“when I awoke in the middle of the night…I could not even be sure at first who I was…but then memory…would come like a rope let down from heaven to draw me up out of the abyss of not being, from which I could never have escaped by myself, in a flash I would traverse centuries of civilisation, and out of a blurred glimpse of oil-lamps, then of shirts with turned-down collars, would gradually piece together the original components of my ego…”—marcel proust, remembrance of things past
O Fleece, foaming in the neck! O curls! O scent of laziness! Ecstasy! This evening, to people the dark corners Of memories that are sleeping in these locks, I would wave them in the air like a handkerchief!
Languorous Asia and burning Africa, A whole world, distant, absent, almost extinct, Lives in the depths of your perfumed jungle; As other souls sail along on music, So mine, O my love, swims on your scent.
I shall go over there where trees and men, full of sap, Faint away slowly in the passionate climate; O strong locks, be the sea-swell that transports me! You keep, O sea of ebony, a dazzling dream Of sails and sailormen, flames and masts:
A resounding haven where in great waves My soul can drink the scent, the sound and colour; Where ships, sliding in gold and watered silk, Part their vast arms to embrace the glory Of the pure sky shuddering with eternal heat.
I shall plunge my head, adoring drunkenness, Into this black ocean where the other is imprisoned; And my subtle spirit caressed by the sway Will know how to find you, O pregnant idleness! In an infinite cradle of scented leisure!
Blue hair, house of taut darkness, You make the blue of the sky seem huge and round for me; On the downy edges of your twisted locks I hungrily get drunk on the muddled fragrances Of coconut oil, of musk and tar
For a long time! For ever! Amongst your heavy mane My hand will strew the ruby, pearl and sapphire To make you never deaf to my desire! For are you not the oasis where I dream, the gourd Where in great draughts I gulp the wine of memory?
“Beauty is the bait which with delight allures man to enlarge his kind.”—
Beauty indeed makes man enlarge his kind. In ways of physical attraction. In ways of creativity. In ways of attempting immortality. People think pursuing beauty is shallow, and in the most base ways, it is. But it is also the way to paint elements of the fantastic in our lives. If we knew how gray the world really is, we wouldn’t write, or look, or love another imperfect being. It is through the splattering of these colors on the canvas that we can even begin to understand these self-portraits—the only path available to us…without becoming so colorless we sink into non-existence.
Maybe in higher dimensions of reality we can live and desire and create significance without the pursuit of beauty. But in our constraints and in that here and in this now, we live only by seeing it everywhere…and not at all if we do not.
I’ve seen you many times in many places— Theater, bus, train, or on the street; Smiling in spring rain, in winter sleet, Eyes of any hue in myriad faces; Midnight black, all shades of brown your hair, Long, short, bronze or honey-fair. Instantly have I loved, have never spoken; Slowly a truck passed, a light changed, A door closed—all seemingly pre-arranged— Then you were gone forever, the spell was broken. Ubiquitios only one, we’ve met before A hundred times, and we’ll meet again As many more; in hills or forest glen, On crowded street or lonely, peaceful shore; Somewhere, someday—but how will we ever know True love, how wil we ever know?
this is kind of like in love for long, but nowhere near as good, still, i like the idea
Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table; Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, The muttering retreats Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: Streets that follow like a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question … Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” Let us go and make our visit.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” Time to turn back and descend the stair, With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— [They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”] My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin— [They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”] Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:— Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room. So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all— The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, Then how should I begin To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all— Arms that are braceleted and white and bare [But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!] Is it perfume from a dress That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl. And should I then presume? And how should I begin? . . . . . Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …
I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long fingers, Asleep … tired … or it malingers, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter, I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all, After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it toward some overwhelming question, To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— If one, settling a pillow by her head, Should say: “That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor— And this, and so much more?— It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern (8) threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say: “That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old …I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black.
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.
I don’t know why some people are built with softer skin than others. And the easier a target you are, the more darts you attract. (Or is it only a skewed perception? Yet it’s gone on too long and too intense for it to pass for a coincidence or incorrect vision. Maybe it’s group think, or whatever it is that makes people jump on the bandwagon).
In any case, there’s something confusing about what’s going on here. These people are not my enemies. They care. Or at least, I think they do. So I justify it in all sorts of ways…and they do too, mostly with the claim of a lack of intention to harm. They don’t think it’s anything bad, so it’s not. Right?
How do I make people realize it’s not all about their own view? That what they thought was painless actually prickles deeper than I care to even admit to myself? How do I make myself realize it’s also not all about my own view? To what degree can I—as I’ve been so often told to do—“get over it?” How do I bring these things up without sounding immature or demanding or egocentric? Is it too much to ask? Is it necessary to even have to?
The darts have landed now, (but only for now), yet I’m still wriggling them out, a little pang each by each, every pluck even, fair, and merciless.
It is not even a name, Yet is all constancy; Tried or untried, the same, It cannot part from me; A breath, yet as still As the established hill.
look at the commas in the second line: “…untried, the same, It…” The “the same” is bookended by a comma on each side. It could read: tried or untried, It (Love) remains the same. OR, it could be read as: tried or untried, all the same, it’s inseparable from me. This ambiguity is exactly the same as the one in To Celia, a few posts ago, where it starts w/, “drink to me, only, with thine eyes”, which could mean: drink only to me and no one else, or drink to me, with your eyes only and no other visible gesture.
