:

the past, present and future

in one quickening moment,

burden released, hushed

reverberations, deep-bladed

grass and water chopping

as far as the eye can see,

still living in me way down

in my memory, reaching

down to some new harmony:

attendant of these shrines,

terraces and tapestries

of truth and beauty,

beauty and truth.



1 artists often find it incumbent to betake themselves to their work in order to find that self-expression that can only come from isolation; often they feel it necessary to exaggerate this separateness to the point of some indefinable eccentricity.(Dewey, op.cit. p.9.
2 the poem develops and accentuates what is characteristically valuable in things of everyday enjoyment. (Dewey, op.cit., p.11.)

Ron Price 14 September 2000

NO MANNA FELL FROM HEAVEN

I am at the top of the terraces and listening to a middle-aged man play an electric piano. Soon we will have dinner. Day Nine of the pilgrimage has come to an end, except for a closing ceremony in the next two hours. I am looking out over the Bay of Haifa in the early evening. This afternoon I listened to the Project Manager, Mr. Sabah, discuss the overall program of the Arc, its conception and announcement back in 1986 and its final realization at the end of this year, December 2000, before the offical opening in May 2001.-R Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs,13 June, 2000.

These clean cool notes

inspire my very soul,

an unplanned interlude

in the nine-day-pilgrimage

where no manna fell from heaven

as I walked amidst the marble columns,

edifaces, their inaccessible mysteries

and their ordinary dust. What is here?

Only what I lavishly invest with meaning.1

Yet I stand uncomprehending before all

this beauty and what is truely awesome.



I have gazed at old photographs

and a thousand ancient stones

to get some idea of what defines us

up here on the hill and down there

on the plain across the bay by the sea.

Nothing is the same here as what there

is back home in my town on my street.



This is no Disneyland of religious sites

soon encompassed in my camera’s sights.

As they herd us onto buses, to lunch hours,

to our various appointed assignations,

the tour guides become our friends,

for an instant, for an hour, for nine days.

As we drink our cold lemonade,

we take a deep breath,

waiting for the next installment.

I suppose the birds won’t be dieing over Akka, today.

A light repartee is part of the language of the pilgrim.

For he must live in this new world

and satire need not be wasted on trivia.



Another pilgrim remarks how the time has flown:

The moon is full tonight, the weather’s clear.

Did you see my souvenir? They idly chatter here.

By tomorrow night they’ll all be gone.

1 Roger White, Pebbles, pp.68-9.
Ron Price 13 June 2000.

I THINK I MIGHT BE

The poetry of America, some have said, is in its bridges; the poetry of Christianity is, for the most part, in her churches; the poetry of Islam in her Mosques and of the Baha’i Faith in what has come to be known as the eighth wonder of the world among several outstanding pieces of architecture at Baha’i centres around the world. And then there is this poetry: great I do not know. But, written during the forth epoch of the Formative Age, it is part of a wider artistic experience of the time when this eighth wonder was designed and constructed: 1989-2001. If this poetry comes to be seen in no other light than as basquing in the reflected, refracted, light of the spiritual and administrative centre of that eighth wonder of the world on Mt. Carmel I will feel I have made a useful contribution to civilization. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 2001.

Perhaps the reason this poetry

has taken on such importance,

such meaning, to me during

the construction of these

monumental terraces is

the fact that I’ve spread myself

out over two dozen towns

during a pioneer life across two

continents and nearly four decades.



Now that I have been able to give

my spirit1 a rest I am ready to launch

out into a series of short teaching

exercises like the ones I’ve already

had in:

Hamilton Ontario:
September to December 1965
Brantford Ontario May to August 1967

Whitby Ontario

July to December 1968
Toronto Ontario January to May 1968

King City Ontario:

June to August 1969
Elwood Victoria December ‘75-Feb ‘76

Smithton Tasmania

February to May 1979
Wagga Wagga NSW July to Oct 1995

I write it down to tie it down

and so define my life and who

and what I’ve been; so as not

to scatter my psyche so thin

and lose the sense of who I am.



I write it down to get ready

for another launch, for I can

feel it coming on like a

pregnancy. “I think I might be....”



1 April 1999 to April 2000



Ron Price

9 April 2000


THE LAST THIRTEEN YEARS

IN 5000 POEMS

On May 30th, my last day in Canada, after spending half my life there as a child and young man, I visited The Art Gallery of Ontario. There was a special exhibition of the work of Charlotte Salomon, an artist during the Nazi era. She was an artist for whom her painting was her autobiography. The following quotations from books of her work and about her work convery what she was trying to do. They both contrast with and compare to what I am trying to accomplish in my own poetic autobiography. And so these few days in Canada will close with a meditation on autobiography. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 30 May 2000, written at ‘The Village on the Grange shopping centre,’ 275 Dundas Street West, Toronto, 4 pm.

