In The House Of Stone And Light

photograph by Samantha Hentosh via Unsplash

“…since you can’t sleep, and Mamma can’t either, we mustn’t go on in this stupid way; we must do something; I’ll get one of your books.” But I had none there. “Would you like me to get out the books now that your grandmother is going to give you for your birthday?”

— Proust, Swann’s Way

In The House Of Stone And Light

“Deceive, deceive me once again!”

photograph by John Moeses Bauan via Unsplash

You smiled, you spoke, and I believed,
By every word and smile deceived.
Another man would hope no more;
Nor hope I what I hoped before:
But let not this last wish be vain;
Deceive, deceive me once again!

— Walter Savage Landor

Found Out About You

“Long Neglect Has Worn Away”

Carol Highsmith, “Family Day on the grounds of the Alabama River Pulp Company” (2010)

Long neglect has worn away
Half the sweet enchanting smile;
Time has turned the bloom to gray;
Mold and damp the face defile.

But that lock of silky hair,
Still beneath the picture twined,
Tells what once those features were,
Paints their image on the mind.

Fair the hand that traced that line,
“Dearest, ever deem me true”;
Swiftly flew the fingers fine
When the pen that motto drew.

— Emily Brontë

Hollyann

“I so liked Spring…”

cf. photograph by Ana Markovych via Unsplash

I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here; –
The thrushes too –
Because it was these you so liked to hear –
I so liked you.

This year’s a different thing, –
I’ll not think of you.
But I’ll like the Spring because it is simply Spring
As the thrushes do.

— Charlotte Mew

Touch and Go

[Enter Katherine]

cf. video by cottonbro via pexels

LUCENTIO:
Gramercies, Tranio, well dost thou advise.
If, Biondello, thou wert come ashore,
We could at once put us in readiness
And take a lodging fit to entertain
Such friends as time in Padua shall beget.

[Enter Baptista with his two daughters, Katherine and
Bianca; Gremio, a pantaloon, and Hortensio, suitors
to Bianca.]

But stay awhile! What company is this?

TRANIO:
Master, some show to welcome us to town.

The Taming of the Shrew

Boom! There She Was

Idea 61

photograph by Christian Lue via Unsplash

SINCE there ’s no help, Come, let us kiss and part!
Nay, I have done. You get no more of me!
And I am glad, yea, glad, with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly, I my self can free.
Shake hands for ever! Cancel all our vows!
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows,
That we one jot of former love retain!
Now at the last gasp of LOVE’s latest breath.
When his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies;
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes:
Now, if thou wouldst! when all have given him over,
From death to life, thou might’st him yet recover!

— Michael Drayton

No Time

“Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day”

photograph by Yerlan Sadvakassov via Unsplash

WHY didst thou promise such a beauteous day
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
’Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.

— Sonnet XXXIV

Mimi Gets Mad

“The quality of mercy is not strained.”

photograph by Mikita Yo via Unsplash

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

The Merchant of Venice

“the clocks were striking thirteen”

photograph by Casper Nichols via Unsplash

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

— Orwell, Nineteen eighty-four

“Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing”

photograph by Abigail via Unsplash

FAREWELL! thou art too dear for my possessing
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate:
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thyself thou gav’st, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me, to whom thou gav’st it, else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgment making.
Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a king, but, waking, no such matter.

— Sonnet LXXXVII


Penny Lover

“Again there has been a sad interval in our correspondence.”

photograph by Kajetan Sumila via Unsplash

Again there has been a sad interval in our correspondence. But do not blame me. I have had a pretty severe return this summer of that mel- ancholy or hypochondria, which is inherent in my constitution and from which I have suffered miserably in former years, though since my marriage I have been wonderfully free from it. Your languor and discontent are occasioned by a gentler species of the distemper. You have a slow fever, I a raging one. While gloomy and fretful, and grossly indolent, I was shocked with the recollection of my good spirits, gayety, and activity, as a man with a headache is shocked by bright sunbeams. – But I need not describe my feelings to you. – The strange thing was that I did not write to you, a few lines, merely as firing guns of distress. Nobody here but my wife and worthy Johnson had the least notion of my being at all uneasy; for I have been remarkably busy this summer. I wrote about threescore law-papers, and got £124 in fees during last sessions two months. The court rose yesterday; and this day the clouds began to recede from my mind; I cannot tell from what cause.

