David Falconer, “One Family of Four Moved Into the Attic of Their Home…” (1973)
I was happier then. Or was that I? Or am I now I?
Twentyeight I was. She twentythree.
When we left Lombard street west something changed.
Could never like it again after Rudy.
Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand.
Would you go back to then? Just beginning then. Would you?
—James Joyce, Ulysses
Hatchie — “Sure”
Miroslav Sido, “Mother”
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away…
That lingers in the garden there.
— Robert Louis Stevenson, “To Any Reader” (excerpt)
cf. video by go_see via Pixabay
and with good luck
we will reach the harbor
and black earth
We sailors have no will
in big blasts of wind,
hoping for dry land
and to sail
until dry land
—Sappho, “In Time of Storm” (Tr. Barnstone)
“Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” – New England
photograph by Mark Jefferson Paraan via Unsplash
Because no man can ever feel his own identity aright except his eyes be closed; as if darkness were indeed the proper element of our essences, though light be more congenial to our clayey part.
— Melville, Moby Dick
Electric Light Orchestra – “Last Train To London”
His creativity increasingly extended to music. Though he never took formal piano lessons, he could pound out a simple melody by ear. “Even when he was a little kid,” remembered his sister Kim, “he could sit down and just play something he’d heard on the radio. He was able to artistically put whatever he thought onto paper or into music.”
—Charles R. Cross, Heavier Than Heaven
video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay
For spring-time is here! the summer is here! and what is this
in it and from it?
Thou, soul, unloosen’d—the restlessness after I know not what;
Come, let us lag here no longer, let us be up and away!
O if one could but fly like a bird!
O to escape, to sail forth as in a ship!
To glide with thee O soul, o’er all, in all, as a ship o’er the waters…
—Walt Whitman, Warble For Lilac-Time
Roger Powell – from “Architecture”
Photograph by Bruce Mars via Pexels
Doth any here know me? This is not Lear.
Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, his discernings
Are lethargied—Ha! Waking? ’Tis not so.
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – Elton John
Photograph by Easton Oliver via Unsplash
His railings and outbursts expressed not the conviction of failure but the passion for success. They touched off his disappointment, his injured self-esteem, his wounded pride, without ultimately concealing his determination to persevere — his finally unshakeable will to achieve. The strain of remonstrative self-pity and pessimism in Conrad was an overlay to the iron in him.
—Leo Gurko, “Joseph Conrad: Giant in Exile”
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
—Emerson, Self Reliance
Aerosmith – “Make It” (2007)
Tom Hubbard, “…Sale of Donated Books…” (1973)
For me that white figure in the stillness of coast and sea seemed to stand at the heart of a vast enigma. The twilight was ebbing fast from the sky above his head, the strip of sand had sunk already under his feet, he himself appeared no bigger than a child — then only a speck, a tiny white speck, that seemed to catch all the light left in a darkened world. . . . And, suddenly, I lost him. . . .
—Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
“More Light” – Utopia
On First Looking into Greene’s “Chord Chemistry”
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Greene speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
(cf. Keats, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer)
You Go to My Head / Willow Weep for Me by Ted Greene
cf. video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay
The remote power of that voice, those old eyes full of tears, that noble and ruined face, had affected her extraordinarily she said. But perhaps what affected her was the shadow, the still living shadow of a great passion in the man’s heart.
Allegre remarked to her calmly: “He has been a little mad all his life.”
—Joseph Conrad, The Arrow of Gold
The Rubinoos – “The Girl”
cf. LIFE, 1968 and Vincent van Gogh, “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat” (1887)
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
—Sara Teasdale, Barter (excerpt)
“Crazy Crazy Nights” by Kiss
photograph by Annie Spratt via Unsplash
There’s not a string attuned to mirth,
But has its chord in melancholy.
—Thomas Hood, Ode to Melancholy
World Bipolar Day | International Bipolar Foundation
“Both Sides Now” by Kjartan Gullikstad
Dick Swanson, “Artist On Bank Of The Schuylkill River” (1973)
I think that if I can get into the habit of writing a little about what happens, or rather doesn’t happen, I may lose a little of the sense of loneliness and desolation which abides with me. My circumstances allowing of nothing but the ejaculation of one-syllabled reflections, a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its yet to be discovered consolations. I shall at least have it all my own way and it may bring relief as an outlet to that geyser of emotions, sensations, speculations and reflections…so here goes, my first Journal!
