Notes to Poem:
The Letter W:
Wisdom & Wonder

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: After the poem "The M Showed Me" (6-4-1992), it took 14 yearsto compose more alphabet poems— "Empty as the Letter O" (7-8-2006), "X Marks the Spot" (8-8-2006), "The Letter B" (3-9-2011), "Why Everything Begins with M" (3-8-2013), "The Letter S" (10-25-2014), "The Letter A" (10-27-2014). William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams are among my favorite poets. With six "W"s in their names, it was easy to write this poem "The Letter W" containing 100 "w" words. My original file of these Notes were lost in the USB at Los Altos Library 8-28-2016). Using a hard copy (4 pages), these Notes were reconstructed in five days.
Twelve images from 2015 were no longer available, so new images were found to replace them.

Commentary on Poem "The Letter W":

Walking in the woods with William Wordsworth,
Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams,
I'm awed by these word wizards who take me
to writing wonderlands where winter wolves bark

William Wordsworth

Walt Whitman

William Carlos Williams

"Winter Wolves Bark"
by Mary Pettis
I answered "Why not!" to Whitman's "Who wishes to walk with me?" (Line 1319 in Leaves of Grass (1855 edition). Before
I knew it, William Wordworth and William Carlos Williams also came along for a walk in the wods. My favorite Wordsworth
poem is "Tintern Abbey" (July 13, 1798) which he wrote after a walking tour with his sister in the countryside on banks of the
River Wye (text). I feel his mystical rapture with Nature (lines 94-112): "And I have felt / A presence that disturbs me with the joy /
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime / Of something far more deeply interfused, / Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, /...
Therefore am I still / A lover of the meadows and the woods, / And mountains; and of all that we behold / From this green earth;
of all the mighty world."
My favorite Whitman poem is "When I heard the Learned Learn'd Astronomer" (1865): "In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, / Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars." Favorite Williams poem is "The Great Figure". Line 766 Whitman's Leaves of Grass"Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees".

Photo Sources: Wordsworth (; Walt Whiman (; William Carlos Williams (; "Winter Wolves Bark" (

at white chickens by the red wheelbarrow
wider and wider... wherever and whoever—
This is the happy Warrior, this is He
Who, whether praise of him walks this earth.

"Red wheelbarrow beside white chickens"
William Carlos Williams

"wider and wider they spread"
Walt Whitman

"Character of the Happy Warrior"
William Wordsworth
William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow" appeared as Poem XXII in Spring and All (1923)— "so much depends
/ upon / a red wheelbarrow // glazed with rain / water // beside the white / chickens." This poem is a prime example of
early 20th century Imagism. Poet John Hollander cited "The Red Wheelbarrow" as an excellent example of enjambment
to slow down the reader, creating a "meditative" poem. Line 1185 of Whitman's Leaves of Grass"Wider and wider they spread, expanding and always expanding". Line 65 in Whitman's "Great Are the Myth"— "Great is Life, real and mystical, wherever and whoever". Wordsworth's "Character of he Happy Warrior" (1806) was composed after the death of Lord Nelson, hero of the Napoleonic Wars. Near the end of the poem are found "This is the happy Warrior; this is he" (Line 86) and "Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth" (Line 77).

Image Sources: Red wheelbarrow (; "wider and wider" (; "Happy Warrior" (YouTube)

The wounded Fisher King's Wasteland waits
for Wonder Woman or White Knight to heal
his kingdom while Wicked Witch of the West
wrestles with the Wizard to control the world.

Wounded Fisher King

Wonder Woman

White Knight

Wicked Witch of the West

Merlin the Wizard
In Arthurian legend, the Fisher King or Wounded King, is the last in a long line charged with keeping the Holy Grail.
He is always wounded in the legs or groin, and incapable of moving on his own. His kingdom suffers as he does, his
impotence affecting the fertility of the land and reducing it to a barren wasteland (Celtic mythology; T.S. Eliot's 1922
poem The Wasteland). Knights travel from many lands to heal the Fisher King, but only the chosen can accomplish
the feat. This is Percival by Chrétien de Troyes (written 1181-1190). In later versions (circa 1225) by Wolfram von
, Parzival is joined by Galahad and Bors. For the sake of this "W" poem, I've substituted Wonder Woman
and White Knight who came to the rescue. Conjured up Wicked Witch of the West wrestling with Wizard Merlin
for "W" dramatic effects.
Image Sources: Wounded Fisher King (; Wonder Woman (;
White Knight (; Wicked Witch of the West (; Merlin the Wizard (

Walking in Wünderlich Park at Woodside
and the Eagle Trail at Windy Hill, I gather
wildflowers— Woodland Phlox, Watercress,
Whispering Bells to weave a wreath for healing.

