I LEFT you in the morning, And in the morning glow, You walked a way beside me To make me sad to go. Do you know me in the gloaming, Gaunt and dusty grey with roaming? Are you dumb because you know me not, Or dumb because you know?
All for me? And not a question For the faded flowers gay That could take me from beside you For the ages of a day? They are yours, and be the measure Of their worth for you to treasure, The measure of the little while That I’ve been long away.
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”
cf. William Hamilton, “Male Traveler in a Storm” (1770–80)
The little world, the subject of my muse, Is a huge task and labor infinite; Like to a wilderness or mass confuse, Or to an endless gulf, or to the night: How many strange Meanders do I find? How many paths do turn my straying pen? How many doubtful twilights make me blind, Which seek to limb out this strange All of men? Easy it were the earth to portray out, Or to draw forth the heavens’ purest frame, Whose restless course, by order whirls about Of change and place, and still remains the same. But how shall man’s, or manner’s, form appear, Which while I write, do change from what they were?
— Thomas Bastard, Book 1, Epigram 5: Ad lectorem de subjecto operis sui.
Take, oh take those lips away, That so sweetly were forsworn, And those eyes: the breake of day, Lights that do mislead the Morn; But my kisses bring again, bring again, Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.
Study our manuscripts, those myriads Of letters, which have past twixt thee and me, Thence write our annals, and in them will be To all whom love’s subliming fire invades, Rule and example found; There, the faith of any ground No schismatic will dare to wound, That sees, how Love this grace to us affords, To make, to keep, to use, to be these his records.
cf. Antoine-Émile Bourdelle, “Irene Millet” (1917) and Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)
Yet diaries do, indirectly, lay claim to a certain kind of immortality, projecting a voice beyond the grave. Alice James’s diary was her dialogue with the future. It gave form to her sense of ironic detachment. And it created a communion in her lonely life…
cf. Pompeo Batoni, “Portrait of a Young Man” (ca. 1760–65) and image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay and video by Felix_Broennimann (“Star, Long Exposure”) via Pixabay and video by InspiredImages (“Lava Lamp”) via Pixabay
Illustration by H. J. Ford from “The Book Of Romance” (1902)
Thus they drive on the day with such doings while our hero lies comfortably in his bed at home in clothes full rich of hue. The lady did not forget; she came to greet him; full early she was by him to change his mind. She comes to the curtain and peeps at the knight. Sir Gawain at once welcomes her worthily, and she returns his greeting right promptly, seats herself softly by his side, laughs openly, and with a lovely look addresses these words to him: “Sir, if ye be Gawain, it seems to me a very strange thing that a man of such quality should not follow the conventions of good society; and should after making acquaintance with a person cast him utterly from his mind. Thou hast already forgotten what I taught you yesterday in the best language that I knew.” “What is that?” quoth the hero. “Forsooth I know not. If what ye say be true, I am to blame.” “Yet I taught you about kissing,” replied the fair lady; “wherever a countenance is known, quickly to claim a kiss; that becomes every knight who practices courtesy…”
—Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
She’s turnin’ on the heat And it’s a little too much She’s turnin’ on the heat And it’s a hundred above, yeah…
cf. Remo Farruggio, Basin Street (1938) and LIFE, 1968
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question … Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit.
–T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (excerpt)
cf. John Atkinson Grimshaw, Canny Glasgow (1887) and Daniel Chester French, Joe’s Farewell (1872–73)
“…of course you knew from Behrens that I was still here, waiting for you. But I’ve told you that I think of that night simply as a dream, our dream, and that I concede you have your freedom. After all, I did not really wait in vain, because you are here again, we are sitting next to one another just as then, I can hear the wonderful edge to your voice, so familiar to my ear for a very long time; and under that billowing silk are arms that I know well…”
—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
I can wait forever Helping you to see That I was meant for you And you for me…
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…
“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!”
Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup, And I’ll not look for wine. The thirst that from the soul doth rise, Doth ask a drink divine; But might I of Jove’s nectar sup, I would not change for thine.
–Ben Jonson, Song—To Celia: “Drink to me only with thine eyes” (excerpt)