Mercy Mercy Me

Jim Matchinga, “Roots” (Cincinnati Magazine, 1980)

Now this interconnection or adaptation of all created things to each and of each to all, means that each simple substance has relations which express all the others, and, consequently, that it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe.

— Leibniz, The Monadology
 

“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye

Mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap…

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself…

— Clement Clarke Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas
 

“Cool Yule” by Louis Armstrong

I come in last night about half past ten…

cf. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Man sitting with dog on front porch as woman looks through door…” (between 1860 and 1930)

“Move It On Over” — George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Saving Grace

Dick Swanson, “Artist On Bank Of The Schuylkill River” (1973)

I think that if I can get into the habit of writing a little about what happens, or rather doesn’t happen, I may lose a little of the sense of loneliness and desolation which abides with me. My circumstances allowing of nothing but the ejaculation of one-syllabled reflections, a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its yet to be discovered consolations. I shall at least have it all my own way and it may bring relief as an outlet to that geyser of emotions, sensations, speculations and reflections…so here goes, my first Journal!

—Diary of Alice James, May 31, 1889

“Everything Else” – Jennifer Damiano

ACT I, SCENE II: A café near the Duke’s palace.

The Finnish Museum of Photography, “The counter of a café at the new Centrum department store of Voima cooperative.” (detail) (1961)

What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue?
I cannot speak to her, yet she urged conference.
O poor Orlando! Thou art overthrown.

—As You Like It

“Magnet and Steel” – Walter Egan

“Once Again To Zelda”

Missouri Historical Society, “Capturing the City: Photographs from the Streets of St. Louis, 1900–1930 — Strand Motion Picture Theater entrance at 419 North Sixth Street featuring advertisement for the movie “Bootles’ Baby,” 1915. The large colorful poster catches the attention of the woman passing at far right.” (detail)

Darling, I’ve nearly sat it off in the Strand to-day and all because W.E. Lawrence of the Movies is your physical counter-part. So I was informed by half a dozen girls before I could slam on a hat and see for myself—He made me so homesick…

—letter from Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald, March, 1919

“Nay, if I mistake not, unity itself divided by zero equals infinity.”

Jack Corn, “The Cool Morning Air Condenses a Boy’s Breath as He Walks Along a Coal Car on His Way to School…” (1974)

“Nay, if I mistake not, unity itself divided by zero equals infinity.”

—Thomas Carlyle
 

“Flaming Youth” by Kiss

“You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”

cf. photograph by Alice Moore via Unsplash

“You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”

—Proust, Swann’s Way

“Follow the path your genius traces like the galaxy of heaven for you to walk in.”

Photograph by Skitterphoto via Pixabay

“…follow the path your genius traces like the galaxy of heaven for you to walk in.”

—Emerson, Greatness
 

“Highway Star” by Deep Purple

“I dwell in a lonely house I know…”

John Dillwyn Llewelyn, The Upper Fall (1853–56)

I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow…

–Robert Frost, Ghost House
 

‘Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone…

cf. Photograph by Arnel Hasanovic via Unsplash

‘Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone…

Romeo and Juliet

Dance you into daylight…

 

“Rock With You” • The Reflex Re√ision by The Reflex

“Thus oft the hour of parting seems more vivid than a sweet reunion”

Ernst Halberstadt, “Commonwealth Avenue between Arlington and Berkeley Streets” (1973)

The season’s final blossoms bring
More dear delight than buds of spring.
They stir in us a live communion
Of sorrowfully poignant dreams.
Thus oft the hour of parting seems
More vivid than a sweet reunion.

—Aleksandr Pushkin

“Is it not Tennyson who has said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost…”

Lejaren à Hiller, Fatima Cigarettes advertisement (ca. 1922)

…is it not Tennyson who has said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have lost at all?

—Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

CHAPTER XXXIX: Mr. Samuel Weller, being entrusted with a mission of love, proceeds to execute it; with what success will hereinafter appear…

Carol M. Highsmith, “Melodrama performance…” (detail)

CHAPTER XXXIX: Mr. Samuel Weller, being entrusted with a mission of love, proceeds to execute it; with what success will hereinafter appear…

–Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers
 

I Know A Little (Album Version) by Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Out of the cradle endlessly rocking…”

Keystone View Company, “In Olden Times…the Stork Would Bring a Baby Sweet and Fair” (1907)

“Out of the cradle endlessly rocking…”

—Walt Whitman

Seven Thirty Seven comin’ out of the sky
Oh! Won’t you take me down to Memphis on a midnight ride,
I wanna move…