Wünderlich Park
Woodside, California

Alambique Trail
in Wünderlich Park

Windy Hill Preserve
Portola Valley, California

Eagle Trail Signpost
Windy Hill Preserve

Creek along Eagle Trail
Windy Hill Preserve
Registered for Thomas McCarthy's Trail Hike Class (PHED 23A) at Foothill College that met Fridays (1-4 pm). We had
11 hikes in Spring Quarter (April 17-June 26, 2015). Our third hike was at Wünderlich Park in Woodside (May 1, 2015).
Our 11th hike was at Eagle Trail at Windy Hill in Portola Valley (June 26, 2015). The wildflowers with "W' names shown
below were not photographed on the hikes but gathered off the Web. I did see a lone Woodland Phlox on the Alambique
Trail of Wünderlich Park. "Picking or removing wildflowers or other natural material is prohibited" is a park regulations.
Thus, I never plucked any wildflowers on the trails to "weave a wreath fo healing" as Dürer did for his Melencolia Angel.

Woodland Phlox
Phlox divaricata

Whispering Bells

Nasturtium officinale

Watercress Wreath
on Melencolia Angel
Image Sources: Wünderlich Park Sign (A HREF=>; Alambique Trail ( Windy Hill Sign (; Eagle Trail Signpost (; Creek
along Eagle Trail (; Woodland Phlox (; Whispering Bells (; Watercress (; Wreath on
Melencolia Angel (

Dancing west coast swing to "Wade in the Water",
doing Sufi spins of the whirling dervishes,
waltzing with women whose mind-windows
are open to the Mysteries & Wisdom Portal—

West Coast Swing (4-3-2006)
Richard Kear & Melissa Rutz

Wade in the Water by Jenny Markley (2012)
Negro Spiritual (1901) Lyrics

Whirling Dervishes
Rumi's Sufi Whirling
I ballroom dance at Cubberley Pavilion in Palo Alto every Saturday night (9:15 pm-midnight). The West Coast Swing is
a partner dance in a slotted area on the dance floor. Basic pattern in WCS are Sugar Push, Left Side Pass, Right Side Pass,
Tuck Turn, and Whip. While one could hop around the floor in the East Coast Swing (Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, History),
I tell my partner to stay in the "railroad track" while dancing West Coast Swing. Just learned that "Wade in the Water"
music (Lyrics) to one of the West Coast Swing dances came from a Negro Spiritual (1901). While dancing the Hustle,
I like to improvise & add the Sufi spin (poem), spinning around four times to honor four elements of the ancient Greeks—
air, fire, water, earth, ending with wisdom mudra at my heart that Einstein loves to do. While folk dancing at MIT (1970s),
a professional dancer taught me to do small pivot steps while dancing the Viennese Waltz. Also hold your partner in the
V-shape like a spinning top turning both clockwise and counterclockwise. When done correctly, one feels the exhilaration
of the whole room spinning as if one is riding in a carousel. On some occasions, I'll meet a wonderful dancer who is also interested in spiritual mysteries. Then I tell them about Rumi, poetry, Dalai Lama, Einstein, enlightenment, and my web
site WisdomPortal on insight, inspiration, and illumination. Some dancers have become lifelong friends.

Viennese Waltz
Dancing in Vienna Palace

Open Mind
Magritte, Memoirs of a Saint (1960)

Mind Mysteries
Mysteries of Universe
Web site for insight & illumination
Image Sources: West Coast Swing (; Wade in the Waters (; Whirling Dervishes (; Viennese Waltz (; Open Mind (; WisdomPortal (;

wonderful friends along with those who share
Wind in the Willows, "Ode to the West Wind",
and Wen Fu— The Art of Writing, join forces
with Warriors of Light to conquer the darkness.

Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahme

Ode to the West Wind
By Percy Byshhe Shelley

Wen Fu: Art of Writing
By Lu Chi (261-303 AD)

