Monday, May 30, 2011

Elegant Things, Poetic Subjects

Have you read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon?  I remember referring to it quite often when I was writing the essays that comprise my book, Calm Things. A Pillow Book is similar to the 17th century Commonplace Books and an analogy has often been made between blogs and commonplace books.

Two passages in Sei Shonagon's book are particular favorites:

29. Elegant Things
A white coat worn over a violet waistcoat.
Duck eggs.
Shaved ice mixed with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl.
A rosary of rock crystal.
Wistaria blossoms. Plum blossoms covered with snow.
A pretty child eating strawberries.

43.  Poetic Subjects
The capital city.  Arrowroot.  Water-bur.  Colts. Hail. Bamboo grass. The round-leaved violet.  Club moss. Water oats. Flat river-boats.  The mandarin duck.  The scattered chigaya reed.  Lawns.  The green vine. The pear tree.  The jujube tree. The althea.

She also has entries for depressing things and hateful things.  Likely all of these headings would be good writing prompts.

And what about Calm Things:

Blue flowers in the spring.
Stones stacked on a window sill.
A very large glass of cold white wine sipped outdoors.
Grey sweaters.
A black dog in the warm grass.
Tibetan bells in a light breeze.
The scent of apple mint.
The yellow stains of marigolds on fingertips.

And you, what would you list as calm things, or elegant things?

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