Having it Out with Melancholy

LITHIUM CARBONATE | Li2CO3 – PubChem

2. BOTTLES

Elavil, Ludiomil, Doxepin,
Norpramin, Prozac, Lithium, Xanax,
Wellbutrin, Parnate, Nardil, Zoloft.
The coated ones smell sweet or have
no smell; the powdery ones smell
like the chemistry lab at school
that made me hold my breath.

—Jane Kenyon, “Having it Out with Melancholy” (excerpt)

Part One: Life

cf. Library Company of Philadelphia, “Frankford Creek and Vicinity, Winter” (ca. late 19th century) and
photograph by Peter Gonzalez via Unsplash

Ashes denote that fire was;
Respect the grayest pile
For the departed creature’s sake
That hovered there awhile.

Fire exists the first in light,
And then consolidates,—
Only the chemist can disclose
Into what carbonates.

Emily Dickinson

Another Lycidas

One hand she press’d upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain…

Keats, “The Fall of Hyperion”


cf. Antonio Gai, “Meleager” (1735) and Mathew Brady’s studio, “Unidentified Man” (ca. 1860)

“I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass…”

cf. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Landscape with dirt road and stone wall” (ca. 1900)

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass…

—Whitman, Song Of Myself