Warrior Angel
Kenneth Grahme's Wind in the Willows (1908) is a children's novel. It focuses on four anthropomorphised animals in a
pastoral version of England. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and
celebrated for its evocation of Thames River. "Ode to the West Wind" is a poem by Percy Byshhe Shelley (1792-1822),
written in 1819 near Florence, Italy. Shelley concludes his "ode to the West Wind"— The trumpet of a prophecy!
O, Wind, / If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
— a poet's summoning of divine inspiration. Since Botticelli's
Primavera is in the Uffizi Gallery, Floence, perhaps Shelley saw this painting containing Zephyr, the West Wind, that
inspired his poem. Shelley is familiar with the Platonic tradition through Thomas Taylor's translation of Plato (1804).
Shelley translated Plato's work on erotic & sacred love Symposium (1818). Robert Bly used Sam Hamill's translation
of Lu Chi's
Wen Fu: The Art of Writing in his Asilomar Poetry Workshop (1988). A favorite passage is in Section IV:
"The pleasure a writer knows / is pleasure all sages enjoy. / Out of non-being, being is born; / out of silence, the writer
produces a song."
(Shih-Hsiang Chen's 1952 translation). In 1985, my 8-year-old niece Elisa introduced me to the
"Warriors of Light" in Chapter 5 of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (1963). The Warriors of Light fight the evil
of darkness include Jesus, Buddha, St. Francis, but also creative artists & scientists like Einstein, Euclid, Shakespeare,
Leonardo da Vinci, Beethoven, and Rembrandt. I was surprised to find "Warriors of Light" in Paul Brunton's Notebooks
(XII.5.6): "To attempt this book will be an adventure for the Warriors of Light, but the wanderers of night will put it
down with much celerity. For these pages are enchanted file:///Volumes/5-28-2015/InterestingNews.htmlwith a white magic which can inflict no greater injury on adversaries than to permit them to resist the principles contained therein."
Photo Sources: Wind in the Willows (; Ode to the West Wind (; Wen Fu (; Warrior Angel (

I call on Wang Yang Ming & Wei Wu Wei—
ask awakened sages on finding the Way—
Focus more on our within than without
as King Wên who saw the Way everywhere.

Wang Yang Ming

Wei Wu Wei

Ask the Awakened
by Wei Wu Wei (1963)

King Wen
(1152 BC-1046 BC))
Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529) is a favorite sage whom I've consulted often in his Instructions For Practical Living (1963). I bought a photo of his portrait at Harvard Fogg Art Museum (1970), and scanned it for my enlightenment page on his teaching that "the mind of a sage is like a clear mirror". Wei Wu Wei(1895-1986) is an Irish sage who was self-enlightened without any gurus. I recount my experience reading his books at the Cornell Library (1968) and Stanford Library (2008). I bought my first Wei Wu Wei book Ask the Awakened: The Negative Way (Online Archive) for $1.23 (35% of the cover price of $3.45) at Harvard Coop Bookstore bargain table (circa 1976). In Chapter 32, he advised "If we understood, we should be the without of a within". King Wen (1152 BC-1046 BC) wrote I Ching: The Book of Changes (1000 BC) with the Duke of Chou. Wang Yang Ming tells his students (p. 53) that "King Wen saw the Way everywhere." Image Sources: Wang Yang Ming (; Wei Wu Wei (; Ask the Awakened (; King Wen (

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs, Who, Mrs. Which from
A Wrinkle in Time bring me to a wishing well
near a waterfall where Waxing Moon grants me
three wishes when I offer Warm Welcome roses.

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who
Three Good Witches (Wrinkle in Time)

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle

Wishing Well Waterfall
Postcard Painting

Warm Welcome Roses
Climbing Vine Roses
My 8-year-old niece Elisa shared with me her favorite book A Wrinkle in Time (1963) when I moved to Palo Alto from
Boston (1985). Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who are the three good witches who are angelic beings with the
ability to travel at will across large stretches of time and space by dematerializing and rematerializing. They helped
Meg, Charlie, and Calvin find their father, kidnapped by dark forces on a distant planet. I imagine them leading me to
a wishing well near a waterfall where Waxing Moon grants me three wishes after I offer three Warm Welcome roses.
Image Sources: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who (; A Wrinkle in Time (; Wishing Well by Waterfall (;
Warm Welcome Roses (

Under W-shaped Cassiopeia stars
I wish for wings to inspire my poetry,
wisdom in my heart to do the Great Work,
and wonder to keep my mind fresh every day.

Cassiopeia Constellaton
with "W" stars formation
Photo by VegaStar Carpenter

Uruguay C59
Winged Horse Pegasus
(issued 8-20-1929)

Greece 395, Athena
Wisdom Goddess
(issued 4-17-1937)

U.S. 1285
Albert Einstein
(issued 3-14-1966)
Cassiopeia is a constellation in the northern sky named after vain queen Cassiopeia in Greek mythology, who boasted
about her unrivalled beauty. In spring & summer, it has a "W" shape, formed by five bright stars. It is bordered by
Andromeda to the south, Perseus to the southeast, and Cepheus to the north. It is opposite the Big Dipper. The system is
19 light-years from Earth. I pray for three wishes— wings to inspire my poetry (Pegasus, the winged horse, is symbol of
poetry and creator of sources in which poets come to draw inspiration), wisdom to do the Great Work (Athena, Greek
goddess of wisdom to help in the Alchemical Work), and wonder to keep my mind fresh every day (Albert Einstein's "Keep a holy curiosity"). Image Sources: Cassiopeia Constellation (; Uruguay C59 Pegasus (;
Greece 395 Athena (; U.S. 1285 Einstein (

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 3-16-2015
    Reconstructed 10-23-2020

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