Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages…

photograph by El Salanzo via Unsplash

Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished…

The Great Gatsby

You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)

Nineteen eighty-four

photograph by Eilis Garvey via Unsplash

Tragedy, he perceived, belonged to the ancient time, to a time when there was still privacy, love, and friendship, and when the members of a family stood by one another without needing to know the reason. His mother’s memory tore at his heart because she had died loving him, when he was too young and selfish to love her in return, and because somehow, he did not remember how, she had sacrificed herself to a conception of loyalty that was private and unalterable. Such things, he saw, could not happen today. Today there were fear, hatred, and pain, but no dignity of emotion, no deep or complex sorrows. All this he seemed to see in the large eyes of his mother and his sister, looking up at him through the green water, hundreds of fathoms down and still sinking.

— Orwell, Nineteen eighty-four


Message In A Bottle

“His head leaned back so far that it rested against the face of a defunct mantelpiece clock and from this position his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy…”

cf. photographs by Annie Spratt and Hector Reyes via Unsplash (edited)

I went in—after making every possible noise in the kitchen short of pushing over the stove—but I don’t believe they heard a sound. They were sitting at either end of the couch looking at each other as if some question had been asked or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment was gone. Daisy’s face was smeared with tears and when I came in she jumped up and began wiping at it with her handkerchief before a mirror. But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding. He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.

“Oh, hello, old sport,” he said, as if he hadn’t seen me for years. I thought for a moment he was going to shake hands.

The Great Gatsby

Mated

I sang in my chains like the sea

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

— Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill


Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Tempus fugit, amor manet

cf. video by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels (edited)

“I have been up here a long time, Mynheer Peeperkorn, years. How long I hardly know myself, but it has been years of my life. My cousin, to visit whom I came up, in the first instance, was a soldier, an upright and honourable soul, but that was no help to him — he died, and left me, and I remained here alone. I was no soldier, but a civilian, I had a profession, as you may have heard, a good, two-fisted job, which is even supposed to do its share in drawing together the nations of the earth — but somehow it did not draw me. I admit this freely; but the reasons for it I cannot describe otherwise than to say that they are veiled in obscurity, the same obscurity that envelops the origin of my feeling for Madame your mistress — I call her that expressly to show that I am not thinking of undermining the situation as it exists — my feeling for Clavdia Chauchat, and my intimate sense of her being, which I have had since the first moment her eyes met mine and bewitched me, enchanted me, you understand, beyond all reason. For love of her, in defiance of Herr Settembrini, I declared myself for the principle of unreason, the spirituel principle of disease, under whose aegis I had already, in reality, stood for a long time back; and I remained up here, I no longer know precisely how long. I have forgotten, broken with, everything, my relatives, my calling, all my ideas of life. When Clavdia went away, I waited here for her return, so that now I am wholly lost to life down below, and dead in the eyes of my friends. That is what I meant when I spoke of my destiny, and said there might be some justice in a complaint over my present state…”

— Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Oh Yeah!

The Tyger

photograph by Alistair MacRobert via Unsplash

TYGER, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did He smile his work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

— William Blake

Sons of 1984

The Onset

photograph by J W via Unsplash

Always the same, when on a fated night
At last the gathered snow lets down as white
As may be in dark woods, and with a song
It shall not make again all winter long
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground,
I almost stumble looking up and round,
As one who overtaken by the end
Gives up his errand, and lets death descend
Upon him where he is, with nothing done
To evil, no important triumph won,
More than if life had never been begun.

Yet all the precedent is on my side:
I know that winter death has never tried
The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
As measured again maple, birch, and oak,
It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak;
And I shall see the snow all go down hill
In water of a slender April rill
That flashes tail through last year’s withered brake
And dead weeds, like a disappearing snake.
Nothing will be left white but here a birch,
And there a clump of houses with a church.

