The Book Of The Courtier

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)

…the custom of all the gentlemen of the house was to betake themselves straightway after supper to my lady Duchess; where, among the other pleasant pastimes and music and dancing that continually were practiced, sometimes neat questions were proposed, sometimes ingenious games were devised at the choice of one or another, in which under various disguises the company disclosed their thoughts figuratively to whom they liked best.

— Castiglione, “The Book Of The Courtier” (1528)


Queen of Hearts

And Still I Give Thanks

A reminder that the smallest things are the biggest things for which to give thanks…

"ARE YOU THERE, ERMA? IT'S ME, SYLVIA."

Sylvia and Erma are spending the day with their respective families – giving thanks for the meal they’ll share, the orderly chaos of the kitchens, and their children who wish to forego the turkey for the pies that have been freshly extracted from the oven. And without a doubt, as these women sit down with their broods, however big or small, they take at least a second if not a hundred to give thanks for each other and their bond of friendship. And as I prepare the Thanksgiving feast, I’m thinking about how we all count our blessings on this day- love, health, family, friendship, peace, freedom, etc. but too often forget the little things, all of the tidbits that create the essence of our daily lives.
Thanks.

For dinner even when it’s out of a box or take-out. For the compliment whether it is “I like your shoes” or…

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Chapter 5

Nationaal Archief, “Men’s fashion fair at the RAI in Amsterdam” (1973)

Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.

“I’ve got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.”

He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher–shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such–such beautiful shirts before.”

— Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I’ll Be Good To You

“When Diana Lighteth”

Thomas Watson (After Henry Robert Morland), “A Girl Singing Ballads By a Paper Lanthorn” (1767–81)

When Diana lighteth
Late her crystal lamp,
Her pale glory kindleth
From her brother’s fire,
Little straying west winds
Wander over heaven,
Moonlight falleth,
And recalleth
With a sound of lute-strings shaken,
Hearts that have denied his reign
To love again…

— Latin; twelfth century (Tr. Waddell)

Almost Hear You Sigh

“If no love is, O God, what fele I so?”

Photograph by Les Anderson on Unsplash (edited collage)

if you ever fall in love
to the sounds of violins
and bells
and a melody that wraps itself
around your heart
look for her
one more time

— J.S.

Bells of St. Augustine

Il fuoco dell’amore

Thomas J. O’Halloran, “Students leaving school” (1977)

Ne regarde pas la figure,
Jeune fille, regarde le cœur.
Le cœur d’un beau jeune homme est souvent difforme.
Il y a des cœurs où l’amour ne se conserve pas.

Jeune fille, le sapin n’est pas beau,
N’est pas beau comme le peuplier,
Mais il garde son feuillage l’hiver…

— Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris

The First Cut Is the Deepest

To His Coy Mistress

Warren K. Leffler, “New York Scenes” (1969)

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may…

— Andrew Marvell

Love Machine

A Painful Case

Photograph by Etienne Boulanger via Unsplash

It was after nine o’clock when he left the shop. The night was cold and gloomy. He entered the Park by the first gate and walked along under the gaunt trees. He walked through the bleak alleys where they had walked four years before. She seemed to be near him in the darkness. At moments he seemed to feel her voice touch his ear, her hand touch his. He stood still to listen. Why had he withheld life from her?…He felt his moral nature falling to pieces.

— Joyce, from Dubliners

Mandolin Rain

Love and Life: A Song

cf. CIO Magazine (1987)

All my past life is mine no more,
The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams giv’n o’er,
Whose images are kept in store
By memory alone.

The time that is to come is not;
How can it then be mine?
The present moment’s all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
Phyllis, is only thine.

Then talk not of inconstancy,
False hearts, and broken vows;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
’Tis all that Heav’n allows.

— John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

Hello It’s Me

Oh, when I was in love with you

cf. Video by cottonbro via Pexels (Edit)

OH, when I was in love with you,
Then I was clean and brave,
And miles around the wonder grew
How well did I behave.

And now the fancy passes by,
And nothing will remain,
And miles around they ’ll say that I
Am quite myself again.

— A. E. Housman

Epistle from Mrs. Yonge to Her Husband

cf. Microcomputing Magazine (1981)

Think not this paper comes with vain pretense
To move your pity, or to mourn th’ offense.
Too well I know that hard obdurate heart;
No softening mercy there will take my part,
Nor can a woman’s arguments prevail,
When even your patron’s wise example fails.
But this last privilege I still retain;
Th’ oppressed and injured always may complain…

— Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Sonnet CXXII

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1952) (Edited Collage)

THY gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character’d with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain,
Beyond all date, even to eternity…

Mainstreet

Emily’s Epigram

cf. National Geographic Magazine (1952)

IT ’S all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget,—
Some one the sun could tell,—
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell.

