“a closed book”

Camden Public Library, “The 6-masted schooner George W. Wells…” (detail) (ca. 1900)

a closed book

just for an instant
the future,
ionized and incandescent
split the sky
then was lost

—J.S.
 

G. F. Handel – Suite No. 2 – Adagio by Elina Christova

Quote

“Portraits” (V-VIII)

“Portraits” (V-VIII)

V
(John Keats)

The thought of her
in that darkest winter
fevered torment
but your eternal summer
will not fade

VI
(Jane Dornacker)

You did not know me
but I was always listening
and when I lost you
I pulled my car over to the side of the road
and prayed

VII
(Hans Castorp)

As Spender said of Eliot,
A wonderful poet disguised as a businessman.
Just ask Clavdia.

VIII
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

A romantic resting against a mantelpiece clock.
You were right, Scott—
the past is forever.

—J.S.

Quote

“Portraits” (I-IV)

“Portraits” (I-IV)

I
(Van Temple)

I saw you singing that song again
and I thought of art
burning like a flame
through time and tide
and I was driving with the radio on
again

II
(Arland D. Williams Jr.)

When you boarded the plane
Did the other passengers recognize you?

III
(Samuel Johnson)

Put her letters in the fire
Striven back onto yourself
A place you’ve been before

IV
(Walt Whitman)

When you listened to the aria in New Orleans
Did it unravel and fathom your heart?

—J.S.

“Stand a little out of my sun.”

Photograph by mvp via Unsplash

…since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him; and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many persons coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, “Yes,” said Diogenes, “stand a little out of my sun.”

–Plutarch, Alexander

“Soli Deo Gloria”: Grand Central, December, 1982

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

–J.S.
 

Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048 – III. Allegro by TXGQ

“For him, however, it meant freedom finally won, and by now his heart no longer fluttered at the thought.”

Tom Hubbard, August Brings the “D’aug Days” to Fountain Square… (1973)

And that was the end of the attempt by the flatlands to reclaim Hans Castorp. The young man admitted quite openly to himself that such total failure, which he had seen coming, was of decisive importance for his relationship to the people down there. For the flatlands it meant a final shrug, the abandonment of any claim; for him, however, it meant freedom finally won, and by now his heart no longer fluttered at the thought.

–Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

She put her finger in your cheek so hard it must have made your dimple there, and said, “Maple.”

“Tornado”

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)

“Have you noticed a change in Steve?”

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

“I should have passed a calm and peaceful life…”

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)

“…awaiting the birth of a grandson capable of understanding him.”

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…

 

star-wars-party-1080
Library and Information Services Metropolitan State University, Star Wars Party (2015)

“Upon the heart sorrow falls, memory’s pain, and to us, though against our very will, even in our own despite, comes wisdom”

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,
comes wisdom…

–Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Edith Hamilton, trans., “Three Greek Plays”)

“Don’t forget to return my pencil.”

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

“Johnny, give up women and study mathematics.”

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.”)

—Rousseau, Confessions

“Young John” (Painting By Arris Grace Hodge)

Source: Young John – arrisgracehodge / Saatchi Art: Young John Painting by Arris Grace Hodge

Artist: Arris Grace Hodge

Arris Grace Hodge | Saatchi Art

arrisgracehodge.wordpress.com

 

Young John Painting by Arris Grace Hodge

Arris Grace Hodge, “Young John” (Oil on Canvas, 18 H x 24 W x 2 in)

The Importance of Being Earnest

cf. U.S. National Archives, Photograph of Guests at Refreshment Table… (detail) (1963)

Jack: You really love me, Gwendolen?

Gwendolen: Passionately!

Jack: Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me.

Gwendolen: My own Ernest!

Jack: But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest?

Gwendolen: But your name is Ernest.

Jack: Yes, I know it is. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then?

Gwendolen: [Glibly.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life, as we know them.

Jack: Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don’t much care about the name of Ernest… I don’t think the name suits me at all.

Gwendolen: It suits you perfectly. It is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibrations.

Jack: Well, really, Gwendolen, I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. I think Jack, for instance, a charming name.

Gwendolen: Jack?… No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations… I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.

