On a stormy sea of moving emotion

photograph by Warren Wong via Unsplash

Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha. Nobody moved for a time. “We have lost the first of the ebb,” said the Director suddenly. I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.

— Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“So foul a sky clears not without a storm.”

— Shakespeare, King John

Whosoever unceasingly strives upward … him can we save.

— Goethe


Carry On Wayward Son

Monday, 11 o’clock.

photograph by gustavovillegas via Pixabay

Monday, 11 o’clock. Well, praised be God! here I am. Videlicet, Ruthin, sixteen miles from Wrexham. At Wrexham Church I glanced upon the face of a Miss E. Evans, a young lady with [whom] I had been in habits of fraternal correspondence. She turned excessively pale; she thought it my ghost, I suppose. I retreated with all possible speed to our inn. There, as I was standing at the window, passed by Eliza Evans, and with her to my utter surprise her sister, Mary Evans, quam efflictim et perdite amabam. I apprehend she is come from London on a visit to her grandmother, with whom Eliza lives. I turned sick, and all but fainted away! The two sisters, as H. informs me, passed by the window anxiously several times afterwards; but I had retired.

Vivit, sed mihi non vivit—nova forte marita,
Ah dolor! alterius carâ, a cervice pependit.
Vos, malefida valete accensæ insomnia mentis,
Littora amata valete! Vale, ah! formosa Maria!

My fortitude would not have supported me, had I recognized her—I mean appeared to do it! I neither ate nor slept yesterday. But love is a local anguish; I am sixteen miles distant, and am not half so miserable. I must endeavour to forget it amid the terrible graces of the wild wood scenery that surround me. I never durst even in a whisper avow my passion, though I knew she loved me. Where were my fortunes? and why should I make her miserable! Almighty God bless her! Her image is in the sanctuary of my heart, and never can it be torn away but with the strings that grapple it to life. Southey! there are few men of whose delicacy I think so highly as to have written all this. I am glad I have so deemed of you. We are soothed by communications.

— Letter from Coleridge to Robert Southey, Sunday, July 15, 1794


Amie

Roderick Hudson

photograph by REVOLT via Unsplash

“It’s greater happiness than you deserve, then! You have never chosen, I say; you have been afraid to choose. You have never really faced the fact that you are false, that you have broken your faith. You have never looked at it and seen that it was hideous, and yet said, ‘No matter, I’ll brave the penalty, I’ll bear the shame!’ You have closed your eyes; you have tried to stifle remembrance, to persuade yourself that you were not behaving as badly as you seemed to be, and there would be some way, after all, of compassing bliss and yet escaping trouble. You have faltered and drifted, you have gone on from accident to accident, and I am sure that at this present moment you can’t tell what it is you really desire!”

— Henry James, Roderick Hudson


Flaming Youth

What Counsel Has The Hooded Moon?

cf. video by Yaroslav Shuraev via Pexels

BERTHA:
Did you think of me last night?

ROBERT:
[Comes nearer.] I think of you always—as something beautiful and distant— the moon or some deep music.

BERTHA:
[Smiling.] And last night which was I?

ROBERT:
I was awake half the night. I could hear your voice. I could see your face in the dark. Your eyes… I want to speak to you. Will you listen to me? May I speak?

— Joyce, Exiles


Moonlight Feels Right

Endymion

cf. video by C Technical via Pexels

A THING of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

— Keats


I, Oh I

in memoriam

cf. photograph by Cade Prior via Pexels

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

— Langston Hughes, Mother to Son

Jacob’s Ladder

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

cf. photograph by Vlad Bagacian via Pexels

In the last year of his life he wrote his daughter, “I wish now I’d never relaxed or looked back – but said at the end of “The Great Gatsby”: I’ve found my line – from now on this comes first. This is my immediate duty – without this I am nothing.”

— Arthur Mizener, “Gatsby, 35 Years Later”

Almost ten years ago I participated in the conference whose proceedings would become the volume “Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism.” Stanley sat directly in front of me and listened attentively to my talk, thrilling and scary, not to say awkward, reading out “Cavell writes…” and “Cavell says…” with the man right there. After the Q and A, someone, I don’t remember who, brought me over and introduced us. Stanley shook my hand and with the other patted my shoulder and said, with a broad smile, “Stay on your path, young man.”

— Paul Grimstad, “Stay on Your Path, Young Man”


Point Of Know Return

My Star

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)

All that I know
Of a certain star,
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue,
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!

Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

— Robert Browning

Midnight Blue

Omnia Vincit Amor

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)

“When I compare the aspect of the world to me now with what it was twelve months ago, I am far from desponding or complaining. I seem to have a motive and a rallying-word in the fight of life: …Alles für Ruhm und Ihr!”

— Letter from Thomas Carlyle to Jane Welsh

Anybody in their right mind could see it’s you and me…

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob…”

Photograph by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

“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!”

— Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Man in the Mirror

reliquiae

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)

YOU left me, sweet, two legacies,—
A legacy of love
A Heavenly Father would content,
Had He the offer of;

You left me boundaries of pain
Capacious as the sea,
Between eternity and time,
Your consciousness and me.

— Emily Dickinson


Marlene on the Wall

Reunited

Marion S. Trikosko, “Working College Students” (1971)

Soon, O Ianthe! life is o’er,
And sooner beauty’s heavenly smile:
Grant only (and I ask no more),
Let love remain that little while.

— Walter Savage Landor

See A Little Light

Il fuoco dell’amore

Thomas J. O’Halloran, “Students leaving school” (1977)

Ne regarde pas la figure,
Jeune fille, regarde le cœur.
Le cœur d’un beau jeune homme est souvent difforme.
Il y a des cœurs où l’amour ne se conserve pas.

Jeune fille, le sapin n’est pas beau,
N’est pas beau comme le peuplier,
Mais il garde son feuillage l’hiver…

— Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

The First Cut Is the Deepest

A Painful Case

Photograph by Etienne Boulanger via Unsplash

It was after nine o’clock when he left the shop. The night was cold and gloomy. He entered the Park by the first gate and walked along under the gaunt trees. He walked through the bleak alleys where they had walked four years before. She seemed to be near him in the darkness. At moments he seemed to feel her voice touch his ear, her hand touch his. He stood still to listen. Why had he withheld life from her?…He felt his moral nature falling to pieces.

— Joyce, from Dubliners

Mandolin Rain

Amoretti and Epithalamion: Sonnet LXVI

cf. Nation’s Business Magazine (1970)

TO all those happy blessings, which ye have
With plenteous hand by heaven upon you thrown;
This one disparagement they to you gave,
That ye your love lent to so mean a one.
Ye, whose high worth’s surpassing paragon
Could not on earth have found one fit for mate,
Ne but in heaven matchable to none,
Why did ye stoop unto so lowly state?
But ye thereby much greater glory gat,
Than had ye sorted with a prince’s peer:
For, now your light doth more itself dilate,
And, in my darkness, greater doth appear.
Yet, since your light hath once illumined me,
With my reflex yours shall increased be.

— Edmund Spenser

Just Got Lucky

Far and Close

cf. LIFE Magazine (ca. 1970)

Far and Close

You

Look a while at me,

Look a while at a cloud.

I feel

You are far away while looking at me,

So very close while looking at the cloud.

— Gu Cheng (Tr. Morin)

Shower the People

The Memory Of Laura

Kaye, “Plymouth Savoy in Australia” (ca. 1950s)

O joyous, blossoming, ever-blessed flowers!
’Mid which my pensive queen her footstep sets;
O plain, that hold’st her words for amulets
And keep’st her footsteps in thy leafy bowers!
O trees, with earliest green of springtime hours,
And all spring’s pale and tender violets!
O grove, so dark the proud sun only lets
His blithe rays gild the outskirts of thy towers!
O pleasant country-side! O limpid stream,
That mirrorest her sweet face, her eyes so clear,
And of their living light canst catch the beam!
I envy thee her presence pure and dear.
There is no rock so senseless but I deem
It burns with passion that to mine is near.

— Petrarch (Tr. Higginson)

Heaven Help Me

Love’s Justification

Photograph by Renate Vanaga via Unsplash

YES! hope may with my strong desire keep pace,
And I be undeluded, unbetrayed;
For if of our affections none find grace
In sight of Heaven, then wherefore hath God made
The world which we inhabit? Better plea
Love cannot have, than that in loving thee
Glory to that eternal peace is paid,
Who such divinity to thee imparts
As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies
With beauty, which is varying every hour;
But, in chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,
That breathes on earth the air of paradise.

— Michelangelo (Tr. Wordsworth)

Grow Old With Me

A Modern Odyssey: Book V

Maclean’s Magazine (1969)

But Minerva resolved to help Ulysses, so she bound the ways of all the winds except one, and made them lie quite still; but she roused a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the waters till Ulysses reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe…

While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do…

Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him…

Then, as one who lives alone in the country, far from any neighbor, hides a brand as fire-seed in the ashes to save himself from having to get a light elsewhere, even so did Ulysses cover himself up with leaves; and Minerva shed a sweet sleep upon his eyes, closed his eyelids, and made him lose all memories of his sorrows.

Shadows Of The Night

Butterflies Are Free

Maclean’s Magazine (1976)

Jill: I’m not so sure you can’t hurt him. Maybe more than anybody. (Crosses above table.) I think you deserve all the credit you can get for turning out a pretty marvelous guy—but bringing up a son—even a blind one—isn’t a lifetime occupation. (Mrs. Baker turns U., away from Jill.) Now the more you help him, the more you hurt him. It was Linda Fletcher—not you— (Mrs. Baker turns and looks at Jill Slowly.) who gave him the thing he needed most—confidence in himself. (Crossing away L.) You’re always dwelling on the negative—always what he needs, never what he wants … always what he can’t do, never what he can. (Crosses D. end of sofa.) What about his music? Have you heard the song he wrote? I’ll bet you didn’t even know he could write songs! (Crosses above table.) You’re probably dead right about me. I’m not the ideal girl for Don, but I know one thing—neither are you!! And if I’m going to tell anyone to go home, it’ll be you, Mrs. Baker. YOU go home!! (Turns and exits into her apartment, closing door behind her. Mrs. Baker watches her go.)

Oh Sherrie

To the Moon

Image by GeorgeB2 via Pixabay

Hide this one night thy crescent, kindly Moon;
So shall Endymion faithful prove, and rest
Loving and unawakened on the breast;
So shall no foul enchanter importune
Thy quiet course; for now the night is boon,
And through the friendly night unseen I fare,
Who dread the face of foemen unaware,
And watch of hostile spies in the bright noon.
Thou knowest, Moon, the bitter power of Love;
‘Tis told how shepherd Pan found ways to move,
For little price, thy heart; and of your grace,
Sweet stars, be kind to this not alien fire,
Because on earth ye did not scorn desire,
Bethink ye, now ye hold your heavenly place.

— Pierre de Ronsard (Tr. Lang)

99

Who goes with Fergus?

(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.

— Yeats

Return of the Mack

Invictus

cf. photograph by Denis Streltsov via Pixabay (edit, modification and 3D recomposition by me)

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…

— William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Back In Black

“The Tin Bird”

cf. photograph by Pixabay via Pexels

There is an amazing bird:
its beak an old umbrella
its body nothing but empty tins
of corned beef and sardines.

It sees with the eyes
of a doll now broken and forgotten.
Its nest is a dump all smelly and rotten.

When the moon rises like a cradle in the sky,
the bird flies and sings and cries:

Sleepytimes, little sleepy heads
of those who have no food.
I am the angel of your dreams.
I am the birdsong of your sighs.

Ugly as I am,
all rusted and torn,
my song is sweet,
my friendship even sweeter.

Sleepytime, sleepytime, o beloved children.
I watch over babies who know no pillows,
over the little sleepyheads who have no suppers.

— Ramón C. Sunico, “The Tin Bird” (Tr. by the poet)

25 Organizations Dedicated to Fight Hunger

Man in the Mirror

time and tide

Charlotte Brooks, “Teenage driver Bill Kolb…driving his date in an MG convertible” (1958)

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie…

— Sonnet LXXIII

Top of the World

My wheel is in the dark

Image by Myriam Zilles via Pixabay

MY Wheel is in the dark,—
I cannot see a spoke,
Yet know its dripping feet
Go round and round.

My foot is on the tide—
An unfrequented road,
Yet have all roads
A “clearing” at the end.

Some have resigned the Loom,
Some in the busy tomb
Find quaint employ,
Some with new, stately feet
Pass royal through the gate,
Flinging the problem back at you and I.

— Emily Dickinson

Part of the Plan

“recuerdo”

Photograph by Juliane Mergener via Unsplash

recuerdo

upon a violin
Sentio, ergo sum
my musical Descartes
each song
deeper
deeper
deeper
into my heart
mercy I cried
but in her lantern slide
did see my life
as though magnified

— J.S.

Killing Me Softly With Her Song

Insomnia

Image by Arek Socha via Pixabay

Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
That wavers with the spirit’s wind:
But in half-dreams that shift and roll
And still remember and forget,
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Our lives, most dear, are never near,
Our thoughts are never far apart,
Though all that draws us heart to heart
Seems fainter now and now more clear.
To-night Love claims his full control,
And with desire and with regret
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Is there a home where heavy earth
Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
Where water leaves no thirst again
And springing fire is Love’s new birth?
If faith long bound to one true goal
May there at length its hope beget,
My soul that hour shall draw your soul
For ever nearer yet.

— Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Insomnia

Sun And Moon

Call My Name

Horst Ehricht, “Spring!” (Maclean’s Magazine, 1971)

Last night I was in the garden till 11 o’clock. It was the sweetest night that e’er I saw. The garden looked so well and the jasmine smelt beyond all perfume. And yet I was not pleased. The place had all the charms it used to have when I was most satisfied with it, and had you been there I should have liked it much more than ever I did; but that not being, it was no more to me than the next field…

— Letter from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple, Sunday, July 10th, 1653

Call My Name

The Waiting Game

WHEN you are very old, at evening
You’ll sit and spin beside the fire, and say,
Humming my songs, “Ah well, ah well-a-day!
When I was young, of me did Ronsard sing.”
None of your maidens that doth hear the thing,
Albeit with her weary task foredone,
But wakens at my name, and calls you one
Blest, to be held in long remembering.

I shall be low beneath the earth, and laid
On sleep, a phantom in the myrtle shade,
While you beside the fire, a grandame grey,
My love, your pride, remember and regret;
Ah, love me, love! we may be happy yet,
And gather roses, while ’tis called to-day.

— Pierre de Ronsard, “Of His Lady’s Old Age” (Tr. Lang)

The Waiting Game

“Wanting to Move”

Image by Niek Verlaan via Pixabay

Continually, a bell rings in my heart.
I was supposed to go somewhere, to some other place,
Tense from the long wait—
Where do you go, will you take me
“With you, on your horses, down the river, with the flame
of your torches?”

They burst out laughing.
“A tree wanting to move from place to place!”
Startled, I look at myself—
A tree, wanting to move from place to place, a tree
Wanting to move? Am I then—
Born here, to die here
Even die here?
Who rings the bell, then, inside my heart?
Who tells me to go, inside my heart?
Who agitates me, continually, inside my heart?

— Vijaya Mukhopadhyay, “Wanting to Move”

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

cf. photograph by Nathan Anderson via Unsplash

One day I asked the mirror facing me,
Friend, what’s true?…

How about my heart, mirror?…

Silence.

O mirror, I see.

I need a human friend
True enough
To reflect my heart.

— Tialuga Sunia Seloti

Stand by Me

She moves me

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1970)

HAVE you got a brook in your little heart…
Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go…

— Emily Dickinson

Something in the Way She Moves

“House of Spring”

cf. Photographs via Unsplash and Pexels

Hundreds of open flowers
all come from
the one branch
Look
all their colors
appear in my garden
I open the clattering gate
and in the wind
I see
the spring sunlight
already it has reached
worlds without number

— Musō Soseki (Tr. Merwin & Shigematsu)

I Just Want To Celebrate

When I was stone blue I knew what to do.

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1948)

EXERT thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to thy lays.
Free as thine shall be my song;
As thy music, short or long.

Poets wild as thee were born,
Pleasing best when unconfined,
When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest:
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still th’ unhappy poet’s breast,

Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins, let all be still!
Muse, thy promise now fulfil!
Sweet, oh sweet! still sweeter yet!

— Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, “To the Nightingale” (excerpt)

Stone Blue

coping: perspective

Photograph by Ioannis Ioannidis via Pixabay

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves…

— from Dubliners, James Joyce

The Dewey Decimal System

Thomas J. O’Halloran, “Young people working in Library” (1964)

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive.
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire.
They are the books, the arts, the academes
That show, contain, and nourish all the world.
Else none at all in ought proves excellent.

Love’s Labor’s Lost

What A Wonderful World

O MISTRESS mine, where are you roaming?

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1970)

O MISTRESS mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journeys end in lovers’ meeting—
Every wise man’s son doth know.

What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,—
Then come kiss me, Sweet-and-twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

— from Twelfth Night

Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes

For again Scrooge saw himself. He was older now…

magazine advertisement (1967)

“Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you are,” she returned. “I am. That which promised happiness when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, and can release you.”

“Have I ever sought release?”

“In words. No. Never.”

“In what, then?”

“In a changed nature; in an altered spirit; in another atmosphere of life; another Hope as its great end. In everything that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. If this had never been between us,” said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him; “tell me, would you seek me out and try to win me now? Ah, no!”

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in spite of himself. But he said with a struggle, “You think not.”

“I would gladly think otherwise if I could,” she answered, “Heaven knows! When I have learned a Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a dowerless girl— you who, in your very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain: or, choosing her, if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and regret would surely follow? I do; and I release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you once were.”

— Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Love Is The Answer

[Storm still.]

cf. Image by Engin Akyurt via Pixabay (edited)

This tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there…
O, that way madness lies. let me shun that;
No more of that.

King Lear

Beethoven: Grosse Fuge, Op. 133

Time has but half succeeded in his theft— Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left.

Frances S. Allen, “The difficult step” (ca. 1900)

OH that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
‘Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!’

— William Cowper, “On the Receipt of My Mother’s Picture out of Norfolk”

Everything I Own

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?…
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare…
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new…

— Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

“Flying High Again” Randy Rhoads Guitar Track

carpe diem quam minimum credula postero

Party at The Met, ca. 1960s

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad

BELL & JAMES — Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)

elegy

The Mirror (1975)

Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood…

— Joyce, Ulysses

In Loving Memory

Phenomenal

cf. Arthur Murray Dance Studio television commercial (ca. 1970)

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet…

— Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman

Extraordinary

Thalatta! Thalatta!

Photograph by Radu Florin via Unsplash

And when all had reached the summit, then indeed they fell to embracing one another, and generals and captains as well, with tears in their eyes. And on a sudden, at the bidding of some one or other, the soldiers began to bring stones and to build a great cairn…

— Xenophon, Anabasis

Doorstep

“Scott, your last fragments I arrange tonight…”

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

Back on the Chain Gang