da capo

Hillary G. Bailey, “The Last Chord” (ca. 1935)

da capo

I remember the songs you taught me
by heart
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

— J.S.
 

Gallery

“…a new failure — and I have had enough of it.” (Vincent van Gogh, born on this day)

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.”


Perseverance

Photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash

Perseverance

When all the world is looming dark
And things seem not so clear,
When shadows seem to hover ’round
Lord, may I persevere.
When it seems everything’s been tried
And there’s no way to go,
Just let me keep remembering
Sometimes the journey’s slow.
I may just need to stop and rest
Along the path I trod,
A time to try to understand
And have my talk with God.
As I gain new strength to carry on
Without a doubt or fear,
Somehow I know things will be right,
And so, I persevere.

— Anne Stortz

Roll On Down The Highway

“parking lot denouement”

Maclean’s Magazine, 1970

parking lot denouement

the passionate shepherd stood next to his honda civic
juliet stood nearby
all the stars in the sky
time slowed down
our lives were suspended
just for a moment
at a point turning
and then you were gone
the parking lot was empty,
all the pleasures waiting to be proved

— J.S.

There She Goes

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.

National Geographic, 1969

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny, nonny.

Much Ado About Nothing

Out of your whole life give but one moment!

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”

Ceci n’est pas une intersection.

Photograph by Daniel Monteiro via Unsplash

Ceci n’est pas une intersection.

In the warm twilight
I am translated
refracted
at the red light
the song on the radio
preternatural
holding, as ‘twere,
the mirror up to nature
and unravels my heart

— J.S.

Inside Out

Hyperion

Popular Mechanics, 1974

“Saturn, look up!—though wherefore, poor old King?
I have no comfort for thee, no not one:
I cannot say, “O wherefore sleepest thou?”
For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God;
And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
Has from thy sceptre pass’d; and all the air
Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,
Rumbles reluctant o’er our fallen house;
And thy sharp lightning in unpractis’d hands
Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! O moments big as years!

— Keats, Hyperion

She Brings the Rain

That man who sits in front of you

Harry E. Goodwin, “The Barker” (ca. 1935)

He seems very similar to the gods
That man who sits in front of you
And listens to you speaking
And smiles softly;
And suddenly my heart throbs.
When I glance at you,
I can no longer speak…

— Sappho, Fragment 31 (Tr. Labate)

Sideshow

Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus

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

— J.S.

See A Little Light

Hesperide Summer

Herbert L. Spencer, “Mere Man” (ca. 1934)

EXCEPT the smaller size, no Lives are round,
These hurry to a sphere, and show, and end.
The larger, slower grow, and later hang—
The Summers of Hesperides are long.

— Emily Dickinson

Lonely Weekend

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire…

cf. edited digital collage featuring photograph by Simon Migaj (man in jacket reaching) via Unsplash

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

— Shelley, “Music when Soft Voices Die (To –)”

Just once in a very blue moon
And I feel one comin’ on soon…

Once In A Very Blue Moon

depression mantra

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

 

“the docent”

Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco (1506–15) on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 534

the docent

just before
closing time
i found myself
in european sculpture and decorative arts
lost in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
with so much to learn
and you resplendently reverberant
in a white blouse
like an impressionist painting

— J.S.

Hatchie — Sure

a fever, longing still

Hot Rod Girl (1956)

In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav’nly-pensive contemplation dwells,
And ever-musing melancholy reigns;
What means this tumult…?
Why rove my thoughts beyond this last retreat?
Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?

— Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard

I Want You Bad

holding on

cf. photograph by Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay and video by MixailMixail via Pixabay (edited collage)

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

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

— Emily Dickinson

Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio

Rip Van Winkle

Northeastern University, Course Catalog (1973-74)

Tired I feel now. Will I get up? O wait… She kissed me. Never again. My youth. Only once it comes. Or hers. Take the train there tomorrow. No. Returning not the same. Like kids your second visit to a house. The new I want. Nothing new under the sun. Care of P. O. Dolphin’s Barn. Are you not happy in your? Naughty darling. At Dolphin’s barn charades in Luke Doyle’s house. Mat Dillon and his bevy of daughters: Tiny, Atty, Floey, Maimy, Louy, Hetty. Molly too. Eightyseven that was. Year before we. And the old major, partial to his drop of spirits. Curious she an only child, I an only child. So it returns. Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. And just when he and she. Circus horse walking in a ring. Rip van Winkle we played. Rip: tear in Henny Doyle’s overcoat. Van: breadvan delivering. Winkle: cockles and periwinkles. Then I did Rip van Winkle coming back. She leaned on the sideboard watching. Moorish eyes. Twenty years asleep in Sleepy Hollow. All changed. Forgotten. The young are old…

— Joyce, Ulysses

Strawberry Wine

sequelae

photograph by mikegi via Pixabay (detail)

One white morning, you awoke to find
your black feathers rooted in the lake’s early freeze.
Your friends had fled…

— Margo Button, “With No Explanation”


Wouldn’t It Be Good – Nik Kershaw

A poor torn heart, a tattered heart

W. T. Starr, “The Idler” (ca. 1916)

A poor torn heart, a tattered heart,
That sat it down to rest,
Nor noticed that the ebbing day
Flowed silver to the west,
Nor noticed night did soft descend
Nor constellation burn,
Intent upon the vision
Of latitudes unknown…

— Emily Dickinson

Super Bowl V ½

cf. Library Company of Philadelphia, “Wissahickon Creek” (detail) and
photograph by Bob Canning via Unsplash (edited collage)

Super Bowl V ½

the ultrablue winter twilight
and my huge snowsuit
as the ball sailed over the clothesline

— J.S.
 

“THE EPOCH”

Art Hanson, “Students Resting in the Hall Against Their Lockers Waiting for Class…” (1975)

At the inn, Coleridge emblazoned into his Notebook, in huge, drunken capital letters, two portentous words, “THE EPOCH”, followed by three pages of frantic scrawl…

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

You Can’t Change That

strong in that hour

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
 

a persistent question

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

my lost self

cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)

like Antaeus
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
my strength
my spirit
myself
and then I touch ground
again

— J.S.

Van Halen – 6/12/81 – Oakland Coliseum

impression

cf. Nancy Ford Cones, “Mending The Net” (ca. 1912) and John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott (1888)

…trying as usual to get my picture of myself straight.

— Robert Lowell, Near the Unbalanced Aquarium
 
Dowland — Book of Songs, Book 1: “All ye whom love or fortune hath betrayed” (David Munderloh)

“moment mirabilis (January, 1983)”

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
sparkles glass
far away
cold air through the clouds diverging
I took a deep breath
and accelerated

— J.S.

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…

Hold It

“I was in love once — would you believe that?”

Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1978-79

“I, uh, I was in love once — would you believe that? But I possessed neither the courage nor the optimism — perhaps the depth of feeling — that you two have.”

— A Christmas Carol (1984)

“the first return since undergraduate days twelve years previously…”

collage including video by Anatwell-Group via Pixabay (edited)

Another expedition took him to Cambridge, the first return since undergraduate days twelve years previously, where the young men all looked just the same in the university pubs and “the only alteration” was in himself…

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

Linda Bruner, “Rainy Night In Georgia”

“He gathered together a few shillings and wired them to Trieste…”

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

Say I’m growing old, but add…

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

I Wanna Be With You

I know not “seems.”

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—

— Edgar Allan Poe, “Alone” (excerpt)

Outsider

“Does the past live with me alone?”

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

This Shirt

Quote

Poem to my 18-year-old self

These sharp Springs
Matter most
After years
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…

Never fear,
Age will catch you…

Only graven in your soul
After all the rest is gone
There will be ecstasies,
These alone

— John Weaver, To Youth (excerpt)

When Smokey Sings

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)

When Smokey Sings

Praeterita

cf. photograph by Sophia Baboolal via Unsplash and video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited)

I can see them at this moment, those mountain meadows, if I rise from my writing-table, and open the old barred valves of the corner window of the Hotel Bellevue;—yes, and there is the very path we climbed that day together, apparently unchanged. But on what seemed then the everlasting hills, beyond which the dawn rose cloudless, and on the heaven in which it rose, and on all that we that day knew, of human mind and virtue,—how great the change, and sorrowful, I cannot measure, and, in this place, I will not speak.