— Letter from James Boswell to his friend Temple

Hitch a Ride

“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”

Love Song

“Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere…”

photograph by Brina Blum via Unsplash

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.

Leaves of Grass

Make Your Own Kind Of Music

The Cimmerians

photograph by Myicahel Tamburini via Pexels

…when the sun went down and darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep waters of the river Oceanus, where lie the land and city of the Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down again out of the heavens…

Odyssey


Now That We Found Love

“Mindful of you…”

photograph by Lisa Fotios via Pexels

MINDFUL of you the sodden earth in spring,
And all the flowers that in the springtime grow,
And dusty roads, and thistles, and the slow
Rising of the round moon, all throats that sing
The summer through, and each departing wing,
And all the nests that the bared branches show,
And all winds that in any weather blow,
And all the storms that the four seasons bring.

You go no more on your exultant feet
Up paths that only mist and morning knew,
Or watch the wind, or listen to the beat
Of a bird’s wings too high in air to view,—
But you were something more than young and sweet
And fair,—and the long year remembers you.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Shower the People

If he could hold her so close in his arms…again

Northeastern University Course Catalog (1985-86)

hearing your voice
reminds me
one summer
so long ago
was that me
as the radio played
nothing stands between love and you

— J.S.

Girl Can’t Help It

Chapter 8

photograph by Inga Seliverstova via Pexels

He came back from France when Tom and Daisy were still on their wedding trip, and made a miserable but irresistible journey to Louisville on the last of his army pay. He stayed there a week, walking the streets where their footsteps had clicked together through the November night and revisiting the out-of-the-way places to which they had driven in her white car. Just as Daisy’s house had always seemed to him more mysterious and gay than other houses so his idea of the city itself, even though she was gone from it, was pervaded with a melancholy beauty.

He left feeling that if he had searched harder he might have found her—that he was leaving her behind…

The Great Gatsby

Allison Road

“Life Savers”

photograph by Leon Bublitz via Unsplash

Life Savers

the train rolled around the bend
Life Savers refracting in the glass
autumn aurorae
I ran all the way down the station stop
my heart in my head
and said
I love you

— J.S.

Candy’s Room

“Sanctuary”

John Phelan, Berklee College of Music, Boston Massachusetts (2011) via Wikimedia Commons

My land is bare of chattering folk;
The clouds are low along the ridges,
And sweet’s the air with curly smoke
From all my burning bridges.

— Dorothy Parker

Finally Found A Home

y=mx+b

photograph by Ahmad Jajuli via Unsplash

Once upon a time a line saw itself
clear to its end. I have seen the shape
of happiness. (y=mx+b)
I am holding it. It is your hand.

— TC Tolbert, “What Space Faith Can Occupy”

Your Smiling Face

On Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts”

Nationaal Archief, “Dutch family having a picnic” (ca. 1960s)

On Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts”

and what of Daedalus? —
secretly deeply sorrowed
while somebody mowed the lawn

— J.S.

The Hissing of Summer Lawns

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…

photograph by Yoann Boyer via Unsplash

Scene: Int. Luke’s X-Wing – Cockpit

[Luke looks to the targeting device, then away as he hears Ben’s voice.]

BEN’S VOICE: “Luke, trust me.”

[Luke’s hand reaches for the control panel and presses the button. The targeting device moves away.]

I Won’t Back Down

It is what it is

photograph by Isabella and Zsa Fischer via Unsplash

There was the good, the upright Joachim, firm as a rock — yet whose eyes in these past months had come to hold such a tragic shadow, and who had never used to shrug his shoulders, as he did so often now.

