“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness…”

photograph by Christian Spies via Unsplash

“For a long time I had been unable to engage my home town with any degree of openness. What friends I had were married, raising families, and had locked themselves, ever so tightly, behind their neat-trimmed lawns and white clapboard houses, their children cute, their wives sexless and anxious, my friends plotting their next moves to achieve the Black River Valley Club, never asking themselves what, if they achieved that—the town’s most venerable institution—could possibly be left for them. My friends and I had long proved an embarrassment to one another; I embarrassing them because I drank too much, was unreliable in my debts and working habits, and had been “hospitalized” a number of times; I embarrassed because they were. We never stopped each other on the streets without, eyes avoiding mine, their patronizing me with queries about my health. It was distressing because there was a kind of gloating—undoubtedly a good deal imagined on my part—in these encounters, as though they were telling me that getting myself proclaimed mad and dragged away a number of times was only a childish and petulant refusal to accept their way of life as the right way, that in seeking some other way I had been assuming a courage and superiority I hadn’t possessed. After a time these encounters had proved so painful that whenever I found myself compelled to move about the streets in daylight hours, I dropped my eyes to the sidewalk and charged through the streets as though in a hot-brained hurry…”

—Frederick Exley, “A Fan’s Notes”

I got my own world to live through
And I ain’t gonna copy you…

“Sure he thinks the sun shines out of your face, ma’am.”

Photograph by Alejandra Quiroz via unsplash.com

Brigid:
Are you fretting now maybe because he does be in there [pointing to the study] half the night at his books?
Leave him alone. He’ll come back to you again.
Sure he thinks the sun shines out of your face, ma’am.

—James Joyce, “Exiles”

You got that radioaction
Brighter than a sunny day
I wear a lot of protection
Just to keep all your sun away…

 

12 Rods – “Radioaction”

“Hope is the thing with feathers”

cf. newspaper ad illustration and photograph by Florian Klauer (edited)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

–Emily Dickinson

Late at night when the wind is still
I’ll come flying through your door
And you’ll know what love is for
I’m a bluebird…

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

cf. Albertus H. Baldwin, Man Sitting on a Boat and Khürt Williams, Rodanthe Pier

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“I’m afraid that J. Alfred Prufrock didn’t have much of a love life.”

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me…
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

—T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

“I’m afraid that J. Alfred Prufrock didn’t have much of a love life.”

—T.S. Eliot

Acquainted With The Night (Christina At Night)

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

–Robert Frost, “Acquainted with the Night”