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
photograph by Jane Palash via Unsplash
WHO is it that this dark night,
Underneath my window plaineth?
It is one who from thy sight,
Being, ah! exiled; disdaineth
Every other vulgar light.
Why, alas! and are you he?
Be not yet those fancies changèd?
Dear! when you find change in me,
Though from me you be estrangèd;
Let my change to ruin be.
Well in absence this will die.
Leave to see! and leave to wonder!
Absence sure will help, if I
Can learn how myself to sunder
From what in my heart doth lie.
But time will these thoughts remove:
Time doth work what no man knoweth.
Time doth as the subject prove,
With time still th’affection groweth
In the faithful turtle dove.
— Sir Philip Sidney
unknown photographer, Workers of printing house having a pre-Christmas coffee (1959)
“O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!”
James Jowers, “St. Marks Place” (1968)
“Studies In The History Of The Renaissance”
hard gem-like flame
maintained this ecstasy
It will not last the night
a lovely light
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
cf. video by Yaroslav Shuraev via Pexels
Did you think of me last night?
[Comes nearer.] I think of you always—as something beautiful and distant— the moon or some deep music.
[Smiling.] And last night which was I?
I was awake half the night. I could hear your voice. I could see your face in the dark. Your eyes… I want to speak to you. Will you listen to me? May I speak?
— Joyce, Exiles
Moonlight Feels Right
cf. Unknown, “Street with Lamp Post and Wine Shop” (ca. 1850s) (edited negative)
…But one pale woman all alone,
The daylight kissing her wan hair,
Loitered beneath the gas lamps’ flare,
With lips of flame and heart of stone.
— Oscar Wilde
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
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.
The First Cut Is The Deepest
cf. video by C Technical via Pexels
A THING of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
I, Oh I
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
photograph by Hari Nandakumar via Unsplash
Whiskey Tango Charlie
at the airport lounge
nothing gold can stay
Third Rate Romance
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)
DEVOURING Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-liv’d phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O! carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
— Sonnet XIX
I Just Wanna Stop
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1968)
All that I know
Of a certain star,
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue,
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
— Robert Browning
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)
“When I compare the aspect of the world to me now with what it was twelve months ago, I am far from desponding or complaining. I seem to have a motive and a rallying-word in the fight of life: …Alles für Ruhm und Ihr!”
— Letter from Thomas Carlyle to Jane Welsh
Anybody in their right mind could see it’s you and me…
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1969)
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.
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
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
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,
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
Photograph by Les Anderson on Unsplash (edited collage)
if you ever fall in love
to the sounds of violins
and a melody that wraps itself
around your heart
look for her
one more time
Bells of St. Augustine
cf. Spy Magazine (1986)
“I’ve got something to tell YOU, old sport,—” began Gatsby. But Daisy guessed at his intention…
— Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
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
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
cf. Videos by Life On Super 8 via Pexels
You’re The Love
cf. Left: Grant Wood, American Gothic (1930) Right: Ken Bell, “But Retire Well” (Maclean’s Magazine, 1975)
Still the One
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
cf. Australian Women’s Weekly Magazine (1948)
MY mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
cf. LIFE Magazine (ca. 1970)
Far and Close
Look a while at me,
Look a while at a cloud.
You are far away while looking at me,
So very close while looking at the cloud.
— Gu Cheng (Tr. Morin)
Shower the People
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
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
State Archives of Florida, “Ski Champs in Action” (ca. 1955)
I got everything you wanted
Give you everything you need
Still you want that sugar daddy over me?
cf. Sears advertisement (1972)
I want to say to you
Time is just passing us by…
Who Wants To Be Lonely
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
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
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.)
Bright Star (2009)
The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life—My love has made me selfish.
— Letter from Keats to Fanny Brawne
Love Lies Bleeding
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)
Wild Strawberries (1957)
But now he was an over-the-hill actor playing his younger self, and the setting was all wrong…
— Jonathan Rose, “The Literary Churchill”
Out of Touch
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
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
cf. Photographs by Les Anderson via Unsplash (edit)
on rainy nights
Almost Hear You Sigh
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1966) (edit)
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.
