“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

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

“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

Love brought me (back) here

cf. video by abele62 and silhouette by geralt both via Pixabay (edited collage)

my shadow
still falls
on that window frame
rain
still falls
night
still
falls

— J.S.

Love brought me here…

— Dante, Inferno

Everything returns again
Both the laughter and the rain
She is living somewhere far away…

— The Left Banke, “Desiree”

The Left Banke with the NYU All University Choir “Drama Cantorum” — “Desiree”

April is the cruellest month

The Finnish Museum of Photography, “At Hotel Aulanko’s Cafe Terrace” (ca. 1950’s)

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe…

The Waste Land

Read my palm and tell me why do lovers come and go…

“There’s the thrush again…”

LIFE, 1965

…as he lay trying desperately to put poetry, ambition, and Fanny Brawne out of his mind, suddenly an early thrush had appeared…

Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats

“More Than a Feeling” – Boston

“Memory, hither come”

cf. photograph by Eric Nopanen via Unsplash

Memory, hither come,
And tune your merry notes;
And, while upon the wind,
Your music floats,
I’ll pore upon the stream,
Where sighing lovers dream,
And fish for fancies as they pass
Within the watery glass.

I’ll drink of the clear stream,
And hear the linnet’s song;
And there I’ll lie and dream
The day along:
And, when night comes, I’ll go
To places fit for woe,
Walking along the darken’d valley,
With silent Melancholy.

—William Blake

“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”

Woodbury’s Facial Soap Advertisement (ca. 1922)

“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.”

“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”

He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.

“I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“Into the same river you could not step twice, for other waters are flowing.”

—Heraclitus

#9 Dream

cf. 1977 TV Commercial

…at night, if I succeeded in going to sleep, then it was as though the memory of Albertine had been the drug that had procured my sleep, whereas the cessation of its influence would awaken me. I thought all the time of Albertine while I was asleep. It was a special sleep of her own that she gave me, and one in which, moreover, I should no longer have been at liberty, as when awake, to think of other things. Sleep and the memory of her were the two substances which I must mix together and take at one draught in order to put myself to sleep.

—Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Just when you think you got a good thing it seems to slip away

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)

“Then if he thrive and I be cast away, the worst was this,—my love was my decay.”

cf. Everett Shinn, All Night Cafe (ca. 1900)

O, how I faint when I of you do write
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame!
But since your worth—wide as the ocean is,—
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or, being wrack’d, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building and of goodly pride:
Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this,—my love was my decay.

Sonnet LXXX