Whereever she happened to be she pulled out her sketchbook. She had to unburden herself and her language was paint and brush. -Emil Straus, a friend: Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre?, Zwolle, 1998, p.6.

She used her lifestory to create a unique work of art.
-ibid.,p.31.

She used colours, people, rooms, environments, texts, music and film to serve one goal: to create for an audience a certain distance between herself as the subject of her own life story: herself as the story-telling artist. At the same time she aimed to provide as much emotional information as the audience needed to feel at one with her, as the artist; to feel close to the story she was creating on each page and in her total pictorial opus.-Ron Price with thanks to the publishers, Zwolle, as above: idem.

She passed the last year of her life in more than 700 scenes. -Mary Felstiner, To Paint Her Life: Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era, U of Cal. Press, Berkeley, 1997, p.ix.

We have here an autobiography without an “I.” It is a chronicle with visuals.-ibid.,p.xi.

I passed the last thirteen years of my life

in over five thousand poems,

from the age of 43 to 56

while the Hanging Gardens,

the terraces,

the Mt. Carmel Project

was being constructed.

This was the sustaining pattern

behind the jumble of human existence;

this was the source of the great renewal.

This was what whipped up

the autumn leaves

into dancing forms

and kept at bay the world’s sadness.


Ron Price
30 May 2000

THIS NEW GREEN SHOOT

Art discovers and creates a new immediacy. It is an immediacy that is attained in the process of recollection. Images, concepts, ideas, long since known, find in the work of art, their sensuous representation. And so it is in the poetry that I write, the form of art assembles, determines and bestows order on matter so as to give it an end, definition, meaning. It is meaning, order in the service of sensibility and joy. This is achieved partly by bringing all of life, joy and sorrow, to a standstill; partly by giving the fleeting moment an enduring value; partly by transforming pain and anxiety into present pleasure and even entertainment. I see my poetry, too, as part of a reconstruction of the polis, not part of a partisan political poetry, but poetry in a wider political sense; as part of the total architecture of a new society where my poetry has a home, a place of significance, somewhere in the central square; part of the construction of a qualitatively new environment, by an essentially new type of human being, a human being I am striving myself to be; part of a new language, an artistic language as revolution, as separate from the Establishment, the traditional forces of the left and right. This seems to me absolutely necessary if the age of advanced barbarism and brutality, which has characterized our society in this century, is not to continue indefinitely.-Ron Price with appreciation to Herbert Marcuse, “Art in the One-Dimensional Society”, Radical Perspectives in Art, editor Lee Baxandall, Penguin, Baltimore, 1972, pp.53067.

Yes, Jean, the world is illusion1

just a semblance of reality

from which we must construct

the real reality,

the spiritual world

which is reflected in our midst.

This world is our means:

concrete, material, sensate,

of gaining access to that other world,

often subtle and always pervasive.

It is our school,

the schoolhouse of oneness,2

given us by that Master of Love.



Yes, Jean, there is

a staggering passivity,3

a preference for sport,

in the human drama,

in a hyperreality

where the system no longer

has control over the mass:

cynical, silent, defiant,

apathetic, it waits

for western civilization

to continue its long, long,

bottoming-out,

its rootless circulation,

as new roots spread

their tendrils,spread

their tendrils. For the

old tree has died,

smooth, bare wood

everywhere,

like a ghost on the horizon

and this new Green Shoot

and just stuck its head

above the ground:

some see it as an

unfolding magnificence.4


Ron Price
18 November 1999

1 Jean Baudrillard represents post-modernism in the social sciences better than anyone, some argue. His works remind us more of poetry. In a recent article on the Internet he referred to our immediate experience of the senses as “illusion”.
2 Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys, USA, 1952(1945), p.28.
3 Jean Baudrillard often alludes to the staggering passivity of the mass and the meaninglessness of the political process to that mass.
3 The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message, BE 156, reference to the nineteen terraces on Mt. Carmel.

THE I-THOU RELATION

The poet tries to give embodiment to spiritual life in language. He sees his poetry as enticement, as a literature of depths which grows roots and these roots fly. His words express an intense intimacy, an enchantment, an element of shock, of swoon, of bliss. If this he can not do, he at least sees his poetry in a musical metaphor: as the score and himself as the instrumentalist. If it is difficult to achieve a sense of music he at least sees his writing as part of that beginning which is, as Martin Buber put it, the relation, the I-Thou relation.-Ron Price with thanks to Edward Hirsch on Writers and Writing: ABC Radio, 25 January 1998, 7:30-8:20 pm.