—Diary of Alice James, May 31, 1889
“Everything Else” – Jennifer Damiano
Terry Eiler, “Training Class For Havasupai Teachers in Reading and Language Instruction Methods” (ca. 1972)
Your voice and his I heard in those non-lectures —
Hammock chairs sprawled skew-wise all about;
Moore in the armchair bent on writing it all out —
Each soul agog for any word of yours…
Poke the fire again!
Open the window!
Shut it! — patient pacing unavailing.
Barren the revelations on the ceiling —
Dash back again to agitate a cinder.
“Oh it’s so clear! It’s absolutely clear!”
—I.A. Richards, “The Strayed Poet” (excerpt)
“Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty / Heartbreakers
cf. Jean Antoine Houdon, “Bather” (1782) and video by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay
They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still” –
Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –
Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Abolish his Captivity –
And laugh – No more have I –
Aretha Franklin – “Respect”
It was never for the mean;
It requireth courage stout.
Souls above doubt,
It will reward,—
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Give All to Love (excerpt)
“Change Of Heart” – Eric Carmen
LSE Library, “Student in the library, 1981”
CHAPTER 1. Loomings.
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
—Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“Keep Your Head Up” by Ben Howard
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…
“Love Is Alive” – Gary Wright
Patricia D. Duncan, “Sunset View of a Horse in Pastureland…” (1975)
As my eyes search the prairie
I feel the summer in the spring.
—Anonymous, “Spring Song” (Tr. Frances Densmore) from Chippewa Music II Bulletin 53 (1913)
“Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey
Russell Lee, “Visitors’ hour at the Cairns General Hospital at the FSA (Farm Security Administration) farmworkers’ community” (1942)
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life” (excerpt)
“Box of Rain” by Grateful Dead
Doug Cronk, “Supervalu Supermarket…” (1952)
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
Allen Ginsberg, A Supermarket in California (excerpt)
The Clash – “Lost in the Supermarket“
Marc St. Gil, “Den behind a Store Which Caters to the Teenage Group…” (1973)
I think about the first time I beheld you…
Petrarch, Canzoniere XX
“Whenever You’re On My Mind” – Marshall Crenshaw
Horacio Villalobos, “…a Member of the Parish Is Shown Playing a Guitar at a Folk Mass…” (1975)
Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer
that one place where the valley floor opens out.
You will see
the white butterflies…
—William Stafford, How to Regain Your Soul (excerpt)
Kennedy Rose – “Some Walls”
cf. Photograph by The Creative Exchange via Unsplash
One sound is saying, ‘You are not worth tuppence,
But neither is anybody. Watch it! Be severe.’
The other says, ‘Go with it! Give and swerve.
You are everything you feel beside the river.’
—Seamus Heaney, Casting and Gathering (excerpt)
cf. Photograph by Mike Wilson via Unsplash and Nationaal Archief, “Testing guitar in a music shop…” (1957)
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…
cf. video by chayka1270 via Pixabay
Pour on. I will endure.
Provincial Archives of Alberta, “Marten River Provincial Park, Alberta” (1970)
suddenly the memory reveals itself
so then, what is time?
time past is time present
I begin again with that summer
(borne back ceaselessly)
(It avails not, time)
sun clouds glinting
forsaking the fragile
I call to you
“Come Back To Me” by Janet Jackson
cf. photograph by Will Wilson (edited) via Unsplash
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string…”
cf. Esther Bubley, “A Greyhound bus trip…” (1943)
cf. Katsushika Hokusai, “Under the Wave off Kanagawa…” (ca. 1830–32)
Oh, never this whelming east wind swells
But it seems like the sea’s return
To the ancient lands where it left the shells
Before the age of the fern;
And it seems like the time when after doubt
Our love came back amain.
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout
And be my love in the rain.
—Robert Frost, “A Line-storm Song” (excerpt)
cf. photograph (musician) by Andrew Robles via Unsplash
I showed her heights she never saw—
“Wouldst climb?” I said,
She said “Not so”—
“With me?” I said, “With me?”
“Shadows of the Night” (Live) by Pat Benatar
cf. photograph by Felix Russell-Saw via Unsplash
“Keats, walk a hundred yards over the rim”
leave the Piazza di Spagna
walk a hundred yards over the rim
I have your penicillin
I won’t let you go
there are more poems to write
and she is still waiting for you
(cf. “The Twilight Zone”, Season 2, Episode 23, 1961)
cf. video by klimkin via Pixabay
These days were filled with puzzlement, with thoughts of the hopes of the past, of the changes that life brings, of the whole “Burden of the Mystery” — the phrase that had meant so much to him for so long. And the burden was greater now than any he had ever experienced before…
—Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats
“Fire And Rain” by James Taylor
cf. Alfred Stieglitz, “An Icy Night” (1898) and video by CAMERAGE via Pixabay
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad ‘mid her reeds
Press’d her cold finger closer to her lips…
—Keats, Hyperion (excerpt)
Southworth & Hawes, “Classroom in the Emerson School…” (detail) (ca. 1850)
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
—Keats, Ode to a Nightingale (excerpt)
But when I face the light
Somehow it all seems right…
cf. LIFE, 1964
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself…
–Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
The Donnas – “Strutter”
I go on my way to-night, If I can; if not, to-morrow; emigrant train ten to fourteen days’ journey; warranted extreme discomfort…
I have been steadily drenched for twenty-four hours; water-proof wet through; immortal spirit fitfully blinking up in spite…
I am not beaten yet, though disappointed. If I am, it’s for good this time; you know what “for good” means in my vocabulary— something inside of 12 months perhaps; but who knows? At least, if I fail in my great purpose, I shall see some wild life in the West and visit both Florida and Labrador ere I return. But I don’t yet know if I have the courage to stick to life without it. Man, I was sick, sick, sick of this last year.
—Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Sidney Colvin (on board s.s. “Devonia,” an hour or two out of New York, August, 1879)
“Through The Fire” by Chaka Khan
Wil Blanche, “In Battery Park, on the Lower Tip of Manhattan Island” (1973)
Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte.
I’m just about average for a pig.”
“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied
Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my
best friend, and I think you’re sensational. Now stop
arguing and go get some sleep!”
—E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web
Left: Underwood & Underwood, “…a country farm-yard in Ireland” (ca. 1903)
Right: L.M. Melander & Bro., “Another button off” (ca. 1875)
“Summer in Style” exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 17, 1960
“…her daughter senior is I think beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange…”
—First mention of Fanny Brawne by John Keats (letter to George Keats, December 16, 1818)
cf. piano photograph by Free-Photos via Pixabay
Frequently he held in his hand a little present that Fanny Brawne had given him — a small, oval, white carnelian. It was the only tangible thing left to remind him of their engagement; for he would still not have her letters opened. Words struck home to him too powerfully.
—Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats
Elton John – “Love Lies Bleeding”
Jack Corn, “The Cool Morning Air Condenses a Boy’s Breath as He Walks Along a Coal Car on His Way to School…” (1974)
“Nay, if I mistake not, unity itself divided by zero equals infinity.”
“Flaming Youth” by Kiss
Photograph by Guy Sapiro (1962-2009)
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
cf. video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay
And now, my Marian, from its shackles free,
My wearied fancy turns for ease to thee;
To thee, my compass through life’s varied stream,
My constant object, and unfailing theme…
—Warren Hastings, “Ode to his Wife” (Written in Patna, 1784)
Esther Bubley, “Students at Woodrow Wilson High School” (1943)
…his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth — yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams. But — oh, Rosalind! Rosalind! . . .
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
“Time Passages” by Al Stewart
cf. Art Hanson, “Student at Work at Senior High School…” (ca. 1975)
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock…
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
photograph by Zachary Staines via Unsplash
“…He, and another neighbour of mine, one Mr. Samuel Johnson, set out this morning for London together. Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next week, and Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a tragedy, and to see to get himself employed in some translation, either from the Latin or the French…”
—Letter from G. Walmsley to The Reverend Mr. Colson, March 2, 1737, quoted in Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
Ernst Halberstadt, “Faneuil Square Outdoor Market” (1973)
No, no, go not to Lethe…
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies…
—Keats, Ode on Melancholy
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness – Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
cf. photographs by Tim Wright (guitarist) and Benjamin Child (conference room) via Unsplash
The fox knows many things,
but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
—Archilochus (ca. 700 BC)
David Stroble, “Students and Teacher in a Classroom…” (ca. 1975)
But then I found myself one winter afternoon
Remembering a quiet morning in a classroom
And inventing everything again, in ordinary
Terms that seemed to comprehend a childish
Dream of love, and then the loss of love,
And all the intricate years between.
—John Koethe, “Falling Water” (excerpt)
Left: H.E. Peck, “Cheer Up Lassie” (ca. 1908);
Right: H. E. Peck, “On Norway’s Coast” (ca. 1908)
The largest fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men…
cf. Terry Eiler, “Bather Under Water…” (ca. 1972)
Recalled To Life
when I was 17
I jumped off a boat
after my friend’s fallen eyeglasses
now, dark, cold, and
abandon the light
Tookapic, “Woman Wearing Jacket Sitting On Concrete During Night Time” (via pexels.com)
Hyperion arose, and on the stars
Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide
Until it ceas’d; and still he kept them wide:
And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
Then with a slow incline of his broad breast,
Like to a diver in the pearly seas,
Forward he stoop’d over the airy shore,
And plung’d all noiseless into the deep night.
—Keats, Hyperion (excerpt)
Elton John – “Love Lies Bleeding”
H. C. Benedict, “Original And Unique The P. and H. Process Of Negative Development” (1939)
The question, O me! so sad, recurring — What good amid these,
O me, O life?
That you are here — that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
I’m thinking of you Mary Anne…
cf. photograph by Alice Moore via Unsplash
“You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”
—Proust, Swann’s Way
cf. Charles O’Rear, “Passengers of the Southwest Limited strolling beside the Amtrak train…” (1974)
When now the boy, whose childish thoughts aspire
To loftier aims, and make him ramble high’r,
Grown wild, and wanton, more embolden’d flies
Far from his guide, and soars among the skies…
If I didn’t try, how would I know? how would I know?
Photograph by Skitterphoto via Pixabay
“…follow the path your genius traces like the galaxy of heaven for you to walk in.”
“Highway Star” by Deep Purple
cf. Erik Calonius, “…Subway Car” (1973)
The first time was twenty years ago, when I left Princeton in junior year with a complaint diagnosed as malaria. It transpired, through an X-ray taken a dozen years later, that it had been tuberculosis—a mild case, and after a few months of rest I went back to college… To me college would never be the same. There were to be no badges of pride, no medals, after all. It seemed on one March afternoon that I had lost every single thing I wanted… A man does not recover from such jolts—he becomes a different person, and, eventually, the new person finds new things to care about…
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Pasting It Together”
John Collier, “Young man boarding train for New York state…” (1942)
Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.
When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the cagèd yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,
He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.
He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.
But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.
Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.
But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.
—Robert Frost, Wind and Window Flower
Esther Bubley, “…talking with some friends near her locker…” (1943)
Sometimes, in the evening, she heard a voice, concealed beneath the wind screen of the bell tower, singing a sad, strange song, as though to lull her to sleep. The lines were unrhymed, such as a deaf person can make.
“Look not at the face, young girl, look at the heart.
The heart of a handsome young man is often deformed.
There are hearts in which love does not keep.
Young girl, the pine is not beautiful; it is not beautiful like the poplar, but it keeps its foliage in winter…”
One morning, on awaking, she saw on her window two vases filled with flowers. One was a very beautiful and very brilliant but cracked vase of glass. It had allowed the water with which it had been filled to escape, and the flowers which it contained were withered. The other was an earthenware pot, coarse and common, but which had preserved all its water, and its flowers remained fresh and crimson…
—Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
William Alexander Alcock, “A lonely Vigil” (detail) (ca. 1922);
August Krug, “The Portal” (detail) (ca. 1922);
Sophie L. Lauffer, “A Canaan Evening” (detail) (ca. 1922);
Edwin B. Collins, “Good Cheer Within” (detail) (ca. 1922)
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
–John Milton, Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent
J. S. Bach, “Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein” (“When we are in the greatest distress”)
David Falconer, “School Children…” (1974)
And Bellerophon put his faith in the child, who had seen the image of Pegasus in the water, and in the maiden, who had heard him neigh so melodiously, rather than in the middle-aged clown, who believed only in cart-horses, or in the old man who had forgotten the beautiful things of his youth…
—Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Chimaera
You better believe it
You know my dream’s still alive
You can love it or leave it
But I’m never gonna be 35…
cf. “Rockefeller Center” (1930)
The echoes of the human world, which tell
Of the low voice of love, almost unheard,
And dove-eyed pity’s murmured pain, and music,
Itself the echo of the heart, and all
That tempers or improves man’s life, now free;
And lovely apparitions,–dim at first,
Then radiant, as the mind arising bright
From the embrace of beauty (whence the forms
Of which these are the phantoms) casts on them
The gathered rays which are reality–
Shall visit us the progeny immortal
Of Painting, Sculpture, and rapt Poesy,
And arts, though unimagined, yet to be;
The wandering voices and the shadows these
Of all that man becomes, the mediators
Of that best worship, love, by him and us
Given and returned; swift shapes and sounds, which grow
More fair and soft as man grows wise and kind…
—Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound
“Defying Gravity” – Wicked The Musical
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Helen Keller, three-quarter length, seated, facing right; holding hand of her teacher, Mrs. John A. Macy (Anne Mansfield Sullivan)” (ca. 1909)
Where is my boy, my boy—
In what far part of the world?
The boy I loved best of all in the school?—
I, the teacher, the old maid, the virgin heart,
Who made them all my children.
Did I know my boy aright,
Thinking of him as spirit aflame,
Active, ever aspiring?
Oh, boy, boy, for whom I prayed and prayed
In many a watchful hour at night,
Do you remember the letter I wrote you
Of the beautiful love of Christ?
And whether you ever took it or not,
My boy, wherever you are,
Work for your soul’s sake,
That all the clay of you, all of the dross of you,
May yield to the fire of you,
Till the fire is nothing but light!…
Nothing but light!
–Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
Photograph by Morre Christophe via Unsplash
There is a Gull that rolls alone
over billows loud;
the Nightingale at night will moan
under her soft shroud.
—Allen Ginsberg, “A Very Dove” (excerpt)
Carol M. Highsmith, “Playing for $1 in a hat…” (2011)
“But the most important thing that you can take advantage of in the world of music is to see yourself. I eventually got to the point where music meant to me self-exploration more than anything else…and I encourage everyone here to be brave in that respect, to be fearless in that respect…that album ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ which was such an abomination to everyone at the time it came out eventually became the signature moment in my career…”
Todd Rundgren – Berklee Commencement Address 2017 – YouTube
Can you hear me, the sound of my voice?
I am here to tell you I have made my choice…
“Just One Victory” by Todd Rundgren
The U.S. National Archives, “A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a ‘Merry Christmas.’ The serviceman is one of those fortunate enough to be able to get home for the holidays.” (December, 1944)
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby
Wilhelm von Gloeden, Man (ca. 1900)
Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
–Whitman, Song Of Myself
Albert Bartholomé, The Artist’s Wife Reading (1883)
“But as for the meaning of the poem as a whole, it is not exhausted by any explanation, for the meaning is what the poem means to different sensitive readers.”
—T. S. Eliot, “The Frontiers of Criticism”
Tom Hubbard, “Rainy Night…” (1973)
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
–Robert Frost, Acquainted with the Night
F. J. Bandholtz, “Rock Island…” (detail) (ca. 1907)
Welby Sherman (After Samuel Palmer), “The Shepherd” (1828)
Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; 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.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses (excerpt)
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | Mental Health Month
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress), Thomas Edison (between 1870 and 1880)
Neglect not the gift that is in thee…
—Timothy 4:14 King James Version
Northeastern University Bulletin, 1976-77
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
–Robert Frost, October
Life, so they say, is but a game
And they let it slip away…
I was saddened to read recently of the passing of Allan Holdsworth. This is a transcription I did a long time ago of his “In The Dead Of Night” solo. I saw him in the fall of 1983 and remember how much he inspired me.
“Hats off, gentlemen—a genius!”
—Robert Schumann, Review of Chopin’s variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano,” Op. 2 In “Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung”, Vol. 33, no. 49 (December 7, 1831)
cf. Patricia D. Duncan, “Former Home of Aviatrix Amelia Earhart…” (1974)
You cannot put a fire out;
A thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a fan
Upon the slowest night…
Nazz – “When I Get My Plane”
Ernst Halberstadt, Midsummer Siesta at City Hall Plaza (1973)
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather — as skies
Betweenpie mountains — lights a lovely mile.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins, “My own heart let me more have pity on”
Grego, Street Musician (2014)
“Soli Deo Gloria”: Grand Central, December, 1982
onrushing out into the
42nd street passage
huddled in the corner
frayed and fallen
drifted from the street
in pieces and broken-down
Yamaha nylon string guitar
the third Brandenburg
reverberated, echoed, re-echoed
transfixed and transfigured
I put all my money in his well-worn open case
It was almost Christmas
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048 – III. Allegro by TXGQ
Coronet Instructional Film
“I too am sometimes sad and lonely, especially when I walk around a church or parsonage.
Let’s not give in, but try to be patient and gentle. And do not mind being eccentric…”
–Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, March 16, 1877
Tom Hubbard, August Brings the “D’aug Days” to Fountain Square… (1973)
And that was the end of the attempt by the flatlands to reclaim Hans Castorp. The young man admitted quite openly to himself that such total failure, which he had seen coming, was of decisive importance for his relationship to the people down there. For the flatlands it meant a final shrug, the abandonment of any claim; for him, however, it meant freedom finally won, and by now his heart no longer fluttered at the thought.
–Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Your mother named you. You and she just saw
Each other in passing in the room upstairs,
One coming this way into life, and one
Going the other out of life—you know?
So you can’t have much recollection of her.
She had been having a long look at you.
She put her finger in your cheek so hard
It must have made your dimple there, and said,
‘Maple.’ I said it too: ‘Yes, for her name.’
She nodded. So we’re sure there’s no mistake.
I don’t know what she wanted it to mean,
But it seems like some word she left to bid you
Be a good girl—be like a maple tree.
How like a maple tree’s for us to guess…
–Robert Frost, Maple (excerpt)
Carol M. Highsmith, Fountain and front view of Mission San Buenaventura, Ventura, California (2012)
“An oasis that I needed.”
–Entry in the Visitor’s Book at St Peter’s Church, Cambridge, September 12, 1982, quoted in Thomas Mallon, A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God…
–Psalm 42, New Revised Standard Version
Palestrina – Sicut Cervus
Terry Eiler, Walkers in Dust Storm (ca. 1972)
In my native country, in the bosom of my religion, family, and friends, I should have passed a calm and peaceful life in the uniformity of a pleasing occupation, and among connections dear to my heart…
Instead of this — what a picture am I about to draw! — Alas! why should I anticipate the miseries I have endured? The reader will have but too much of the melancholy subject.
—Rousseau, Confessions (Tr. by W. Conyngham Mallory)
Ron Hoffman, Helping Hands Will Get This Skier’s Car off the Ice (1974)
Don’t think Brown ever gave up hope
Of getting home again because
He couldn’t climb that slippery slope;
Or even thought of standing there
Until the January thaw
Should take the polish off the crust.
He bowed with grace to natural law,
And then went round it on his feet,
After the manner of our stock;
Not much concerned for those to whom,
At that particular time o’clock,
It must have looked as if the course
He steered was really straight away
From that which he was headed for—
Not much concerned for them, I say:
No more so than became a man—
And politician at odd seasons.
I’ve kept Brown standing in the cold
While I invested him with reasons;
But now he snapped his eyes three times;
Then shook his lantern, saying, “Ile’s
’Bout out!” and took the long way home
By road, a matter of several miles.
–Robert Frost, Brown’s Descent, or the Willy-nilly Slide (excerpt)
Look on the map, I think we’ve been there before
Close up the doors, let’s roll once more…
Ernst Halberstadt, “Westward” Sails Back to Long Wharf from Outing at Great Brewster Island… (1973)
One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.
I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.
I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.
They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.
–Robert Frost, Into My Own
Kansas – “Point Of Know Return”
Talking of constitutional melancholy, he observed, “A man so afflicted, Sir, must divert distressing thoughts, and not combat with them.” BOSWELL: “May not he think them down, Sir?” JOHNSON: “No, Sir. To attempt to THINK THEM DOWN is madness. He should have a lamp constantly burning in his bed-chamber during the night, and if wakefully disturbed, take a book, and read, and compose himself to rest…”
—Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
James McNeill Whistler, Reading in Bed (The Slipper) (1858)
Cervantes—a patient gentleman who wrote a book—has been sitting in the Elysian fields for three centuries and gazing sadly around, awaiting the birth of a grandson capable of understanding him.
—José Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Quixote
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it’s just me…
Library and Information Services Metropolitan State University, Star Wars Party (2015)
Before her the grimy cupolas and towering square walls of the city loomed up. Above the jagged roof tops, the white smoke, whitened and suffused by the slanting sun, faded into the slots and wedges of the sky. She pressed her brow against her child’s, hushed him with whispers. This was that vast incredible land, the land of freedom, of immense opportunity, that Golden Land.