Jack: Gwendolen, I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once. There is no time to be lost…

–Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

“I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence…”

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…

Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be ere one can say “It lightens.”

cf. photograph by Everton Vila via Unsplash and ridgerider04, Time Lapse Lightning Storm 2012

JULIET:
Well, do not swear: although I joy in thee,
I have no joy of this contract tonight:
It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;
Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be
Ere one can say “It lightens.”

Romeo and Juliet

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars

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

Uncle Vanya

VOITSKI: …I met her first ten years ago, at her sister’s house, when she was seventeen and I was thirty-seven. Why did I not fall in love with her then and propose to her? It would have been so easy! And now she would have been my wife. Yes, we would both have been waked tonight by the thunderstorm, and she would have been frightened, but I would have held her in my arms and whispered: “Don’t be afraid! I am here.” Oh, enchanting dream, so sweet that I laugh to think of it. [He laughs] But my God! My head reels! Why am I so old? Why won’t she understand me?…

–Anton Checkov, Uncle Vanya

And you can’t turn back
There is never any starting over
Parallel lines never do cross over…

 

in-the-garden-1200
Frau E. Nothmann, “In The Garden” (detail) (ca. 1896)

“legato con amore in un volume”

James Jowers, Tompkins Sq. Park (1967)

Nel suo profondo vidi che s’ interna,
legato con amore in un volume…

I saw within its depth how it conceives all things in a single volume bound by love…

–Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Paradiso

“This poet may not be very important, you should say defiantly, but his work is good for me.”

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?”

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)

“The nineteenth autumn has come upon me…”

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
Mysterious, beautiful;
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-edit-1080
Ladies’ Home Journal (1964)

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

A. L. Hitchin, “The Little Artist” (ca. 1919) and G. W. Harting, “Sketching” (ca. 1917)

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

–Gerard Manley Hopkins, As Kingfishers Catch Fire (excerpt)

“The day when I looked through the window…”

“My dearest fellow, This will not reach you till some time after our
wedding day, which as usual has taken me aback; but I mean to send you
a despatch on the day itself, and this is for dessert. Not that I think so
much of that day; if I had some other dates, I would think more of them:
that of the day when I looked through the window…”

—Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to his Wife, Fanny, May 15, 1888

I never knew love before
Then came you…

 

at-the-window-1080

Konstantin Korovin, At The Window (1919)

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain”

Maximilien Luce, “The Good Samaritan” (1896)

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

“That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude wasting of old time…” (At The Louvre, August, 1984)

At The Louvre, August, 1984

Such dim-conceivèd glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.

–John Keats, On Seeing the Elgin Marbles (excerpt)

“In the midway of this our mortal life, I found me in a gloomy wood…”

In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct…

–Dante Alighieri, Inferno


David Falconer, The Gas Shortage in the Pacific Northwest… (detail) (1973)

Mark Stern Wakes Up

cf. Sebastian Ortiz Vasquez, Walking Wall St. NY – YouTube

Shining cratefuls of plum, peach, apricot
Are flung out of the fruit man’s tiny store.
Behind the supermarket glass next door:
Landslides of grapefruit, orange, tangerine,
Persimmon, boysenberry, nectarine.
The florist tilts his giant crayon box
Of yellow roses, daffodils, and phlox.
A Disney sun breaks through, makes toys of trucks
And waddling movers look like Donald Ducks
And joke book captions out of storefront signs:
Café du Soir, Austrian Village, Wines.
Pedestrians in olive drabs and grays
Are startled by the sun’s kinetic rays,
Then mottled into pointillistic patches.
The light turns green, cars passing hurl out snatches
Of rock-and-roll and Mozart and the weather.
The light turns red. Why aren’t we together?

–Frederick Feirstein, “Mark Stern Wakes Up” from New and Selected Poems (Story Line Press)

On every crowded street
All the places we would meet
What will I do without you?
They say that life goes on
I’m feeling sorry for myself
I can’t belive you’re gone…

Aspens

Imagine a young man, alone, without anyone.
The moment a few raindrops streaked his glass
he began to scribble.
He lived in a tenement with mice for company.
I loved his bravery.

Someone else a few doors down
played Segovia records all day.
He never left his room, and no one could blame him.
At night he could hear the other’s
typewriter going, and feel comforted.

Literature and music.
Everyone dreaming of Spanish horsemen
and courtyards.
Processions. Ceremony, and
resplendence.

Aspen trees.
Days of rain and high water.
Leaves hammered into the ground finally.
In my heart, this plot of earth
that the storm lights.

–Raymond Carver, “Aspens” from All of Us: Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf)
 

Northeastern University Course Catalog 1982-83 Detail Large
Northeastern University Course Catalog (1982-83)

“…Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.”

Thematic Apperception Test Image

A Noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to
connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor
hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

—Walt Whitman, A Noiseless Patient Spider

“Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may…”

Tom Hubbard, Strolling Among Pigeons at Fountain Square (1973)

He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said that, gathering leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the pools where they abide.
“Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may…”

And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and, when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
“God,” said I, “be my help and stay secure;
I’ll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!”

—William Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence

Three days in the rain and I ain’t had no sleep
But I won’t break down now, I got a promise to keep
Showing my determination…

“In any case he is almost certainly in that section of the country, in one town or another.”

Martin Madl, Contrasts (2015)

After that he didn’t ask for the children to be sent to America and didn’t answer when Nicole wrote asking him if he needed money. In the last letter she had from him he told her that he was practicing in Geneva, New York, and she got the impression that he had settled down with some one to keep house for him. She looked up Geneva in an atlas and found it was in the heart of the Finger Lakes Section and considered a pleasant place. Perhaps, so she liked to think, his career was biding its time, again like Grant’s in Galena; his latest note was post-marked from Hornell, New York, which is some distance from Geneva and a very small town; in any case he is almost certainly in that section of the country, in one town or another.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

“I wonder if you ever read Dickens’ Christmas books?…”

Museum of Hartlepool, A Helping Hand

“I wonder if you ever read Dickens’ Christmas books?…I have only read two of them yet, and feel so good after them and would do anything, yes and shall do everything, to make it a little better for people. I wish I could lose no time; I want to go out and comfort some one…”

—Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Mrs. Sitwell (September, 1874)

To My Twenties

Ernst Halberstadt, Sidewalk Cafe… (1973)

To My Twenties:

How lucky that I ran into you
When everything was possible…
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time!…
I write a lot and am living all the time…
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.

—Kenneth Koch, “To My Twenties”

One Art

Photograph by Cayton Heath via Unsplash

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster…

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

—Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” (excerpt)

A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man

Thomas Hovenden, Breaking Home Ties (Oil on canvas) (1890)

APRIL 26. Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels…

—James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Oranges

minm01, Dating (2014)

Outside,
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

–Gary Soto, Oranges (excerpt)
 

Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – “Fallin’ In Love”

When I Was One-and-Twenty

James Jowers, Woman And Window Display (1968)

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

–A. E. Housman, When I Was One-and-Twenty

“The Oven Bird”

cf. Franz Marc, The Artist’s Father on His Sick Bed I (edited) (1906-1907)

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

–Robert Frost, The Oven Bird

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness…”

photograph by Christian Spies via Unsplash

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness. What friends I had were married, raising families, and had locked themselves, ever so tightly, behind their neat-trimmed lawns and white clapboard houses, their children cute, their wives sexless and anxious, my friends plotting their next moves to achieve the Black River Valley Club, never asking themselves what, if they achieved that—the town’s most venerable institution—could possibly be left for them. My friends and I had long proved an embarrassment to one another; I embarrassing them because I drank too much, was unreliable in my debts and working habits, and had been “hospitalized” a number of times; I embarrassed because they were. We never stopped each other on the streets without, eyes avoiding mine, their patronizing me with queries about my health. It was distressing because there was a kind of gloating—undoubtedly a good deal imagined on my part—in these encounters, as though they were telling me that getting myself proclaimed mad and dragged away a number of times was only a childish and petulant refusal to accept their way of life as the right way, that in seeking some other way I had been assuming a courage and superiority I hadn’t possessed. After a time these encounters had proved so painful that whenever I found myself compelled to move about the streets in daylight hours, I dropped my eyes to the sidewalk and charged through the streets as though in a hot-brained hurry…”

—Frederick Exley, “A Fan’s Notes”

I got my own world to live through
And I ain’t gonna copy you…

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Flip Schulke, Vacationer From Ohio Relaxes near His Motorcycle… (ca. 1975)

“For me this is all mixed with memories that he doesn’t have. Cold mornings long ago when the marsh grass had turned brown and cattails were waving in the northwest wind…”

—Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I’ve been this way ten years to the day, ramble on…