Praeterita

cf. photograph by Sophia Baboolal via Unsplash and video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited)

I can see them at this moment, those mountain meadows, if I rise from my writing-table, and open the old barred valves of the corner window of the Hotel Bellevue;—yes, and there is the very path we climbed that day together, apparently unchanged. But on what seemed then the everlasting hills, beyond which the dawn rose cloudless, and on the heaven in which it rose, and on all that we that day knew, of human mind and virtue,—how great the change, and sorrowful, I cannot measure, and, in this place, I will not speak.

— John Ruskin, Praeterita

Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)

“modern art”

cf. Alfred Stieglitz, “Picasso-Braque Exhibition” (1915) and
Frank Waller, “Interior View of the Metropolitan Museum of Art…” (detail) (1881)

modern art

timeless
and never out of style
speaking of Michelangelo!
beautiful truth, truth in beauty
cloudless climes and starry skies
dark and bright
meet in her eyes

— J.S.

Isn’t It Romantic?

“An autumn wind whistled around corners and gables.”

cf. C.M. Bell, “Unidentified man” (between 1873 and ca. 1916) and
John Rogers, “Rip Van Winkle Returned” (1871)

Then the rambling old house lay tightly wrapped in darkness and silence. Pride, hope, and fear all slept, while rain pelted the deserted streets and an autumn wind whistled around corners and gables.

— Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks

When You Were Young

Cynarae blues

cf. photograph by Chad Madden via Unsplash (edited)

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

— Ernest Dowson, Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae (excerpt)

Almost Hear You Sigh

Flat Tire (The Truth)

cf. LIFE, 1972

“…For you to wait like that was stupid and quite impermissible. But you aren’t angry with me, are you, because you waited in vain?”

“Well, it was rather hard, Clavdia, even for a man with detached passions — hard on me and hard-hearted of you to come back with him, because 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…”

— Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 

Flat Tire (The Truth) by Athenaeum

I come in last night about half past ten…

cf. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Man sitting with dog on front porch as woman looks through door…” (between 1860 and 1930)

“Move It On Over” — George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Meanwhile across town…

cf. Edward Hopper, “Nighthawks” (detail) (1942) and Paul Gauguin, “The Siesta” (detail) (ca. 1892–94)

Poor Wisdom’s chance
Against a glance
Is now as weak as ever.

— Thomas Moore, “The Time Iʼve Lost in Wooing” (excerpt)

“Black Cow” – Steely Dan

reverie

cf. “Reflections”, after Bayard Jones (edit) (ca. 1903)

I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: “’T will keep.”

I woke and chid my honest fingers,—
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.

—Emily Dickinson

“I’m Turning Around” – Gentle Giant

Ode to a Nightingale

cf. Eugene Aizelin, “Mignon” (photograph by S. Almquist, ca. 1921) and
John H. Stocksdale, “Margaret” (ca. 1920)

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

— Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

“Never Here” – Elastica

“the bends”

cf. photograph by Sam Soffes via Unsplash (edit)

the bends

under
fog of fluorescence
this watch said
5:07
Wednesday
26
November
1986
grey noises
office
voices
footsteps
windows
already dark
radiating winter
compressioned
and
descending

—J.S.
 

Patty Griffin – “Rain”

As You Like It

cf. LIFE, 1972

PHOEBE:
Good shepherd, tell this youth what ’tis to love.

SILVIUS:
It is to be all made of sighs and tears,
It is to be all made of faith and service,
It is to be all made of fantasy,
All made of passion and all made of wishes,
All adoration, duty, and observance,
All humbleness, all patience and impatience,
All purity, all trial, all observance…

As You Like It
 

“Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole

Barter

cf. LIFE, 1968 and Vincent van Gogh, “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat” (1887)

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

CHAPTER I: Arrival

cf. John Adams Whipple, “Cornelius Conway Felton with His Hat and Coat” (detail) (ca. 1850) and
video by Activedia via Pixabay

An unassuming young man was travelling, in midsummer, from his native city of Hamburg to Davos-Platz in the Canton of the Grisons, on a three weeks’ visit.

From Hamburg to Davos is a long journey — too long, indeed, for so brief a stay…

—Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
 

“Point Of Know Return” by Kansas

“returner”

cf. photographs by Noel Y. C., Artful Dioramas of North American Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History and Warren Wong via unsplash

returner

into the diorama
quickly by the buffalo
down the mountain
along the freeway
I flag down the driver
of a 1965 ford fairlane

—J.S.
 

