vissi d’amore

photograph by Maksym Kaharlytskyi via Unsplash

Gatsby, his hands still in his pockets, was reclining against the mantelpiece in a strained counterfeit of perfect ease, even of boredom. 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 who was sitting frightened but graceful on the edge of a stiff chair.

The Great Gatsby
 

“Who goes with Fergus?”

photograph by Tim Foster via Unsplash

Who will go drive with Fergus now,
And pierce the deep wood’s woven shade,
And dance upon the level shore?
Young man, lift up your russet brow,
And lift your tender eyelids, maid,
And brood on hopes and fear no more.

And no more turn aside and brood
Upon love’s bitter mystery;
For Fergus rules the brazen cars,
And rules the shadows of the wood,
And the white breast of the dim sea
And all dishevelled wandering stars.

— W. B. Yeats
 

“Bird-Understander”

photograph by Jordan Whitt via Unsplash

Of many reasons I love you here is one

the way you write me from the gate at the airport
so I can tell you everything will be alright

so you can tell me there is a bird
trapped in the terminal all the people
ignoring it because they do not know
what to do with it except to leave it alone
until it scares itself to death

it makes you terribly terribly sad

You wish you could take the bird outside
and set it free or (failing that)
call a bird-understander
to come help the bird

All you can do is notice the bird
and feel for the bird and write
to tell me how language feels
impossibly useless

but you are wrong

You are a bird-understander
better than I could ever be
who make so many noises
and call them song

These are your own words
your way of noticing
and saying plainly
of not turning away
from hurt

you have offered them
to me I am only
giving them back

if only I could show you
how very useless
they are not

— Craig Arnold
 

“cry I can no more”

photograph by Ryan Byrne via Unsplash

NOT, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come…

— Gerard Manley Hopkins
 

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold”

photograph by Inga Seliverstova via Pexels

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.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

— Sonnet LXXIII

And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line…

 

 

“Think Not All Is Over”

photograph by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Think not, when the wailing winds of autumn
Drive the shivering leaflets from the tree,—
Think not all is over: spring returneth,
Buds and leaves and blossoms thou shalt see.

Think not, when the earth lies cold and sealed,
And the weary birds above her mourn,—
Think not all is over: God still liveth,
Songs and sunshine shall again return.

Think not, when thy heart is waste and dreary,
When thy cherished hopes lie chill and sere,—
Think not all is over: God still loveth,
He will wipe away thy every tear.

Weeping for a night alone endureth,
God at last shall bring a morning hour;
In the frozen buds of every winter
Sleep the blossoms of a future flower.

— Harriet Beecher Stowe
 

“His soul has in its Autumn”

photograph by Shaan Johari via Pexels

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

— Keats, “The Human Seasons”

It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference

 

“Full souls are double mirrors”

cf. The Glucksman Library, “Interior of Foundation Building” (edited digital collage)

Full souls are double mirrors, making still
An endless vista of fair things before,
Repeating things behind.

Middlemarch, Epigraph to Chapter LXXII

Kayleigh

 

“For the rain it raineth every day.”

photograph by Kalle Saarinen via Unsplash

But when I came, alas, to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Twelfth Night

You Make Me Crazy

 

“WHY, who makes much of a miracle?”

photograph by Jason King via Unsplash

WHY, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky…
Or talk by day with any one I love…

— Whitman, Leaves of Grass (“Miracles”)

Miracles

 

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

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Again I feel the words inspire
Their mournful calm; serene,
Yet tinged with infinite desire
For all that might have been—

— Matthew Arnold, “Obermann Once More”

“Thel’s Motto”

photograph by Mikita Yo via Unsplash

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole:
Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
Or Love in a golden bowl?

— William Blake, from “The Book of Thel”

The Rainbow Connection

 

“SUCCESS is counted sweetest”

photograph by Zane Lindsay via Unsplash

SUCCESS is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.

— Emily Dickinson

Free Rein

Frank T. Merrill, “Hercules frees Prometheus from the rock” (1904)

Meanwhile, during the first flush of success and before the release of “Fantastic,” we’d decided that Wham!’s creative reins should rest solely with George if we were to achieve the scale of success we believed was in our reach. I had long recognized his ability… The decision still smarted a little, but it was the right one: George was so clearly developing into a writer of rare ability; indeed it was the desire to realize the potential of that gift which drove him to become a solo artist, free of our band’s constraints…

— Andrew Ridgeley, “Wham!, George Michael and Me: A Memoir”


Defying Gravity

“Convalescence”

photograph by Oveth Martinez via Unsplash

From out the dragging vastness of the sea,
Wave-fettered, bound in sinuous seaweed strands,
He toils toward the rounding beach, and stands
One moment, white and dripping, silently,
Cut like a cameo in lazuli,
Then falls, betrayed by shifting shells, and lands
Prone in the jeering water, and his hands
Clutch for support where no support can be.
So up, and down, and forward, inch by inch,
He gains upon the shore, where poppies glow
And sandflies dance their little lives away.
The sucking waves retard, and tighter clinch
The weeds about him, but the land-winds blow,
And in the sky there blooms the sun of May.

— Amy Lowell

Just One Victory

 

“Instructions on Not Giving Up”

photograph by Johan Godínez via Unsplash

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

— Ada Limón

Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

“GOING to him! Happy letter! Tell him—”

photograph by Jan Tinneberg via Unsplash

“GOING to him! Happy letter! Tell him—
Tell him the page I did n’t write;
Tell him I only said the syntax,
And left the verb and the pronoun out.
Tell him just how the fingers hurried,
Then how they waded, slow, slow, slow;
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages,
So you could see what moved them so.

“Tell him it was n’t a practised writer,
You guessed, from the way the sentence toiled;
You could hear the bodice tug, behind you,
As if it held but the might of a child;
You almost pitied it, you, it worked so.
Tell him—No, you may quibble there,
For it would split his heart to know it,
And then you and I were silenter.

“Tell him night finished before we finished,
And the old clock kept neighing ‘day!’
And you got sleepy and begged to be ended—
What could it hinder so, to say?
Tell him just how she sealed you, cautious,
But if he ask where you are hid
Until to-morrow,—happy letter!
Gesture, coquette, and shake your head!”

— Emily Dickinson


2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)

“I flipped through one story after another until finally I came to a story about a fig-tree.”

photograph by Cody Doherty via Unsplash

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig-tree in the story.

From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and off-beat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig-tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

— Plath, The Bell Jar

Stop For Me

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

photograph by Riccardo Mion via Unsplash

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

— Wallace Stevens

What Is Life

“Thou Dusky Spirit Of The Wood”

photograph by David Tran via Unsplash

Thou dusky spirit of the wood,
Bird of an ancient brood,
Flitting thy lonely way,
A meteor in the summer’s day,
From wood to wood, from hill to hill,
Low over forest, field and rill,
What wouldst thou say?
Why shouldst thou haunt the day?
What makes thy melancholy float?
What bravery inspires thy throat,
And bears thee up above the clouds,
Over desponding human crowds,
Which far below
Lay thy haunts low?

— Henry David Thoreau

Change Myself

“Elms”

photograph by Lisanto 李奕良 via Unsplash

All day I tried to distinguish
need from desire. Now, in the dark,
I feel only bitter sadness for us,
the builders, the planers of wood,
because I have been looking
steadily at these elms
and seen the process that creates
the writhing, stationary tree
is torment, and have understood
it will make no forms but twisted forms.

— Louise Glück

“Wrong, Tony,” he said, and shook his head.

photograph by Laurent Gence via Unsplash

“Wrong, Tony,” he said, and shook his head. “My courage does not go down to zero because I have a piece of bad luck. It’s the other way on. I believe in that, and events show it.”

— Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

“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