— Emily Dickinson


The Pleasure Principle

Amoretti and Epithalamion: Sonnet LXVI

cf. Nation’s Business Magazine (1970)

TO all those happy blessings, which ye have
With plenteous hand by heaven upon you thrown;
This one disparagement they to you gave,
That ye your love lent to so mean a one.
Ye, whose high worth’s surpassing paragon
Could not on earth have found one fit for mate,
Ne but in heaven matchable to none,
Why did ye stoop unto so lowly state?
But ye thereby much greater glory gat,
Than had ye sorted with a prince’s peer:
For, now your light doth more itself dilate,
And, in my darkness, greater doth appear.
Yet, since your light hath once illumined me,
With my reflex yours shall increased be.

— Edmund Spenser

Just Got Lucky

my lost self

RIP

John Sapiro

cf. photograph by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash (edited collage)

like Antaeus
drifting in the darkest night
searching for my long lost self —
my strength
my spirit
myself
and then I touch ground
again

— J.S.

Van Halen – 6/12/81 – Oakland Coliseum

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On a Dream

cf. Cincinnati Magazine (1983)

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swoon’d and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So play’d, so charm’d, so conquer’d, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe where Jove griev’d that day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows—pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kiss’d, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

— Keats, On a Dream

Love’s Train

Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay

Zach Muhlbauer, “Wyeth Eyewear” (2019)

Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay,
My love lyke the Spectator ydly sits
Beholding me that all the pageants play,
Disguysing diversly my troubled wits.
Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,
And mask in myrth lyke to a Comedy:
Soone after when my joy to sorrow flits,
I waile and make my woes a Tragedy.
Yet she beholding me with constant eye,
Delights not in my merth nor rues my smart:
But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry
She laughes, and hardens evermore her hart.
What then can move her? if not merth nor mone,
She is no woman, but a sencelesse stone.

— Edmund Spenser, “Amoretti LIV: Of this worlds Theatre in which we stay”

Sin City

The Memory Of Laura

Kaye, “Plymouth Savoy in Australia” (ca. 1950s)

O joyous, blossoming, ever-blessed flowers!
’Mid which my pensive queen her footstep sets;
O plain, that hold’st her words for amulets
And keep’st her footsteps in thy leafy bowers!
O trees, with earliest green of springtime hours,
And all spring’s pale and tender violets!
O grove, so dark the proud sun only lets
His blithe rays gild the outskirts of thy towers!
O pleasant country-side! O limpid stream,
That mirrorest her sweet face, her eyes so clear,
And of their living light canst catch the beam!
I envy thee her presence pure and dear.
There is no rock so senseless but I deem
It burns with passion that to mine is near.

— Petrarch (Tr. Higginson)

Heaven Help Me

Love’s Justification

Photograph by Renate Vanaga via Unsplash

YES! hope may with my strong desire keep pace,
And I be undeluded, unbetrayed;
For if of our affections none find grace
In sight of Heaven, then wherefore hath God made
The world which we inhabit? Better plea
Love cannot have, than that in loving thee
Glory to that eternal peace is paid,
Who such divinity to thee imparts
As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies
With beauty, which is varying every hour;
But, in chaste hearts uninfluenced by the power
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower,
That breathes on earth the air of paradise.

— Michelangelo (Tr. Wordsworth)

Grow Old With Me

“A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved”

cf. Video by Welton Souza via Pexels

ALAS! so all things now do hold their peace!
Heaven and earth disturbed in no thing;
The beasts, the air, the birds their song do cease,
The nightès car the stars about doth bring.
Calm is the sea; the waves work less and less:
So am not I, whom love, alas! doth wring,
Bringing before my face the great increase
Of my desires, whereat I weep and sing,
In joy and woe, as in a doubtful ease.
For my sweet thoughts sometime do pleasure bring;
But by and by, the cause of my disease
Gives me a pang, that inwardly doth sting,
When that I think what grief it is again,
To live and lack the thing should rid my pain.

— Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, “A Complaint by Night of the Lover not beloved”

Nights Are Forever Without You

Was the past in color?

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1987)

was the past in color?

1987 was in color
ablazedboldbrightbrilliant
bigger than life
but then again
it could have been
only black and white —
I can’t see in this light
late at night

— J.S.

Love T.K.O.

A Modern Odyssey: Book V

Maclean’s Magazine (1969)

But Minerva resolved to help Ulysses, so she bound the ways of all the winds except one, and made them lie quite still; but she roused a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the waters till Ulysses reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe…

While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do…

Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him…

Then, as one who lives alone in the country, far from any neighbor, hides a brand as fire-seed in the ashes to save himself from having to get a light elsewhere, even so did Ulysses cover himself up with leaves; and Minerva shed a sweet sleep upon his eyes, closed his eyelids, and made him lose all memories of his sorrows.

Shadows Of The Night

Butterflies Are Free

Maclean’s Magazine (1976)

Jill: I’m not so sure you can’t hurt him. Maybe more than anybody. (Crosses above table.) I think you deserve all the credit you can get for turning out a pretty marvelous guy—but bringing up a son—even a blind one—isn’t a lifetime occupation. (Mrs. Baker turns U., away from Jill.) Now the more you help him, the more you hurt him. It was Linda Fletcher—not you— (Mrs. Baker turns and looks at Jill Slowly.) who gave him the thing he needed most—confidence in himself. (Crossing away L.) You’re always dwelling on the negative—always what he needs, never what he wants … always what he can’t do, never what he can. (Crosses D. end of sofa.) What about his music? Have you heard the song he wrote? I’ll bet you didn’t even know he could write songs! (Crosses above table.) You’re probably dead right about me. I’m not the ideal girl for Don, but I know one thing—neither are you!! And if I’m going to tell anyone to go home, it’ll be you, Mrs. Baker. YOU go home!! (Turns and exits into her apartment, closing door behind her. Mrs. Baker watches her go.)

Oh Sherrie

To the Moon

Image by GeorgeB2 via Pixabay

Hide this one night thy crescent, kindly Moon;
So shall Endymion faithful prove, and rest
Loving and unawakened on the breast;
So shall no foul enchanter importune
Thy quiet course; for now the night is boon,
And through the friendly night unseen I fare,
Who dread the face of foemen unaware,
And watch of hostile spies in the bright noon.
Thou knowest, Moon, the bitter power of Love;
‘Tis told how shepherd Pan found ways to move,
For little price, thy heart; and of your grace,
Sweet stars, be kind to this not alien fire,
Because on earth ye did not scorn desire,
Bethink ye, now ye hold your heavenly place.

— Pierre de Ronsard (Tr. Lang)

99

That time of year

Image by Vicki Nunn via Pixabay

That time of year
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold…

autumn
leaves
me
again
every year
— J.S.

Always The Last To Know

In Memoriam

Monday, Oct. 15, 2001, President George W. Bush holds the badge of a police officer killed in the September 11th attacks. “… I will carry this,” said President Bush during his address to Congress. “It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end.” (Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library)

Bipolar Depression II

cf. photograph by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay (edit)

This is the debt I pay
Just for one riotous day,
Years of regret and grief,
Sorrow without relief.

Pay it I will to the end —
Until the grave, my friend,
Gives me a true release —
Gives me the clasp of peace.

Slight was the thing I bought,
Small was the debt I thought,
Poor was the loan at best —
God! but the interest!

— Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Debt

Lithium

Invictus

cf. photograph by Denis Streltsov via Pixabay (edit, modification and 3D recomposition by me)

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…

— William Ernest Henley, Invictus

Back In Black

“The Tin Bird”

cf. photograph by Pixabay via Pexels

There is an amazing bird:
its beak an old umbrella
its body nothing but empty tins
of corned beef and sardines.

It sees with the eyes
of a doll now broken and forgotten.
Its nest is a dump all smelly and rotten.

When the moon rises like a cradle in the sky,
the bird flies and sings and cries:

Sleepytimes, little sleepy heads
of those who have no food.
I am the angel of your dreams.
I am the birdsong of your sighs.

Ugly as I am,
all rusted and torn,
my song is sweet,
my friendship even sweeter.

Sleepytime, sleepytime, o beloved children.
I watch over babies who know no pillows,
over the little sleepyheads who have no suppers.

— Ramón C. Sunico, “The Tin Bird” (Tr. by the poet)

25 Organizations Dedicated to Fight Hunger

Man in the Mirror

time and tide

Charlotte Brooks, “Teenage driver Bill Kolb…driving his date in an MG convertible” (1958)

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie…

— Sonnet LXXIII

Top of the World

It Never Gets Old

I am sharing another inspirational post from one of my favorite blogs, “ARE YOU THERE, ERMA? IT’S ME, SYLVIA.”

"ARE YOU THERE, ERMA? IT'S ME, SYLVIA."

Sylvia loved the simplicity and easiness of holding Cam’s hand. More telling for her though than the actual act of holding his hand was the idea that he wanted her. Her hand in his. He desired her touch and invited her into the moment and into a new chapter in her own life.
Like Sylvia, I love holding hands. I giggle at the thought of it. There’s a playful energy and a sense of youthfulness about holding hands. Hold my hand when we cross the street. I’ll hold yours during the scary parts. Take my hand in yours, and let’s make a run for it! Keep me safe. Lovers. Friends. Spouses. Playmates. Parents and children. Anyone and everyone. Anywhere and everywhere.
If I had to choose a universal way of communicating care, empathy, love, friendship, and all that makes my soul burgeon with emotion, it would be by holding hands…

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Atomic Courtesy Collaboration – Jacobson

A collaboration with the talented Marcy Erb and featured on her eclectic blog Illustrated Poetry | Art by Marcy Erb

Illustrated Poetry

GIF by John Sapiro

Atomic Courtesy

To smash the simple atom
All mankind was intent.
Now any day
The atom may
Return the compliment.