Again she tried to smile.
“Albert,” she said timidly, “Albert.”
“Gehen vir voinen du? In New York?”
—Henry Roth, Call It Sleep
Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage (1907)
cf. Cincinnati Magazine, 1985
The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.
Alan Fisher, Lou Ambers tips his hat as he accepts a sandwich from a hand reaching out of a doorway (1935)
Drop, drop—in our sleep, upon the heart
sorrow falls, memory’s pain,
and to us, though against our very will,
even in our own despite,
–Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Edith Hamilton, trans., “Three Greek Plays”)
cf. Photograph by Dewang Gupta via Unsplash
Never tell me that not one star of all
That slip from heaven at night and softly fall
Has been picked up with stones to build a wall.
Some laborer found one faded and stone-cold,
And saving that its weight suggested gold
And tugged it from his first too certain hold,
He noticed nothing in it to remark.
He was not used to handling stars thrown dark
And lifeless from an interrupted arc.
He did not recognize in that smooth coal
The one thing palpable besides the soul
To penetrate the air in which we roll…
—Robert Frost, A Star In A Stoneboat (excerpt)
Only shooting stars break the mold…
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
—Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
I will choose a path that’s clear…
State Library of New South Wales, “A large erratic resting on gneiss Cape Denison area” (ca. 1911)
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
Ferdinand Hodler, The Good Samaritan (1885)
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Peter Ilsted, Mother and Child in an Interior (1898)
1965: a song – “Come fly with me, said the little red sled”
1966: a hand in my hand on a frozen pond
1967: a poem – “Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!”
1968: a rush of perfume and cold air to say goodnight
1969: a light in the darkness
“Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Photograph by Kimberly Richards via Unsplash
Harry Kreisler: What led you to philosophy?
Stanley Cavell: Well, I could give you a cocktail answer to that, or I could say, “I’m still asking myself the question.”
Harry Kreisler: Right.
Stanley Cavell: One serious way to answer the question is to say that leaving music was the first enormous basic radical crisis in my life. I was bewildered by who I might be if I wasn’t a musician. And philosophy is, after all, a subject you might come to in a state of crisis. That’s one thing that happened to me, in finding philosophy…
Harry Kreisler: This is a silly question, but I’ll ask it anyway. What does a philosopher do?
Stanley Cavell: Of course, the serious answer to that is, they ask themselves that. Almost everybody has his or her own answer to that. All the great philosophers have their answer to it; it winds up in their text, that what they’re looking for is a definition of why their lives have been flattened or floored…
—Conversations with History: Stanley Cavell – YouTube / Conversation with Stanley Cavell, p. 3 of 6
At Cape Cod, August, 1969
I am scattered in a thousand places
here and there —
now and then
the wind and waves wash me ashore
leaving something behind
a finding of lost time
I never left
John Singer Sargent, Study of a Young Man, Seated (1895)
A little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade.
There I am wont to sit…
—John Milton, Samson Agonistes
Bain News Service, “listening to records” (detail)
“Only when he touches earth does he, like Antaeus, recover his true strength.”
—Letter from Ivan Turgenev to Pavel Annenkov (referring to Tolstoy) quoted in Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”
Left: Helen D. Van Eaton, “My First Glimpse…From A Pennsylvania Ferry-Boat” (ca. 1910)
Right: Arthur Tress, “View of Upper New York Bay from the Staten Island Ferry” (1973)
Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and
the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half
an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence,
others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-
back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so
many generations hence…
—Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
I’ll be waiting
Time after time…
Tom Hubbard, At the Tyler Davidson Fountain, in Fountain Square Downtown Cincinnati’s Popular Public Plaza, a Young Man Listens to the Radio with One Ear, Play of the Water with the Other (August, 1973)
American Top 40 Theme Music
James Jowers, Tompkins Sq. Park (1967)
Nel suo profondo vidi che s’ interna,
legato con amore in un volume…
I saw within its depth how it conceives all things in a single volume bound by love…
–Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Paradiso
When all the stair was sped beneath us and we were on the topmost step Virgil fixed his eyes on me and said: “The temporal fire and the eternal thou hast seen, my son, and art come to a part where of myself I discern no further. I have brought thee here with understanding and with skill…No longer expect word or sign from me. Free, upright and whole is thy will and it were a fault not to act on its bidding…”
—Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio
I’m with you in Rockland…
–Allen Ginsberg, Howl
Edvard Munch, Night In Saint-Cloud (1892)
Tom Hubbard, Girl with Book and Bench-Sitters in Fountain Square (1973)
“This poet may not be very important, you should say defiantly, but his work is good for me.”
