“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now”

photograph by Roman Melnychuk via Unsplash

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

— A. E. Housman

We May Never Pass This Way Again

Ulysses

photograph by Ben White via Unsplash

…for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

— Tennyson

Feelin’ Stronger Every Day

“The fearful unbelief is unbelief in yourself.”

Cast the bantling on the rocks,
Suckle him with the she-wolf’s teat;
Wintered with the hawk and fox,
Power and speed be hands and feet.

— Emerson, epigraph to “Self-Reliance”

All Star

Are you gatherin’ up the tears? Have you had enough of mine?

photograph by Ian Dooley via Unsplash

I remember the gleams and glooms that dart
Across the schoolboy’s brain;
The song and the silence in the heart,
That in part are prophecies, and in part
Are longings wild and vain.

— Longfellow, “My Lost Youth”

Reelin’ In The Years

“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

“Comin’ through the rye”

Brief Encounter (1945)

GIN a body meet a body
Comin’ through the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?
Every lassie has her laddie,—
Ne’er a ane hae I;
Yet a’ the lads they smile at me
When comin’ through the rye.
Amang the train there is a swain
I dearly lo’e mysel’;
But whaur his hame, or what his name,
I dinna care to tell.

Gin a body meet a body
Comin’ frae the town,
Gin a body greet a body,
Need a body frown?
Every lassie has her laddie,—
Ne’er a ane hae I;
Yet a’ the lads they smile at me
When comin’ through the rye.
Amang the train there is a swain
I dearly lo’e mysel’;
But whaur his hame, or what his name,
I dinna care to tell.

— Robert Burns

Why Does It Have To Be Wrong Or Right?

“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

“My Heart and I”

cf. photograph by cottonbro via Pexels (edited collage)

Yet Who complains? My heart and I?
In this abundant earth no doubt
Is little room for things worn out:
Disdain them, break them, throw them by!
And if before the days grew rough
We once were lov’d, us’d,—well enough,
I think, we ’ve far’d, my heart and I.

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning


The First Cut Is the Deepest

“Spring and Fall”

cf. Carol M. Highsmith, “Tremont Street, Boston” (between 1980 and 2006) and
video by Coverr-Free-Footage via Pixabay (edited collage)

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

— Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring and Fall”

If These Walls Could Speak

Autumn 1818

photograph by Anthony Tran via Unsplash

Some disturbing news was waiting for him as he stopped at the Dilkes’ the night of August 18 on his way home to Well Walk, looking, said Mrs. Dilke, “as brown and as shabby as you can imagine, scarcely any shoes left, his jacket all torn at the back, a fur cap, a great plaid, and his knapsack.” He quickly guessed that further trouble had arisen. But he sat back in the unaccustomed comfort of the cushioned chair (as Joseph Severn later heard), looked up with a tired smile, and quoted from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated.”

— Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats

Best of Both Worlds

The Song of the Lark

Jules Adolphe Breton, “The Song of the Lark” (1884)

“…and I walked in and there’s a painting there and I don’t even know who painted it but I think it’s called “The Song of the Lark” and it’s a woman working in a field and there’s a sunrise behind her and I saw it that day and I just thought well look — there’s a girl who doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects but the sun’s coming up anyway and she’s got another chance at it. I, too, am a person and get another chance; everyday the sun comes up.”

— Bill Murray

“Eros”

cf. Prelinger Archives, “Home Movie” (ca. 1963)

THE SENSE of the world is short,—
Long and various the report,—
To love and be beloved;
Men and gods have not outlearned it;
And, how oft soe’er they ’ve turned it,
Not to be improved.

— Emerson

“To a Greek Marble”

cf. photograph by The New York Public Library via Unsplash

I have whispered thee in thy solitudes
Of our loves in Phrygia,
The far ecstasy of burning noons
When the fragile pipes
Ceased in the cypress shade,
And the brown fingers of the shepherd
Moved over slim shoulders;
And only the cicada sang.

I have told thee of the hills
And the lisp of reeds
And the sun upon thy breasts,

And thou hearest me not,
Pótuia, pótuia
Thou hearest me not.

— Richard Aldington

All For Leyna

Per Angusta Ad Augusta

cf. photograph by The New York Public Library via Unsplash

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

Another Try

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

My genial spirits fail;
And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?
It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze for ever
On that green light that lingers in the west;
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

— Coleridge

Change Myself

The Fountains

cf. photograph by Luke Stackpoole via Unsplash

WHEN you are drinking the water of joy from the alabaster fountain, you may form your wish, and it shall be granted. As you raise your wish higher, the water will be sweeter and sweeter to the taste; but beware that you are not tempted by its increasing sweetness to repeat your draughts, for the ill effects of your wish can only be removed by drinking the spring of sorrow from the bason of flint, which will be bitter in the same proportion as the water of joy was sweet.

— Samuel Johnson

A bell in your head will ring

photograph by Narges Pms via Unsplash

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

All the Children Sing

The Eve of St. Agnes

So, purposing each moment to retire,
She linger’d still. Meantime, across the moors,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
Buttress’d from moonlight, stands he, and implores
All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
But for one moment in the tedious hours,
That he might gaze and worship all unseen;
Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss—in sooth such things have been.

— Keats

Invictus

photograph by SHVETS production via Pexels

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.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

— William Ernest Henley


Little Fighter

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

photograph by Andrea Riondino via Unsplash

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.

 

Tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, et fugiunt freno non remorante dies.

Aalto University Commons, “Students in laboratory” (ca. 1960s)

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ’mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life

— Wordsworth


September Gurls

What is Life?

cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1961)

And what is Life?—An hour-glass on the run,
A Mist retreating from the morning sun,
A busy, bustling, still repeated dream;
Its length?—A minute’s pause, a moment’s thought;
And happiness?—A bubble on the stream,
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought.

— John Clare

Ode to the West Wind

Photograph by Mathilde LMD via Unsplash

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own?
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
Like wither’d leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

No Surprize

Anna Mirabilis

cf. photograph by Trinity Kubassek via Pexels

Anna Mirabilis

she did lie
in her pavilion—cloth-of-gold, of tissue—
o’erpicturing that Venus where we see
the fancy outwork nature
“I thought
she was going
to ask you out!”
let’s not confound the time
with conference harsh
there’s not a minute of our lives
should stretch without some pleasure now
what sport tonight?

— J.S.


I’m On Fire

Frisch weht der Wind Der Heimat zu, Mein Irisch Kind, Wo weilest du?

photograph by Anthony Tran via Unsplash

“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Öd’ und leer das Meer.

— The Waste Land
99

Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, quaerebam quid amarem amans amare.

cf. video by cottonbro via Pexels

Art and eloquence,
And all the shows o’ the world, are frail and vain
To weep a loss that turns their lights to shade.
It is a woe ‘too deep for tears’ when all
Is reft at once, when some surpassing Spirit,
Whose light adorned the world around it, leaves
Those who remain behind, not sobs or groans,
The passionate tumult of a clinging hope,—
But pale despair and cold tranquillity,
Nature’s vast frame, the web of human things,
Birth and the grave, that are not as they were.

— Shelley


Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)

The Docent

UMFA Docent Yearbook, 2014-2015

oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes those gleams
Of past existence,—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

— Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour July 13, 1798”


Defying Gravity

The Poet, being roused by a clap of thunder, and following his guide onward, descends into Limbo.

photograph by Andrea Riondino via Unsplash

“No greater grief than to remember days of joy, when misery is at hand.”

Inferno


When I Was Mary’s Prayer

“That sir which serves and seeks for gain and follows but for form will pack when it begins to rain and leave thee in the storm.”

cf. photograph by Noah Buscher via Unsplash

Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou may’st shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.

— King Lear


All Broken Hearts Break Differently

Dum vivimus, vivamus!

cf. Video by MART PRODUCTION via Pexels

“It’s not too late for you, on any side, and you don’t strike me as in danger of missing the train; besides which people can be in general pretty well trusted, of course—with the clock of their freedom ticking as loud as it seems to do here—to keep an eye on the fleeting hour. All the same don’t forget that you’re young—blessedly young; be glad of it on the contrary and live up to it. Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that what have you had?
…But that doesn’t affect the point that the right time is now yours. The right time is any time that one is still so lucky as to have. You’ve plenty; that’s the great thing; you’re, as I say, damn you, so happily and hatefully young. Don’t at any rate miss things out of stupidity. Of course I don’t take you for a fool, or I shouldn’t be addressing you thus awfully. Do what you like so long as you don’t make my mistake. For it was a mistake. Live!”

— Henry James, The Ambassadors

Born to Run

“Studies In The History Of The Renaissance”

James Jowers, “St. Marks Place” (1968)

“Studies In The History Of The Renaissance”

Pater,
once
I burned
with your
hard gem-like flame
once
maintained this ecstasy
It will not last the night
burning still
a lovely light

— J.S.

Candy’s Room

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

madwoman in the attic

photograph by Isi Parente via Unsplash

“…but now I have a particular reason for wishing to hear all about the fire. Was it suspected that this lunatic, Mrs. Rochester, had any hand in it?”

“You’ve hit it, ma’am: it’s quite certain that it was her, and nobody but her, that set it going…”

— Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


Seether

Icarus and Psyche

photograph by David Raichman via Unsplash

Icarus and Psyche

Keats, what thoughts I have of you tonight
O, Hyperion! O, aching time!
thoughts of the hopes of the past —
the burden of the mystery
of the wide world
I stand alone
a sick eagle
far from the fiery noon
and eve’s one star

— J.S.


Wouldn’t It Be Good

Monday, 11 o’clock.

photograph by gustavovillegas via Pixabay

Monday, 11 o’clock. Well, praised be God! here I am. Videlicet, Ruthin, sixteen miles from Wrexham. At Wrexham Church I glanced upon the face of a Miss E. Evans, a young lady with [whom] I had been in habits of fraternal correspondence. She turned excessively pale; she thought it my ghost, I suppose. I retreated with all possible speed to our inn. There, as I was standing at the window, passed by Eliza Evans, and with her to my utter surprise her sister, Mary Evans, quam efflictim et perdite amabam. I apprehend she is come from London on a visit to her grandmother, with whom Eliza lives. I turned sick, and all but fainted away! The two sisters, as H. informs me, passed by the window anxiously several times afterwards; but I had retired.

Vivit, sed mihi non vivit—nova forte marita,
Ah dolor! alterius carâ, a cervice pependit.
Vos, malefida valete accensæ insomnia mentis,
Littora amata valete! Vale, ah! formosa Maria!

My fortitude would not have supported me, had I recognized her—I mean appeared to do it! I neither ate nor slept yesterday. But love is a local anguish; I am sixteen miles distant, and am not half so miserable. I must endeavour to forget it amid the terrible graces of the wild wood scenery that surround me. I never durst even in a whisper avow my passion, though I knew she loved me. Where were my fortunes? and why should I make her miserable! Almighty God bless her! Her image is in the sanctuary of my heart, and never can it be torn away but with the strings that grapple it to life. Southey! there are few men of whose delicacy I think so highly as to have written all this. I am glad I have so deemed of you. We are soothed by communications.

— Letter from Coleridge to Robert Southey, Sunday, July 15, 1794


Amie

Roderick Hudson

photograph by REVOLT via Unsplash

“It’s greater happiness than you deserve, then! You have never chosen, I say; you have been afraid to choose. You have never really faced the fact that you are false, that you have broken your faith. You have never looked at it and seen that it was hideous, and yet said, ‘No matter, I’ll brave the penalty, I’ll bear the shame!’ You have closed your eyes; you have tried to stifle remembrance, to persuade yourself that you were not behaving as badly as you seemed to be, and there would be some way, after all, of compassing bliss and yet escaping trouble. You have faltered and drifted, you have gone on from accident to accident, and I am sure that at this present moment you can’t tell what it is you really desire!”

— Henry James, Roderick Hudson


Flaming Youth

Book 2, Chapter VII

photograph by Fernando @cferdo via Unsplash

Nicole’s world had fallen to pieces, but it was only a flimsy and scarcely created world; beneath it her emotions and instincts fought on. Was it an hour ago she had waited by the entrance, wearing her hope like a corsage at her belt?

. . . Dress stay crisp for him, button stay put, bloom narcissus–air stay still and sweet.

“It will be nice to have fun again,” she fumbled on. For a moment she entertained a desperate idea of telling him how rich she was, what big houses she lived in, that really she was a valuable property–for a moment she made herself into her grandfather, Sid Warren, the horse-trader. But she survived the temptation to confuse all values and shut these matters into their Victorian side-chambers–even though there was no home left to her, save emptiness and pain.

“I have to go back to the clinic. It’s not raining now.”

Dick walked beside her, feeling her unhappiness, and wanting to drink the rain that touched her cheek.

“I have some new records,” she said. “I can hardly wait to play them. Do you know–“

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

Love Cries

At Sundown, Burning Drift-wood

Degas, “The Collector of Prints” (1866)

BEFORE my drift-wood fire I sit,
And see, with every waif I burn,
Old dreams and fancies coloring it,
And folly’s unlaid ghosts return.

