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A Spiritual Almanac: “I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown” by Delmira Agustini

Feb 20, 2021

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The Uruguayan poet, Delmira Agustini, published her first volume of poems when she was a teenager. She would go on to inspire an entire generation of South American writers before dying a tragic and violent death.

Delmira Agustini’s works often feature Eros — the Greek god of love — as the protagonist, and she frequently wrote about female sexuality at a time when the literary scene was dominated by men. Her attention to the feminine led one of her peers to compare Agustini to the Christian mystic, Teresa of Avila, saying that Agustini was the only woman since Teresa to truly expresses herself as a woman.

She married in 1913 and divorced less than a year later. A month after the divorce her ex-husband ended her life by shooting her twice in the head. Agustini was just 27 years old.

For today’s inspiration, we’re looking at an Agustini poem that talks about the pain we experience whenever we exercise the courage to love another. It’s a piece titled, “I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown.”

 

I LIVE, I DIE, I BURN, I DROWN

By Delmira Agustini

I live, I die, I burn, I drown 
I endure at once chill and cold 
Life is at once too soft and too hard 
I have sore troubles mingled with joys 

Suddenly I laugh and at the same time cry 
And in pleasure many a grief endure 
My happiness wanes and yet it lasts unchanged 
All at once I dry up and grow green 

Thus I suffer love’s inconstancies 
And when I think the pain is most intense 
Without thinking, it is gone again. 

Then when I feel my joys certain 
And my hour of greatest delight arrived 
I find my pain beginning all over once again.

More nuggets for today:

In 1499, the German mathematician and astronomer, Johannes Stoffler, predicted a global flood would occur on this day in 1524.

He based his prediction on planetary alignments associated with the astrological sign of Pisces and convinced a German count to build a three-story ark, not unlike Noah from the book of Genesis. Incredibly, when the count boarded the ark on the predicted day, it began to rain. The rainstorm turned out to be a dud, but the gathered crowd panicked and hundreds reportedly died as they stampeded the ship. When the count refused to let them come aboard, the crowd dragged him off the ark and stoned him to death.

And in a weird historical twist, on this day 469 years later, CBS aired a special called The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark.

A whopping 20 million viewers tuned in to watch George Jammal claim he’d seen the ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey and brought home a piece of wood from it. Later, it was discovered that Jammal had never even been to Mount Ararat and a biblical scholar admitted to helping him invent the entire thing.

Today is also the birthday of the legendary landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, in 1902.

Adams was a restless child and he was kicked out of several schools for being inattentive. His father eventually pulled him out of school altogether and hired private tutors to educate him.

But when he was 17, Adams joined the Sierra Club and landed a job as the summer caretaker of a Sierra Club facility at Yosemite. During summers, he spent his time hiking, camping and taking photographs of the natural world — a passion that would ultimately define his life.

Adams is best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West. He founded a group of like-minded photographers called “Group f/64.” Group members promoted “pure photography” and developed techniques to sharpen the clarity and focus of images — resulting in a style of photography that has a haunting and even spiritual quality.

Speaking about his uncanny ability to capture some of the most impressive landscape images ever recorded, Adams joked that he had divine help. He said:

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”

 Adams died in 1984 at the age of 82, but his work lives on through a trust that bears his name.

 Finally, our wise word for the day come to us from the nineteenth-century Dutch painter, Vincent van Gogh. He said:

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

So, let’s raise a glass to today’s small things.

And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.

Download today’s episode of “A Spiritual Almanac” at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart and everywhere else you find your favorite podcasts.

Thanks for listening. Until next time, be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.

“I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown” by Delmira Agustini. Public domain.

Download episodes of “A Spiritual Almanac” podcast at https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

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