“The Middle Ages” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

The Voice

cf. photographs via Unsplash and video (rain) by Vimeo-Free-Videos via Pixabay

Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?

Thomas Hardy, The Voice (excerpt)

Love Won’t Let Me Wait

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

 

“Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris

On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye

cf. Provincial Archives of Alberta, “Vermilion Agricultural and Vocational College” (1970)

For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once…

—William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey…

Another Lycidas

One hand she press’d upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain…

Keats, “The Fall of Hyperion”


cf. Antonio Gai, “Meleager” (1735) and Mathew Brady’s studio, “Unidentified Man” (ca. 1860)

Hyperion

cf. Alfred Stieglitz, “An Icy Night” (1898) and video by CAMERAGE via Pixabay

Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad ‘mid her reeds
Press’d her cold finger closer to her lips…

—Keats, Hyperion (excerpt)

“What seest thou else in the dark backward and abysm of time?”

cf. LIFE, 1968

MIRANDA:
‘Tis far off
And rather like a dream than an assurance
That my remembrance warrants. Had I not
Four or five women once that tended me?

PROSPERO:
Thou hadst, and more, Miranda. But how is it
That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else
In the dark backward and abysm of time?

—Shakespeare, The Tempest

Washington Square

cf. Corson Hirschfeld, “Sporting Life” (Cincinnati Magazine, 1977)

Morris looked vaguely round him, and gave a deep sigh. “Well, I was in hopes that we might still have been friends.”

“I meant to tell you, by my aunt, in answer to your message — if you had waited for an answer — that it was unnecessary for you to come in that hope.”

—Henry James, Washington Square

Extraordinary

Left: H.E. Peck, “Cheer Up Lassie” (ca. 1908);
Right: H. E. Peck, “On Norway’s Coast” (ca. 1908)

The largest fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men…

—Emily Dickinson

Metaphysics

Left: Cesare Guilio, “Palestra Bianca” (ca. 1940)
Right: A.K. Aster, “On Salons” (Camera Craft, 1940)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could…

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo…

“Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception…”

cf. Home Movie PA 000111 and photograph by Kevin Lee via Unsplash

Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending…

–T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

“Doubt thou the stars are fire…”

cf. Henry Farrer, Winter Scene in Moonlight (1869) and stock footage – STARS – Time Lapse – Night

Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping place,
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.

The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what’s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.

–W.B. Yeats, Fallen Majesty

99, I’ve been waiting so long…

“His life had been confused and disordered since then…”

cf. photograph by Henrique Félix via Unsplash

He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was….

–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I get the same old dreams same time every night…

“…of course you knew from Behrens that I was still here, waiting for you.”

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…

“So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star.”

Eastman Kodak Company, “How to make good movies…” (1938) and Timescapes 001 – YouTube

His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
 

The Pursuit Of Happiness – “Pressing Lips”

Nighthawks

cf. Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (detail) (1942) and Detour (1945)

Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.

–William Butler Yeats, Ephemera (excerpt)

You’re leaving now
It’s in your eyes…

“Consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”

cf. Photographs by Clem Onojeghuo (ocean) and Lukas Budimaier (man) via Unsplash

“Consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”

—Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Turn Around

Take, O, take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn;
And those eyes, the break 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.

–Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
 

multi-photograph-of-cissy-fitzgerald-edit-1080
cf. H. L. Bostwick, “Multi-Photograph Of Cissy Fitzgerald” (ca. 1905)

In The Dark

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me,
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow;
The storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

–Emily Brontë, The night is darkening round me
 
stereoscopic-night-photography-and-john-sting-edit-2-1200

cf. from “The Book Of Photography, Practical, Theoretic And Applied”, Paul N. Hasluck, Ed. (1907)
and
Photograph by John Sting via Unsplash

“Rather, it represented his normal condition…”

cf. Julian Alden Weir, Man Reclining on a Beach (1879) and photograph by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

With Oblomov, lying in bed was neither a necessity (as in the case of an invalid or of a man who stands badly in need of sleep) nor an accident (as in the case of a man who is feeling worn out) nor a gratification (as in the case of a man who is purely lazy). Rather, it represented his normal condition. Whenever he was at home–and almost always he was at home–he would spend his time in lying on his back. Likewise he used but the one room–which was combined to serve both as bedroom, as study, and as reception-room–in which we have just discovered him. True, two other rooms lay at his disposal, but seldom did he look into them save on mornings (which did not comprise by any means every morning) when his old valet happened to be sweeping out the study. The furniture in them stood perennially covered over, and never were the blinds drawn up.

—Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov

I’m so tired
Tired of waiting
Tired of waiting for you…

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

cf. Eva Watson Schütze, The May Apple Leaf (ca. 1900) and
MiniPCEU, Time Lapse 1080p – Sky, sun, halo, clouds – YouTube

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

–Sonnet XVIII

“Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up.”

cf. E. C. Thompson, Interior showing a dining table set with silver and crystal (ca. 1870)
and photograph by Kace Rodriguez (detail) via Unsplash

Emily: Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all. Everything. I can’t look at everything hard enough. Good morning, Mama…

—Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Magellan Street, 1974

cf. Photograph by Petr Novak via Unsplash and State Library and Archives of Florida, The Road to Beauty

This is the year you fall in
love with the Bengali poet,
and the Armenian bakery stays open
Saturday nights until eleven
across the street from your sunny
apartment with steep fo’c’sle stairs
up to an attic bedroom.
Three-decker tenement flank you.
Cyclone fences enclose
flamingos on diaper-size lawns.

This is the year, in a kitchen
you brighten with pots of basil
and untidy mint, I see how
your life will open, will burst from
the maze in its walled-in garden
and streak towards the horizon.
Your pastel maps lie open
on the counter as we stand here
not quite up to exchanging
our lists of sorrows, our day books,
our night thoughts, and burn the first batch
of chocolate walnut cookies.

Of course you move on,
my circumnavigator.
Tonight as I cruise past your corner,
a light goes on in the window.
Two shapes sit at the table.

–Maxine Kumin, “Magellan Street, 1974” from Nurture Poems (Penguin Books).

There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed…

“You allowed some Chapeaux to measure the calves of your legs…”

“…So I call on you once more to think and reflect about the cause of this unfortunate incident, namely the fact that I voiced my disapproval that you had been so impudent and inconsiderate as to tell your sisters—Nota bene, in my presence—that you allowed some Chapeaux to measure the calves of your legs…But it’s over now—and a mere acknowledgment of this unwise exhibition would have been enough to make everything all right and—if you don’t take it amiss, dearest friend—would still make it all right.—You can see from this how much I love you…”

Letter from Mozart to Constanze Weber (April 29, 1782)

Star-Gazer

cf. Adolph B. Rice Studio, Thalhimers, boy’s bicycle (1957) and John Thomas, The last of the old candlemakers (ca. 1885) and Thomas Milburn, Train window (2015) and photograph by Juskteez Vu via Unsplash

Forty-two years ago (to me if to no one else
The number is of some interest) it was a brilliant starry night
And the westward train was empty and had no corridors
So darting from side to side I could catch the unwonted sight
Of those almost intolerably bright
Holes, punched in the sky, which excited me partly because
Of their Latin names and partly because I had read in the textbooks
How very far off they were, it seemed their light
Had left them (some at least) long years before I was.

And this remembering now I mark that what
Light was leaving some of them at least then,
Forty-two years ago, will never arrive
In time for me to catch it, which light when
It does get here may find that there is not
Anyone left alive
To run from side to side in a late night train
Admiring it and adding noughts in vain.

—Louis MacNeice, Star-Gazer

I was dreaming of you and just for a moment I felt so peaceful and free…

cf. Walter Gay, An Interior (1897) and William Henry Fox Talbot, Nicolaas Henneman Asleep (ca. 1844)

If you love me true
Just like I love you
This ember would turn back to flame…

“Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are!”

cf. Maximilien Luce, The River Sambre in Charleroi (1896) and photograph by Greg Rakozy via Unsplash

But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile…

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

She said I love the night
The day is OK and the sun can be fun
But I live to see those rays slip away…

“What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman”

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon…
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

—Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California” (excerpt)

“Hope is the thing with feathers”

cf. newspaper ad illustration and photograph by Florian Klauer (edited)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

–Emily Dickinson

Late at night when the wind is still
I’ll come flying through your door
And you’ll know what love is for
I’m a bluebird…