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”
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
David Falconer, “One Family of Four Moved Into the Attic of Their Home…” (1973)
I was happier then. Or was that I? Or am I now I?
Twentyeight I was. She twentythree.
When we left Lombard street west something changed.
Could never like it again after Rudy.
Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand.
Would you go back to then? Just beginning then. Would you?
—James Joyce, Ulysses
Hatchie — “Sure”
cf. John Margotta, “La Galleria” (Orange Coast Magazine, 1986)
Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?
— Thackeray, Vanity Fair
Miroslav Sido, “Mother”
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away…
That lingers in the garden there.
— Robert Louis Stevenson, “To Any Reader” (excerpt)
cf. video by go_see via Pixabay
and with good luck
we will reach the harbor
and black earth
We sailors have no will
in big blasts of wind,
hoping for dry land
and to sail
until dry land
—Sappho, “In Time of Storm” (Tr. Barnstone)
“Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” – New England
photograph by Mark Jefferson Paraan via Unsplash
Because no man can ever feel his own identity aright except his eyes be closed; as if darkness were indeed the proper element of our essences, though light be more congenial to our clayey part.
— Melville, Moby Dick
Electric Light Orchestra – “Last Train To London”
cf. photograph by Sam Soffes via Unsplash (edit)
fog of fluorescence
this watch said
Patty Griffin – “Rain”
photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay
My tables—meet it is I set it down…
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
Photograph by Bruce Mars via Pexels
Doth any here know me? This is not Lear.
Doth Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes?
Either his notion weakens, his discernings
Are lethargied—Ha! Waking? ’Tis not so.
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – Elton John
Photograph by Easton Oliver via Unsplash
His railings and outbursts expressed not the conviction of failure but the passion for success. They touched off his disappointment, his injured self-esteem, his wounded pride, without ultimately concealing his determination to persevere — his finally unshakeable will to achieve. The strain of remonstrative self-pity and pessimism in Conrad was an overlay to the iron in him.
—Leo Gurko, “Joseph Conrad: Giant in Exile”
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
—Emerson, Self Reliance
Aerosmith – “Make It” (2007)
Tom Hubbard, “…Sale of Donated Books…” (1973)
For me that white figure in the stillness of coast and sea seemed to stand at the heart of a vast enigma. The twilight was ebbing fast from the sky above his head, the strip of sand had sunk already under his feet, he himself appeared no bigger than a child — then only a speck, a tiny white speck, that seemed to catch all the light left in a darkened world. . . . And, suddenly, I lost him. . . .
—Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
“More Light” – Utopia
photograph by Annie Spratt via Unsplash
There’s not a string attuned to mirth,
But has its chord in melancholy.
—Thomas Hood, Ode to Melancholy
World Bipolar Day | International Bipolar Foundation
“Both Sides Now” by Kjartan Gullikstad
cf. photograph by Tim Gouw via Unsplash and Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1980-82
I see you
“Hey Nineteen” – Steely Dan
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
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
“Meadows” – Joe Walsh
Camden Public Library, “The 6-masted schooner George W. Wells…” (detail) (ca. 1900)
a closed book
just for an instant
ionized and incandescent
split the sky
then was lost
G. F. Handel – Suite No. 2 – Adagio by Elina Christova
cf. photograph by Tyler Springhetti via Unsplash
back issue (june, 1981)
on the prudential tower escalator
and your smile
moving beyond me
“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & J.F. Coley
cf. photographs by Noel Y. C., Artful Dioramas of North American Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History and Warren Wong via unsplash
into the diorama
quickly by the buffalo
down the mountain
along the freeway
I flag down the driver
of a 1965 ford fairlane
“The Middle Ages” by Mary Chapin Carpenter
Tom Hubbard, “…Troupes Dancing in the Square Are Joined by Young-In-Heart Spectator” (1973)
Thou shalt find
That I’ll resume the shape which thou dost think
I have cast off forever…
“Love Is Alive” – Gary Wright
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
cf. UL Digital Library, “Interior of Foundation Building”
so much milk spilled
so much bridged water
so much greener grass
so much silver lining
so much unglittered gold—
so much unsaid
so much unsaid,
Ringo Starr – “Photograph”
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
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“
cf. video by Sixstringplayer via Pixabay
“Whatcha Gonna Do?” – Pablo Cruise
Horacio Villalobos, “…a Member of the Parish Is Shown Playing a Guitar at a Folk Mass…” (1975)
Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer
that one place where the valley floor opens out.
You will see
the white butterflies…
—William Stafford, How to Regain Your Soul (excerpt)
Kennedy Rose – “Some Walls”
cf. Photograph by The Creative Exchange via Unsplash
One sound is saying, ‘You are not worth tuppence,
But neither is anybody. Watch it! Be severe.’
The other says, ‘Go with it! Give and swerve.
You are everything you feel beside the river.’
—Seamus Heaney, Casting and Gathering (excerpt)
cf. Photograph by Mike Wilson via Unsplash and Nationaal Archief, “Testing guitar in a music shop…” (1957)
cf. Provincial Archives of Alberta, “Vermilion Agricultural and Vocational College” (1970)
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once…
—William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey…
cf. Jonathan Petersson, “346” (2017)
antediluvian (august, 1986)
in my car at the red light
cascades of rain
empty the town
for an eternity
tried to begin again
cf. video by chayka1270 via Pixabay
Pour on. I will endure.
Provincial Archives of Alberta, “Marten River Provincial Park, Alberta” (1970)
suddenly the memory reveals itself
so then, what is time?
time past is time present
I begin again with that summer
(borne back ceaselessly)
(It avails not, time)
sun clouds glinting
forsaking the fragile
I call to you
“Come Back To Me” by Janet Jackson
cf. photograph by Felix Russell-Saw via Unsplash
“Keats, walk a hundred yards over the rim”
leave the Piazza di Spagna
walk a hundred yards over the rim
I have your penicillin
I won’t let you go
there are more poems to write
and she is still waiting for you
(cf. “The Twilight Zone”, Season 2, Episode 23, 1961)
cf. video by klimkin via Pixabay
These days were filled with puzzlement, with thoughts of the hopes of the past, of the changes that life brings, of the whole “Burden of the Mystery” — the phrase that had meant so much to him for so long. And the burden was greater now than any he had ever experienced before…
—Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats
“Fire And Rain” by James Taylor
cf. Alfred Stieglitz, “An Icy Night” (1898) and video by CAMERAGE via Pixabay
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad ‘mid her reeds
Press’d her cold finger closer to her lips…
—Keats, Hyperion (excerpt)
Michael Philip Manheim, “Constitution Beach, on Boston Harbor…” (1973)
What is time? A secret — insubstantial and omnipotent…
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
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
cf. LIFE, 1964
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself…
–Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
The Donnas – “Strutter”
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!”
Wil Blanche, “In Battery Park, on the Lower Tip of Manhattan Island” (1973)
Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte.
I’m just about average for a pig.”
“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied
Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my
best friend, and I think you’re sensational. Now stop
arguing and go get some sleep!”
—E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web
Left: Underwood & Underwood, “…a country farm-yard in Ireland” (ca. 1903)
Right: L.M. Melander & Bro., “Another button off” (ca. 1875)
Cincinnati Magazine, 1977
“…In your twenty-fourth year, you say? Hmm … please permit me one more question, or if you will, a modest suggestion. Since your stay here appears not to be good for you — neither physically nor, if I am not mistaken, mentally — how would it be, if you were to forgo the pleasure of growing older here, in short, if you were to pack your things tonight and be on your way with one of the scheduled express trains tomorrow morning?”
“You mean I should leave?” Hans Castorp asked. “When I’ve only just arrived? But no, how can I possibly decide about that after only one day?”
And as he said it, quite by chance he caught a glimpse of Frau Chauchat in the next room…
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
cf. video by MikesPhotos via Pixabay
The lamentable change is from the best…
—Shakespeare, King Lear
Jack Corn, “The Cool Morning Air Condenses a Boy’s Breath as He Walks Along a Coal Car on His Way to School…” (1974)
“Nay, if I mistake not, unity itself divided by zero equals infinity.”
“Flaming Youth” by Kiss
cf. LIFE, 1964
UNIDENTIFIED GUEST: Your wife has left you?
EDWARD: Without warning, of course;
Just when she’d arranged a cocktail party.
She’d gone when I came in, this afternoon.
She left a note to say that she was leaving me;
But I don’t know where she’s gone…
—T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
Esther Bubley, “Students at Woodrow Wilson High School” (1943)
…his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth — yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams. But — oh, Rosalind! Rosalind! . . .
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise
“Time Passages” by Al Stewart
cf. Corson Hirschfeld, “Sporting Life” (Cincinnati Magazine, 1977)
Morris looked vaguely round him, and gave a deep sigh. “Well, I was in hopes that we might still have been friends.”
