photograph by Cody Doherty via Unsplash
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig-tree in the story.
From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and off-beat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig-tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
— Plath, The Bell Jar
Stop For Me
photograph by National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
Speak terms of manage to thy bounding steed,
Cry “Courage! To the field!”
— Henry IV, Part 1
photograph by Sofia Alejandra via Pexels
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
— Edna St. Vincent Millay
Summer, Highland Falls (ShireiNUaCappella)
photograph by Isabella and Zsa Fischer via Unsplash
There was the good, the upright Joachim, firm as a rock — yet whose eyes in these past months had come to hold such a tragic shadow, and who had never used to shrug his shoulders, as he did so often now.
— The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)
cf. video by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels (edited)
“I have been up here a long time, Mynheer Peeperkorn, years. How long I hardly know myself, but it has been years of my life. My cousin, to visit whom I came up, in the first instance, was a soldier, an upright and honourable soul, but that was no help to him — he died, and left me, and I remained here alone. I was no soldier, but a civilian, I had a profession, as you may have heard, a good, two-fisted job, which is even supposed to do its share in drawing together the nations of the earth — but somehow it did not draw me. I admit this freely; but the reasons for it I cannot describe otherwise than to say that they are veiled in obscurity, the same obscurity that envelops the origin of my feeling for Madame your mistress — I call her that expressly to show that I am not thinking of undermining the situation as it exists — my feeling for Clavdia Chauchat, and my intimate sense of her being, which I have had since the first moment her eyes met mine and bewitched me, enchanted me, you understand, beyond all reason. For love of her, in defiance of Herr Settembrini, I declared myself for the principle of unreason, the spirituel principle of disease, under whose aegis I had already, in reality, stood for a long time back; and I remained up here, I no longer know precisely how long. I have forgotten, broken with, everything, my relatives, my calling, all my ideas of life. When Clavdia went away, I waited here for her return, so that now I am wholly lost to life down below, and dead in the eyes of my friends. That is what I meant when I spoke of my destiny, and said there might be some justice in a complaint over my present state…”
— Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)
photograph by Ben White via Unsplash
…for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Feelin’ Stronger Every Day
photograph by SHVETS production via Pexels
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
— William Ernest Henley
Bright Star (2009)
The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life—My love has made me selfish.
— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne
Love Lies Bleeding
cf. photograph by Nathan Anderson via Unsplash
One day I asked the mirror facing me,
Friend, what’s true?…
How about my heart, mirror?…
O mirror, I see.
I need a human friend
To reflect my heart.
— Tialuga Sunia Seloti
Stand by Me
cf. National Geographic, 1953
A little less returned for him each spring.
Music began to fail him. Brahms, although
His dark familiar, often walked apart.
His spirit grew uncertain of delight,
Certain of its uncertainty, in which
That dark companion left him unconsoled
For a self returning mostly memory.
Only last year he said that the naked moon
Was not the moon he used to see, to feel
(In the pale coherences of moon and mood
When he was young), naked and alien,
More leanly shining from a lankier sky.
Its ruddy pallor had grown cadaverous.
He used his reason, exercised his will,
Turning in time to Brahms as alternate
In speech. He was that music and himself.
They were particles of order, a single majesty:
But he remembered the time when he stood alone.
He stood at last by God’s help and the police;
But he remembered the time when he stood alone.
He yielded himself to that single majesty;
But he remembered the time when he stood alone,
When to be and delight to be seemed to be one,
Before the colors deepened and grew small.
— Wallace Stevens, “Anglais Mort à Florence”
Photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash
When all the world is looming dark
And things seem not so clear,
When shadows seem to hover ’round
Lord, may I persevere.
When it seems everything’s been tried
And there’s no way to go,
Just let me keep remembering
Sometimes the journey’s slow.
I may just need to stop and rest
Along the path I trod,
A time to try to understand
And have my talk with God.
As I gain new strength to carry on
Without a doubt or fear,
Somehow I know things will be right,
And so, I persevere.
— Anne Stortz
Roll On Down The Highway
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
Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio
Photograph by Ståle Grut via Unsplash
Life is a crucible. We are thrown into it, and tried.
— Edwin Hubbell Chapin, “Living Words”
cf. photograph by Andrew Neel via Unsplash (edited)
Yet I argue not
Against Heaven’s hand or will, nor bate a jot
Of heart or hope, but still bear up and steer
— Milton, “To the Same”
cf. photograph by rawpixel via Unsplash
“…and he prayed that God would strengthen us when the hard time comes on us; as it will come for all of us; as it came to Job — that we’d be strong in that hour…”
— Garrison Keillor, More News from Lake Wobegon — Hope: Let Us Pray
cf. photograph by Sesbilder via Pixabay
no thread —
only a minotaur
and a maze
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. 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
Black Sheets Of Rain
cf. photograph and video via Pixabay (edited collage)
through the too many miles
and the too little smiles
I still remember you
photograph by Jon Asato via Unsplash
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies…
— Emily Dickinson
Part of the Plan
James Montgomery Flagg, “You” (Life Publishing Co., 1906)
Recovery…may take time and may require some big adjustments and perhaps a great deal of inner strength.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn, “World of Relaxation”
Coldcut Featuring Lisa Stansfield – “People Hold On” (Dj “S” Bootleg “Thank U” Remix by Dj “S”)
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
William James Mullins, “Children Fishing” (ca. 1900)
“…I worry about so many things, and everything is so hard for me. For instance, I cut my finger or hurt myself some way — and it’s a wound that heals for other people in a week, but it takes four weeks with me. It just won’t heal, it gets infected, gets really ghastly, and gives me all kinds of trouble. The other day Herr Brecht told me that my teeth look horrible, that they’re all deteriorating and wearing down, not to mention the ones he’s already pulled. That’s how things stand now. And what will I bite with when I’m thirty, or forty? I’ve lost all hope.”
“Come on,” Kai said and picked up the pace of their stroll. “And now tell me a little about your piano playing…are you going to play the piano this afternoon?”
Hanno was silent for a moment. A bleak, confused, feverish look came to his eyes. “Yes, I’ll probably improvise a while,” he said…
— Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks
cf. video by SlowMoJoe via Pixabay
The “morbid melancholy,” which was lurking in his constitution, and to which we may ascribe those particularities, and that aversion to regular life, which, at a very early period, marked his character, gathered such strength in his twentieth year, as to afflict him in a dreadful manner. While he was at Lichfield, in the college vacation of the year 1729, he felt himself overwhelmed with a horrible hypochondria, with perpetual irritation, fretfulness, and impatience; and with a dejection, gloom, and despair, which made existence misery. From this dismal malady he never afterwards was perfectly relieved; and all his labours, and all his enjoyments, were but temporary interruptions of its baleful influence. He told Mr. Paradise that he was sometimes so languid and inefficient, that he could not distinguish the hour upon the town-clock.
— Boswell’s Life of Johnson