Ethel Jacobson

collage of beige and red particles escaping from a black concentric reactor

John Sapiro and I began our email correspondence about this little poem and the history of the atomic age a few months ago, before the early August anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but amidst the early chaos of the pandemic. It seemed almost ridiculous to be talking about yet another threat to worldwide health, peace, and humanity and yet, it was the mood of the day. I couldn’t find an exact date for Ethel Jacobson’s poem, although it is in a book I have that has a copyright date of 1952. And so our conversation centered mostly around the cold war of the 1950s and 60s but veered around widely. We talked about the physicist Richard Feynman and his…

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Lifelines and Memories

A wonderful post from one of my favorite blogs — “ARE YOU THERE, ERMA? IT’S ME, SYLVIA.”

"ARE YOU THERE, ERMA? IT'S ME, SYLVIA."

Sylvia and Erma are swapping stories over coffee this morning and sharing some of their favorite memories. The longtime friends and stalwart supporters of each other’s dreams agree that they are not living in the past or pining for the future at all. They use the memories and aspirations they have to garner strength and save themselves and each other on the tough days.

************************
“You may grow to love this person but remember they are not yours to keep. Their purpose isn’t to save you but to show you how to save yourself. And once this is fulfilled; the halo lifts and the angel leaves their body as the person exits your life.”
~Lang Leav

Two decades ago…they blinked.

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I am looped in the loops of her hair

Photograph by Les Anderson via Unsplash

I WHISPERED, ‘I am too young,’
And then, ‘I am old enough’;
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
‘Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,’
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

Oh, love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away,
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

— Yeats, The Young Man’s Song

Inside Out

My wheel is in the dark

Image by Myriam Zilles via Pixabay

MY Wheel is in the dark,—
I cannot see a spoke,
Yet know its dripping feet
Go round and round.

My foot is on the tide—
An unfrequented road,
Yet have all roads
A “clearing” at the end.

Some have resigned the Loom,
Some in the busy tomb
Find quaint employ,
Some with new, stately feet
Pass royal through the gate,
Flinging the problem back at you and I.

— Emily Dickinson

Part of the Plan

“recuerdo”

Photograph by Juliane Mergener via Unsplash

recuerdo

upon a violin
Sentio, ergo sum
my musical Descartes
each song
deeper
deeper
deeper
into my heart
mercy I cried
but in her lantern slide
did see my life
as though magnified

— J.S.

Killing Me Softly With Her Song

Sherry

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)

She laughed: ‘No, surely; am I not with you?’
And uttering that soft starry ‘you,’ she leaned
Her gentle body near him, looking up;
And from her eyes, as from a poison-cup,
He drank until the flittering eyelids screened…

— George Meredith, Modern Love: IX

Hard To Laugh

The largest fire ever known

cf. Videos by mohamed Hassan (storm) and Moshe Harosh (woman) both via Pixabay (edited collage by me)

THE LARGEST fire ever known
Occurs each afternoon,
Discovered is without surprise,
Proceeds without concern:
Consumes, and no report to men,
An Occidental town,
Rebuilt another morning
To be again burned down.

— Emily Dickinson

10,000 Lovers (In One)

A Serenade at the Villa

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1966) (edit)

I
That was I, you heard last night,
When there rose no moon at all,
Nor, to pierce the strained and tight
Tent of heaven, a planet small:
Life was dead and so was light.

II
Not a twinkle from the fly,
Not a glimmer from the worm;
When the crickets stopped their cry,
When the owls forbore a term,
You heard music; that was I…

IV
What they could my words expressed,
O my love, my all, my one!
Singing helped the verses best,
And when singing’s best was done,
To my lute I left the rest…

— Robert Browning, A Serenade at the Villa (excerpt)

Gabrielle

Insomnia

Image by Arek Socha via Pixabay

Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
That wavers with the spirit’s wind:
But in half-dreams that shift and roll
And still remember and forget,
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Our lives, most dear, are never near,
Our thoughts are never far apart,
Though all that draws us heart to heart
Seems fainter now and now more clear.
To-night Love claims his full control,
And with desire and with regret
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Is there a home where heavy earth
Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
Where water leaves no thirst again
And springing fire is Love’s new birth?
If faith long bound to one true goal
May there at length its hope beget,
My soul that hour shall draw your soul
For ever nearer yet.

— Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Insomnia

Sun And Moon

The Darkling Thrush

Photograph by Mateo Avila Chinchilla via Unsplash

So little cause for carollings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessèd Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

— Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush (excerpt)

Bad Reputation