“the first return since undergraduate days twelve years previously…”

collage including video by Anatwell-Group via Pixabay (edited)

Another expedition took him to Cambridge, the first return since undergraduate days twelve years previously, where the young men all looked just the same in the university pubs and “the only alteration” was in himself…

— Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections

Linda Bruner, “Rainy Night In Georgia”

“behind the camera”

cf. Tom Hubbard, “Fountain Square…” (June, 1973)

behind the camera

as you were focusing
on your friend
smiling in his summer suit
next to the fountain
on that hot june afternoon in 1973
her heart was breaking
he had lost his way
fate and destiny
enkindled and unsettled
set in motion
held alone by gossamer threads
and if you look closely
someplace far away
I’m on my bicycle
riding as fast as I can

— J.S.

Sandy Cove

When Smokey Sings

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day is Done (excerpt)

When Smokey Sings

palimpsest

Nationaal Archief, “Festive lights in Amsterdam”

palimpsest

for I walked down the sidestreets
with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon
whispered lunar incantations
dissolved the floors of memory
a fever, longing still —
absence seems my flame
bright star,
I am as steadfast as thou art

— J.S.

All I Do

Spring and Fall

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

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! 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

“bright stars”

cf. photograph by StockSnap via Pixabay (edit)

bright stars

like Keats and Fanny Brawne
butterflies
for three summer days
filled with more delight than those fifty common years
ever contained
in the twilight streetlamps
the warm night air
and the car radio
I turned
and looked at you

— J.S.

Rush Hour

recurring scenario

Ernst Halberstadt, “Elevated Railroad Structure…” (1973)

A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impression.

— Samuel Johnson, Prayers and Meditations

70’s Scenario

Metaphysics

Left: Cesare Guilio, “Palestra Bianca” (ca. 1940)
Right: A.K. Aster, “On Salons” (Camera Craft, 1940)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could…

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo…

“reverie”

Tom Hubbard, “…Saturday Night” (1973)

reverie

your smile
on a summer night
the starlight
shining after light years
the light in the window
the wind and your voice
I looked up at the sky last night
and thought of you

—J.S.
 

“I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & J.F. Coley

I remember the night the Green–Schwarz mechanism was discovered…

Northeastern University Course Catalog, 1984-85

String Theory

I remember the night the Green–Schwarz mechanism was discovered —

It was a stormy summer night in 1984.

The lightning that flashed across the equations on the blackboard

also flashed across my curtains,

two oranges on the dining room table,

a Pat Metheny album on the blue shag carpet.

I, too, thought I had solved something.

I, too, thought I was free of anomalies.

But the next day I still couldn’t figure it out.

–J.S.

ENG 101

David De Vries, “Room 103, small classroom…” (2001)

ENG 101

I heard his raspy old voice talking

about a poem about a spider

and he even looked like Frost

but I was looking

out the door out the window

at the ultrablue sky

and wondered

about designs

–J.S.

“What they’re looking for is a definition of why their lives have been flattened or floored…”

Photograph by Kimberly Richards via Unsplash

Harry Kreisler: What led you to philosophy?

Stanley Cavell: Well, I could give you a cocktail answer to that, or I could say, “I’m still asking myself the question.”

Harry Kreisler: Right.

Stanley Cavell: One serious way to answer the question is to say that leaving music was the first enormous basic radical crisis in my life. I was bewildered by who I might be if I wasn’t a musician. And philosophy is, after all, a subject you might come to in a state of crisis. That’s one thing that happened to me, in finding philosophy…

Harry Kreisler: This is a silly question, but I’ll ask it anyway. What does a philosopher do?

Stanley Cavell: Of course, the serious answer to that is, they ask themselves that. Almost everybody has his or her own answer to that. All the great philosophers have their answer to it; it winds up in their text, that what they’re looking for is a definition of why their lives have been flattened or floored…

Conversations with History: Stanley Cavell – YouTube Conversation with Stanley Cavell, p. 3 of 6

“Driftwood”

At Cape Cod, August, 1969

I am scattered in a thousand places

here and there —

now and then

the wind and waves wash me ashore

ceaselessly

leaving something behind

a remindering

a finding of lost time

I never left

–J.S., “Driftwood”

“As the birds did not take flight, he went to them…”

Börje Gallén, Woman and children feeding pigeons in Copenhagen in 1946 (1946)

“One time as [Saint Francis] was passing through the Spoleto valley, he came upon a place near Bevagna, in which a great multitude of birds of various kinds had assembled. When the holy one of God saw them, because of the outstanding love of the Creator with which he loved all creatures, he ran swiftly to the place. He greeted them in his usual way, as if they shared in reason. As the birds did not take flight, he went to them, going to and fro among them, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic…”

—Thomas of Celano, The Treatise on the Miracle of Saint Francis (The Francis Trilogy of Thomas of Celano, New City Press, 2004)

“Every man’s work, pursued steadily, tends in this way to become an end in itself, and so to bridge over the loveless chasms of his life.”

Doris Ulmann, Man Working At A Pottery Wheel (ca. 1930)

His first movement after the shock had been to work in his loom; and he went on with this unremittingly, never asking himself why, now he was come to Raveloe, he worked far on into the night to finish the tale of Mrs. Osgood’s table-linen sooner than she expected—without contemplating beforehand the money she would put into his hand for the work. He seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection. Every man’s work, pursued steadily, tends in this way to become an end in itself, and so to bridge over the loveless chasms of his life…

—George Eliot, Silas Marner

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles…

But all this excitement had exhausted me and I dropped heavily on to my sleeping plank. I must have had a longish sleep, for, when I woke, the stars were shining down on my face. Sounds of the countryside came faintly in, and the cool night air, veined with smells of earth and salt, fanned my cheeks. The marvelous peace of the sleepbound summer night flooded through me like a tide. Then, just on the edge of daybreak, I heard a steamer’s siren. People were starting on a voyage to a world which had ceased to concern me forever. Almost for the first time in many months I thought of my mother.

Albert Camus, The Stranger

Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which—once, twice, and again—he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue…Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene—perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is!

Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge