“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

photograph by Florencia Viadana via Unsplash

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

— Robert Frost

Mainstreet

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

“I cannot live with you”

Texas State University Flickr Commons, Unidentified Negatives (1963)

I CANNOT live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf

The sexton keeps the key to,
Putting up
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup…

So we must keep apart,
You there, I here,
With just the door ajar
That oceans are,
And prayer,
And that pale sustenance,
Despair!

— Emily Dickinson

Here You Come Again

Fern Hill

photograph by Zachary Nelson via Unsplash

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means…

— Dylan Thomas

I Don’t Wanna Know

“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

“God’s Grandeur”

photograph by Rosie Kerr via Unsplash

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

— Gerard Manley Hopkins

Day by Day

“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

“Barter”

cf. video by Kindel Media via Pexels

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

—Sara Teasdale, “Barter” (excerpt)

“Crazy Crazy Nights” by Kiss

“ENG 101”

David De Vries, “Room 103, small classroom…” (2001)

ENG 101

I heard his raspy old voice talking
about a poem
about a spider
and he even looked like Frost
but I was looking
out the door
out the window
at the ultrablue sky
and wondered
about designs

— J.S.

Place In This World

“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

“one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face”

Northeastern University Course Catalog (1974-75)

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

— Yeats

You Take A Heart

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

“you awoke to find your black feathers rooted in the lake’s early freeze.”

photograph by jurien huggins via Unsplash

One white morning, you awoke to find
your black feathers rooted in the lake’s early freeze.
Your friends had fled…

— Margo Button, “With No Explanation” (excerpt)
 

“Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe”

photograph by Leslie Jones via Unsplash

Green apples dancing in a wash of sun—
Ripples of sense and fun—
A net of light that wavers as it weaves
The sunlight on the chattering leaves;
The half-dazed sound of feet,
And carriages that ripple in the heat.
The parasols like shadows of the sun
Cast wavering shades that run
Across the laughing faces and across
Hair with a bird-bright gloss.
The swinging greenery casts shadows dark,
Hides me that I may mark
How, buzzing in this dazzling mesh, my soul
Seems hardening it to flesh, and one bright whole.
O sudden feathers have a flashing sheen!
The sun’s swift javelin
The bird-songs seem, that through the dark leaves pass;
And life itself is but a flashing glass.

— Edith Sitwell

More Than a Feeling

“I come no more to make you laugh…”

photograph by Andrei Tarkovsky

I come no more to make you laugh: things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,
Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,
We now present…

Henry VIII

Yes We Can Can

“The heart comes out of hiding…”

Alicia Chen, “Girl listening to music by window” (ca. 2015)

Music—the world that might be,
and yet the world as it is. The heart
comes out of hiding, saying to us:
“Listen, you can say anything you want now.
Here is the instrument.”

— Robert Winner, The Instrument (excerpt)

This above all: to thine own self be true

Hamlet

Natural Thing

“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

“The Sea and the Skylark”

cf. photograph by Pavel Nekoranec via Unsplash

ON ear and ear two noises too old to end
Trench—right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.

Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeinèd score
In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none ’s to spill nor spend.

How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,

Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime:
Our make and making break, are breaking, down
To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.

— Gerard Manley Hopkins

Just One Victory

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

“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

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

And I Only Am Escaped Alone To Tell Thee

photograph by Mateus Campos Felipe via Unsplash

The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth?—Because one did survive the wreck.

It so chanced, that after the Parsee’s disappearance, I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Ahab’s bowsman, when that bowsman assumed the vacant post; the same, who, when on the last day the three men were tossed from out of the rocking boat, was dropped astern. So, floating on the margin of the ensuing scene, and in full sight of it, when the halfspent suction of the sunk ship reached me, I was then, but slowly, drawn towards the closing vortex. When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool. Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like black bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another Ixion I did revolve. Till, gaining that vital centre, the black bubble upward burst; and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

— Melville, Moby-Dick

I Think God Can Explain

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

“a different tone”

photograph by Elia Pellegrini via Unsplash

It was not really alarming at first, since the change was subtle, but I did notice that my surroundings took on a different tone at certain times: the shadows of nightfall seemed more somber, my mornings were less buoyant, walks in the woods became less zestful, and there was a moment during my working hours in the late afternoon when a kind of panic and anxiety overtook me, just for a few minutes, accompanied by a visceral queasiness—such a seizure was at least slightly alarming, after all. As I set down these recollections, I realize that it should have been plain to me that I was already in the grip of the beginning of a mood disorder, but I was ignorant of such a condition at that time.

— William Styron, Darkness Visible

Slippin’ Into Darkness

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

“comme un reve singulierement profond”

cf. photograph by cottonbro via Pexels (edited)

“Yes, let’s,” Hans Castorp repeated, mechanically. They spoke in low tones, covered by the music. “Let us sit here, and look on, as though in a dream. For it is like a dream to me, that we are sitting like this — comme un reve singulierement profond, car il faut dormir tres profondement pour rever comme cela. Je veux dire — c’est un reve bien connu, reve de tout temps, long, eternel, oui, etre assis pres de toi comme a present…”

The Magic Mountain

Dreams

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