cf. Images by Ralf Vetterle (laser) and alan9187 (woman) both via Pixabay (3D edited collage by me)
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)
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
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
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
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1962)
dost thou think it fire?
dost thou think it fleeting flame?
thou knowest the stars in the sky
and my heart
Warren K. Leffler, “Electric cars…” (1974)
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
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
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”
Photograph by Kevin Jarrett via Unsplash
With almost maternal solicitude she urged him to let his nature open to the full…
— Joyce, from Dubliners
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
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
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
SCORN not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frown’d,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlock’d his heart…
a roman à clef disguised as a blog…
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.
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
The Great Gatsby (1974)
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
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
LIFE Magazine, 1966
I would never see any thing but Pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and Happiness in your steps…
— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne, July, 1819
Cincinnati Magazine, 1982
They spoke in low tones, covered by the music. “Let us sit here, and look on, as though in a dream. For it is like a dream to me, that we are sitting like this…”
— The Magic Mountain
Hillary G. Bailey, “The Last Chord” (ca. 1935)
I remember the songs you taught me
and I can still see your hands on the keys —
graceful and intuitive
and the old upright still reverberates your memory
through the light and dust
and the years
Before leaving Saint-Rémy, he wrote to Émile Bernard:
“…And yet, once again I let myself go reaching for stars that are too big —
a new failure — and I have had enough of it.”
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
Encyclopaedia Britannica Films, Inc., Beginning to Date (1953)
Out of your whole life give but one moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, – so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, – condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense –
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me –
Me – sure that despite of time future, time past, –
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet –
The moment eternal – just that and no more –
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!
— Robert Browning, “Now”
PC Magazine, 1982
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds…
Photograph by Daniel Monteiro via Unsplash
Ceci n’est pas une intersection.
In the warm twilight
I am translated
at the red light
the song on the radio
holding, as ‘twere,
the mirror up to nature
and unravels my heart
Sports Illustrated, 1965
Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus
we shared a vanilla ice cream cone
under a vaulted arch
and a carillon chorale
through the leaded diamond pane window
I could hear
something about British history
Maclean’s Magazine (1967)
Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty
Runs this poor river, charged with streams of zeal:
Returning thee the tribute of my duty,
Which here my love, my youth, my plaints reveal.
Here I unclasp the book of my charged soul,
Where I have cast th’accounts of all my care:
Here have I summed my sighs, here I enroll
How they were spent for thee; look what they are.
Look on the dear expenses of my youth,
And see how just I reckon with thine eyes:
Examine well thy beauty with my truth,
And cross my cares ere greater sum arise.
Read it sweet maid, though it be done but slightly;
Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.
— Samuel Daniel, Delia 1: Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty
cf. edited collage featuring photograph by Sasha Freemind (man at window) via Unsplash
never give in, never give in, never, never, never…
— Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941, Harrow School
Photograph by John Loengard from “The Magic Of A Summer House” (LIFE Magazine, 1969)
I really miss you
because I need to ask
where do I go
What adults never tell you (about growing old)
I’m still there
cf. Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Michelangelo (modeled before 1883) and
photograph by Nathan Fertig via Unsplash (edited collage)
Lenehan walked on again. He lifted his yachtingcap and scratched his hindhead rapidly. He glanced sideways in the sunlight at M’Coy.
—He’s a cultured allroundman, Bloom is, he said seriously. He’s not one of your common or garden … you know … There’s a touch of the artist about old Bloom.
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”
Educational Screen and Audiovisual Guide Magazine, 1961
you held me and sang
come fly with me,
said the little red sled
and you gave me the wings of a bird
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
Photograph by Martino Pietropoli via Unsplash
I want my place! my own place! my true place in the world! my proper sphere! my thing to do, which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my lifetime!
— Hawthorne, The Intelligence Office
cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
and then I touch ground
cf. photograph by Karsten Würth via Unsplash (edited)
moment mirabilis (January, 1983)
billie jean on the car radio
on the on ramp
sunlight through a distant willow tree
cold air through the clouds diverging
I took a deep breath
This moment won’t ever be here again
Try to remember, hold on tight forever
To your life and love every night and day
Hold on and don’t let it slip away…
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. photograph by Tookapic via Pexels
I was overcome with remorse…because I hadn’t lived up to her expectations.
— Ionesco, The Hermit
cf. photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash (edited)
when I was young
rowing into a storm
you were on the shore
running alongside me
but I wasn’t listening
now, many years later
I’m still rowing
and I still see you
and I remember
everything you said
Pasadena (Calif.) Audubon Society, “Teaching Children To Love The Birds” (ca. 1922)
He gathered together a few shillings and wired them to Trieste; on Christmas eve John Joyce produced a few more to wire to Nora, quoting Vergil almost accurately, “Non ignara malorum miseris succurrere disco.”*
*“Having suffered myself, I know how to help those in trouble.”
— Richard Ellmann, James Joyce
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Seaward, white gleaming thro’ the busy scud
With arching Wings the sea-mew o’er my head
Posts on, as bent on speed; now passaging
Edges the stiffer Breeze, now yielding, drifts,
Now floats upon the air, and sends from far
A wildly-wailing Note.
John Collier, Jr., “Washington Hot Shoppe restaurant” (detail) (1941)
Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.
— Leigh Hunt
Nationaal Archief, “Presents at the top of a car” (detail)
His Notebooks, increasingly filled with intricate technical speculations on science and theology, lose much of their intimacy. But, at least until 1820, they are also far less painful and unhappy, apart from the occasional visitation of the ghosts and wolves of memory and loss.
In December 1816, after a long metaphysical speculation on “the three Protoplasms, or primary Forms” of Gravity, Light and Water, he suddenly stopped short and wrote:
“ASRA. Written as of yore. Christmas 1816. ASRA. Does the Past live with me alone? Coleridge.”
— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections
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
These sharp Springs
Will be time enough to sleep
Carefulness and tears
Now while life is raw and new,
Drink it clear, drink it deep!
Let the moonlight’s lunacy
Tear away your cautions…
Age will catch you…
Only graven in your soul
After all the rest is gone
There will be ecstasies,
— John Weaver, To Youth (excerpt)
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day is Done (excerpt)
A romantic resting against a mantelpiece clock.
You were right, Scott —
the past is forever.
John Dillwyn Llewelyn, “After the Storm” (ca. 1853)
I fit for them,
I seek the dark till I am thorough fit.
The labor is a solemn one,
With this sufficient sweet —
That abstinence as mine produce
A purer good for them,
If I succeed, —
If not, I had
The transport of the Aim.
— Emily Dickinson
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”
I have a hunch myself
not only about Mozart
and I also speculate about transcendence
but it doesn’t make me uncomfortable
(cf. Saul Bellow, “Mozart: An Overture”)
cf. Tom Hubbard, “Fountain Square…” (1973) and video by tmeier1964 via Pixabay (edited)
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 (excerpt)
cf. photograph by Lukasz Szmigiel via Unsplash (edited)
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
— Emily Dickinson, “Hope” is the thing with feathers (excerpt)
Risdon Tillery, “A young draftsman drawing plans for a house and developing his favorite hobby…” (detail) (1944)
“What career do you intend to take up, Mr. Joyce?” he asked. “The career of letters.” The dean persisted, “Isn’t there some danger of perishing of inanition in the meantime?” And Joyce, as his brother recorded, said this was one of the perils, but there were prizes too.
— Richard Ellmann, James Joyce
Mr. Wilcox, the bookseller, on being informed by him that his intention was to get his livelihood as an author, eyed his robust frame attentively, and with a significant look, said, “You had better buy a porter’s knot.”
— Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
cf. video by Orpheline via Pixabay
Little Chandler remembered (and the remembrance brought a slight flush of pride to his cheek) one of Ignatius Gallaher’s sayings when he was in a tight corner:
“Half time now, boys,” he used to say light-heartedly. “Where’s my considering cap?”
— Joyce, A Little Cloud
Jim Matchinga, “Roots” (Cincinnati Magazine, 1980)
Now this interconnection or adaptation of all created things to each and of each to all, means that each simple substance has relations which express all the others, and, consequently, that it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe.
— Leibniz, The Monadology
Jack Delano, “Flagman walks back to flag any oncoming trains…” (1943)
Do not wear your soul out with tears but be as usually brave and look hopefully to the future.
— Letter to James Joyce from his mother (quoted in Richard Ellmann, James Joyce)