—T. S. Eliot, “What Is Minor Poetry?”
The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line…
—Alexander Pope, Epistle I—Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe
Nicolas Vigier, pinball (detail) (2009)
“You do something not because you want to — you do something because you have to. And I don’t mean you have to because you’re being told but there’s a compulsion within you, there’s an obsession…”
—Paul Stanley, Paul Stanley on Rock and Roll – YouTube
Alfred Stieglitz, From the Back Window – 291 (1915)
“Dr. Adams told me that Johnson, while he was at Pembroke College, ‘was caressed and loved by all about him, was a gay and frolicksome fellow, and passed there the happiest part of his life.’ But this is a striking proof of the fallacy of appearances, and how little any of us know of the real internal state even of those whom we see most frequently…”
—Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
T. M. Weaver, “Far From The Madding Crowd” (ca. 1911)
H. G. Reading, “A Double” (ca. 1905)
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
—Walt Whitman, Song Of Myself
A. L. Hitchin, “The Little Artist” (ca. 1919) and G. W. Harting, “Sketching” (ca. 1917)
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins, As Kingfishers Catch Fire (excerpt)
“My dearest fellow, This will not reach you till some time after our
wedding day, which as usual has taken me aback; but I mean to send you
a despatch on the day itself, and this is for dessert. Not that I think so
much of that day; if I had some other dates, I would think more of them:
that of the day when I looked through the window…”
—Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to his Wife, Fanny, May 15, 1888
I never knew love before
Then came you…
Konstantin Korovin, At The Window (1919)
Maximilien Luce, “The Good Samaritan” (1896)
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
But if your heart,
Your heart has been broken
And you don’t wear it on your sleeve
No one can tell,
Your hell goes unspoken
But there’s one thing you must believe…
Untitled photograph by R. E. Scaife (ca. 1919)
cf. from William Findlay, “Early Morning Photography” (ca. 1909)
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so
many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the
bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift
current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-
stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d…
—Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
AH poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats,
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me,
(For what is my life or any man’s life but a conflict with foes, the
old, the incessant war?)
You degradations, you tussle with passions and appetites,
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds the sharpest
You toil of painful and choked articulations, you meannesses,
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother’d ennuis!
Ah think not you finally triumph, my real self has yet to come
It shall yet march forth o’ermastering, till all lies beneath me,
It shall yet stand up the soldier of ultimate victory.
—Walt Whitman, “Ah Poverties, Wincings, And Sulky Retreats”
There it is – way down inside me…
Arthur W. Walburn, “Despondency” (ca. 1911)
Benjamin Balázs, Together / Együtt
O, never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seem’d my flame to qualify.
As easy might I from myself depart,
As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie:
That is my home of love; if I have ranged,
Like him that travels I return again,
Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
So that myself bring water for my stain.
Never believe, though in my nature reign’d
All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
That it could so prepost’rously be stain’d,
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good;
For nothing this wide Universe I call,
Save thou, my Rose; in it thou art my all.
All the days became so long
Did you really think I’d do you wrong?
Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you’d realize that I would know,
I would show the special love I have for you, my baby blue…
“Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—…”
cf. Photograph by Jamie MacPherson via Unsplash
Elton John – “Love Lies Bleeding”
Börje Gallén, Woman and children feeding pigeons in Copenhagen in 1946 (1946)
“One time as [Saint Francis] was passing through the Spoleto valley, he came upon a place near Bevagna, in which a great multitude of birds of various kinds had assembled. When the holy one of God saw them, because of the outstanding love of the Creator with which he loved all creatures, he ran swiftly to the place. He greeted them in his usual way, as if they shared in reason. As the birds did not take flight, he went to them, going to and fro among them, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic…”
—Thomas of Celano, The Treatise on the Miracle of Saint Francis (The Francis Trilogy of Thomas of Celano, New City Press, 2004)
Börje Gallén, Fisherman and boy in Smygehuk (detail) (1954)
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world “This was a man!”
—Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
cf. Anders Zorn, Summer Vacation (sketch for Summer Fun) (Watercolor) (1886)
…It’s the house where the woman
stands in the doorway