Alfred Lord Tennyson

For a long time, I just had this title sitting in my drafts box. Today I finally approached it.

Poetry and poems grow with you, some stay longer than others, some come and go, some you even forget, and some stay with you forever.

In my case Neruda and Cavafy are both engraved in my memory since my college days. Also, from my days in university, Tennyson, but he drifted out, like the many poets in the massive Victorian Prose and Poetry book we studied. Some lines stayed with me, like “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” from In Memoriam A.H.H.

But a few lines kept re-visiting me, like messages from a distant shore. When I left Spain in 2005, I memorized the whole poem, to recite it to my friends during the farewell dinner (at Alfredo’s, of course).

Then, every Summer, at my mother’s country house I reach for that big old book and search for that poem, and read it, and more often than not, cry.

Yes, the poem is famous, yes, Frasier recited it in his farewell from his TV show, and yes, M recites it in a recent James Bond film, but that does not make it any less good. On the contrary, it is a testament to the quality of the poem.

Here it is, enjoy. (If you are pressed for time, the final 15 lines are the most well known, I have marked the spot with an *.)

And if you would rather listen to the poem click here, it is a 5 minute listen.


It little profits that an idle king,

By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole

Unequal laws unto a savage race,

That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink

Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d

Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those

That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when

Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades

Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;

For always roaming with a hungry heart

Much have I seen and known; cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments,

Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;

And drunk delight of battle with my peers,

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’

Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades

For ever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life

Were all too little, and of one to me

Little remains: but every hour is saved

From that eternal silence, something more,

A bringer of new things; and vile it were

For some three suns to store and hoard myself,

And this gray spirit yearning in desire

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

         This is my son, mine own Telemachus,

To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—

Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil

This labour, by slow prudence to make mild

A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees

Subdue them to the useful and the good.

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

Of common duties, decent not to fail

In offices of tenderness, and pay

Meet adoration to my household gods,

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:

The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep

Moans round with many voices. * Come, my friends,

‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Happy second birthday Film Club!!

Well, what an honor it is to celebrate the second anniversary of Film Club! It is such a pleasure to sit (in the interweb) with three brilliant film lovers and just talk about the 7th art. It is one of the highlights of the month for me. If the weather cooperates, I will set up on my back porch, prepare some cheese, crackers, a little vino, a square of chocolate and a cigar. Then sit back and enjoy the meeting. We take turns talking about each movie. Of course, the best bits are when we disagree. By now we have a good sense of who is going to like which films, so we have an excellent rapport.

This month we are slowing down a bit to only two films: Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and the American Western it inspired: The Magnificent Seven.

And the movies! Every month exploring four films in whatever genre we choose for our turn. I ventured off from a genre in July, to explore Meryl Streep’s acting. It was sad we could only watch four of her films, August Osage County was so good I wrote about it here. Another innovation this year was inviting a guest curator, Russian Literature, Film, and Culture professor Anthony Anemone (yes, he is the dad of one of our members) who recommended four brilliant films and had a great presentation for each.

I would write more about the films we watch every month, but I do not want this blog to be a film review blog, there are plenty of those and only one with my silly stories, so there.

Here is what we have watched this year. (For last year’s list, click here)

War (March)

Bridge over the River Kwai (1957)

The Deer Hunter (1978)

Come and See (1985)

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Crime and Punishment (April)

The Killing (1956)

Dirty Harry (1971)

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2006)

Un Prophete (2009)

Art (May)

Tambien la Lluvia (2010)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Mr. Turner (2014)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)

Meryl Streep (July)

Kramer vs Kramer (1979)

Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Julie & Julia (2009)

August: Osage County (2013)

Fantasy (August)

Princess Mononoke (1995)

Tale of Tales (2015)

A Monster Calls (2016)

The Green Knight (2021)

The System is Broken (September)

Brazil (1985)

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

The White Tiger (2021)

Spy (October)

Dr. No (1962)

The Lives of Others (2006)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

An Officer and a Spy (2019)

RomCom (November)

Roman Holiday (1953)

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

The Birdcage (1996)

Punch Drunk Love (2002)

Childhood (December)

Paper Moon (1973)

Stand by Me (1986)

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonlight (2016)

Russian/Polish as Curated by Tony Anemone (January)

Taxi Blues (1990)

Hipsters (2008)

Ida (2013)

Leviathan (2014)

Documentaries (February)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

Icarus (2017)

Gunda (2020)

Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds (2020)

Women (March Women’s month)

Todo Sobre mi Madre (1999)

Lady Bird (2017)

Revenge (2017)

TAR (2022)

South Florida does have a redeeming quality: the ocean.

It is a well-known fact that South Florida is a suburban wasteland, with crazy development (Florida does not have income tax, so they compensate it with property tax, thus the constant building…). As you drive through South Florida it is golf course after residential development after shopping strips, again and again, for mile upon mile… However, there is one massive redeeming quality, yes you guessed it: the ocean.

I am privileged to live walking distance from the beach, and I try to go two or three times a week.

If it is my cardio day and the tide is low, I will go for a run on the beach. Alternatively, if it is my cardio day and the water conditions are good -something rare here, since there is usually rip tide warnings, Portuguese Man-O-War, chop, etc. etc.- I will go for an open water swim of about a mile.

On Sunday evenings, before yoga, I will go for a walk/meditation and with a big bucket, clean up the beach. The amount of trash one picks up is crazy, check out my report here.

At the beginning of the year a dear colleague took me Stand Up Paddling in the Intracoastal (read about it here), but recently we have been going out on the beach and actually surfing!! Although I have much to learn and I have only caught baby waves, it is great fun!!

In a very generous act. Fr. George gifted me the board I have been using recently, what an honor!

Finally, occasionally, I will just go for a walk on the beach, no bucket for picking up trash, no running, just a nice walk.

So, as much as I complain about Florida, I do love getting out on the water, or at least running next to it.

Preparing for the Camino, and Santiago The Journey Within

If you type “preparing for the Camino” on the Interweb you are going to get hundreds, maybe thousands of articles and videos on what to pack for the Camino, how to get in shape for the Camino -guilty as charged, even I have written about this. What you are less likely to find is how to really prepare for the Camino, not for the exterior journey, folks in the Middle Ages did it without Gore-Tex, superhightech gear, and without cellphones, but for the interior journey, the one you do not need any gear for.

Yes, there is some overlap: the less you pack, the happier your body will be and not surprisingly, the happier your soul, you, are going to be.

Basically you want to get your mind and your soul (your mind, unfortunately- if you have cleared your head and are living in the present moment, good for you!). So if you have to ask forgiveness, do so before you leave, if you have to settle things, try to do so beforehand. Again, the lighter you travel, the better.

Back in the Middle Ages, there were some guidelines about preparing for the spiritual journey, which have been lost, since the Camino became a bit of a hippie, gofindyourself trek in the early eighties.

My dear Richard Rohr recently wrote about pilgrimage in his daily meditations (if you are not yet receiving them sign up here) and he mentioned the Medieval tradition:

First of all, you had to make amends with everyone you had ever wronged. Also, if you went on pilgrimage holding any kind of unforgiveness, it could not be a good pilgrimage. You couldn’t leave your town until you’d forgiven everyone who’d ever wronged you. Certainly, this is an attitude that we can pray for at the beginning of any pilgrimage: that God would keep our hearts open and loving, because a pilgrimage can’t just be a tourist trip. The meaning of a pilgrimage is an interior journey. Primarily, it’s an interior journey enacted exteriorly.”

Secondly, and a practical, interesting thing, is that if they were going to go on pilgrimage, pilgrims had first to ask permission of their wife, husband, and family. The idea was that they had to leave everything in right relationship at home. If they had any material debts, they also had to pay those before they left. They couldn’t go on pilgrimage until their spiritual and physical debts were paid, and they had permission from all the right people.

Next, they had to go to confession before leaving. Sometime in the course of a pilgrimage, celebrating some kind of reconciliation was deemed very appropriate. Again, there’s that cleansing, that letting go. Perhaps those of us who’ve already been down to the Grotto [1] have seen the basin of water on the far end with the words that Mary spoke to Bernadette. It states, “Go wash your face and cleanse your soul.” What a symbol of reconciliation! It’s a prayer. Above all else, pilgrimage is praying with your body, and it’s praying with your feet. It’s an exterior prayer, and the exterior prayer keeps calling you into the interior prayer.

Rohr writes a week’s worth of content which you can check out here.

As I was thinking about this blog post, my students invited me to see Santiago The Journey Within, a reflection more than a documentary on the Camino. The film, led by Bishop Donald J. Hying, has beautiful photography and music, but sadly lacks a narrative, a connecting thread which makes it difficult to immerse oneself in the film. Also the last 45 minutes of the film is just Bishop Hying talking about the Camino at a university conference. Beautiful words, but less than gripping action.

There you have it. Make sure your mind is ready as much -if not more- than your backpack!

¡Buen Camino!

PS: If you are really into this, you can read Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture by Victor Turner and Edith Turner.