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
cf. video by abele62 and silhouette by geralt both via Pixabay (edited collage)
on that window frame
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”
portrait by Montmartre street artist, August, 1984
But Time, to make me grieve,
Part steals, lets part abide;
And shakes this fragile frame at eve
With throbbings of noontide.
— Thomas Hardy, “I Look into my Glass” (excerpt)
These sharp Springs
Will be time enough to sleep
Carefulness and tears
Now while life is raw and new,
Drink it clear, drink it deep!
Let the moonlight’s lunacy
Tear away your cautions…
Age will catch you…
Only graven in your soul
After all the rest is gone
There will be ecstasies,
— John Weaver, To Youth (excerpt)
photograph by John Sapiro
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
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)
Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1985-86
hearing your voice again
so long ago
was that me
as the radio played
nothing stands between love and you
Steve Perry – No Erasin’
Entering the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel, March, 1985
Queequeg was a native of Rokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.
— Melville, Moby Dick
Stephen Schwartz Performs “Corner of the Sky”
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
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
cf. photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay (edit)
like Keats and Fanny Brawne
for three summer days
filled with more delight than those fifty common years
in the twilight streetlamps
the warm night air
and the car radio
and looked at you
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
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
My Sharona was now receding into the dim, dark, distant past
quod erat demonstrandum!
Have You Never Been Mellow — Olivia Newton-John
Nationaal Archief, “Clients in a record shop” (1979)
Who can undo what time hath done?
Beckon lost music from a broken lute?
— Owen Meredith, “Orval or The Fool Of Time” (excerpt)
Song On The Radio
Business Screen magazine, 1971
Scan the shape of this dim shadow, once a man
And Oedipus . . . but I was different then.
— Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus (Tr. Murray)
’65 Love Affair
cf. film via Prelinger Archives
I would forget her, but a fever she
Reigns in my blood and will remember’d be.
— Love’s Labour’s Lost
See A Little Light
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
Jack Corn, “Children During Recess…” (1974)
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
Paris, August, 1984
Nothing should remain unsaid between us
— Robert Frost, To E. T. (excerpt)
The Blue Distance by Mary Chapin Carpenter
cf. photograph by Lefty Kasdaglis via Unsplash (edit)
Farewell to an idea . . .
A darkness gathers though it does not fall
And the whiteness grows less vivid on the wall.
— Wallace Stevens, The Auroras of Autumn (excerpt)
One Of These Things First
cf. photograph by freestocks-photos via Pixabay (edit)
We’re An American Band
Ian Livesey, “Rainy rainy Manchester” (detail) (2015)
On Margate Sands
I can’t stop connecting
everything with everything
with the past
the broken fingernails of dirty hands.
To Carthage I came, once, many years ago
now dull roots with spring rain
Say Goodbye to Hollywood
cf. photograph by Kyle Popineau via unsplash and Abul Haque, “Students Arriving by Schoolbus…” (1976)
Up from the earth, O weary head!
This is not Troy, about, above—
— Euripides, The Trojan Women (Tr. Murray)
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
Warren K. Leffler, “Couple listening to radio” (1957)
a hundred windings of the heart —
It’s The Same Old Song
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
photograph by Hannah Grace via Unsplash (edit)
Ars Nova (1980)
to the window
a new room
a whole world
I found it — here
a Dowland transcription
“A Fancy” — John Dowland performed by Eva Beneke
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
photograph by Jonathan Dubon via Unsplash (edit)
tanglewood in blue
in the summer grass
steadfast bright stars
—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
cf. photograph by Genessa Panainte via Unsplash (edit)
open tuning (august, 1981)
under the proscenium arch
seeming you near me
inspired and altered
what chord is that?
and I answered
“Cinnamon Girl” — Neil Young
photograph by RyanMcGuire via Pixabay
Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.
