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

Who goes with Fergus?

8 1/2 (1963)

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

—W. B. Yeats, Who goes with Fergus?

His head halted again for a moment at the top of the staircase, level with the roof:

Don’t mope over it all day, he said. I’m inconsequent. Give up the moody brooding.

His head vanished but the drone of his descending voice boomed out of the stairhead:

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery
For Fergus rules the brazen cars.

—James Joyce, Ulysses

“With tears, and pray’rs, and late-repenting love…” (Solaris and the Aeneid)

Left: Solaris (1972)
Right: Bartolomeo Pinelli, Aeneas and the shade of Dido (detail)

“She probably sensed that I didn’t really love her. But now I do…”

Solaris (1972)

With tears, and pray’rs, and late-repenting love…

–Virgil, The Sixth Book of the Aeneis

“She tiptoed very early the next morning into Lytton’s bedroom…”

“Planning to pay him out she tiptoed very early the next morning into Lytton’s bedroom, taking a pair of scissors with which she intended to snip away his beard while he slept. It was to be one of those devastating practical jokes of which she was so fond – a perfect revenge for his audacity. But the plan misfired. As she leant over him, Lytton opened his eyes and looked at her. It was a moment of curious intimacy, and she, who hypnotized so many others, was suddenly hypnotized herself.”

—Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey: The New Biography

She’s a wizard with her sheers
She’s been turning heads for years…

 

Van Stephenson – “Modern Day Delilah”

 

“If she is well and happy, put a mark thus +; if—…”

Bright Star – Official Trailer [HD] – YouTube

The persuasion that I shall see her no more will kill me. My dear Brown, I should have had her when I was in health, and I should have remained well. I can bear to die — I cannot bear to leave her. Oh, God! God! God! Every thing I have in my trunks that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear. The silk lining she put in my travelling cap scalds my head. My imagination is horribly vivid about her — I see her — I hear her. There is nothing in the world of sufficient interest to divert me from her a moment. This was the case when I was in England; I cannot recollect, without shuddering, the time that I was a prisoner at Hunt’s, and used to keep my eyes fixed on Hampstead all day. Then there was a good hope of seeing her again — Now! — O that I could be buried near where she lives! I am afraid to write to her — to receive a letter from her — to see her handwriting would break my heart — even to hear of her anyhow, to see her name written, would be more than I can bear. My dear Brown, what am I to do? Where can I look for consolation or ease? If I had any chance of recovery, this passion would kill me. Indeed, through the whole of my illness, both at your house and at Kentish Town, this fever has never ceased wearing me out. When you write to me, which you will do immediately, write to Rome (poste restante)— if she is well and happy, put a mark thus +; if ——…

—Letter from John Keats to Charles Brown (November 1, 1820)
 

Elton John – “Love Lies Bleeding”

Swimming In The Flood (“The Swimmer” and “Mr. Flood’s Party”)

“For auld lang syne.” The weary throat gave out, 
The last word wavered; and the song being done, 
He raised again the jug regretfully 
And shook his head, and was again alone. 
There was not much that was ahead of him, 
And there was nothing in the town below— 
Where strangers would have shut the many doors 
That many friends had opened long ago.

—Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Mr. Flood’s Party”

The place was dark. Was it so late that they had all gone to bed? Had Lucinda stayed at the Westerhazys’ for supper? Had the girls joined her there or gone someplace else? Hadn’t they agreed, as they usually did on Sunday, to regret all their invitations and stay at home? He tried the garage doors to see what cars were in but the doors were locked and rust came off the handles onto his hands. Going toward the house, he saw that the force of the thunderstorm had knocked one of the rain gutters loose. It hung down over the front door like an umbrella rib, but it could be fixed in the morning. The house was locked, and he thought that the stupid cook or the stupid maid must have locked the place up until he remembered that it had been some time since they had employed a maid or a cook. He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in at the windows, saw that the place was empty.

—John Cheever, “The Swimmer”

I don’t know you anymore
Name and face have been obscured
Change them if you want but
I don’t know you anymore…

Mr. Flood's Party
The Swimmer