Oh if only this too sullied flesh

could melt into a clear crystal dew

and gaze with these eyes forever

through what is fresh and sweet

and new onto these gardens and

terraces with their peculiar charm,

these sacred precincts where lies

embosomed that mausoleum, the

shell, the home of that Pearl of

Great Price where I would see

the holy of holies and feel that

air around that vault, that tabernacle

wherein the casket lies and the

sarcophagus and His holy dust.


Ron Price
26 January 1998

WALKING UP AND UP AND UP!

It was not the process of life that aroused him but taxonomy, listing one detail after another and writing was what he lived for, lived by, lived in. Some kind of almighty purpose seems to endow every atom of existence, as if for our training. It all began, he thought, in what we see, what we feel, the kindling of desire and the breeze of His loving-kindness being wafted upon our souls. Only in his writing and his writing alone would there be any testimony to this fact.-Ron Price with thanks to Alfred Kazin, 'On Thoreau', God and the American Writer, A.A. Knopf, NY, 1997, pp.53-55.

There's an entrapment in the solitude

of one's heart here, the only place where

obscuring dust and life's defilements

can find no trace and speech's poison

can not devour the soul. Here I wander

free on mountain side amidst terraces,

pillars and holiest of holies, the home

of the City of God, resplendent as the

morn, endowed, it would seem, with

a new eye, inhaling a fragrance, subtle

mysteries in the green gardens that

grow in this land of knowledge beside

the orient lights in the many mirrors of

names and attributes walking up and up.

Ron Price
6 June 1998

FIRST GLIMMERINGS OF LIGHT

Percy Bysshe Shelley began the poem 'The Triumph of Life' in 1822 in the spring. It was unfinished when he died on 8 July 1822. To Shaykh Ahmad , who was in the last several years of his ministry, there was no question what 'the life' meant, or what 'the triumph' would involve. Shelley's poem was as enigmatic to western literary critics as the mission and meaning of Shaykh Ahmad was to the masses in Iran. His poem suddenly breaks off in line 548.

I found many of the lines of Shelley's poem of inspirational value in contemplating the recent developments on Mt. Carmel often referred to by the Bahá'í community as the Mt. Carmel Project.
Ron Price

This old root1 which has grown

to an immense and strange distortion

out of the hill side, a celestial

implantation,2 culmination of the

spheres in this galactic sector and

which now with the weight of my

own words staggers me with weary

contemplation, at times, child of

a fierce hour who seeks to win this

world but, in the end, loses all it

does contain of greatness, with

hope transferred from earthy-rock

and mountain peak where power and

will rule in opposition, irreconcileable.



But while my eyes are sick of this

perpetual flow of people and sad

thought from day-to-day, there is

a golden seam of joy, a kindling

green, a gentle rivulet with its

calm sweep where sweet flowers

and wet stems, a scene of woods

and waters, a Light diviner than

the common sun and sounds

woven into one oblivious melody,

threading the forest maze with

winding paths of emerald fire

and dew, invisible rain, forever

seeming to sing a silver music

on a mossy lawn, a crystal

grass which whispers with

delight, enamoured as if in

dream, to kiss the dancing

foam, on a summer dancing

breeze...it is all emerging here

beside my path, this new Vision

surrounded by a savage and a

stunning music amidst a war

returning and triumphant

wilderness before me eyes,

always returning, tempest of

splendour and chaos, dance

and cheer.


This embroidery of flowers
that does enhance this grassy
vesture in the desert, this
moving chariot whose swift
advance is so still as to pose
no threat, as others gaze and
circle 'round it like the clouds
that swim round a high noon
in a bright sea of air or like
bubbles on an eddying flood
borne onward. And I among
a multitude am swept, my
sweetest flowers with the
thickest billows of this living
storm, and plunged with bare
bosom to the clime of this
holiest spot, love led serene
and awe of this wondrous story,
though the world can hear not
these sweet notes whose sphere
of light is melody to lovers

And so, the earth, though peopled
with dim forms which dance in a
thousand unimaginable shapes,
possesses now a marble brow of
youthful vision: terraces and eagles,
pillars, white and green on mountain
slope. Happy those for whom the fold
did fold and encompass in its eternity
fresh cool waters and fruits of being.

Ron Price
17 May 1998

1 civilization has often been a source of great evil
2 human beings, it is my philosophy, are at the apex of creation, possessed
as they are with the rational faculty.


That's all for now!
Back to:   Essays and poetry by Ron Price
Home Site Map Forum Links Copyright About Contact
.
. .