— Joyce, Ulysses
“No Lookin’ Back” — Michael McDonald
cf. Cincinnati Magazine, 1985
“1985” by John Sapiro
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
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. Jane Reece, “Interior” (edit) (ca. 1922)
but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
— Edna St. Vincent Millay, “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why” (excerpt)
“Only A Memory” – The Smithereens
On First Looking into Greene’s “Chord Chemistry”
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Greene speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
(cf. Keats, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer)
You Go to My Head / Willow Weep for Me by Ted Greene
cf. photograph by Tim Gouw via Unsplash and Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1980-82
I see you
“Hey Nineteen” – Steely Dan
cf. Sonnet 87 and photograph by Timo Stern via Unsplash (detail)
“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” – Meat Loaf
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
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…
“Mrs. Rita” – Gin Blossoms
…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
cf. video by Sixstringplayer via Pixabay
“Whatcha Gonna Do?” – Pablo Cruise
cf. Glucksman Library, “Students in Block D main building” (ca. 1990)
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
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
Léonard Misonne, “By The Mill” (ca. 1905)
And Deering’s Woods are fresh and fair,
And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were,
I find my lost youth again.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “My Lost Youth” (excerpt)
“Yesterday Once More” – Carpenters
cf. Harry Wayne McMahan, “The Television Commercial” (1954)
U.S. National Archives, “St. Valentine’s Day Hop…” (detail) (1975)
“You’re wearing a new dress,” he said, as an excuse for gazing at her. And now he heard her answer.
“New? You are conversant with my wardrobe?”
“I am right, am I not?”
“Yes. I recently had it made here, by Lukaek, the tailor in the village. He does work for many of the ladies up here. Do you like it?”
“Very much,” he said, letting his gaze pass over her again before casting his eyes down. “Do you want to dance?” he added.
“Would you like to?” she asked, her brows raised in surprise, but still with a smile…
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
“Do You Want To Dance” by Bette Midler
cf. video by MikesPhotos via Pixabay
The lamentable change is from the best…
—Shakespeare, King Lear
cf. photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay
king of august
driving home from my first date
a symphony of street lights
and a million stars in the sky
an incandescent spark
flying through a dark street
midnight holds no secret
only my triumphant heart
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
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.
Trevor T. White, “The Alley” (ca. 1938)
Transit Of Venus
half in sun
half in shadow
the last time I saw you
“Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick
Tom Hubbard, “…Saturday Night” (1973)
on a summer night
shining after light years
the light in the window
the wind and your voice
I looked up at the sky last night
and thought of you
“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & J.F. Coley
Time, they say, is water from the river Lethe…
How long had Joachim actually lived up here with him, whether measured until his wild departure or taken as a whole? What had been the date on the calendar of his first defiant departure? How long had he been gone, when had he returned, and how long had Hans Castorp himself been here when he did return and then took leave of time? How long, to set Joachim aside for now, had Frau Chauchat not been present? How long, purely in terms of years, was it now since she was back again (because she was back again); and how much earthly time had Hans Castorp spent at the Berghof until the day she came back? In response to all such questions—assuming someone had posed them to him, which, however, no one did, not even he to himself, for he was probably afraid of posing them—Hans Castorp would have drummed his fingertips on his brow and most assuredly known no definite answer: a phenomenon no less disquieting than the temporary inability to tell Herr Settembrini his own age on his first evening here; indeed, it represented a worsening of that incapacity, for he now seriously no longer knew at any time just how old he was…
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Flip Schulke, “Youths Congregate Around the Front Steps of a Home…” (ca. 1975);
Patricia D. Duncan, “…Schoolhouse…” (1974);
David Rees, “Students Arriving by School bus at Senior High School…” (1974);
William Strode, “The Ohio River” (1972)
cf. Harry W. Watrous, The Passing of Summer (1912)
Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off…
–Robert Frost, Directive
David Rees, “Students in the Courtyard of Senior High School…” (1974)
Buried Flash Drive
Can you possibly imagine
that morning sun
so bright and
the grandeur that was
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.”
F. J. Bandholtz, “Rock Island…” (detail) (ca. 1907)
cf. photograph by Yoann Boyer via Unsplash
“…the situation of the man of genius who, in some accursed hour of his youth, has bartered away the fondest vision of that youth and lives ever afterwards in the shadow of the bitterness of the regret…the fancy of his recovering a little of the lost joy, of the Dead Self, in his intercourse with some person, some woman, who knows what that self was, in whom it still lives a little.”
—The Notebooks of Henry James
cf. LIFE, 1969
“Son coeur est un luth suspendu;
Sitôt qu’on le touche il résonne.”
–epigraph from Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher
“Presto in F Major” by Silvius Leopold Weiss performed by John H. Schneiderman on a baroque lute
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…
I was saddened to read recently of the passing of Allan Holdsworth. This is a transcription I did a long time ago of his “In The Dead Of Night” solo. I saw him in the fall of 1983 and remember how much he inspired me.
“Hats off, gentlemen—a genius!”
—Robert Schumann, Review of Chopin’s variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano,” Op. 2 In “Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung”, Vol. 33, no. 49 (December 7, 1831)
Anna Curtis Chandler & Irene F. Cypher, “Audio-Visual Techniques For Enrichment Of The Curriculum” (1948)
I finished my Yodel and the telephone rang
unable to contain my excitement
I ran through backyards
until I reached her house
she lowered the tone arm
and I fell in love
Last Train To Clarksville by The Monkees
cf. Cincinnati Magazine, 1989 and Lightning : Calvin Company
“My mind is unsettled and my memory confused. I have of late turned my thoughts with a very useless earnestness upon past incidents. I have yet got no command over my thoughts; an unpleasing incident is almost certain to hinder my rest…”
—Johnson’s diary quoted in Boswell’s Life of Johnson
Ghosts appear and fade away…
Colin Hay – “Overkill”
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
cf. Home Movie
One that is ever kind said yesterday:
“Your well beloved’s hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise,
Though now it’s hard, till trouble is at an end;
And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend.”
But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain;
Time can but make her beauty over again,
Because of that great nobleness of hers;
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways,
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.
O heart! O heart! if she’d but turn her head,
You’d know the folly of being comforted.
–Yeats, The Folly of Being Comforted
cf. photograph by Henrique Félix via Unsplash
He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was….
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I get the same old dreams same time every night…
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!
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…
Photograph by Clark Young via Unsplash and Northeastern University Bulletin, 1982-83
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.
I was still there
in the same place
right where I left me
when I looked up
the grass was greener
and I had a magical feeling
it was all in front of me
I turned around
I looked back and waved
and got in my car
–John Sapiro, “on revisiting my school playground”
Michael Philip Manheim, Neighborhood Youngsters in the Playground… (1973)
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine and fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
–W.B. Yeats, The Wild Swans at Coole
Well, the summer’s gone
And I hope she’s feeling the same…
Ladies’ Home Journal (1964)
cf. Home Movie: 98592 (1963)
Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn’t this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy.
–A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind” (excerpt)
cf. James Jowers, E. River (1968)
We stood on the rented patio
While the party went on inside.
You knew the groom from college.
I was a friend of the bride.
We hugged the brownstone wall behind us
To keep our dress clothes dry
And watched the sudden summer storm
Floodlit against the sky.
The rain was like a waterfall
Of brilliant beaded light,
Cool and silent as the stars
The storm hid from the night.
To my surprise, you took my arm-
A gesture you didn’t explain-
And we spoke in whispers, as if we two
Might imitate the rain.
Then suddenly the storm receded
As swiftly as it came.
The doors behind us opened up.
The hostess called your name.
I watched you merge into the group,
Aloof and yet polite.
We didn’t speak another word
Except to say goodnight.
Why does that evening’s memory
Return with this night’s storm —
A party twenty years ago,
Its disappointments warm?
— Dana Gioia, Summer Storm (excerpt)
Does anyone recall
The saddest love of all
The one that lets you fall
Nothing to hold
It’s the love untold
cf. Clarence H. White, The Bubble (1898)
John Vachon, A small town in Augusta County… (1941)
Last night a man on the radio,
a still young man, said the business district
of his hometown had been plowed under.
The town was in North Dakota…
I don’t know
if the man from North Dakota has
some music that brings back
his town to him, but something does,
and whatever he remembers
is durable and instantly
retrievable and lit
by a sky or streetlight
which does not change…
–Lisel Mueller, “Place and Time” (excerpt)
Sometimes even now when I’m feeling lonely and beat
I drift back in time and I find my feet
Down on Mainstreet…
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
–A. E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad
Harold Gilman, Edwardian Interior (c.1907)
Her secrets: old featherfans, tasselled dancecards, powdered with musk, a gaud of amber beads in her locked drawer. A birdcage hung in the sunny window of her house when she was a girl…
Phantasmal mirth, folded away: muskperfumed.
And no more turn aside and brood.
Folded away in the memory of nature with her toys.
—James Joyce, Ulysses
“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in…”
–Henry David Thoreau, Walden