Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson) calculates orbital insertion trajectories for the Mercury program using Euler’s method in this scene from the movie Hidden Figures. Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

AL HARRISON:
You think we can get to the moon?

[Katherine nods, with all the certainty in the world:]

KATHERINE:
We’re already there, sir.

Hidden Figures (2016)

 

“I dare say he was alone, and had no one to love him”

photograph by RODNAE Productions via Pexels

“When I left you I found an organ-grinder in Russell Square playing to a child; and the simple fact that there was a child listening to him, that he was giving this pleasure, entitled him, according to my theory, as you know, to some money; so I put some coppers on the ledge of his organ, without so much as looking at him, and I was going on when a woman said to me: ‘Yes sir, he do look bad, don’t he? scarcely fit like to be working.’ And then I looked at the man, and O! he was so ill, so yellow and heavy-eyed and drooping. I did not like to go back somehow , and so I gave the woman a shilling and asked her to give it to him for me. I saw her do so and walked on; but the face followed me, and so when I had got to the end of the division, I turned and came back as hard as I could and filled his hand with money — ten to thirteen shillings, I should think. I was sure he was going to be ill, you know, and he was a young man; and I dare say he was alone, and had no one to love him.”

— Letter from Robert Louis Stevenson to Mrs. Sitwell, November, 1874
 

A Christmas Carol

photograph by Sarwer e Kainat Welfare via Pexels

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”

— Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Man in the Mirror

 

Ode to a Nightingale

photograph by Matheus Bertelli via Pexels

“I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination…”

— Letter from John Keats to Benjamin Bailey, November 22, 1817
 
 

 

The Great Gatsby

photograph by RODNAE Productions via Pexels

I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it…

The Great Gatsby

Walk On Water

 

“One half of me is yours, the other half yours— Mine own, I would say— but if mine, then yours, And so all yours.”

photograph by Andrik Langfield via Unsplash

The horses started up, amid farewells and hand-wavings from the bystanders; and then, as Frau Chauchat sank smilingly back against the cushions of the sleigh, her eyes swept the facade of the Berghof, and rested for the fraction of a second upon Hans Castorp’s face. In pallid haste he sought his loggia, thence to get a last glimpse of the sleigh as it went jingling down the drive toward the Dorf. Then he flung himself into his chair…

The Magic Mountain (Tr. H. T. Lowe-Porter)

Every Time You Go Away

 

BRIGHT star! would I were steadfast as thou art—

photograph by Meghan Holmes via Unsplash

The silhouette of a moving cat wavered across the moonlight and turning my head to watch it I saw that I was not alone—fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor’s mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars.

The Great Gatsby

I’ll Be Over You

 

“O despairer, here is my neck, By God, you shall not go down!”

photograph by SHVETS production via Pexels

I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will,
O despairer, here is my neck,
By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.

— “Song Of Myself”

That’s Why I’m Here

 

“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
 

“Come, And Be My Baby”

cf. photograph taken from video by cottonbro studio via Pexels

The highway is full of big cars
going nowhere fast
And folks is smoking anything that’ll burn
Some people wrap their lies around a cocktail glass
And you sit wondering
where you’re going to turn
I got it.
Come. And be my baby.

— Maya Angelou

 

Prayers for Roberta Flack

Chapter 4

photograph by Dids via Pexels

“It was a strange coincidence,” I said.

“But it wasn’t a coincidence at all.”

“Why not?”

“Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay.”

Then it had not been merely the stars to which he had aspired on that June night. He came alive to me, delivered suddenly from the womb of his purposeless splendor…

The Great Gatsby
 

“Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain”

photograph by Joshua Teichroew via Pexels

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…

— Sonnet CXXII

Hollyann

 

I get confused ’cause I don’t know where I stand

photograph by Jared Sluyter via Unsplash

To be in love, where scorn is bought with groans,
Coy looks with heart-sore sighs, one fading
moment’s mirth
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights;
If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain;
If lost, why then a grievous labor won;
How ever, but a folly bought with wit,
Or else a wit by folly vanquishèd.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Spooky

 

“A Drinking Song”

cf. Charles O’Rear, “Passengers enjoy the view in the observation car…” (1974)

WINE comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

— Yeats
 

“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

 

A Million Miles Away

photograph by Clay Banks via Unsplash

A third time pass’d they by, and, passing, turn’d
Each one the face a moment whiles to me;
Then faded, and to follow them I burn’d
And ached for wings, because I knew the three;
The first was a fair Maid, and Love her name…

— Keats, “Ode on Indolence”
 

“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

 

“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

“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

Antony and Cleopatra

photograph by Alisa Anton via Unsplash

The barge she sat in like a burnished throne
Burned on the water. The poop was beaten gold,
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were lovesick with them. The oars were
silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggared all description: she did lie
In her pavilion—cloth-of-gold, of tissue—
O’erpicturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature. On each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colored fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.

Antony and Cleopatra

Mercedes Boy

“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

“Song in the Songless”

photograph by Scott Webb via Unsplash

They have no song, the sedges dry,
And still they sing.
It is within my breast they sing,
As I pass by.
Within my breast they touch a string,
They wake a sigh.
There is but sound of sedges dry;
In me they sing.

— George Meredith

“ONCE, in a house on egypt street”

“Edward?” said Abilene.
Yes, said Edward.
“Edward,” she said again, certain this time.
Yes, said Edward, yes, yes, yes.
It’s me.

— Kate DiCamillo, The miraculous journey of Edward Tulane

All my instincts, they return
The grand façade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside…

In Your Eyes

“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

“We’ll go no more a-roving”

photograph by Artem Maltsev via Unsplash

SO, we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

— Byron

Bluer Than Blue

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

Maclean’s Magazine (1966)

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

Holiday

Last Chance

Chris Clogg, “Busy Wall” (2010) (edit)

BENEDICK:
Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain
I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and
I would I could find in my heart that I had not a
hard heart, for truly I love none.

BEATRICE:
A dear happiness to women. They would
else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I
thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor
for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow
than a man swear he loves me.

Much Ado About Nothing

Last Chance

[Enter Katherine]

cf. video by cottonbro via pexels

LUCENTIO:
Gramercies, Tranio, well dost thou advise.
If, Biondello, thou wert come ashore,
We could at once put us in readiness
And take a lodging fit to entertain
Such friends as time in Padua shall beget.

[Enter Baptista with his two daughters, Katherine and
Bianca; Gremio, a pantaloon, and Hortensio, suitors
to Bianca.]

But stay awhile! What company is this?

TRANIO:
Master, some show to welcome us to town.

The Taming of the Shrew

Boom! There She Was

“Do you still remember: falling stars”

photograph by Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

— Rilke

“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

“the clocks were striking thirteen”

photograph by Casper Nichols via Unsplash

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

— Orwell, Nineteen eighty-four

“legato con amore in un volume”

James Jowers, Tompkins Sq. Park (1967)

Nel suo profondo vidi che s’ interna,
legato con amore in un volume…

I saw within its depth how it conceives all things in a single volume bound by love…

— Dante Alighieri, “The Divine Comedy: Paradiso”

Love Song

“Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed”

cf. photographs by Caseen Kyle Registos via Unsplash and Matheus Bertelli via Pexels (edited digital collage)

WEARY with toil, I haste me to my bed
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expir’d:
For then my thoughts—from far where I abide—
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself no quiet find.

— Sonnet XXVII


Whenever You’re On My Mind