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

“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

“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

[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

“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

“Again there has been a sad interval in our correspondence.”

photograph by Kajetan Sumila via Unsplash

Again there has been a sad interval in our correspondence. But do not blame me. I have had a pretty severe return this summer of that mel- ancholy or hypochondria, which is inherent in my constitution and from which I have suffered miserably in former years, though since my marriage I have been wonderfully free from it. Your languor and discontent are occasioned by a gentler species of the distemper. You have a slow fever, I a raging one. While gloomy and fretful, and grossly indolent, I was shocked with the recollection of my good spirits, gayety, and activity, as a man with a headache is shocked by bright sunbeams. – But I need not describe my feelings to you. – The strange thing was that I did not write to you, a few lines, merely as firing guns of distress. Nobody here but my wife and worthy Johnson had the least notion of my being at all uneasy; for I have been remarkably busy this summer. I wrote about threescore law-papers, and got £124 in fees during last sessions two months. The court rose yesterday; and this day the clouds began to recede from my mind; I cannot tell from what cause.

— Letter from James Boswell to his friend Temple

Hitch a Ride

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

“I come no more to make you laugh…”

photograph by Andrei Tarkovsky

I come no more to make you laugh: things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,
Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,
We now present…

Henry VIII

Yes We Can Can

“Veggio co’ bei vostri occhi.”

photograph by Matthew Hamilton via Unsplash

O ME! what eyes hath Love put in my head
Which have no correspondence with true sight;
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love’s eye is not so true as all men’s: no.
How can it? O! how can Love’s eye be true,
That is so vex’d with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
O cunning Love! with tears thou keep’st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

— Sonnet CXLVIII


Open My Eyes

Chapter 6

cf. photograph by Ivan Samkov via Pexels

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…

The Great Gatsby

Carefree Highway

Amor Vincit Omnia

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

And next day she actually did know the name, and uttered it the moment the glass door slammed. Frau Chauchat’s name was Clavdia.

Hans Castorp did not grasp it at first. He had to have her repeat the name, even to spell it, before he understood. Then he pronounced it twice or thrice, turning his bloodshot eyes in Frau Chauchat’s direction, in order, as it were, to try if it suited.

“Clavdia,” he said. “ Yes, that is probably it; it fits her quite well.” He could not hide his pleasure in the degree of intimacy thus achieved, and from now on referred always to Frau Chauchat as Clavdia…

The Magic Mountain

A Girl Like You

Chapter 8

photograph by Inga Seliverstova via Pexels

He came back from France when Tom and Daisy were still on their wedding trip, and made a miserable but irresistible journey to Louisville on the last of his army pay. He stayed there a week, walking the streets where their footsteps had clicked together through the November night and revisiting the out-of-the-way places to which they had driven in her white car. Just as Daisy’s house had always seemed to him more mysterious and gay than other houses so his idea of the city itself, even though she was gone from it, was pervaded with a melancholy beauty.

He left feeling that if he had searched harder he might have found her—that he was leaving her behind…

The Great Gatsby

Allison Road

And I Only Am Escaped Alone To Tell Thee

photograph by Mateus Campos Felipe via Unsplash

The drama’s done. Why then here does any one step forth?—Because one did survive the wreck.

It so chanced, that after the Parsee’s disappearance, I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Ahab’s bowsman, when that bowsman assumed the vacant post; the same, who, when on the last day the three men were tossed from out of the rocking boat, was dropped astern. So, floating on the margin of the ensuing scene, and in full sight of it, when the halfspent suction of the sunk ship reached me, I was then, but slowly, drawn towards the closing vortex. When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool. Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like black bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another Ixion I did revolve. Till, gaining that vital centre, the black bubble upward burst; and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

— Melville, Moby-Dick

I Think God Can Explain

It is what it is

photograph by Isabella and Zsa Fischer via Unsplash

There was the good, the upright Joachim, firm as a rock — yet whose eyes in these past months had come to hold such a tragic shadow, and who had never used to shrug his shoulders, as he did so often now.

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Change Myself

The Stranger

photograph by Johnny Cohen via Unsplash

For the first time in a long time I thought about Maman. I felt as if I understood why at the end of her life she had taken a “fiancé,” why she had played at beginning again…

— Albert Camus

If These Walls Could Speak

But if I close my eyes it’s only yesterday

cf. video by Alena Darmel via Pexels

When youth’s bright sun has once declined
And bid his smiling day expire,
Mem’ry, thy torch steals up behind,
And sets thy hidden stars on fire.

— George Moses Horton, Memory

Past

Time is like a clock in my heart

photograph by Rachael Crowe via Unsplash

“Yes, we sit here and laugh,” he said, with a long face, his words interrupted by the heaving of his diaphragm, “we sit here and laugh, but there’s no telling when I shall get away. When Behrens says half a year, you can make up your mind it will be more. It is hard, isn’t it? — you just tell me if you don’t think it is pretty hard on me. I had already been accepted, I could have taken my exams next month. And now I have to drool about with a thermometer stuck in my mouth…and watch the time slipping away. A year is so important at our age. Down below, one goes through so many changes, and makes so much progress, in a single year of life. And I have to stagnate up here — yes, just stagnate like a filthy puddle; it isn’t too crass a comparison.”

Strange to say, Hans Castorp’s only reply to all this was a query as to whether it was possible to get porter up here…

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Time (Clock Of The Heart)

Been breaking down. Do you want me now?

photograph by Gift Habeshaw via Unsplash

But Hans Castorp was convinced there was another and private reason why Joachim withdrew so early; he had known it since the time he saw his cousin’s face take on the mottled pallor, and his mouth assume the pathetic twist. He perfectly understood. For Marusja was almost always there in the evening — laughter-loving Marusja, with the little ruby on her charming hand, the handkerchief with the orange scent, and the swelling bosom, tainted within — Hans Castorp comprehended that it was her presence which drove Joachim away, precisely because it so strongly, so fearfully drew him toward her. Was Joachim too “immured” — and even worse off than himself, in that he had five times a day to sit at the same table with Marusja and her orange-scented handkerchief? However that might be, it was clear that Joachim was preoccupied with his own troubles; the thought of him could afford his cousin no mental support. That he took refuge in daily flight was a credit to him; but that he had to flee was anything but reassuring to Hans Castorp, who even began to feel that Joachim’s good example of faithful service of the cure and the initiation which he owed to his cousin’s experience might have also their bad side.

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Into My Own

cf. video by George Pak via Pexels

ONE of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

— Robert Frost

To Each His Own

“a different tone”

photograph by Elia Pellegrini via Unsplash

It was not really alarming at first, since the change was subtle, but I did notice that my surroundings took on a different tone at certain times: the shadows of nightfall seemed more somber, my mornings were less buoyant, walks in the woods became less zestful, and there was a moment during my working hours in the late afternoon when a kind of panic and anxiety overtook me, just for a few minutes, accompanied by a visceral queasiness—such a seizure was at least slightly alarming, after all. As I set down these recollections, I realize that it should have been plain to me that I was already in the grip of the beginning of a mood disorder, but I was ignorant of such a condition at that time.

— William Styron, Darkness Visible

Slippin’ Into Darkness

“…unpack my heart with words”

cf. photograph by Sebastian Voortman via Pexels (edited)

What a piece of work is a man!
how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty!
in form and moving how express and admirable!
in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world!
the paragon of animals!…

Hamlet

Empty Sky

“For never-resting time leads summer on…”

Erik Calonius, “…Subway Car” (1973)

Time — yet not the time told by the station clock, moving with a jerk five minutes at once, but rather, the time of a tiny timepiece, the hand of which one cannot see move, or the time the grass keeps when it grows, so unobservably one would say it does not grow at all, until some morning the fact is undeniable — time, a line composed of a succession of dimensionless points…time, we say, had gone on, in its furtive, unobservable, competent way, bringing about changes…

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)


I’m Turning Around

“Good morning, old sport. You’re having lunch with me today and I thought we’d ride up together.”

Northeastern University, Course Catalog (1980-81)

When I came opposite her house that morning her white roadster was beside the curb, and she was sitting in it with a lieutenant I had never seen before. They were so engrossed in each other that she didn’t see me until I was five feet away…

The Great Gatsby

Ridin’ in My Car

“comme un reve singulierement profond”

cf. photograph by cottonbro via Pexels (edited)

“Yes, let’s,” Hans Castorp repeated, mechanically. They spoke in low tones, covered by the music. “Let us sit here, and look on, as though in a dream. For it is like a dream to me, that we are sitting like this — comme un reve singulierement profond, car il faut dormir tres profondement pour rever comme cela. Je veux dire — c’est un reve bien connu, reve de tout temps, long, eternel, oui, etre assis pres de toi comme a present…”

The Magic Mountain

Dreams

Or help one fainting robin unto his nest again

photograph by janaaa via Pixabay

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

Love Is The Answer

“Nor jealousy was understood, the injur’d lover’s hell.”

photograph by cottonbro via Pexels

“You are hurt? You must not be. Let us put those feelings away, send them to Jericho. Do you agree? I have been wounded too sometimes — I will confess it, since we are sitting together like this. I have been angry with your phlegm, and your being such friends with him, on account of your egoistic craving for experience. Yet I was glad too, and grateful for the respect you paid him. You were loyal; if you were a bit impertinent too, after all I could make allowance for that.”