 

Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars

Tom Hubbard, At the Tyler Davidson Fountain, in Fountain Square Downtown Cincinnati’s Popular Public Plaza, a Young Man Listens to the Radio with One Ear, Play of the Water with the Other (August, 1973)
 

American Top 40 Theme Music

“Feels at each thread, and lives along the line…”

The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line…

—Alexander Pope, Epistle I—Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe
 

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Nicolas Vigier, pinball (detail) (2009)

The World Is Too Much With Us

Charles O’Rear, Las Vegas street scene (1972)

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

–William Wordsworth

One time a thing occurred to me…

Time heals the wounds that no one can see

But if your heart,
Your heart has been broken
And you don’t wear it on your sleeve
No one can tell,
Your hell goes unspoken
But there’s one thing you must believe…

 

r-e-scaife-edit-1080

Untitled photograph by R. E. Scaife (ca. 1919)

“That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude wasting of old time…” (At The Louvre, August, 1984)

At The Louvre, August, 1984

Such dim-conceivèd glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.

–John Keats, On Seeing the Elgin Marbles (excerpt)

“As the birds did not take flight, he went to them…”

Börje Gallén, Woman and children feeding pigeons in Copenhagen in 1946 (1946)

“One time as [Saint Francis] was passing through the Spoleto valley, he came upon a place near Bevagna, in which a great multitude of birds of various kinds had assembled. When the holy one of God saw them, because of the outstanding love of the Creator with which he loved all creatures, he ran swiftly to the place. He greeted them in his usual way, as if they shared in reason. As the birds did not take flight, he went to them, going to and fro among them, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic…”

—Thomas of Celano, The Treatise on the Miracle of Saint Francis (The Francis Trilogy of Thomas of Celano, New City Press, 2004)

“His life was gentle, and the elements so mix’d in him…”

Börje Gallén, Fisherman and boy in Smygehuk (detail) (1954)

His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world “This was a man!”

—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual; I’ve noticed it too.”

cf. Carol M. Highsmith, Ominous clouds above Pine Bluffs… (2015)

Nat remarked upon it when hedging was finished for the day. “Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual; I’ve noticed it too. And daring, some of them, taking no notice of the tractor. One or two gulls came so close to my head this afternoon I thought they’d knock my cap off! As it was, I could scarcely see what I was doing when they were overhead and I had the sun in my eyes. I have a notion the weather will change. It will be a hard winter. That’s why the birds are restless.”

—Daphne du Maurier, The Birds

“I wonder if you ever read Dickens’ Christmas books?…”

Museum of Hartlepool, A Helping Hand

“I wonder if you ever read Dickens’ Christmas books?…I have only read two of them yet, and feel so good after them and would do anything, yes and shall do everything, to make it a little better for people. I wish I could lose no time; I want to go out and comfort some one…”

—Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Mrs. Sitwell (September, 1874)

“The Lady In The White Dress, Whom I Helped Into The Omnibus”

Charles O’Rear, Passengers view the scenery… (1974)

I know her not! Her hand has been in mine,
And the warm pressure of her taper arm
Has thrill’d upon my fingers, and the hem
Of her white dress has lain upon my feet,
Till my hush’d pulse, by the caressing folds,
Was kindled to a fever! I, to her,
Am but the undistinguishable leaf
Blown by upon the breeze — yet I have sat,
And in the blue depths of her stainless eyes,
(Close as a lover in his hour of bliss,
And steadfastly as look the twin stars down
Into unfathomable wells,) have gazed!
And I have felt from out its gate of pearl
Her warm breath on my cheek, and while she sat
Dreaming away the moments, I have tried
To count the long dark lashes in the fringe
Of her bewildering eyes! The kerchief sweet
That enviably visits her red lip
Has slumber’d, while she held it, on my knee, —
And her small foot has crept between mine own —
And yet, she knows me not!…

—Nathaniel Parker Willis, The Lady in the White Dress, Whom I Helped Into the Omnibus

It’s got what it takes
So tell me why can’t this be love?

“Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee…”

Frances Benjamin Johnston, Unidentified house. Iris along pathway (glass lantern slide, hand-colored) (between 1910 and 1935)

Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee…

—T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Where is the light from yesterday?
When you and I were unafraid
And lost inside a world we made…

“I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless…” (“Couldn’t I Just Tell You”)

cf. State Library and Archives of Florida, Northwood Mall on opening day (1969)

I could not find any sixpenny entrance and, fearing that the bazaar would be closed, I passed in quickly through a turnstile, handing a shilling to a weary-looking man. I found myself in a big hall girdled at half its height by a gallery. Nearly all the stalls were closed and the greater part of the hall was in darkness. I recognised a silence like that which pervades a church after a service. I walked into the centre of the bazaar timidly. A few people were gathered about the stalls which were still open. Before a curtain, over which the words Café Chantant were written in coloured lamps, two men were counting money on a salver. I listened to the fall of the coins.