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Change Myself

The Stranger

photograph by Johnny Cohen via Unsplash

For the first time in a long time I thought about Maman. I felt as if I understood why at the end of her life she had taken a “fiancé,” why she had played at beginning again…

— Albert Camus

If These Walls Could Speak

But if I close my eyes it’s only yesterday

cf. video by Alena Darmel via Pexels

When youth’s bright sun has once declined
And bid his smiling day expire,
Mem’ry, thy torch steals up behind,
And sets thy hidden stars on fire.

— George Moses Horton, Memory

Past

Time is like a clock in my heart

photograph by Rachael Crowe via Unsplash

“Yes, we sit here and laugh,” he said, with a long face, his words interrupted by the heaving of his diaphragm, “we sit here and laugh, but there’s no telling when I shall get away. When Behrens says half a year, you can make up your mind it will be more. It is hard, isn’t it? — you just tell me if you don’t think it is pretty hard on me. I had already been accepted, I could have taken my exams next month. And now I have to drool about with a thermometer stuck in my mouth…and watch the time slipping away. A year is so important at our age. Down below, one goes through so many changes, and makes so much progress, in a single year of life. And I have to stagnate up here — yes, just stagnate like a filthy puddle; it isn’t too crass a comparison.”

Strange to say, Hans Castorp’s only reply to all this was a query as to whether it was possible to get porter up here…

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Time (Clock Of The Heart)

Rain on me

photograph by Craig Ren via Unsplash

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

— Emily Dickinson


Love Reign O’er Me

Been breaking down. Do you want me now?

photograph by Gift Habeshaw via Unsplash

But Hans Castorp was convinced there was another and private reason why Joachim withdrew so early; he had known it since the time he saw his cousin’s face take on the mottled pallor, and his mouth assume the pathetic twist. He perfectly understood. For Marusja was almost always there in the evening — laughter-loving Marusja, with the little ruby on her charming hand, the handkerchief with the orange scent, and the swelling bosom, tainted within — Hans Castorp comprehended that it was her presence which drove Joachim away, precisely because it so strongly, so fearfully drew him toward her. Was Joachim too “immured” — and even worse off than himself, in that he had five times a day to sit at the same table with Marusja and her orange-scented handkerchief? However that might be, it was clear that Joachim was preoccupied with his own troubles; the thought of him could afford his cousin no mental support. That he took refuge in daily flight was a credit to him; but that he had to flee was anything but reassuring to Hans Castorp, who even began to feel that Joachim’s good example of faithful service of the cure and the initiation which he owed to his cousin’s experience might have also their bad side.

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Into My Own

cf. video by George Pak via Pexels

ONE of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

— Robert Frost

To Each His Own

Alice Fell

photograph by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

Up to the tavern-door we post;
Of Alice and her grief I told;
And I gave money to the host,
To buy a new cloak for the old.

“And let it be of duffil grey,
As warm a cloak as man can sell!”
Proud creature was she the next day,
The little orphan, Alice Fell!

— Wordsworth, “Alice Fell, Or Poverty”


Love In Action

Trimalchio’s lament

cf. yearbook page by Bruce Detorres via flickr

“And she doesn’t understand,” he said. “She used to be able to understand. We’d sit for hours—”

He broke off and began to walk up and down a desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers.

The Great Gatsby

“…unpack my heart with words”

cf. photograph by Sebastian Voortman via Pexels (edited)

What a piece of work is a man!
how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty!
in form and moving how express and admirable!
in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world!
the paragon of animals!…

Hamlet

Empty Sky

“For never-resting time leads summer on…”

Erik Calonius, “…Subway Car” (1973)

Time — yet not the time told by the station clock, moving with a jerk five minutes at once, but rather, the time of a tiny timepiece, the hand of which one cannot see move, or the time the grass keeps when it grows, so unobservably one would say it does not grow at all, until some morning the fact is undeniable — time, a line composed of a succession of dimensionless points…time, we say, had gone on, in its furtive, unobservable, competent way, bringing about changes…

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)


I’m Turning Around

“Good morning, old sport. You’re having lunch with me today and I thought we’d ride up together.”

