April 6, 2017
Thy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.
Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness – for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.
The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.
The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!
Edgar Allan Poe
October 10, 2016
October 7, 2016
September 29, 2016
September 27, 2016
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was – but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me – upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain – upon the bleak walls – upon the vacant eye-like windows – upon a few rank sedges – and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees – with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium – the bitter lapse into everyday life – the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart – an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.
Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher
September 24, 2016
September 23, 2016
August 4, 2016
And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revelers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.
Edgar Allan Poe
The Masque of the Red Death
April 25, 2016
Diary 25th April
Last night talk about beginnings. The opening passages of novels. