cf. Video by cottonbro via Pexels and Gustave Caillebotte, “Paris Street; Rainy Day” (1877) (collage by me)
To smash the simple atom
All mankind was intent.
Now any day
The atom may
Return the compliment.
John Sapiro and I began our email correspondence about this little poem and the history of the atomic age a few months ago, before the early August anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but amidst the early chaos of the pandemic. It seemed almost ridiculous to be talking about yet another threat to worldwide health, peace, and humanity — and yet, it was the mood of the day. I couldn’t find an exact date for Ethel Jacobson’s poem, although it is in a book I have that has a copyright date of 1952. And so our conversation centered mostly around the cold war of the 1950s and 60s but veered around widely. We talked about the physicist Richard Feynman and his…
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cf. Videos by mohamed Hassan (storm) and Moshe Harosh (woman) both via Pixabay (edited collage by me)
THE LARGEST fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men,
An Occidental town,
Rebuilt another morning
To be again burned down.
— Emily Dickinson
cf. photograph by Toni Frissell, “Weeki Wachee spring, Florida” (underwater view of a woman, wearing a long gown, floating in water) (1947) and video (underwater seabed light) by motionstock via Pixabay (edited collage by me)
I placed my dream in a boat
and the boat into the sea;
then I ripped the sea with my hands
so that my dream would sink.
My hands are still wet
with the blue of the slashed waves,
and the color that runs from my fingers
colors the deserted sands.
The wind arrives from far away,
night bends itself with the cold;
under the water in a boat
my dream is dying away.
I’ll cry as much as necessary
to make the sea grow
so that my boat will sink to the bottom
and my dream disappear…
— Cecilia Meireles, “Song” (Tr. Giacomelli)
cf. Images by Ralf Vetterle (laser) and alan9187 (woman) both via Pixabay (3D edited collage by me)
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1958) (edited collage by me)
Time’s on the wing,
Life never knows the return the spring.
— John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1964) and Maclean’s Magazine (1961)
If seriously I may convey my thoughts
In this my light deliverance, I have spoke
With one that in her sex, her years, profession,
Wisdom, and constancy hath amazed me more
Than I dare blame my weakness…
— All’s Well That Ends Well
Video And Photograph Collage By Me (1978)
cf. Toni Frissell, “Woman and man lying on a dock” (ca. 1969) and video by 5239640 via Pixabay (edited, modified and collage recomposition by me)
Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
cf. Christina Rossetti, A Daughter of Eve (excerpt) and video by me
cf. Richard Avedon, “Carmen, Homage To Munkacsi, Coat By Cardin, Place François-Premier, Paris” (ca. 1957) and Horst Ehricht, “All the rage in Paris” (Maclean’s Magazine, 1977)
cf. photograph by Thomas J. O’Halloran, “The Plum disco dancing [1119 21st St. NW]” (1977) and
video by Luiz-Jorge-Artista via Pixabay (edited and recomposed collage by me)
go away, you bitter cuss. it’s still 1980 somewhere, some corner
of your dark apartment
where the mystery of the lyric hasn’t faded. and love is in the
chorus waiting to be born
— D. A. Powell, meditating upon the meaning of the line “clams on the halfshell and rollerskates” in the song “good times” by chic (excerpt) (Poetry, September 2006)
poem and photograph by me
cf. TV commercial (ca. 1987)
Alas! is even love too weak To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Ah, love, let us be true To one another!
Bright are the stars that shine Dark is the sky
Love seeketh not itself to please,
If thou must love me, let it be for nought Except for love’s sake only
And to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him.
She knew she was by him beloved
All passions, all delights, Whatever stirs this mortal frame, All are but ministers of Love,
And in Life’s noisiest hour, There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,
Love is not a feeling to pass away
My heart’s so full of joy, That I shall do some wild extravagance
Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.
You who suffer because you love, love still more.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever
I love thee, as the good love heaven.
Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.
Imparadis’d in one another’s arms.
Love is the crowning grace of humanity,
Not grace, or zeal, love only was my call,
Love’s too precious to be lost,
We love but while we may
Love will conquer at the last.
Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.
To see her is to love her, Oh my luve’s like a red, red rose,
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969) and The Mechanical & Landscape Photo Co., “bedroom interior…” (ca.1870)
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain…
cf. Toni Frissell, “Fashion model underwater…” (1939) and video by Relaxing_Guru via Pixabay (edited, modified, and combined recomposition)
The track curved and now it was going away from the sun which, as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath. He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
cf. photographs of Frances Benjamin Johnston by Frances Benjamin Johnston (ca. 1888)
cf. magazine advertisements
cf. Photograph by Shane Rounce (detail) via Unsplash and CGI by pixel shox
i stepped back into time
waded into the same river twice
you know, nick had some really good advice for gatsby
it’s easy to get lost
true love chancer
gone again spacer
cf. Library of Congress, “King’s Highway (Remains)”
here and gone
found and lost…
cf. John Singer Sargent: Madame X, Dr. Pozzi at Home, and The Dinner Table (edited and rearranged collage)
Scott, your last fragments I arrange tonight,
Assigning commas, setting accents right,
As once I punctuated, spelled and trimmed
When, passing in a Princeton spring—how dimmed
By this damned quarter-century and more!—
You left your Shadow Laurels at my door.
That was a drama webbed of dreams: the scene
A shimmering beglamored bluish-green
Soiled Paris wineshop; the sad hero one
Who loved applause but had his life alone;
Who fed on drink for weeks; forgot to eat,
“Worked feverishly, ” nourished on defeat
A lyric pride, and lent a lyric voice
To all the tongueless knavish tavern boys,
The liquor-ridden, the illiterate;
Got stabbed one midnight by a tavern-mate—
Betrayed, but self-betrayed by stealthy sins—
And faded to the sound of violins…
— Edmund Wilson, from the Dedication to “The Crack-Up” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
cf. National Geographic Magazine, 1954
cf. Popular Mechanics, 1974 (edited collage)
cf. edited digital collage featuring photograph by Simon Migaj (man in jacket reaching) via Unsplash
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.
— Shelley, “Music when Soft Voices Die (To –)”
Just once in a very blue moon
And I feel one comin’ on soon…
cf. edited collage featuring photograph by Sasha Freemind (man at window) via Unsplash
never give in, never give in, never, never, never…
— Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941, Harrow School
cf. photograph by Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay and video by MixailMixail via Pixabay (edited collage)
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
cf. Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Michelangelo (modeled before 1883) and
photograph by Nathan Fertig via Unsplash (edited collage)
Lenehan walked on again. He lifted his yachtingcap and scratched his hindhead rapidly. He glanced sideways in the sunlight at M’Coy.
—He’s a cultured allroundman, Bloom is, he said seriously. He’s not one of your common or garden … you know … There’s a touch of the artist about old Bloom.
cf. photograph by guvo59 via Pixabay (edit) and video by McZerrill via Pixabay (edited collage)
The carriage swerved from the tramtrack to the smoother road past Watery lane. Mr Bloom at gaze saw a lithe young man, clad in mourning, a wide hat.
—There’s a friend of yours gone by, Dedalus, he said.
—Who is that?
—Your son and heir.
—Where is he? Mr Dedalus said, stretching over across.
The carriage, passing the open drains and mounds of rippedup roadway before the tenement houses, lurched round the corner and, swerving back to the tramtrack, rolled on noisily with chattering wheels. Mr Dedalus fell back, saying:
—Was that Mulligan cad with him? His fidus Achates!
—No, Mr Bloom said. He was alone…
Looking for something lost in a past life…
— Joyce, Ulysses
cf. Library Company of Philadelphia, “Wissahickon Creek” (detail) and
photograph by Bob Canning via Unsplash (edited collage)
Super Bowl V ½
the ultrablue winter twilight
and my huge snowsuit
as the ball sailed over the clothesline
cf. photograph by Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash and video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay (edited collage)
My blue dream…
— Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon
I remember the feeling…
cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
and then I touch ground
cf. Nancy Ford Cones, “Mending The Net” (ca. 1912) and John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott (1888)
…trying as usual to get my picture of myself straight.
