Catherine Trottmann performs "Una voce poco fa" with L’Olympia Symphonique, conducted Yvan Cassard ...
08 August 2022
If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man.
The Smiths, 1986 ...
Morrissey, 2005 ...
First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
“For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned.” And she will.
Bulfinch, Tontine Crescent, 1794
Charles Bulfinch was born on this day in 1763.
"Building Boston: The Architecture of Charles Bulfinch," a lecture presented by Joseph Cornish, architectural historian and director of Design Review of the Boston Landmarks Commission ...
07 August 2022
06 August 2022
Cameron, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1866
CROSSING the BAR
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
05 August 2022
04 August 2022
"Hang care!" exclaimed he. "This is a delicious evening; the wine has a finer relish here than in the house, and the song is more exciting and melodious under the tranquil sky than in the close room, where the sound is stifled. Come, let us have a bacchanalian chant—let us, with old Sir Toby, make the welkin dance and rouse the night-owl with a catch! I am right merry. Pass the bottle, and tune your voices—a catch, a catch! The lights will be here anon."
Charles Ollier, from "The Haunted Manor-House of Paddington"
For best results, listen to this ... Eddie Money, "Gamblin' Man" ...
The euphony transformed me and inundated my soul in a roguish countenance, the likes of which I had know well in younger days. Such impishness soon drove out the complaints of the day.
Severn, Posthumous Portrait of Shelley, 1845
[Poetry] awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar; it reproduces all that it represents, and the impersonations clothed in its Elysian light stand thenceforward in the minds of those who have once contemplated them as memorials of that gentle and exalted content which extends itself over all thoughts and actions with which it coexists. The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our own nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, from "A Defence of Poetry"
The charm ... of what is classical, in art or literature, is that of the well-known tale, to which we can nevertheless listen over and over again, because it is told so well. To the absolute beauty of its artistic form is added the accidental, tranquil charm of familiarity. There are times, indeed, at which these charms fail to work on our spirits at all, because they fail to excite us. “Romanticism,” says Stendhal, “is the art of presenting to people the literary works which, in the actual state of their habits and beliefs, are capable of giving them the greatest possible pleasure; classicism, on the contrary, of presenting them with that which gave the greatest possible pleasure to their grandfathers.” But then, beneath all changes of habits and beliefs, our love of that mere abstract proportion—of music—which what is classical in literature possesses, still maintains itself in the best of us, and what pleased our grandparents may at least tranquilize us. The “classic” comes to us out of the cool and quiet of other times, as the measure of what a long experience has shown will at least never displease us. And in the classical literature of Greece and Rome, as in the classics of the last century, the essentially classical element is that quality of order in beauty, which they possess indeed in a pre-eminent degree, and which impresses some minds to the exclusion of everything else in them.
It is the addition of strangeness to beauty, that constitutes the romantic character in art; and the desire of beauty being a fixed element in every artistic organization, it is the addition of curiosity to this desire of beauty, that constitutes the romantic temper. Curiosity, and the desire of beauty, have each their place in art, as in all true criticism. When one’s curiosity is deficient, when one is not eager enough for new impressions and new pleasures, one is liable to value mere academical properties too highly, to be satisfied with worn-out or conventional types, with the insipid ornament of Racine, or the prettiness of that later Greek sculpture which passed so long for true Hellenic work; to miss those places where the handiwork of nature, or of the artist, has been most cunning; to find the most stimulating products of art a mere irritation.
Walter Pater, from "The Classic and Romantic in Literature", born on this day in 1839
I think that the self, in its quest to be free and solitary, ultimately reads with one aim only: to confront greatness. That confrontation scarcely masks the desire to join greatness, which is the basis of the aesthetic experience once called the Sublime: the quest for a transcendence of limits.
Harold Bloom, from The Western Canon
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning my pilot sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.
The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine aëry nest,
As still as a brooding dove.
That orbèd maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till calm the rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the Sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon's with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, born on this day in 1792
03 August 2022
It's later on a Wednesday, the sun is going down
I'm standing naked by a swimming pool, there's no one around
My imagination wanders back, red dust is always there
We lay together in the jungle, and love was in the air
As I dive into the water, both time and motion freeze
I'm hanging there suspended like a feather in the breeze
Below is your reflection, like an image from the past
But I can't be sure if it's really you, because you're wearing a tribal mask ...
Roger Glover, from "The Mask"
Professor Bloom on preposterous "-isms" (from 2015) ...
Our burden as teachers now, even someone as old as I am, is in a sense something beyond our ability to teach. There is a vast change in the cultural climate, which has devalued the very difficult act of solitary deep reading.Whether you call it feminism, which is not really feminism, has nothing to do with equal rights for women, or whether you call it transgenderism, or ethnicity, or Marxism, or any of these French manifestations, be it deconstruction or one mode of differential linguistics or another, or whether you call it -- what I think is mislabeled -- the new historicism, because it's neither new nor historicism, but simply a dilution of Foucault, a man whom I knew and liked personally, but whose influence I think has been pernicious, just as Derida's, with whom I also shared a friendship until eventually we broke with each other. All these "isms" are preposterous of course; they have nothing to do with the study of literature or with its originality. As I've said before, the aesthetic is an individual and not a social concern.
At the base of the mainmast, full beneath the doubloon and the flame, the Parsee was kneeling in Ahab's front, but with his head bowed away from him; while near by, from the arched and overhanging rigging, where they had just been engaged securing a spar, a number of the seamen, arrested by the glare, now cohered together, and hung pendulous, like a knot of numbed wasps from a drooping, orchard twig. In various enchanted attitudes, like the standing, or stepping, or running skeletons in Herculaneum, others remained rooted to the deck; but all their eyes upcast.
"Aye, aye, men!" cried Ahab. "Look up at it; mark it well; the white flame but lights the way to the White Whale! Hand me those mainmast links there; I would fain feel this pulse, and let mine beat against it; blood against fire! So."
Then turning--the last link held fast in his left hand, he put his foot upon the Parsee; and with fixed upward eye, and high-flung right arm, he stood erect before the lofty tri-pointed trinity of flames.
"Oh! thou clear spirit of clear fire, whom on these seas I as Persian once did worship, till in the sacramental act so burned by thee, that to this hour I bear the scar; I now know thee, thou clear spirit, and I now know that thy right worship is defiance. To neither love nor reverence wilt thou be kind; and e'en for hate thou canst but kill; and all are killed. No fearless fool now fronts thee. I own thy speechless, placeless power; but to the last gasp of my earthquake life will dispute its unconditional, unintegral mastery in me. In the midst of the personified impersonal, a personality stands here. Though but a point at best; whencesoe'er I came; wheresoe'er I go; yet while I earthly live, the queenly personality lives in me, and feels her royal rights. But war is pain, and hate is woe. Come in thy lowest form of love, and I will kneel and kiss thee; but at thy highest, come as mere supernal power; and though thou launchest navies of full-freighted worlds, there's that in here that still remains indifferent. Oh, thou clear spirit, of thy fire thou madest me, and like a true child of fire, I breathe it back to thee."
Herman Melville, from Moby-Dick or, the Whale, chapter 119, "The Candles"
Chef Henderson sings of breakfast ...
As you wake up in the morning and become aware of your innards and extremities you may require a late breakfast, but be careful - too late and we move into brunch territory, which is something we don't want to do. Brunch is the bastardisation of two great moments in the culinary day into a damp squib, neither one thing nor the other. Then there is the unanswered question: what do you drink with brunch? A wineless purgatory!
But I've nailed my colours to the mast on this subject in the past, so let's return to breakfast and the breakfast greats. One, on a train travelling from Glasgow to London, with the view of the Lake District speeding past as you attack a brace of kippers and a glass of Guinness. It doesn't come much better (just remember the kipper-burps that stay with you a while, but nothing can be perfect). The next great breakfast: the Caffè Florian on St Mark's Square. The odd coffee, a chocolate ice-cream and a Fernet; we had to remortgage our house to pay the bill, of course, but what the hell - it's Venice. And then there was the time, many years ago, when I went to Prague with the Architectural Association before the Velvet Revolution. Wandering back to our hotel early in the morning we were met by a happy scene of folk eating freshly baked bread with coarse sea salt and drinking beer - not something you come across every day.
An editorial note: A breakfast of creamed herring on rye bread with Guinness rules!
All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry. If we paused for a moment to examine the cheapest cant phrases that pass our lips every day, we should find that they were as rich and suggestive as so many sonnets. To take a single instance: we speak of a man in English social relations "breaking the ice." If this were expanded into a sonnet, we should have before us a dark and sublime picture of an ocean of everlasting ice, the sombre and baffling mirror of the Northern nature, over which men walked and danced and skated easily, but under which the living waters roared and toiled fathoms below. The world of slang is a kind of topsy-turveydom of poetry, full of blue moons and white elephants, of men losing their heads, and men whose tongues run away with them--a whole chaos of fairy tales.
G.K. Chesterton, "A Defence of Slang"
Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.
What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?
Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:
I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.
Harold Bloom on poetry as the elixir for longevity ...
Michael Skafides: You've said that, "At 84, I lie awake at night, after a first sleep, and murmur Crane, Whitman and Shakespeare to myself, seeking comfort through continuity, as grand voices somehow hold off the permanent darkness that gathers though it does not fall." Is poetry your elixir for longevity?Harold Bloom: Absolutely! Poetry is my medicine. At 85, one is a very bad sleeper. Last night in fact, I could not fall asleep again because of my health's failures, and I found myself reciting poetry. Since I was a little one, I have a remarkable memory in terms of recalling poetic texts. So last night, I found myself chanting not Whitman directly, but Wallace Stevens' magnificent complex vision of Whitman. I think I know it by heart so if you don't mind, I'll put it in the picture right now [Bloom recites by heart Stevens' "Tea at the Palace of Hoon," in which the speaker is Walt Whitman himself.] So, poetry is a cure.
Harold Bloom recites this and Stevens' "Like Decorations" ...
CARL R. FIRCHAU (1884-1973)
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REMEMBER EVERYONE DEPLOYED
TAO TE CHING, Lao Tzu
Waterhouse, Boreas, 1903
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Spitzweg, The Bookworm, 1850
I'm reading ...
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