Northeastern University, Course Catalog (1980-81)

When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb, and she was sitting in it with a lieutenant I had never seen before. They were so engrossed in each other that she didn’t see me until I was five feet away…

The Great Gatsby

Ridin’ in My Car

Prometheus

photograph by National Cancer Institute via Unsplash

“Nymphs! your soft smiles uncultured man subdued,
And charm’d the savage from his native wood;
You, while amazed his hurrying hoards retire
From the fell havoc of devouring fire,
Taught the first art! with piny rods to raise
By quick attrition the domestic blaze,
Fan with soft breath, with kindling leaves provide…

— Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden, Canto I

Shinin’ On

Or help one fainting robin unto his nest again

photograph by janaaa via Pixabay

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

Love Is The Answer

“Nor jealousy was understood, the injur’d lover’s hell.”

photograph by cottonbro via Pexels

“You are hurt? You must not be. Let us put those feelings away, send them to Jericho. Do you agree? I have been wounded too sometimes — I will confess it, since we are sitting together like this. I have been angry with your phlegm, and your being such friends with him, on account of your egoistic craving for experience. Yet I was glad too, and grateful for the respect you paid him. You were loyal; if you were a bit impertinent too, after all I could make allowance for that.”

“Very kind of you.”

She looked at him. “You are incorrigible, it seems. And certainly I can’t quite tell how much esprit you have — but deep you are, a deep young man. Well, very good, one can do with it, and be friends. Shall we be friends, shall we make a league — not against but for him? Will you give me your hand on it? I am often frightened. — Sometimes I am afraid of the solitude with him — the inward solitude, tu sais — he is — frightening; sometimes I am afraid something may happen to him — it makes me shudder. — I should be glad to feel I had someone beside me. Enfin — if you care to know — that was why I came back here with him — chez toi…”

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Hey Jealousy

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

“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

“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

On a stormy sea of moving emotion

photograph by Warren Wong via Unsplash

Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in the pose of a meditating Buddha. Nobody moved for a time. “We have lost the first of the ebb,” said the Director suddenly. I raised my head. The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky—seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.

— Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“So foul a sky clears not without a storm.”

— Shakespeare, King John

Whosoever unceasingly strives upward … him can we save.

— Goethe


Carry On Wayward Son

a long and dangerous voyage

photograph by Mert Kahveci via Unsplash

At this moment, the tavern door opened. Several persons entered bringing with them an odor of wet dog to which was blent the smell of coal wafted by the wind through the opened door. Des Esseintes was incapable of moving a limb. A soft warm languor prevented him from even stretching out his hand to light a cigar. He told himself: “Come now, let us get up, we must take ourselves off.” Immediate objections thwarted his orders. What is the use of moving, when one can travel on a chair so magnificently? Was he not even now in London, whose aromas and atmosphere and inhabitants, whose food and utensils surrounded him? For what could he hope, if not new disillusionments, as had happened to him in Holland?

He had but sufficient time to race to the station. An overwhelming aversion for the trip, an imperious need of remaining tranquil, seized him with a more and more obvious and stubborn strength. Pensively, he let the minutes pass, thus cutting off all retreat, and he said to himself, “Now it would be necessary to rush to the gate and crowd into the baggage room! What ennui! What a bore that would be!” Then he repeated to himself once more, “In fine, I have experienced and seen all I wished to experience and see. I have been filled with English life since my departure. I would be mad indeed to go and, by an awkward trip, lose those imperishable sensations. How stupid of me to have sought to disown my old ideas, to have doubted the efficacy of the docile phantasmagories of my brain, like a very fool to have thought of the necessity, of the curiosity, of the interest of an excursion!”

“Well!” he exclaimed, consulting his watch, “it is now time to return home.”

This time, he arose and left, ordered the driver to bring him back to the Sceaux station, and returned with his trunks, packages, valises, rugs, umbrellas and canes, to Fontenay, feeling the physical stimulation and the moral fatigue of a man coming back to his home after a long and dangerous voyage.

— Huysmans, Against The Grain


Call me the breeze