— Robert Lowell, Near the Unbalanced Aquarium
Dowland — Book of Songs, Book 1: “All ye whom love or fortune hath betrayed” (David Munderloh)
cf. Nationaal Archief, “Underneath a parasol” (1933) (edit)
Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory…
— Joyce, from Dubliners
cf. Edgar Allan Poe, “To One in Paradise”
cf. photograph by pieroor via Pixabay and video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay (edited collage)
This terrible repetition of resolution and failure — like one of the endless, circular punishments of Dante’s “Inferno” — shaped much of what happened in the second part of his life. Yet he never stopped resolving, and this dogged determination to battle on also became characteristic and took him through experiences that few of his contemporaries shared or even remotely understood…
— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections
cf. LIFE, 1967
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
— Sonnet CXVI
cf. John C. Higgins, “Man in Bottle” (detail) (ca. 1888) and
video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay (edited collage)
Every man must take the measure of his own strength. I may, I do, regret my want of fortitude; but so it is, that incurable depression of Spirits, Brooding, Indolence, Despondence, thence Pains and nightly Horrors…
— Letter from Coleridge to Daniel Stuart quoted in Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections
cf. photograph and video via Pixabay (edited collage)
through the too many miles
and the too little smiles
I still remember you
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
when time held me
between two worlds
I can still recite
Left: Nationaal Archief, “Youngsters having a good time” (1961)
Right: Joseph B. Bergstresser, “Unidentified group playing cards” (ca. 1860-1900)
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)
cf. Ladies’ Home Journal, 1985 and video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay
could i if
time in back go could i if
and night that to back go would i
forever there stay
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
— Edgar Allan Poe, “Alone” (excerpt)
cf. video by abele62 and silhouette by geralt both via Pixabay (edited collage)
on that window frame
Love brought me here…
— Dante, Inferno
Everything returns again
Both the laughter and the rain
She is living somewhere far away…
— The Left Banke, “Desiree”
cf. photograph by Erik Witsoe via Unsplash (edited) and video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay (edited)
cf. photograph by Sophia Baboolal via Unsplash and video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited)
I can see them at this moment, those mountain meadows, if I rise from my writing-table, and open the old barred valves of the corner window of the Hotel Bellevue;—yes, and there is the very path we climbed that day together, apparently unchanged. But on what seemed then the everlasting hills, beyond which the dawn rose cloudless, and on the heaven in which it rose, and on all that we that day knew, of human mind and virtue,—how great the change, and sorrowful, I cannot measure, and, in this place, I will not speak.
— John Ruskin, Praeterita
Nationaal Archief, “Festive lights in Amsterdam”
for I walked down the sidestreets
with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon
whispered lunar incantations
dissolved the floors of memory
a fever, longing still —
absence seems my flame
I am as steadfast as thou art
cf. videos via Pixabay (edited)
The enormous changes that we see in Ruskin, the Ruskin of Herkomer’s portrait, were caused by events which took place between February 14 and April 23, 1878. It was during this period that he experienced his first bout of full-blown insanity. Five more were to follow.
At the top of a blank page in his diary, Ruskin wrote of this period:
“February, — to April — the Dream”
— Wolfgang Kemp, The Desire of My Eyes
cf. Alfred Stieglitz, “Picasso-Braque Exhibition” (1915) and
Frank Waller, “Interior View of the Metropolitan Museum of Art…” (detail) (1881)
and never out of style
speaking of Michelangelo!
beautiful truth, truth in beauty
cloudless climes and starry skies
dark and bright
meet in her eyes
cf. Carol M. Highsmith, “Tremont Street, Boston” (between 1980 and 2006) and
video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited)
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
— Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring and Fall
cf. LIFE, 1970