Shinto – Jorge Luis Borges

When sorrow lays us low
for a second we are saved
by humble windfalls
of mindfulness or memory:
the taste of a fruit, the taste of water,
that face given back to us by a dream,
the first jasmine of November,
the endless yearning of the compass,
a book we thought was lost,
the throb of a hexameter,
the slight key that opens a house to us,
the smell of a library, or of sandalwood,
the former name of a street,
the colors of a map,
an unforeseen etymology,
the smoothness of a filed fingernail,
the date we were looking for,
the twelve dark bell-strokes, tolling as we count,
a sudden physical pain.

Eight million Shinto deities
travel secretly throughout the earth.
Those modest gods touch us–
touch us and move on.

Edward Hopper, A Woman in the Sun:


16 thoughts on “Shinto

  1. Jennifer says:

    A good reminder in midwinter to look for the small things to keep us going. All the very best to you for 2015. xx

  2. Bill says:

    Yes. I particularly like “the smell of a library” — but I’m biased, eh?

    The important phrase to note is “for a second”. Sorrow passes — but only if we allow it to pass. It’s funny: I’ve never been able to hold on to joy, but sorrow? It easy to hold on to that indefinitely.

    • artmodel says:


      Another translation of this poem had “for an instant” instead of “for a second”. No significant difference between the two obviously, but the words have a slight variance. In the original Spanish, Borges used the word “segundo” which does means “second”.

      And I agree with you about sorrow versus joy. Sorrow has a pesky way of lingering … and lingering.

      Thanks for your comments. Cheers for libraries! 🙂


  3. Andrew says:

    I imagine that sunny spot in the room feels nice and warm.

  4. fredh1 says:

    I love the phrase “humble windfalls”. May we always find joy in those!

  5. Dave says:

    My reaction to the Hopper was a little different. I wondered how that poor woman withstood a pose that required her to look into the sun without shades. Becoming a model has definitely changed how I react to figurative work.

    • artmodel says:


      My reactions changed too after I became an art model. The woman in this painting is Hopper’s wife Josephine. In fact, she serves as the female figure in many of his works. Let’s hope the artist himself – her husband – gave her enough breaks during pose sessions!

      Thanks for your comments.


  6. Jennifer says:


    Hope you’re tucked up safely inside and rugged up warm against ‘Snowmageddon’! It sounds like NYC has a handle on dealing with it all and hopefully the thaw won’t be too drastic. Obviously it’ll cause a break in your modelling schedule, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the enforced break. Take care!

    Jennifer xxx

    • artmodel says:


      Yes, my scheduled modeling at Grand Central Academy was cancelled for Tuesday. So I had a day off, a good portion of which was spent shoveling snow! Luckily NYC didn’t get pounded as badly as predicted. Our Governor shut down the entire subway system which wasn’t necessary at all. Parts of New England and eastern Long Island, however, got hit much worse than us.

      Thanks for your concern and your comments! Hope all is well across the pond 🙂


  7. Jim O'Neil says:

    Delightful combination, the poem and the picture.
    -40° right now. There doesn’t that make your weather seem a lot nicer, Claudia? -grin-

    • artmodel says:

      Jim, it certainly does! 40 below, oh my.

      By the way, it’s nice to hear from you! I’ve missed you. Hope you’ve been well! Thanks for commenting 🙂


  8. Dr. Jone Dae says:

    Borges and Hopper are two of my favorites!

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