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…
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)
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
cf. Photograph by María Victoria Heredia Reyes via Unsplash (edit)
Lock the place in your heart
into which I have poured my emotions
I do not want to be hurt again
use your heartbeat as the key
only you can hear if it unlocks itself
If the wind around you
should blow away
breathe into it and let my secrets go
— Zindzi Mandela, “Lock the Place in your Heart”
Same Old Lang Syne
Photograph by John-Mark Smith via Unsplash (detail) (edit)
I hide behind simple things so you’ll find me;
if you don’t find me, you’ll find the things,
you’ll touch what my hand has touched,
our hand-prints will merge…
— Yannis Ritsos, “The Meaning of Simplicity” (Tr. Keeley)
from the Toni Frissell collection, Library of Congress (1946)
She didn’t tell me there were rocks
Under the waves
Right off the shore…
All For Leyna
cf. Video by Bassman5420 via Pixabay (edited and modified by me)
When divine Art conceives a form and face,
She bids the craftsman for his first essay
To shape a simple model in mere clay:
This is the earliest birth of Art’s embrace.
From the live marble in the second place
His mallet brings into the light of day
A thing so beautiful that who can say
When time shall conquer that immortal grace?
Thus my own model I was born to be–
The model of that nobler self, whereto
Schooled by your pity, lady, I shall grow.
Each overplus and each deficiency
You will make good. What penance then is due
For my fierce heat, chastened and taught by you?
— Michelangelo, The Model And The Statue
cf. from the Toni Frissell Collection, Library of Congress, (detail) (1946)
THE fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single,
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle—
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain’d its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
— Shelley, “Love’s Philosophy”
Could It Be I’m Falling in Love
Horst Ehricht, “Spring!” (Maclean’s Magazine, 1971)
Last night I was in the garden till 11 o’clock. It was the sweetest night that e’er I saw. The garden looked so well and the jasmine smelt beyond all perfume. And yet I was not pleased. The place had all the charms it used to have when I was most satisfied with it, and had you been there I should have liked it much more than ever I did; but that not being, it was no more to me than the next field…
— Letter from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple, Sunday, July 10th, 1653
Call My Name
WHEN you are very old, at evening
You’ll sit and spin beside the fire, and say,
Humming my songs, “Ah well, ah well-a-day!
When I was young, of me did Ronsard sing.”
None of your maidens that doth hear the thing,
Albeit with her weary task foredone,
But wakens at my name, and calls you one
Blest, to be held in long remembering.
I shall be low beneath the earth, and laid
On sleep, a phantom in the myrtle shade,
While you beside the fire, a grandame grey,
My love, your pride, remember and regret;
Ah, love me, love! we may be happy yet,
And gather roses, while ’tis called to-day.
— Pierre de Ronsard, “Of His Lady’s Old Age” (Tr. Lang)
The Waiting Game
David Stroble, “Students at Band Practice at Cathedral High School…” (ca. 1975)
Poetry was the memory of adolescence…
Poetry was Ayesha Akhter of my village school
with her long loose flowing hair.
— Al Mahmud, “Poetry Was Like This” (Tr. Chowdhury)
Baby, Now That I’ve Found You
Image by Niek Verlaan via Pixabay
Continually, a bell rings in my heart.
I was supposed to go somewhere, to some other place,
Tense from the long wait—
Where do you go, will you take me
“With you, on your horses, down the river, with the flame
of your torches?”
They burst out laughing.
“A tree wanting to move from place to place!”
Startled, I look at myself—
A tree, wanting to move from place to place, a tree
Wanting to move? Am I then—
Born here, to die here
Even die here?
Who rings the bell, then, inside my heart?
Who tells me to go, inside my heart?
Who agitates me, continually, inside my heart?
— Vijaya Mukhopadhyay, “Wanting to Move”
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1970)
HAVE you got a brook in your little heart…
Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go…
— Emily Dickinson
Something in the Way She Moves
Toni Frissell, “Woman and man seated on grass near trees” (ca. 1940)
I really do…
I Love Your Smile
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1958) (edited collage by me)
Time’s on the wing,
Life never knows the return the spring.
— John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera
Julie, Do Ya Love Me
Jaroslav A. Polák, “…Old Couple”
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
— Sonnet LXXIII
From the Beginning
cf. Maclean’s Magazine (1965)
Hear me, queen:
The strong necessity of time commands
Our services awhile, but my full heart
Remains in use with you.
— Antony and Cleopatra
Never Can Say Goodbye