Part One: Life

cf. Library Company of Philadelphia, “Frankford Creek and Vicinity, Winter” (ca. late 19th century) and
photograph by Peter Gonzalez via Unsplash

Ashes denote that fire was;
Respect the grayest pile
For the departed creature’s sake
That hovered there awhile.

Fire exists the first in light,
And then consolidates,—
Only the chemist can disclose
Into what carbonates.

Emily Dickinson

Chapter 8

Polaroid photograph by Andrei Tarkovsky

It was dawn now on Long Island and we went about opening the rest of the windows down-stairs, filling the house with gray-turning, gold-turning light. The shadow of a tree fell abruptly across the dew and ghostly birds began to sing among the blue leaves. There was a slow, pleasant movement in the air, scarcely a wind, promising a cool, lovely day.

“I don’t think she ever loved him.” Gatsby turned around from a window and looked at me challengingly.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“I dwell in a lonely house I know…”

John Dillwyn Llewelyn, The Upper Fall (1853–56)

I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow…

–Robert Frost, Ghost House
 

‘Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone…

cf. Photograph by Arnel Hasanovic via Unsplash

‘Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone…

Romeo and Juliet

Dance you into daylight…

 

“Rock With You” • The Reflex Re√ision by The Reflex

“I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass…”

cf. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Landscape with dirt road and stone wall” (ca. 1900)

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass…

—Whitman, Song Of Myself

“Doubt thou the stars are fire…”

cf. Henry Farrer, Winter Scene in Moonlight (1869) and stock footage – STARS – Time Lapse – Night

Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping place,
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.

The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what’s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.

–W.B. Yeats, Fallen Majesty

99, I’ve been waiting so long…

“And miles to go before I sleep.”

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…

 

a-large-erratic-resting-on-gneiss-cape-denison-area-1200
State Library of New South Wales, “A large erratic resting on gneiss Cape Denison area” (ca. 1911)

“Alone he stood there and empty like a castaway on the shore…”

Geo. H. Scheer, “The Road In The Sand” (ca. 1915)

Starting up from this dream, he felt encompassed by a deep sadness. Worthless, so it seemed to him, worthless and pointless was the way he had been going through life; nothing which was alive, nothing which was in some way delicious or worth keeping he had left in his hands. Alone he stood there and empty like a castaway on the shore…

—Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

The World Is Too Much With Us

Charles O’Rear, Las Vegas street scene (1972)

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

–William Wordsworth

One time a thing occurred to me…

“We’d leave the others and find a night like this, whatever we had to give, and no matter how far, to be so happy again.”

Boyd Norton, Hills and forest of northern Cheyenne Indian reservation… (Billings, Montana) (1973)

We were alone one night on a long
road in Montana. This was in winter, a big
night, far to the stars. We had hitched,
my wife and I, and left our ride at
a crossing to go on. Tired and cold-but
brave-we trudged along. This, we said,
was our life, watched over, allowed to go
where we wanted. We said we’d come back some time
when we got rich. We’d leave the others and find
a night like this, whatever we had to give,
and no matter how far, to be so happy again.

–William Stafford, “Once in the Forties”

Won’t you meet me in Montana?
I want to see the mountains in your eyes
I’ve had all of this life I can handle
Meet me underneath that big Montana sky…

“Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual; I’ve noticed it too.”

cf. Carol M. Highsmith, Ominous clouds above Pine Bluffs… (2015)

Nat remarked upon it when hedging was finished for the day. “Yes,” said the farmer, “there are more birds about than usual; I’ve noticed it too. And daring, some of them, taking no notice of the tractor. One or two gulls came so close to my head this afternoon I thought they’d knock my cap off! As it was, I could scarcely see what I was doing when they were overhead and I had the sun in my eyes. I have a notion the weather will change. It will be a hard winter. That’s why the birds are restless.”

—Daphne du Maurier, The Birds