— John Ruskin, Praeterita

Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)

They Will Never Know

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

They Will Never Know

inner strength

James Montgomery Flagg, “You” (Life Publishing Co., 1906)

Recovery…may take time and may require some big adjustments and perhaps a great deal of inner strength.

— Jon Kabat-Zinn, “World of Relaxation”
 

Coldcut Featuring Lisa Stansfield – “People Hold On” (Dj “S” Bootleg “Thank U” Remix by Dj “S”)

The Dream

cf. videos via Pixabay (edited)

The enormous changes that we see in Ruskin, the Ruskin of Herkomer’s portrait, were caused by events which took place between February 14 and April 23, 1878. It was during this period that he experienced his first bout of full-blown insanity. Five more were to follow.

At the top of a blank page in his diary, Ruskin wrote of this period:

“February, — to April — the Dream”

— Wolfgang Kemp, The Desire of My Eyes
 

Spring and Fall

cf. Carol M. Highsmith, “Tremont Street, Boston” (between 1980 and 2006) and
video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited)

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

— Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring and Fall

If These Walls Could Speak

broken

William James Mullins, “Children Fishing” (ca. 1900)

“…I worry about so many things, and everything is so hard for me. For instance, I cut my finger or hurt myself some way — and it’s a wound that heals for other people in a week, but it takes four weeks with me. It just won’t heal, it gets infected, gets really ghastly, and gives me all kinds of trouble. The other day Herr Brecht told me that my teeth look horrible, that they’re all deteriorating and wearing down, not to mention the ones he’s already pulled. That’s how things stand now. And what will I bite with when I’m thirty, or forty? I’ve lost all hope.”

“Come on,” Kai said and picked up the pace of their stroll. “And now tell me a little about your piano playing…are you going to play the piano this afternoon?”

Hanno was silent for a moment. A bleak, confused, feverish look came to his eyes. “Yes, I’ll probably improvise a while,” he said…

— Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks

I’m One

“An autumn wind whistled around corners and gables.”

cf. C.M. Bell, “Unidentified man” (between 1873 and ca. 1916) and
John Rogers, “Rip Van Winkle Returned” (1871)

Then the rambling old house lay tightly wrapped in darkness and silence. Pride, hope, and fear all slept, while rain pelted the deserted streets and an autumn wind whistled around corners and gables.

— Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks

When You Were Young

You’re gonna need security

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

Finally Found A Home

“bright stars”

cf. photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay (edit)

bright stars

like Keats and Fanny Brawne
butterflies
for three summer days
filled with more delight than those fifty common years
ever contained
in the twilight streetlamps
the warm night air
and the car radio
I turned
and looked at you

— J.S.

Rush Hour

Who Goes with Fergus?

cf. London Stereoscopic Company, “Jeames at Home!” (ca. 1860-1870)

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?
 

Return Of The Mack (C&J Extended Mix) by Mark Morrison

Skylark

cf. videos by MEISTERvideo (train) and Vimeo-Free-Videos (rain) both via Pixabay (edited)

Skylark was much like her father. She simply lived her life from day to day. But now, as the receding landscape, the alternating meadows made her think of what could never change, would always stay the same, her heart sank…

She set off back down the swaying corridor of the train hurrying anxiously as if in flight, as if in search of a more secure and secluded space in which to hide her pain.

When she reached the compartment where the young man and the old, gaunt Catholic priest sat in silence, she tried to return to her seat. But now she could no longer contain her suffering.

Her eyes filled with tears.

— Dezso Kosztolanyi, Skylark

If I Have To Be Alone

recurring scenario

Ernst Halberstadt, “Elevated Railroad Structure…” (1973)

A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression.

— Samuel Johnson, Prayers and Meditations

70’s Scenario

This is the Hour of Lead –

cf. magazine advertisement

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow…

— Emily Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes –” (excerpt)
 

Wouldn’t It Be Good – Nik Kershaw (acoustic)

college epiphany (a true story)

college epiphany (a true story)

at precisely 10 o’clock he
(a distinguished professor in the history department)
closed the door and walked briskly to the lectern

“There is one song…,”

he whirled on us
in an exaggeratedly sotto voce
stage whisper

“that changed…,”

he crouched forward dramatically
leaning into the first row of seats
then paced back and forth across the front of the classroom
like Holmes to our Watsons
his hands in a sweeping gesture across the entire spellbound auditorium

“…EVERYTHING!”

My Sharona was now receding into the dim, dark, distant past
quod erat demonstrandum!

— J.S.

Have You Never Been Mellow  Olivia Newton-John

problem-solving

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

Transfigured Night

Wild Strawberries (1957)

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls. A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table — Samsa was a travelling salesman — and above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame. It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer.

— Kafka, Metamorphosis

That summer

cf. American Scenery publishing company, “Top Corridor of Palace Hotel” (ca. 1850s–1910s)

April 15. Met her today point blank in Grafton Street. The crowd brought us together. We both stopped. She asked me why I never came, said she had heard all sorts of stories about me. This was only to gain time. Asked me was I writing poems? About whom? I asked her. This confused her more and I felt sorry and mean. Turned off that valve at once and opened the spiritual-heroic refrigerating apparatus, invented and patented in all countries by Dante Alighieri. Talked rapidly of myself and my plans. In the midst of it unluckily I made a sudden gesture of a revolutionary nature. I must have looked like a fellow throwing a handful of peas into the air. People began to look at us. She shook hands a moment after and, in going away, said she hoped I would do what I said.
Now I call that friendly, don’t you?
Yes, I liked her today. A little or much? Don’t know. I liked her and it seems a new feeling to me. Then, in that case, all the rest, all that I thought I thought and all that I felt I felt, all the rest before now, in fact… O, give it up, old chap! Sleep it off!

— Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

To Each His Own

My dear Jim

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)

“tempus fugit”

Jack Corn, “Children During Recess…” (1974)

tempus fugit

nowadays
jobs
wives, husbands
houses
children
but I —
I was there
in that bright autumn dawn
on the playground
when we sparkled
and our dreams were the morning stars
still in the sky

— J.S.

Old Days

CHAPTER I: Down The Rabbit Hole

cf. photograph by Nik Shuliahin via Unsplash (edit)

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! “I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time?” she said aloud. “I must be getting somewhere near the center of the earth…”

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I Don’t Understand

Hero

photograph by Liane Metzler via Unsplash

I believe I can cover most of the expenses of publication of my daughter’s “Alphabet.” My idea is not to persuade her that she is a Cézanne but that, on her 29th birthday, she may see something to persuade her that her whole past has not been a failure.

The reason I keep on trying by every means to find a solution for her case — which may come at any time as it did with my eyes — is that she may not think that she is left with a blank future as well.

I am aware that I am blamed by everybody for sacrificing that “precious metal” — money — to such an extent for such a purpose when it could be done so cheaply and quietly by locking her up in an economical “mental prison” for the rest of her life. I will not do so as long as I see a single chance of hope for her recovery nor blame her or punish her for the great crime she has committed in being a victim to one of the most elusive diseases known to men and unknown to medicine.

And I imagine that if you were where she is and felt as she must you would perhaps feel some hope if you felt that you were neither abandoned nor forgotten.

— Letter from James Joyce to Harriet Weaver, 1936 (quoted in Richard Ellmann, James Joyce)
 

I sat upon the shore fishing, with the arid plain behind me

Ian Livesey, “Rainy rainy Manchester” (detail) (2015)

On Margate Sands
I can’t stop connecting
everything with everything
the present
with the past
the broken fingernails of dirty hands.
To Carthage I came, once, many years ago
burning
now dull roots with spring rain
stirring

— J.S.

Say Goodbye to Hollywood

He thought he kept the universe alone

Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1975-76

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried…

— Robert Frost, The Most Of It (excerpt)

Behind The Lines

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me

cf. video by SlowMoJoe via Pixabay

The “morbid melancholy,” which was lurking in his constitution, and to which we may ascribe those particularities, and that aversion to regular life, which, at a very early period, marked his character, gathered such strength in his twentieth year, as to afflict him in a dreadful manner. While he was at Lichfield, in the college vacation of the year 1729, he felt himself overwhelmed with a horrible hypochondria, with perpetual irritation, fretfulness, and impatience; and with a dejection, gloom, and despair, which made existence misery. From this dismal malady he never afterwards was perfectly relieved; and all his labours, and all his enjoyments, were but temporary interruptions of its baleful influence. He told Mr. Paradise that he was sometimes so languid and inefficient, that he could not distinguish the hour upon the town-clock.

Boswell’s Life of Johnson
 

“What is wrong with woollen gloves?”

cf. photograph by Joshua Coleman via Unsplash (edit)

The possibility of having [Ulysses] published in a more regular way came up again in June 1918, when Roger Fry suggested Miss Weaver call on Leonard and Virginia Woolf to induce them to publish the book at their new Hogarth Press. Virginia Woolf noted in her diary the incongruous appearance of Miss Weaver as the ‘buttoned-up’ and woollen-gloved missionary for a book that ‘reeled with indecency.’*

*Miss Weaver, when the passage was quoted to her, demanded with acerbity, ‘What is wrong with woollen gloves?’

— Richard Ellmann, James Joyce
 

“(Shine Your) Light Love Hope” by Bob Mould

Lynx Eye

Northeastern University Bulletin, 1980-81

STEPHEN: (Brings the match near his eye.) Lynx eye. Must get glasses. Broke them yesterday. Sixteen years ago. Distance. The eye sees all flat. (He draws the match away. It goes out.) Brain thinks. Near: far. Ineluctable modality of the visible. (He frowns mysteriously.) Hm… Married.

— Joyce, Ulysses
 

“Time Passages” by Al Stewart

“The past is a foreign country…”

August, 1984

To be sure, it is sheer madness… to return to the sites of one’s youth and try to relive at forty what one loved or keenly enjoyed at twenty. But I was forewarned of that madness… I hoped, I think, to recapture there a freedom I could not forget. In that spot, indeed, more than twenty years ago, I had spent whole mornings wandering… I was alive then.

— Camus, Return To Tipasa

“Free Man In Paris” — Joni Mitchell

“And sweetest in the gale is heard…”

Jerome B. Thompson, “A Pic Nick in the Woods of New England” (detail) (ca. 1855)

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all…

— Emily Dickinson
 

“All Right” by Christopher Cross

“Now Close the Windows”

Le feu follet (1963)

Now close the windows and hush all the fields;
If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
Be it my loss.

It will be long ere the marshes resume,
It will be long ere the earliest bird:
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
But see all wind-stirred.

— Robert Frost

“It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” — Alison Krauss

“Who has the most matches?”

Ernst Halberstadt, “City Hall Plaza–A Pleasant Setting for Rest and Conversation” (1973)

—He’s pretty well on, professor MacHugh said in a low voice.

—Seems to be, J. J. O’Molloy said, taking out a cigarettecase in murmuring meditation, but it is not always as it seems. Who has the most matches?

— Joyce, Ulysses

“Love Of The Common Man” — Todd Rundgren

“tanglewood in blue”

photograph by Jonathan Dubon via Unsplash (edit)

tanglewood in blue

a moment
I held
once forever
in the summer grass
steadfast bright stars
still turning

—J.S.

—Yes. So you think…

The door closed behind the outgoer.

Rest suddenly possessed the discreet vaulted cell, rest of warm and brooding air.

A vestal’s lamp.

Here he ponders things that were not… what might have been: possibilities of the possible as possible: things not known…

— Joyce, Ulysses

“Fifty Years After The Fair” — Aimee Mann

“The problem with life is that it’s too daily.”

Horacio Villalobos, “Housewife in the Kitchen…” (ca. 1975)

“The problem with life is that it’s too daily.”

— Sarah E. Sapiro

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest…

— T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

“Sweet Bird” — Joni Mitchell

The Calling

edited composite video: live action + Pudding Lane Productions

—It is this hour of a day in mid June, Stephen said, begging with a swift glance their hearing. The flag is up on the playhouse by the bankside… Canvasclimbers who sailed with Drake chew their sausages among the groundlings…

—Shakespeare has left the huguenot’s house in Silver street and walks by the swanmews along the riverbank. But he does not stay to feed the pen chivying her game of cygnets towards the rushes. The swan of Avon has other thoughts…

— Joyce, Ulysses

“open tuning (august, 1981)”

cf. photograph by Genessa Panainte via Unsplash (edit)

open tuning (august, 1981)

under the proscenium arch
seeming you near me
staccato heartbeats
inspired and altered
what chord is that?
and I answered
I don’t
even
really
know

—J.S.

“Cinnamon Girl” — Neil Young

Tender is the night… but here there is no light

photograph by Forrest Cavale via Unsplash (edit)

Dick tried to rest — the struggle would come presently at home and he might have to sit a long time, restating the universe for her… But the brilliance, the versatility of madness is akin to the resourcefulness of water seeping through, over and around a dike. It requires the united front of many people to work against it… In a tired way, he planned that they would again resume the régime relaxed a year before…

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

“Compassion” – Todd Rundgren

“doppelgänger”

Tom Hubbard, “…Public Plaza, Fountain Square…” (1973)

doppelgänger

long ago
I diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel
long I stood
and looked as far as I could
doubting I should ever come back
I am telling this with a sigh
traveling by
has made all the difference

—J.S.

“Bridge of Sighs” — Robin Trower

The Myth Of Sisyphus

photograph by Kristopher Roller via Unsplash

All Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing…There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night…Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling…

— Camus, The Myth Of Sisyphus

Say Yeah

Ernst Halberstadt, “Ice Skating in the Public Garden” (detail) (1973)

“Are you going to stay in town long?” asked Kitty.

“I don’t know,” he answered, not thinking of what he was saying.

The thought that if he were held in check by her tone of quiet friendliness he would end by going back again without deciding anything came into his mind, and he resolved to rebel against it.

“How is it you don’t know?”

“I don’t know why. It depends on you,” he said, and instantly he was horrified at his own words.

She either did not understand his words, or did not want to understand them, for, seeming to stumble once or twice, catching her foot, she hurriedly skated away from him. She skated up to Mlle. Linon, said something to her, and went towards the pavilion where the ladies took off their skates.

— Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Utopia – “Say Yeah”

A Modern Aeneid

cf. photograph by Gabriel Laroche (edit) via Unsplash

Muse, tell me why, for what attaint of her deity, or in what vexation, did the Queen of heaven drive one so excellent in goodness to circle through so many afflictions, to face so many toils? Is anger so fierce in celestial spirits?

— Virgil, Aeneid
 

“Carry On My Wayward Son” by Samantha Loren

Ulysses

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

Mother’s Day

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)
 

“In Time of Storm”

cf. video by go_see via Pixabay

Brightness

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
our cargo
floating about

Many
labors
until dry land

—Sappho, “In Time of Storm” (Tr. Barnstone)

“Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” – New England

Call me Ishmael.

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”

“the bends”

cf. photograph by Sam Soffes via Unsplash (edit)

the bends

under
fog of fluorescence
this watch said
5:07
Wednesday
26
November
1986
grey noises
office
voices
footsteps
windows
already dark
radiating winter
compressioned
and
descending

—J.S.
 

Patty Griffin – “Rain”

This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.

photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay

My tables—meet it is I set it down…

Hamlet

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

—T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

“Black Sheets Of Rain” – Bob Mould

Who is it that can tell me who I am?

Photograph by Bruce Mars via Pexels

KING LEAR:
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?

FOOL:
Lear’s shadow.

Straight Ahead

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)

More Light

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

CHAPTER I: Arrival

cf. John Adams Whipple, “Cornelius Conway Felton with His Hat and Coat” (detail) (ca. 1850) and
video by Activedia via Pixabay

An unassuming young man was travelling, in midsummer, from his native city of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the Canton of the Grisons, on a three weeks’ visit.

From Hamburg to Davos is a long journey — too long, indeed, for so brief a stay…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 

“Point Of Know Return” by Kansas

I’m out here in the meadow

TV Commercial

All stood amazed, until an old woman, tottering out from among the crowd, put her hand to her brow, and peering under it in his face for a moment, exclaimed, “Sure enough! it is Rip Van Winkle—it is himself! Welcome home again, old neighbor—Why, where have you been these twenty long years?”

—Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle

“a closed book”

Camden Public Library, “The 6-masted schooner George W. Wells…” (detail) (ca. 1900)

a closed book

just for an instant
the future,
ionized and incandescent
split the sky
then was lost

—J.S.
 

G. F. Handel – Suite No. 2 – Adagio by Elina Christova

“back issue (june, 1981)”

cf. photograph by Tyler Springhetti via Unsplash

back issue (june, 1981)

on the prudential tower escalator
the wind
and your smile
blithe spirits
moving beyond me

—J.S.
 

“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & J.F. Coley

“returner”

cf. photographs by Noel Y. C., Artful Dioramas of North American Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History and Warren Wong via unsplash

returner

into the diorama
quickly by the buffalo
down the mountain
along the freeway
I flag down the driver
of a 1965 ford fairlane

—J.S.
 

“The Middle Ages” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Renaissance

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…

King Lear

“Love Is Alive” – Gary Wright

Livin’ It Up

Photograph by Paul Trienekens via Unsplash

“My sister is in the country. I have a house all to myself, wear no clothes, take 10 big baths a day, & dine on lemonade and ice-cream…”

—Letter from Henry James to his London publisher quoted in Jean Strouse, Alice James: A Biography

“Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)” – Bell And James

For Guy

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

“What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman…”

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

How to Regain Your Soul

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
afternoon
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”

A Turning Point

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)

On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye

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…

Lux Aeterna

Provincial Archives of Alberta, “Marten River Provincial Park, Alberta” (1970)

Lux Aeterna

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)

wind waves
sun clouds glinting
forsaking the fragile
unredeemable future
I call to you

J.S.
 

“Come Back To Me” by Janet Jackson

“Keats, walk a hundred yards over the rim”

cf. photograph by Felix Russell-Saw via Unsplash

“Keats, walk a hundred yards over the rim”

Keats,
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

—J.S.
(cf. “The Twilight Zone”, Season 2, Episode 23, 1961)

“Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.”

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

Hyperion

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)

“At The College Art Gallery, October, 1981”

cf. Home Movie (1947)

at the college art gallery, october, 1981

the ultrablue sunset sky
radiated around the white church spire
I walked into the art gallery
because I was a romantic
fair creature of an hour
was looking at chippendale furniture
but I shall never look upon thee more
my footfalls echoed around decorative arts
down the passage which I did not take
another door was opening
into another rose-garden
this fire is now my quarry
vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore

—J.S.

“You must tell me something that you are sure is true”

William Strode, “Magazines And Newspapers Litter The Intersection Of Sixth & Broadway…” (1972)

You must tell me something that you are sure is true —
I don’t care much what it may be, I will take your word for it.
Things get into a muddle with me…

—Mary Temple, letter to John C. Gray

Panic Station

cf. photograph by Andy Beales via Unsplash (edited)

It was very early in the morning, the streets were clean and deserted, I was on my way to the train station. When I compared the time on a clock tower with that on my pocket watch and realized that it was already much later than I thought, I really had to rush, the shock at this discovery made me suddenly uncertain as to the right direction, I didn’t yet know my way all that well in this city…

— Franz Kafka, “Give It Up!”

Charlotte’s Web

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