O ships of mine, whose swift keels cleft
The enchanted sea on which they sailed,
Are these poor fragments only left
Of vain desires and hopes that failed?

— John Greenleaf Whittier

You Take A Heart

Slough of Despond

…it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place. And this is the reason of the badness of this ground.

— Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

Finding Myself

cf. William Hamilton, “Male Traveler in a Storm” (1770–80)

The little world, the subject of my muse,
Is a huge task and labor infinite;
Like to a wilderness or mass confuse,
Or to an endless gulf, or to the night:
How many strange Meanders do I find?
How many paths do turn my straying pen?
How many doubtful twilights make me blind,
Which seek to limb out this strange All of men?
Easy it were the earth to portray out,
Or to draw forth the heavens’ purest frame,
Whose restless course, by order whirls about
Of change and place, and still remains the same.
But how shall man’s, or manner’s, form appear,
Which while I write, do change from what they were?

— Thomas Bastard, Book 1, Epigram 5: Ad lectorem de subjecto operis sui.


I wish it would rain down

The Triumph of Time

George Eastman Museum, “Couple” (ca. 1910)

Is it worth a tear, is it worth an hour,
To think of things that are well outworn?
Of fruitless husk and fugitive flower,
The dream foregone and the deed forborne?
Though joy be done with and grief be vain,
Time shall not sever us wholly in twain;
Earth is not spoilt for a single shower;
But the rain has ruined the ungrown corn.

It will grow not again, this fruit of my heart,
Smitten with sunbeams, ruined with rain.
The singing seasons divide and depart,
Winter and summer depart in twain.
It will grow not again, it is ruined at root,
The bloodlike blossom, the dull red fruit;
Though the heart yet sickens, the lips yet smart,
With sullen savour of poisonous pain.

I have put my days and dreams out of mind,
Days that are over, dreams that are done…

Yea, I know this well: were you once sealed mine,
Mine in the blood’s beat, mine in the breath,
Mixed into me as honey in wine,
Not time, that sayeth and gainsayeth,
Nor all strong things had severed us then;
Not wrath of gods, nor wisdom of men,
Nor all things earthly, nor all divine,
Nor joy nor sorrow, nor life nor death.

— Swinburne


The First Cut Is The Deepest

You got lucky

Photograph by Ghaly Wedinly via Unsplash

When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.
Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where; importune me no more.

How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe,
How many sighing hearts I have not skill to show,
But I the prouder grew and still this spake therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.

Then spake fair Venus’ son, that proud victorious boy,
Saying: You dainty dame, for that you be so coy,
I will so pluck your plumes as you shall say no more:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.

As soon as he had said, such change grew in my breast
That neither night nor day I could take any rest.
Wherefore I did repent that I had said before:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.

— Queen Elizabeth I, When I Was Fair and Young

You Got Lucky

Non Semper Erit Aestas

cf. Tom McCarthy, “Renaissance of the Upper West Side” (New York Magazine, 1969)

“What is time?” A mystery, a figment — and all-powerful. It conditions the exterior world, it is motion married to and mingled with the existence of bodies in space, and with the motion of these. Would there then be no time if there were no motion? No motion if no time? We fondly ask. Is time a function of space? Or space of time? Or are they identical? Echo answers. Time is functional, it can be referred to as action; we say a thing is “brought about” by time. What sort of thing? — Change! Now is not then, here not there, for between them lies motion. But the motion by which one measures time is circular, is in a closed circle; and might almost equally well be described as rest, as cessation of movement — for the there repeats itself constantly in the here, the past in the present…

— Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)


I Need You

in memoriam

cf. photograph by Cade Prior via Pexels

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

— Langston Hughes, Mother to Son

Jacob’s Ladder

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

cf. photograph by Vlad Bagacian via Pexels

In the last year of his life he wrote his daughter, “I wish now I’d never relaxed or looked back – but said at the end of “The Great Gatsby”: I’ve found my line – from now on this comes first. This is my immediate duty – without this I am nothing.”

— Arthur Mizener, “Gatsby, 35 Years Later”

Almost ten years ago I participated in the conference whose proceedings would become the volume “Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism.” Stanley sat directly in front of me and listened attentively to my talk, thrilling and scary, not to say awkward, reading out “Cavell writes…” and “Cavell says…” with the man right there. After the Q and A, someone, I don’t remember who, brought me over and introduced us. Stanley shook my hand and with the other patted my shoulder and said, with a broad smile, “Stay on your path, young man.”

— Paul Grimstad, “Stay on Your Path, Young Man”


Point Of Know Return