“Very kind of you.”

She looked at him. “You are incorrigible, it seems. And certainly I can’t quite tell how much esprit you have — but deep you are, a deep young man. Well, very good, one can do with it, and be friends. Shall we be friends, shall we make a league — not against but for him? Will you give me your hand on it? I am often frightened. — Sometimes I am afraid of the solitude with him — the inward solitude, tu sais — he is — frightening; sometimes I am afraid something may happen to him — it makes me shudder. — I should be glad to feel I had someone beside me. Enfin — if you care to know — that was why I came back here with him — chez toi…”

The Magic Mountain (Tr. Lowe-Porter)

Hey Jealousy

Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages…

photograph by El Salanzo via Unsplash

Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock. When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished…

The Great Gatsby

You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)

I sang in my chains like the sea

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

— Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill


Pride (In The Name Of Love)

Tempus fugit, amor manet

cf. video by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels (edited)

“I have been up here a long time, Mynheer Peeperkorn, years. How long I hardly know myself, but it has been years of my life. My cousin, to visit whom I came up, in the first instance, was a soldier, an upright and honourable soul, but that was no help to him — he died, and left me, and I remained here alone. I was no soldier, but a civilian, I had a profession, as you may have heard, a good, two-fisted job, which is even supposed to do its share in drawing together the nations of the earth — but somehow it did not draw me. I admit this freely; but the reasons for it I cannot describe otherwise than to say that they are veiled in obscurity, the same obscurity that envelops the origin of my feeling for Madame your mistress — I call her that expressly to show that I am not thinking of undermining the situation as it exists — my feeling for Clavdia Chauchat, and my intimate sense of her being, which I have had since the first moment her eyes met mine and bewitched me, enchanted me, you understand, beyond all reason. For love of her, in defiance of Herr Settembrini, I declared myself for the principle of unreason, the spirituel principle of disease, under whose aegis I had already, in reality, stood for a long time back; and I remained up here, I no longer know precisely how long. I have forgotten, broken with, everything, my relatives, my calling, all my ideas of life. When Clavdia went away, I waited here for her return, so that now I am wholly lost to life down below, and dead in the eyes of my friends. That is what I meant when I spoke of my destiny, and said there might be some justice in a complaint over my present state…”

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

Oh Yeah!

The Onset

photograph by J W via Unsplash

Always the same, when on a fated night
At last the gathered snow lets down as white
As may be in dark woods, and with a song
It shall not make again all winter long
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground,
I almost stumble looking up and round,
As one who overtaken by the end
Gives up his errand, and lets death descend
Upon him where he is, with nothing done
To evil, no important triumph won,
More than if life had never been begun.

Yet all the precedent is on my side:
I know that winter death has never tried
The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
As measured again maple, birch, and oak,
It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak;
And I shall see the snow all go down hill
In water of a slender April rill
That flashes tail through last year’s withered brake
And dead weeds, like a disappearing snake.
Nothing will be left white but here a birch,
And there a clump of houses with a church.

— Robert Frost

One World

More Light

photograph by Josh Hild via Unsplash

Then the king in his great-heartedness unclasped
The collar of gold from his neck and gave it
To the young thane, telling him to use
It and the war shirt and the gilded helmet well.

Beowulf (Tr. Seamus Heaney)

More Light

A Christmas Carol

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

— Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”


One

Shine your light your love your hope

photograph by Ágatha Depiné via Unsplash

Aye, on the shores of darkness there is light,
And precipices show untrodden green,
There is a budding morrow in mid-night…

— Keats, “To Homer”

[Shine Your] Light Love Hope

“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

“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

“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

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

“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

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

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

Endymion

O SOVEREIGN power of love! O grief! O balm!
All records, saving thine, come cool, and calm,
And shadowy, through the mist of passed years:
For others, good or bad, hatred and tears
Have become indolent; but touching thine,
One sigh doth echo, one poor sob doth pine,
One kiss brings honey-dew from buried days.
The woes of Troy, towers smothering o’er their blaze,
Stiff-holden shields, far-piercing spears, keen blades,
Struggling, and blood, and shrieks—all dimly fades
Into some backward corner of the brain;
Yet, in our very souls, we feel amain
The close of Troilus and Cressid sweet.
Hence, pageant history! hence, gilded cheat!
Swart planet in the universe of deeds!
Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds
Along the pebbled shore of memory!…

— Book II

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

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

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

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