So it’s not the most heartwrenchingly profound of things, but i think this kind of wordplay is really cute.
The other note is that this Love sounds very very very Platonic, the idea that true Beauty, the object of love, is something to behold in wonder, to gaze upon forever, it “neither comes nor passes away…not here but not there…” There’s a sense of immortality in the moment. As in, we have a single point in time, and to be in its presence, to be in contact w/ its perfection, is to be in eternity, to be one point—“a breath”—and yet also everything—an “established hill”…
What: Scarf: my mom’s Dolman Hoodie: c/o ModCloth Serena Skinny Jeans: c/o Mavi Shoes: Steve Madden Luxe (from DSW) Belt (as cuff/bracelet): Express
Where: Breakfast meeting
Why: Today was the kind of day I had a pretty…
i don’t think i can ever get on board w/ “sweatshirt chic”, i have one, it’s uchicago, i only wear it in my bed when im sick…i got it so i can show ppl someday i went to uchicago, but sweatshirts are generally too constricting for me
I’ve been in love for long With what I cannot tell And will contrive a song For the intangible That has no mould or shape, From which there’s no escape.
I love the opening line. I’ve been in love for long, with what I cannot tell.
Someone told me they didn’t get it, contentment can pervade, sure, but love must have an object, they objected.
That seems true, but I also (think I) understand what Muir means. Sometimes you can just feel how much you have, and if you could just find that object you could pour all of the energy into it. At the same time, maybe it’s the wrong way to think about it, how can you have a prefixed storage, ready to be attributed to anyone? Shouldn’t it be that whatever that person IS will make you love him, not the other way around?
at the same time, there’s also the idea that when you love, you love in spite of your object, who he is, the imperfections, etc. So is a concrete being really that necessary? If love really is so pure, then it can’t possibly stem from or be contained by something flawed, so maybe we can, despite the line’s paradoxities, be in love for long, with what we cannot tell. We are of course in love, with what, you ask—with love. In love with love. Not only not a contradiction, but the purest form of them all.
EDIT: the above is not articulated in the best way, so it’s very syrupy. But if you could just stick with me (bad pun intended) and get over the corniness of it, you’ll see what I mean.
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see, I swallow immediately. Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike I am not cruel, only truthful – The eye of a little god, four-cornered. Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers. Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me. Searching my reaches for what she really is. Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands. I am important to her. She comes and goes. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
that last line always makes me want to laugh inappropriately, it’s just weird, and i don’t think i get it, besides, what kind of fish rises toward u? unless it is one already dead, and it simply floats to the surface? I think i’ll have to read this one again
Drink to me, only, with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup And I’ll not look for wine. The thirst, that from the soul doth rise Doth ask a drink divine: But might I of Jove’s nectar sup, I would not change for thine. I sent thee, late, a rosy wreath, Not so much honouring thee, As giving it a hope, that there It could not withered be. But thou thereon did’st only breath, And sent’st it back to me: Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, Not of itself, but thee.
I…remain prone to ill-thought-out sentences and disguised clichés, clichés buried under baroque cruft. Every comma, every pause, every dash: if I think long enough I can recall the novel I’m lifting it from…
I feel like this is the recurring theme of every person who writes (because i can’t call myself a writer, just like how i don’t think i can ever call myself a philosopher, they are settled in too lofty a place for me). The first memory that popped into my head was about a year ago when I hated every word on my own blog, but the second is rooted in a time long ago, when I wrote an essay and I confessed to my mom that, like I had stolen a five dollar bill from the kitchen counter, that my opening line was “lifted” straight out of my textbook. (*i love how this blogger uses the word “lift” here, an ordinary term that usually gives off nothing at all, except a faint neutrality like some unscented fabreze, except, in this context, reminds me of the word to shoplift, a theft of some sort, it reeks of the discreetly sinful)
When my mother heard my confession she assured me there was absolutely nothing wrong with what I did. How are you going to build a house, she said, when you don’t allow yourself to pick up the bricks? That logic sounded desperately like a justification to me, and still leaves me dissatisfied now. Every time I read something original I am filled with wonder and a slight envy for the writer, it is what i (a person who writes) crave most of all.
I have spent all my years searching for those pieces, and when I’ve found them I tucked them away somewhere in a corner of my own creations, artfully arranged to highlight its sparkle, but not so polished that its stolen status becomes too blatant. And so, i get to display what i love most of all, originality, in its blinding, borrowed glory.
argh I really should get a cracking on my reading instead of going on gmail/tumblr/facebook, internet sucks all the willpower out of me.
on another note, i really don’t want to stay on campus till 9 today…arghhhhh so close yet so far!!!!!!!!!!!
note to self: get rbim tickets and also go to gym tomo for first time in like a week and a half
guilt trip of the week: my parents are paying $400 for me to go home for a week in june IN ADDITION TO going home in september, and all i first could think about is how i really want to stay in chicago for the summer and how much fun it would be. But now I’m actually looking forward to it. I think family is one of those things that I don’t miss if I don’t think about it, but when I’m there I think, how could I have possibly miscalculated so much?