— Robert Frost

One World

More Light

photograph by Josh Hild via Unsplash

Then the king in his great-heartedness unclasped
The collar of gold from his neck and gave it
To the young thane, telling him to use
It and the war shirt and the gilded helmet well.

Beowulf (Tr. Seamus Heaney)

More Light

A Christmas Carol

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

“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!”

— Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”


One

Shine your light your love your hope

photograph by Ágatha Depiné via Unsplash

Aye, on the shores of darkness there is light,
And precipices show untrodden green,
There is a budding morrow in mid-night…

— Keats, “To Homer”

[Shine Your] Light Love Hope

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now”

photograph by Roman Melnychuk via Unsplash

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A. E. Housman

We May Never Pass This Way Again

Ulysses

photograph by Ben White via Unsplash

…for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

— Tennyson

Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

“The fearful unbelief is unbelief in yourself.”

Cast the bantling on the rocks,
Suckle him with the she-wolf’s teat;
Wintered with the hawk and fox,
Power and speed be hands and feet.

— Emerson, epigraph to “Self-Reliance”

All Star

Are you gatherin’ up the tears? Have you had enough of mine?

photograph by Ian Dooley via Unsplash

I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
Across the schoolboy’s brain;
The song and the silence in the heart,
That in part are prophecies, and in part
Are longings wild and vain.

— Longfellow, “My Lost Youth”

Reelin’ In The Years

“Forget not yet”

photograph by Kate Cox via Pixabay

The Lover beseecheth his Mistress not to forget his steadfast Faith and true Intent

FORGET not yet the tried intent
Of such a truth as I have meant;
My great travail so gladly spent,
Forget not yet!
Forget not yet when first began
The weary life ye know, since whan
The suit, the service none tell can;
Forget not yet!
Forget not yet the great assays,
The cruel wrong, the scornful ways,
The painful patience in delays,
Forget not yet!
Forget not! oh! forget not this,
How long ago hath been, and is
The mind that never meant amiss,
Forget not yet!
Forget not then thine own approv’d,
The which so long hath thee so lov’d,
Whose steadfast faith yet never mov’d:
Forget not this!

— Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sweetheart

“Comin’ through the rye”

Brief Encounter (1945)

GIN a body meet a body
Comin’ through the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?
Every lassie has her laddie,—
Ne’er a ane hae I;
Yet a’ the lads they smile at me
When comin’ through the rye.
Amang the train there is a swain
I dearly lo’e mysel’;
But whaur his hame, or what his name,
I dinna care to tell.

Gin a body meet a body
Comin’ frae the town,
Gin a body greet a body,
Need a body frown?
Every lassie has her laddie,—
Ne’er a ane hae I;
Yet a’ the lads they smile at me
When comin’ through the rye.
Amang the train there is a swain
I dearly lo’e mysel’;
But whaur his hame, or what his name,
I dinna care to tell.

— Robert Burns

Why Does It Have To Be Wrong Or Right?

“Lines on the Mermaid Tavern”

photograph by Dollar Gill via Unsplash

SOULS of Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
Have ye tippled drink more fine
Than mine host’s Canary wine?
Or are fruits of Paradise
Sweeter than those dainty pies
Of venison? O generous food!
Drest as though bold Robin Hood
Would, with his maid Marian,
Sup and bowse from horn and can.

— Keats

Don’t Rock The Jukebox

“The Cloud Confines”

photograph by cottonbro via Pexels

THE DAY is dark and the night
To him that would search their heart;
No lips of cloud that will part,
Nor morning song in the light:
Only, gazing alone,
To him wild shadows are shown,
Deep under deep unknown
And height above unknown height.
Still we say as we go,—
“Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day.”

— Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Part of the Plan

“My Heart and I”

cf. photograph by cottonbro via Pexels (edited collage)

Yet Who complains? My heart and I?
In this abundant earth no doubt
Is little room for things worn out:
Disdain them, break them, throw them by!
And if before the days grew rough
We once were lov’d, us’d,—well enough,
I think, we ’ve far’d, my heart and I.

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning


The First Cut Is the Deepest

“Spring and Fall”

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

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! 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

Autumn 1818

photograph by Anthony Tran via Unsplash

Some disturbing news was waiting for him as he stopped at the Dilkes’ the night of August 18 on his way home to Well Walk, looking, said Mrs. Dilke, “as brown and as shabby as you can imagine, scarcely any shoes left, his jacket all torn at the back, a fur cap, a great plaid, and his knapsack.” He quickly guessed that further trouble had arisen. But he sat back in the unaccustomed comfort of the cushioned chair (as Joseph Severn later heard), looked up with a tired smile, and quoted from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated.”

— Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats

Best of Both Worlds

The Song of the Lark

Jules Adolphe Breton, “The Song of the Lark” (1884)

“…and I walked in and there’s a painting there and I don’t even know who painted it but I think it’s called “The Song of the Lark” and it’s a woman working in a field and there’s a sunrise behind her and I saw it that day and I just thought well look — there’s a girl who doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects but the sun’s coming up anyway and she’s got another chance at it. I, too, am a person and get another chance; everyday the sun comes up.”

— Bill Murray

“Eros”

cf. Prelinger Archives, “Home Movie” (ca. 1963)

THE SENSE of the world is short,—
Long and various the report,—
To love and be beloved;
Men and gods have not outlearned it;
And, how oft soe’er they ’ve turned it,
Not to be improved.

— Emerson

“Porphyria’s Lover”

cf. Delphin Enjolras, “The Fireplace” and The Best Fireplace Video

THE rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listen’d with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneel’d and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soil’d gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And call’d me.

— Robert Browning

“To a Greek Marble”

cf. photograph by The New York Public Library via Unsplash

I have whispered thee in thy solitudes
Of our loves in Phrygia,
The far ecstasy of burning noons
When the fragile pipes
Ceased in the cypress shade,
And the brown fingers of the shepherd
Moved over slim shoulders;
And only the cicada sang.

I have told thee of the hills
And the lisp of reeds
And the sun upon thy breasts,

And thou hearest me not,
Pótuia, pótuia
Thou hearest me not.

— Richard Aldington

All For Leyna

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

cf. photograph by The New York Public Library via Unsplash

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

Another Try

“Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d’un monde?”

My genial spirits fail;
And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?
It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze for ever
On that green light that lingers in the west;
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

— Coleridge

Change Myself

The Fountains

cf. photograph by Luke Stackpoole via Unsplash

WHEN you are drinking the water of joy from the alabaster fountain, you may form your wish, and it shall be granted. As you raise your wish higher, the water will be sweeter and sweeter to the taste; but beware that you are not tempted by its increasing sweetness to repeat your draughts, for the ill effects of your wish can only be removed by drinking the spring of sorrow from the bason of flint, which will be bitter in the same proportion as the water of joy was sweet.

— Samuel Johnson

A bell in your head will ring

photograph by Narges Pms via Unsplash

IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

— Emily Dickinson

All the Children Sing

The Eve of St. Agnes

So, purposing each moment to retire,
She linger’d still. Meantime, across the moors,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
Buttress’d from moonlight, stands he, and implores
All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
But for one moment in the tedious hours,
That he might gaze and worship all unseen;
Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss—in sooth such things have been.

— Keats

Invictus

photograph by SHVETS production via Pexels

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

— William Ernest Henley


Little Fighter

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

photograph by Andrea Riondino via Unsplash

THAT time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

 

Tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, et fugiunt freno non remorante dies.

Aalto University Commons, “Students in laboratory” (ca. 1960s)

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ’mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life

— Wordsworth


September Gurls

“Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)”

Photograph by Adrienne Crow via Unsplash

Astrophysics (Halley’s Poem)

on a planet that is spinning
things move away from you at 1,037 miles per hour
on your knees
you need something to hold
it only comes near every 75 or 76 years —
it was last seen in 1986
“eppur si muove” she said

— J.S.

“To the couple that were kissing at the Greyhound Bus Station, July, 1981”

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 sixties now.

You’ve been married for 40 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.

— J.S.

What is Life?

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1961)

And what is Life?—An hour-glass on the run,
A Mist retreating from the morning sun,
A busy, bustling, still repeated dream;
Its length?—A minute’s pause, a moment’s thought;
And happiness?—A bubble on the stream,
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought.

— John Clare

Ode to the West Wind

Photograph by Mathilde LMD via Unsplash

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own?
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
Like wither’d leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

No Surprize

Anna Mirabilis

cf. photograph by Trinity Kubassek via Pexels

Anna Mirabilis

she did lie
in her pavilion—cloth-of-gold, of tissue—
o’erpicturing that Venus where we see
the fancy outwork nature
“I thought
she was going
to ask you out!”
let’s not confound the time
with conference harsh
there’s not a minute of our lives
should stretch without some pleasure now
what sport tonight?

— J.S.


I’m On Fire

Frisch weht der Wind Der Heimat zu, Mein Irisch Kind, Wo weilest du?

photograph by Anthony Tran via Unsplash

“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Öd’ und leer das Meer.

— The Waste Land
99

Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, quaerebam quid amarem amans amare.

cf. video by cottonbro via Pexels

Art and eloquence,
And all the shows o’ the world, are frail and vain
To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade.
It is a woe ‘too deep for tears’ when all
Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit,
Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves
Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans,
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope,—
But pale despair and cold tranquillity,
Nature’s vast frame, the web of human things,
Birth and the grave, that are not as they were.

— Shelley


Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)

The Docent

UMFA Docent Yearbook, 2014-2015

oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes those gleams
Of past existence,—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

— Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour July 13, 1798”


Defying Gravity

The Poet, being roused by a clap of thunder, and following his guide onward, descends into Limbo.

photograph by Andrea Riondino via Unsplash

“No greater grief than to remember days of joy, when misery is at hand.”

Inferno


When I Was Mary’s Prayer

Eleventh Song

photograph by Jane Palash via Unsplash

WHO is it that this dark night,
Underneath my window plaineth?
It is one who from thy sight,
Being, ah! exiled; disdaineth
Every other vulgar light.

Why, alas! and are you he?
Be not yet those fancies changèd?
Dear! when you find change in me,
Though from me you be estrangèd;
Let my change to ruin be.

Well in absence this will die.
Leave to see! and leave to wonder!
Absence sure will help, if I
Can learn how myself to sunder
From what in my heart doth lie.

But time will these thoughts remove:
Time doth work what no man knoweth.
Time doth as the subject prove,
With time still th’affection groweth
In the faithful turtle dove.

— Sir Philip Sidney


Daisy Jane

Endymion

O SOVEREIGN power of love! O grief! O balm!
All records, saving thine, come cool, and calm,
And shadowy, through the mist of passed years:
For others, good or bad, hatred and tears
Have become indolent; but touching thine,
One sigh doth echo, one poor sob doth pine,
One kiss brings honey-dew from buried days.
The woes of Troy, towers smothering o’er their blaze,
Stiff-holden shields, far-piercing spears, keen blades,
Struggling, and blood, and shrieks—all dimly fades
Into some backward corner of the brain;
Yet, in our very souls, we feel amain
The close of Troilus and Cressid sweet.
Hence, pageant history! hence, gilded cheat!
Swart planet in the universe of deeds!
Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds
Along the pebbled shore of memory!…

— Book II

“That sir which serves and seeks for gain and follows but for form will pack when it begins to rain and leave thee in the storm.”

cf. photograph by Noah Buscher via Unsplash

Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou may’st shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.

— King Lear


All Broken Hearts Break Differently