“I was in love once — would you believe that?”

Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1978-79

“I, uh, I was in love once — would you believe that? But I possessed neither the courage nor the optimism — perhaps the depth of feeling — that you two have.”

— A Christmas Carol (1984)

Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now

collage including photograph from “Student Life” collection at UL Digital Library (1976) (detail) (edited)

No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change…

— Sonnet 123
 

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills & Nash

“the first return since undergraduate days twelve years previously…”

collage including video by Anatwell-Group via Pixabay (edited)

Another expedition took him to Cambridge, the first return since undergraduate days twelve years previously, where the young men all looked just the same in the university pubs and “the only alteration” was in himself…

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

Linda Bruner, “Rainy Night In Georgia”

“Seeking ache of memory here”

cf. Patricia D. Duncan, “…Schoolhouse, near Troy in the Northeast Corner of the State…” (1974) and
video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay

It shall be no trespassing,
If I come again some spring
In the grey disguise of years,
Seeking ache of memory here.

— Robert Frost, On the Sale of My Farm (excerpt)

Leaving On A Jet Plane

“behind the camera”

cf. Tom Hubbard, “Fountain Square…” (June, 1973)

behind the camera

as you were focusing
on your friend
smiling in his summer suit
next to the fountain
on that hot june afternoon in 1973
her heart was breaking
he had lost his way
fate and destiny
enkindled and unsettled
set in motion
held alone by gossamer threads
and if you look closely
someplace far away
I’m on my bicycle
riding as fast as I can

— J.S.

Sandy Cove

Say I’m growing old, but add…

John Collier, Jr., “Washington Hot Shoppe restaurant” (detail) (1941)

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

— Leigh Hunt

I Wanna Be With You

“Does the past live with me alone?”

Nationaal Archief, “Presents at the top of a car” (detail)

His Notebooks, increasingly filled with intricate technical speculations on science and theology, lose much of their intimacy. But, at least until 1820, they are also far less painful and unhappy, apart from the occasional visitation of the ghosts and wolves of memory and loss.

In December 1816, after a long metaphysical speculation on “the three Protoplasms, or primary Forms” of Gravity, Light and Water, he suddenly stopped short and wrote:

“ASRA. Written as of yore. Christmas 1816. ASRA. Does the Past live with me alone? Coleridge.”

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

This Shirt

Quote

Poem to my 18-year-old self

These sharp Springs
Matter most
After years
Will be time enough to sleep
Carefulness and tears

Now while life is raw and new,
Drink it clear, drink it deep!
Let the moonlight’s lunacy
Tear away your cautions…

Never fear,
Age will catch you…

Only graven in your soul
After all the rest is gone
There will be ecstasies,
These alone

— John Weaver, To Youth (excerpt)

“An autumn wind whistled around corners and gables.”

cf. C.M. Bell, “Unidentified man” (between 1873 and ca. 1916) and
John Rogers, “Rip Van Winkle Returned” (1871)

Then the rambling old house lay tightly wrapped in darkness and silence. Pride, hope, and fear all slept, while rain pelted the deserted streets and an autumn wind whistled around corners and gables.

— Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks

When You Were Young

Transfigured Night

Wild Strawberries (1957)

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table — Samsa was a travelling salesman — and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.

— Kafka, Metamorphosis

“tempus fugit”

Jack Corn, “Children During Recess…” (1974)

tempus fugit

nowadays
jobs
wives, husbands
houses
children
but I —
I was there
in that bright autumn dawn
on the playground
when we sparkled
and our dreams were the morning stars
still in the sky

— J.S.

Old Days

I sat upon the shore fishing, with the arid plain behind me

Ian Livesey, “Rainy rainy Manchester” (detail) (2015)

On Margate Sands
I can’t stop connecting
everything with everything
the present
with the past
the broken fingernails of dirty hands.
To Carthage I came, once, many years ago
burning
now dull roots with spring rain
stirring

— J.S.

Say Goodbye to Hollywood

“The past is a foreign country…”

August, 1984

To be sure, it is sheer madness… to return to the sites of one’s youth and try to relive at forty what one loved or keenly enjoyed at twenty. But I was forewarned of that madness… I hoped, I think, to recapture there a freedom I could not forget. In that spot, indeed, more than twenty years ago, I had spent whole mornings wandering… I was alive then.

— Camus, Return To Tipasa

“Free Man In Paris” — Joni Mitchell

I’m out here in the meadow

TV Commercial

All stood amazed, until an old woman, tottering out from among the crowd, put her hand to her brow, and peering under it in his face for a moment, exclaimed, “Sure enough! it is Rip Van Winkle—it is himself! Welcome home again, old neighbor—Why, where have you been these twenty long years?”

—Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle

“a closed book”

Camden Public Library, “The 6-masted schooner George W. Wells…” (detail) (ca. 1900)

a closed book

just for an instant
the future,
ionized and incandescent
split the sky
then was lost

—J.S.
 

G. F. Handel – Suite No. 2 – Adagio by Elina Christova

“returner”

cf. photographs by Noel Y. C., Artful Dioramas of North American Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History and Warren Wong via unsplash

returner

into the diorama
quickly by the buffalo
down the mountain
along the freeway
I flag down the driver
of a 1965 ford fairlane

—J.S.
 

“The Middle Ages” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Renaissance

Tom Hubbard, “…Troupes Dancing in the Square Are Joined by Young-In-Heart Spectator” (1973)

Thou shalt find
That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off forever…

King Lear

“Love Is Alive” – Gary Wright

On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye

cf. Provincial Archives of Alberta, “Vermilion Agricultural and Vocational College” (1970)

For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once…

—William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey…

Time Regained (Again)

Léonard Misonne, “By The Mill” (ca. 1905)

And Deering’s Woods are fresh and fair,
And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were,
I find my lost youth again.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “My Lost Youth” (excerpt)
 

“Yesterday Once More” – Carpenters

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear

Lyntha Scott Eiler, “Motorist Gets in Line for the Safety Lane at an Auto Emission Inspection Station…” (1975)

And so this storyteller will not be finished telling our Han’s story in only a moment or two. The seven days in one week will not suffice, nor will seven months. It will be best for him if he is not all too clear about the number of earthly days that will pass as the tale weaves its web about him. For God’s sake, surely it cannot be as long as seven years!

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

The Magic Mountain

Time, they say, is water from the river Lethe…

How long had Joachim actually lived up here with him, whether measured until his wild departure or taken as a whole? What had been the date on the calendar of his first defiant departure? How long had he been gone, when had he returned, and how long had Hans Castorp himself been here when he did return and then took leave of time? How long, to set Joachim aside for now, had Frau Chauchat not been present? How long, purely in terms of years, was it now since she was back again (because she was back again); and how much earthly time had Hans Castorp spent at the Berghof until the day she came back? In response to all such questions—assuming someone had posed them to him, which, however, no one did, not even he to himself, for he was probably afraid of posing them—Hans Castorp would have drummed his fingertips on his brow and most assuredly known no definite answer: a phenomenon no less disquieting than the temporary inability to tell Herr Settembrini his own age on his first evening here; indeed, it represented a worsening of that incapacity, for he now seriously no longer knew at any time just how old he was…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 


Flip Schulke, “Youths Congregate Around the Front Steps of a Home…” (ca. 1975);
Patricia D. Duncan, “…Schoolhouse…” (1974);
David Rees, “Students Arriving by School bus at Senior High School…” (1974);
William Strode, “The Ohio River” (1972)

“Some woman, who knows what that self was, in whom it still lives a little.”

cf. photograph by Yoann Boyer via Unsplash

“…the situation of the man of genius who, in some accursed hour of his youth, has bartered away the fondest vision of that youth and lives ever afterwards in the shadow of the bitterness of the regret…the fancy of his recovering a little of the lost joy, of the Dead Self, in his intercourse with some person, some woman, who knows what that self was, in whom it still lives a little.”

The Notebooks of Henry James

“No, we are all as old as we feel, but no older…”

cf. LIFE, 1968

…the sight of his own sharp features and grey hair plunged him in hopeless mortification; he made desperate efforts to recover the appearance and freshness of his youth and began paying frequent visits to the hotel barber. Enveloped in the white sheet, beneath the hands of that garrulous personage, he would lean back in the chair and look at himself in the glass with misgiving.

“Grey,” he said, with a grimace.

“Slightly,” answered the man. “Entirely due to neglect, to a lack of regard for appearances. Very natural, of course, in men of affairs, but, after all, not very sensible, for it is just such people who ought to be above vulgar prejudice in matters like these. Some folk have very strict ideas about the use of cosmetics; but they never extend them to the teeth, as they logically should. And very disgusted other people would be if they did. No, we are all as old as we feel, but no older, and grey hair can misrepresent a man worse than dyed. You, for instance, signore, have a right to your natural colour. Surely you will permit me to restore what belongs to you?”

“How?” asked Aschenbach.

For answer the talker washed his client’s hair in two waters, one clear and one dark, and lo, it was as black as in the days of his youth. He waved it with the tongs in wide, flat undulations, and stepped back to admire the effect…

—Thomas Mann, Death In Venice

The Folly Of Being Comforted

cf. Home Movie

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
“Your well beloved’s hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise,
Though now it’s hard, till trouble is at an end;
And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend.”
But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain;
Time can but make her beauty over again,
Because of that great nobleness of hers;
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways,
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.
O heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head,
You’d know the folly of being comforted.

–Yeats, The Folly of Being Comforted