“I meant to tell you, by my aunt, in answer to your message — if you had waited for an answer — that it was unnecessary for you to come in that hope.”
—Henry James, Washington Square
cf. Art Hanson, “Student at Work at Senior High School…” (ca. 1975)
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock…
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
photograph by Zachary Staines via Unsplash
“…He, and another neighbour of mine, one Mr. Samuel Johnson, set out this morning for London together. Davy Garrick is to be with you early the next week, and Mr. Johnson to try his fate with a tragedy, and to see to get himself employed in some translation, either from the Latin or the French…”
—Letter from G. Walmsley to The Reverend Mr. Colson, March 2, 1737, quoted in Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
cf. C. E. Price – “Approaching Thunderstorm”
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed…
—Gerard Manley Hopkins, “No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief.” (excerpt)
Ernst Halberstadt, “Faneuil Square Outdoor Market” (1973)
No, no, go not to Lethe…
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies…
—Keats, Ode on Melancholy
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness – Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
cf. Television Commercial
“You weren’t so nice to me last night.”
“How could it have mattered then?”
Silence for a moment. Then:
“However — I want to see you.”
“I want to see you, too.”
“Suppose I don’t go to Southampton, and come into town this afternoon?”
“No — I don’t think this afternoon.”
“It’s impossible this afternoon. Various ——”
We talked like that for a while, and then abruptly we weren’t talking any longer. I don’t know which of us hung up with a sharp click, but I know I didn’t care. I couldn’t have talked to her across a tea-table that day if I never talked to her again in this world.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Lyntha Scott Eiler, “Motorist Gets in Line for the Safety Lane at an Auto Emission Inspection Station…” (1975)
And so this storyteller will not be finished telling our Han’s story in only a moment or two. The seven days in one week will not suffice, nor will seven months. It will be best for him if he is not all too clear about the number of earthly days that will pass as the tale weaves its web about him. For God’s sake, surely it cannot be as long as seven years!
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Left: H.E. Peck, “Cheer Up Lassie” (ca. 1908);
Right: H. E. Peck, “On Norway’s Coast” (ca. 1908)
The largest fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men…
cf. J. Craig Annan, “Au Jardin” (ca. 1899)
A crowd will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.
—Yeats, Fallen Majesty (excerpt)
She’s a cloud
That hangs above my world…
cf. Terry Eiler, “Bather Under Water…” (ca. 1972)
Recalled To Life
when I was 17
I jumped off a boat
after my friend’s fallen eyeglasses
now, dark, cold, and
abandon the light
Left: Cesare Guilio, “Palestra Bianca” (ca. 1940)
Right: A.K. Aster, “On Salons” (Camera Craft, 1940)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could…
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo…
Fred G. Korth, “A Good Time In The Office” (ca. 1936)
Curtail far hopes to fit short destiny.
Even while we speak time, grudging time, has fled.
Seize eagerly each day, and trust the morrow’s grace as little as may be.
Tookapic, “Woman Wearing Jacket Sitting On Concrete During Night Time” (via pexels.com)
Hyperion arose, and on the stars
Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide
Until it ceas’d; and still he kept them wide:
And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
Then with a slow incline of his broad breast,
Like to a diver in the pearly seas,
Forward he stoop’d over the airy shore,
And plung’d all noiseless into the deep night.
—Keats, Hyperion (excerpt)
Elton John – “Love Lies Bleeding”
H. C. Benedict, “Original And Unique The P. and H. Process Of Negative Development” (1939)
The question, O me! so sad, recurring — What good amid these,
O me, O life?
That you are here — that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
I’m thinking of you Mary Anne…
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be…
—Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra
The Whispers – “And The Beat Goes On”
cf. photograph by Alice Moore via Unsplash
“You have a soul in you of rare quality, an artist’s nature; never let it starve for lack of what it needs.”
—Proust, Swann’s Way
cf. Charles O’Rear, “Passengers of the Southwest Limited strolling beside the Amtrak train…” (1974)
When now the boy, whose childish thoughts aspire
To loftier aims, and make him ramble high’r,
Grown wild, and wanton, more embolden’d flies
Far from his guide, and soars among the skies…
If I didn’t try, how would I know? how would I know?
Photograph by Skitterphoto via Pixabay
“…follow the path your genius traces like the galaxy of heaven for you to walk in.”
“Highway Star” by Deep Purple
cf. Erik Calonius, “…Subway Car” (1973)
The first time was twenty years ago, when I left Princeton in junior year with a complaint diagnosed as malaria. It transpired, through an X-ray taken a dozen years later, that it had been tuberculosis—a mild case, and after a few months of rest I went back to college… To me college would never be the same. There were to be no badges of pride, no medals, after all. It seemed on one March afternoon that I had lost every single thing I wanted… A man does not recover from such jolts—he becomes a different person, and, eventually, the new person finds new things to care about…
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Pasting It Together”
John Collier, “Young man boarding train for New York state…” (1942)
Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.
When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the cagèd yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,
He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.
He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.
But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.
Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.
But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.
—Robert Frost, Wind and Window Flower
Esther Bubley, “…talking with some friends near her locker…” (1943)
Sometimes, in the evening, she heard a voice, concealed beneath the wind screen of the bell tower, singing a sad, strange song, as though to lull her to sleep. The lines were unrhymed, such as a deaf person can make.
“Look not at the face, young girl, look at the heart.
The heart of a handsome young man is often deformed.
There are hearts in which love does not keep.
Young girl, the pine is not beautiful; it is not beautiful like the poplar, but it keeps its foliage in winter…”
One morning, on awaking, she saw on her window two vases filled with flowers. One was a very beautiful and very brilliant but cracked vase of glass. It had allowed the water with which it had been filled to escape, and the flowers which it contained were withered. The other was an earthenware pot, coarse and common, but which had preserved all its water, and its flowers remained fresh and crimson…
—Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Esther Bubley, “This boardinghouse room needs a heater in the winter and a fan in the summer” (1943)
Enough! Here’s the punishment.—Forward, march!
Ahhh! My lungs are burning, my skull roars!
Night rolls through my eyes by that sun!
—Rimbaud, A Season In Hell
William Alexander Alcock, “A lonely Vigil” (detail) (ca. 1922);
August Krug, “The Portal” (detail) (ca. 1922);
Sophie L. Lauffer, “A Canaan Evening” (detail) (ca. 1922);
Edwin B. Collins, “Good Cheer Within” (detail) (ca. 1922)
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
–John Milton, Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent
J. S. Bach, “Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein” (“When we are in the greatest distress”)
David Falconer, “School Children…” (1974)
And Bellerophon put his faith in the child, who had seen the image of Pegasus in the water, and in the maiden, who had heard him neigh so melodiously, rather than in the middle-aged clown, who believed only in cart-horses, or in the old man who had forgotten the beautiful things of his youth…
—Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Chimaera
You better believe it
You know my dream’s still alive
You can love it or leave it
But I’m never gonna be 35…
cf. “Rockefeller Center” (1930)
The echoes of the human world, which tell
Of the low voice of love, almost unheard,
And dove-eyed pity’s murmured pain, and music,
Itself the echo of the heart, and all
That tempers or improves man’s life, now free;
And lovely apparitions,–dim at first,
Then radiant, as the mind arising bright
From the embrace of beauty (whence the forms
Of which these are the phantoms) casts on them
The gathered rays which are reality–
Shall visit us the progeny immortal
Of Painting, Sculpture, and rapt Poesy,
And arts, though unimagined, yet to be;
The wandering voices and the shadows these
Of all that man becomes, the mediators
Of that best worship, love, by him and us
Given and returned; swift shapes and sounds, which grow
More fair and soft as man grows wise and kind…
—Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound
“Defying Gravity” – Wicked The Musical
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Helen Keller, three-quarter length, seated, facing right; holding hand of her teacher, Mrs. John A. Macy (Anne Mansfield Sullivan)” (ca. 1909)
Where is my boy, my boy—
In what far part of the world?
The boy I loved best of all in the school?—
I, the teacher, the old maid, the virgin heart,
Who made them all my children.
Did I know my boy aright,
Thinking of him as spirit aflame,
Active, ever aspiring?
Oh, boy, boy, for whom I prayed and prayed
In many a watchful hour at night,
Do you remember the letter I wrote you
Of the beautiful love of Christ?
And whether you ever took it or not,
My boy, wherever you are,
Work for your soul’s sake,
That all the clay of you, all of the dross of you,
May yield to the fire of you,
Till the fire is nothing but light!…
Nothing but light!
–Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
Photograph by Morre Christophe via Unsplash
There is a Gull that rolls alone
over billows loud;
the Nightingale at night will moan
under her soft shroud.
—Allen Ginsberg, “A Very Dove” (excerpt)
Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1984-85
I remember the night the Green–Schwarz mechanism was discovered —
It was a stormy summer night in 1984.
The lightning that flashed across the equations on the blackboard
also flashed across my curtains,
two oranges on the dining room table,
a Pat Metheny album on the blue shag carpet.
I, too, thought I had solved something.
I, too, thought I was free of anomalies.
But the next day I still couldn’t figure it out.
Carol M. Highsmith, “Playing for $1 in a hat…” (2011)
“But the most important thing that you can take advantage of in the world of music is to see yourself. I eventually got to the point where music meant to me self-exploration more than anything else…and I encourage everyone here to be brave in that respect, to be fearless in that respect…that album ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ which was such an abomination to everyone at the time it came out eventually became the signature moment in my career…”
Todd Rundgren – Berklee Commencement Address 2017 – YouTube
Can you hear me, the sound of my voice?
I am here to tell you I have made my choice…
“Just One Victory” by Todd Rundgren
Brady-Handy Photograph Collection (Library of Congress), Thomas Edison (between 1870 and 1880)
Neglect not the gift that is in thee…
—Timothy 4:14 King James Version
Northeastern University Bulletin, 1976-77
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
–Robert Frost, October
Life, so they say, is but a game
And they let it slip away…
cf. Patricia D. Duncan, “Former Home of Aviatrix Amelia Earhart…” (1974)
You cannot put a fire out;
A thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a fan
Upon the slowest night…
Nazz – “When I Get My Plane”
David De Vries, “Room 103, small classroom…” (2001)
I heard his raspy old voice talking
about a poem about a spider
and he even looked like Frost
but I was looking
out the door out the window
at the ultrablue sky
Ernst Halberstadt, Midsummer Siesta at City Hall Plaza (1973)
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather — as skies
Betweenpie mountains — lights a lovely mile.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins, “My own heart let me more have pity on”
Anna Curtis Chandler & Irene F. Cypher, “Audio-visual techniques for enrichment of the curriculum” (1948)
Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun…
—Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
Grego, Street Musician (2014)
“Soli Deo Gloria”: Grand Central, December, 1982
onrushing out into the
42nd street passage
huddled in the corner
frayed and fallen
drifted from the street
in pieces and broken-down
Yamaha nylon string guitar
the third Brandenburg
reverberated, echoed, re-echoed
transfixed and transfigured
I put all my money in his well-worn open case
It was almost Christmas
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048 – III. Allegro by TXGQ
Coronet Instructional Film
“I too am sometimes sad and lonely, especially when I walk around a church or parsonage.
Let’s not give in, but try to be patient and gentle. And do not mind being eccentric…”
–Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, March 16, 1877
Benjamin Balázs, “Where My Heart Belongs…”
at the music store, August, 1979
I had to reach way up
the salesman plugged it into a Pignose
the sun was streaming in through the windows
He gave me an imitation tortoise-shell pick
my index finger pressed across
a circuit closed
on the way home
the late summer afternoon sun was starting to set
I rolled down the car window and
reached for the Pat Travers 8-track tape on the passenger seat
Your mother named you. You and she just saw
Each other in passing in the room upstairs,
One coming this way into life, and one
Going the other out of life—you know?
So you can’t have much recollection of her.
She had been having a long look at you.
She put her finger in your cheek so hard
It must have made your dimple there, and said,
‘Maple.’ I said it too: ‘Yes, for her name.’
She nodded. So we’re sure there’s no mistake.
I don’t know what she wanted it to mean,
But it seems like some word she left to bid you
Be a good girl—be like a maple tree.
How like a maple tree’s for us to guess…
–Robert Frost, Maple (excerpt)
Eastman Kodak Company, “How to make good movies…” (1938)
“Have you noticed a change in Steve?
Boy, I have!
Oh, It’s wonderful, I’ll tell ya!”
–Entry from girl’s diary (ca. 1961) quoted in Thomas Mallon, A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries
Carol M. Highsmith, Fountain and front view of Mission San Buenaventura, Ventura, California (2012)
“An oasis that I needed.”
–Entry in the Visitor’s Book at St Peter’s Church, Cambridge, September 12, 1982, quoted in Thomas Mallon, A Book of One’s Own: People and Their Diaries
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God…
–Psalm 42, New Revised Standard Version
Palestrina – Sicut Cervus
Mohamed Hayibor, Church of Christ, Scientist (2016)
Duet On Mass Ave, June, 1981
Over the sound of water splashing in the fountain
and the warm summer night air
I heard your melody echoing around the entire city
then I gave you my guitar and you played the introduction to Roundabout
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!
Terry Eiler, Walkers in Dust Storm (ca. 1972)
In my native country, in the bosom of my religion, family, and friends, I should have passed a calm and peaceful life in the uniformity of a pleasing occupation, and among connections dear to my heart…
Instead of this — what a picture am I about to draw! — Alas! why should I anticipate the miseries I have endured? The reader will have but too much of the melancholy subject.
—Rousseau, Confessions (Tr. by W. Conyngham Mallory)
Ron Hoffman, Helping Hands Will Get This Skier’s Car off the Ice (1974)
Don’t think Brown ever gave up hope
Of getting home again because
He couldn’t climb that slippery slope;
Or even thought of standing there
Until the January thaw
Should take the polish off the crust.
He bowed with grace to natural law,
And then went round it on his feet,
After the manner of our stock;
Not much concerned for those to whom,
At that particular time o’clock,
It must have looked as if the course
He steered was really straight away
From that which he was headed for—
Not much concerned for them, I say:
No more so than became a man—
And politician at odd seasons.
I’ve kept Brown standing in the cold
While I invested him with reasons;
But now he snapped his eyes three times;
Then shook his lantern, saying, “Ile’s
’Bout out!” and took the long way home
By road, a matter of several miles.
–Robert Frost, Brown’s Descent, or the Willy-nilly Slide (excerpt)
Look on the map, I think we’ve been there before
Close up the doors, let’s roll once more…
Talking of constitutional melancholy, he observed, “A man so afflicted, Sir, must divert distressing thoughts, and not combat with them.” BOSWELL: “May not he think them down, Sir?” JOHNSON: “No, Sir. To attempt to THINK THEM DOWN is madness. He should have a lamp constantly burning in his bed-chamber during the night, and if wakefully disturbed, take a book, and read, and compose himself to rest…”
—Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
James McNeill Whistler, Reading in Bed (The Slipper) (1858)
cf. “Miscellaneous Color Shots”
A Stranger came to the door at eve,
And he spoke the bridegroom fair.
He bore a green-white stick in his hand,
And, for all burden, care.
He asked with the eyes more than the lips
For a shelter for the night,
And he turned and looked at the road afar
Without a window light.
The bridegroom came forth into the porch
With, ‘Let us look at the sky,
And question what of the night to be,
Stranger, you and I.’
The woodbine leaves littered the yard,
The woodbine berries were blue,
Autumn, yes, winter was in the wind;
‘Stranger, I wish I knew.’
Within, the bride in the dusk alone
Bent over the open fire,
Her face rose-red with the glowing coal
And the thought of the heart’s desire.
The bridegroom looked at the weary road,
Yet saw but her within,
And wished her heart in a case of gold
And pinned with a silver pin.
The bridegroom thought it little to give
A dole of bread, a purse,
A heartfelt prayer for the poor of God,
Or for the rich a curse;
But whether or not a man was asked
To mar the love of two
By harboring woe in the bridal house,
The bridegroom wished he knew.
–Robert Frost, Love and a Question
How could love be so wrong?
I don’t know why…
Cervantes—a patient gentleman who wrote a book—has been sitting in the Elysian fields for three centuries and gazing sadly around, awaiting the birth of a grandson capable of understanding him.
—José Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Quixote
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it’s just me…
Library and Information Services Metropolitan State University, Star Wars Party (2015)
Before her the grimy cupolas and towering square walls of the city loomed up. Above the jagged roof tops, the white smoke, whitened and suffused by the slanting sun, faded into the slots and wedges of the sky. She pressed her brow against her child’s, hushed him with whispers. This was that vast incredible land, the land of freedom, of immense opportunity, that Golden Land.
Again she tried to smile.
“Albert,” she said timidly, “Albert.”
“Gehen vir voinen du? In New York?”
—Henry Roth, Call It Sleep
Alfred Stieglitz, The Steerage (1907)
cf. Cincinnati Magazine, 1985
The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.
Alan Fisher, Lou Ambers tips his hat as he accepts a sandwich from a hand reaching out of a doorway (1935)
Drop, drop—in our sleep, upon the heart
sorrow falls, memory’s pain,
and to us, though against our very will,
even in our own despite,
–Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Edith Hamilton, trans., “Three Greek Plays”)
cf. Photograph by Dewang Gupta via Unsplash
Never tell me that not one star of all
That slip from heaven at night and softly fall
Has been picked up with stones to build a wall.
Some laborer found one faded and stone-cold,
And saving that its weight suggested gold
And tugged it from his first too certain hold,
He noticed nothing in it to remark.
He was not used to handling stars thrown dark
And lifeless from an interrupted arc.
He did not recognize in that smooth coal
The one thing palpable besides the soul
To penetrate the air in which we roll…
—Robert Frost, A Star In A Stoneboat (excerpt)
Only shooting stars break the mold…
cf. photograph by Paul Green via Unsplash
“Adieu, my Carnival Prince! I can predict that you’ll see a nasty rise in your fever chart this evening.”
Then she glided out of her chair, glided across the carpet to the door, where she stopped and turned halfway back to him, one bare arm raised, a hand on the hinge. Over her shoulder she said softly, “Don’t forget to return my pencil.”
And she left.
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
cf. Thomas Eakins, The Thinker: Portrait of Louis N. Kenton (1900) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Your memory seems like a living thing
I never know if I’m imagining
I look at your face and I know that it’s impossible
Forgetting it’s just a dream
Now I’m hearing your voice saying anything is possible
Forgetting it’s just a dream…
Esther Bubley, A geometry teacher…using a model to explain a figure (1943)
…she at last blushed, adjusted her dress, got up, and, without saying a word, went and seated herself at the window. I went to sit by her side, but she moved, sat down on a couch, got up immediately afterwards, and fanning herself as she walked about the chamber, said to me in a cold and disdainful tone of voice, “Zanetto, lascia le donne, e studia la matematica.” (“Johnny, give up women and study mathematics.”)
Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (called il Grechetto), Melancholia (ca. 1640)
“While I traversed the apartment in the most horrible dismay of soul, expecting every moment that the earth would open and swallow me up, my conscience scaring me…and the city of refuge out of reach and out of sight, a strange and horrible darkness fell upon me. If it were possible that a heavy blow could light upon the brain without touching the skull, such was the sensation I felt. I clapped my hand to my forehead, and cried aloud through the pain it gave me. At every stroke my thoughts and expressions became more wild and indistinct…These thoughts kept undisturbed possession of my mind all the way through my illness, without interruption or abatement.”
—William Cowper, “Memoir of the Early Life of William Cowper, Esq.” (1835)
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
—Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
I will choose a path that’s clear…
State Library of New South Wales, “A large erratic resting on gneiss Cape Denison area” (ca. 1911)
8 1/2 (1963)
Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.
—W. B. Yeats, Who goes with Fergus?
His head halted again for a moment at the top of the staircase, level with the roof:
Don’t mope over it all day, he said. I’m inconsequent. Give up the moody brooding.
His head vanished but the drone of his descending voice boomed out of the stairhead:
And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery
For Fergus rules the brazen cars.
—James Joyce, Ulysses
Photograph by Clark Young via Unsplash and Northeastern University Bulletin, 1982-83
Ferdinand Hodler, The Good Samaritan (1885)
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Peter Ilsted, Mother and Child in an Interior (1898)
1965: a song – “Come fly with me, said the little red sled”
1966: a hand in my hand on a frozen pond
1967: a poem – “Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!”
1968: a rush of perfume and cold air to say goodnight
1969: a light in the darkness
“Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Photograph by Kimberly Richards via Unsplash
Harry Kreisler: What led you to philosophy?
Stanley Cavell: Well, I could give you a cocktail answer to that, or I could say, “I’m still asking myself the question.”
Harry Kreisler: Right.
Stanley Cavell: One serious way to answer the question is to say that leaving music was the first enormous basic radical crisis in my life. I was bewildered by who I might be if I wasn’t a musician. And philosophy is, after all, a subject you might come to in a state of crisis. That’s one thing that happened to me, in finding philosophy…
Harry Kreisler: This is a silly question, but I’ll ask it anyway. What does a philosopher do?
Stanley Cavell: Of course, the serious answer to that is, they ask themselves that. Almost everybody has his or her own answer to that. All the great philosophers have their answer to it; it winds up in their text, that what they’re looking for is a definition of why their lives have been flattened or floored…
—Conversations with History: Stanley Cavell – YouTube / Conversation with Stanley Cavell, p. 3 of 6
At Cape Cod, August, 1969
I am scattered in a thousand places
here and there —
now and then
the wind and waves wash me ashore
leaving something behind
a finding of lost time
I never left
John Singer Sargent, Study of a Young Man, Seated (1895)
A little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade.
There I am wont to sit…
—John Milton, Samson Agonistes
Historic American Buildings Survey, Side and front entrance, facing west – Sears Department Store…
My family arrived early.
The Christmas decorations were already up and large strands of gold were wreathed between the lamp poles in the parking lot.
The crisp December air was muted by the extravagant winter coat I was wearing.
My father put me on his shoulders.
The helicopter came into view – hovering and then slowly descending.
Through the cockpit glass I could see that something was wrong.
Murmurs ran through the crowd.
When the cabin door finally opened Santa looked very pale.
In an instant my parents and I were running wildly for our car.
As we pulled away I saw the helicopter receding into the night.
–J.S., “Santa Agonistes” (A True Story)
Charles O’Rear, “Train passengers bound for St. Louis, Missouri, board a chartered bus…” (1974)
To the couple that were kissing at the Greyhound Bus Station, July, 1981
You probably don’t remember me.
I was standing next to you waiting.
I was the guy with the guitar and the paperback copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.
You’re in your late fifties or early sixties now.
You’ve been married for 35 years.
It doesn’t seem possible
Because the sun is still reflecting off the luggage compartment door
And the driver is still getting impatient
And her blonde hair is still glistening in the late afternoon haze
And I knew I was going to be late.
Bain News Service, “listening to records” (detail)
“Only when he touches earth does he, like Antaeus, recover his true strength.”
—Letter from Ivan Turgenev to Pavel Annenkov (referring to Tolstoy) quoted in Isaiah Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”
Left: Helen D. Van Eaton, “My First Glimpse…From A Pennsylvania Ferry-Boat” (ca. 1910)
Right: Arthur Tress, “View of Upper New York Bay from the Staten Island Ferry” (1973)
Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and
the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half
an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence,
others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-
back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so
many generations hence…
—Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
I’ll be waiting
Time after time…
cf. Photos by Brandon Morgan (sky), Etienne Desclides (car) and Roksolana Zasiadko (woman) via Unsplash
I remember what my father said–
He said “Son, life is simple,
It’s either cherry red or
Tom Hubbard, At the Tyler Davidson Fountain, in Fountain Square Downtown Cincinnati’s Popular Public Plaza, a Young Man Listens to the Radio with One Ear, Play of the Water with the Other (August, 1973)
American Top 40 Theme Music
Photograph by Kelley Bozarth via Unsplash
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
–Edna St. Vincent Millay, First Fig
When all the stair was sped beneath us and we were on the topmost step Virgil fixed his eyes on me and said: “The temporal fire and the eternal thou hast seen, my son, and art come to a part where of myself I discern no further. I have brought thee here with understanding and with skill…No longer expect word or sign from me. Free, upright and whole is thy will and it were a fault not to act on its bidding…”
—Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio
I’m with you in Rockland…
–Allen Ginsberg, Howl
Edvard Munch, Night In Saint-Cloud (1892)
Tom Hubbard, Girl with Book and Bench-Sitters in Fountain Square (1973)
“This poet may not be very important, you should say defiantly, but his work is good for me.”
—T. S. Eliot, “What Is Minor Poetry?”
cf. LIFE (1967)
One night when Beauclerk and Langton had supped at a tavern in London, and sat till about three in the morning, it came into their heads to go and knock up Johnson, and see if they could prevail on him to join them in a ramble. They rapped violently at the door of his chambers in the Temple, till at last he appeared in his shirt, with his little black wig on the top of his head, instead of a nightcap, and a poker in his hand, imagining, probably, that some ruffians were coming to attack him. When he discovered who they were, and was told their errand, he smiled, and with great good humour agreed to their proposal: ‘What, is it you, you dogs! I’ll have a frisk with you.’ He was soon drest, and they sallied forth together into Covent-Garden…They then repaired to one of the neighbouring taverns, and made a bowl of that liquor called Bishop, which Johnson had always liked; while in joyous contempt of sleep, from which he had been roused, he repeated the festive lines,
‘Short, O short then be thy reign,
And give us to the world again!’
They did not stay long, but walked down to the Thames, took a boat, and rowed to Billingsgate. Beauclerk and Johnson were so well pleased with their amusement, that they resolved to persevere in dissipation for the rest of the day…
—Boswell’s Life Of Johnson
The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line…
—Alexander Pope, Epistle I—Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to the Universe
Nicolas Vigier, pinball (detail) (2009)
cf. Georges Seurat: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884 (detail) (1884/86),
Study for “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” (1884)
and Gustave Caillebotte: Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877 (detail) (1877)
cf. Henrique Pinto, Yellow cab (2008)