Remembering with difficulty why I had come I went over to one of the stalls and examined porcelain vases and flowered tea-sets. At the door of the stall a young lady was talking and laughing with two young gentlemen. I remarked their English accents and listened vaguely to their conversation.
“O, I never said such a thing!”
“O, but you did!”
“O, but I didn’t!”
“Didn’t she say that?”
“Yes. I heard her.”
“O, there’s a … fib!”

Observing me the young lady came over and asked me did I wish to buy anything. The tone of her voice was not encouraging; she seemed to have spoken to me out of a sense of duty. I looked humbly at the great jars that stood like eastern guards at either side of the dark entrance to the stall and murmured:
“No, thank you.”

The young lady changed the position of one of the vases and went back to the two young men. They began to talk of the same subject. Once or twice the young lady glanced at me over her shoulder.

I lingered before her stall, though I knew my stay was useless, to make my interest in her wares seem the more real. Then I turned away slowly and walked down the middle of the bazaar. I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now completely dark.

Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.

–from Dubliners, James Joyce

Couldn’t I just tell you the way I feel?
I can’t keep it bottled up inside
And could we pretend that it’s no big deal
And there’s really nothing left to hide?

Tender Is The Night

Harris & Ewing, Young woman and man at automobile (1932 or 1933)

He went into the house, forgetting something he wanted to do there, and then remembering it was the piano. He sat down whistling and played by ear:

“Just picture you upon my knee
With tea for two and two for tea
And me for you and you for me–“

Through the melody flowed a sudden realization that Nicole, hearing it, would guess quickly at a nostalgia for the past fortnight. He broke off with a casual chord and left the piano…

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

“Time is the school in which we learn”

George Laur, Students on Their Way to Senior High School… (ca. 1975)

What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

–Delmore Schwartz, Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day (excerpt)

Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight…

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Flip Schulke, Vacationer From Ohio Relaxes near His Motorcycle… (ca. 1975)

“For me this is all mixed with memories that he doesn’t have. Cold mornings long ago when the marsh grass had turned brown and cattails were waving in the northwest wind…”

—Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I’ve been this way ten years to the day, ramble on…

“I don’t think there’s any point in being Irish if you don’t know that the world is going to break your heart eventually…”

Cecil Stoughton, President Kennedy and daughter Caroline (1963)

“WALKER: Is there any meaning you can find in what has happened?

MOYNIHAN: I suppose the point that cuts deepest is the thought that there may not be…We all of us know down here that politics is a tough game. And I don’t think there’s any point in being Irish if you don’t know that the world is going to break your heart eventually…”

—Excerpt from WTOP radio interview of Daniel Patrick Moynihan (December 5, 1963)

“The weather of depression is unmodulated…”

cf. Alfred Stieglitz, Reflections, night, New York (ca. 1897)

The night was blustery and raw, with a chill wet wind blowing down the avenues, and when Rose and I met Franchise and her son and a friend at La Lorraine, a glittering brasserie not far from L’Etoile, rain was descending from the heavens in torrents. Someone in the group, sensing my state of mind, apologized for the evil night, but I recall thinking that even if this were one of those warmly scented and passionate evenings for which Paris is celebrated I would respond like the zombie I had become. The weather of depression is unmodulated, its light a brownout.

—William Styron, Darkness Visible

“A show of the summer softness—a contact of something unseen—an amour of the light and air”

cf. Edward Steichen, On the house-boat–“The Log Cabin” (1908)

A show of the summer softness—a contact of something unseen
—an amour of the light and air,
I am jealous and overwhelm’d with friendliness,
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself.

—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

“It seems as though we were all on a boat now together…”

Walker Evans, Couple on Boat (1973–74)

“It seems as though we were all on a boat now together, a good boat still, that we have made but that we know now will never reach port. There will be all kinds of weather, good and bad, and especially because we know now that there will be no landfall we must keep the boat up very well and be very good to each other.”

—Ernest Hemingway, Letter to Gerald and Sara Murphy, March 19, 1935 on the death of their son.

Recollections Of Early Childhood

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower…

–William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood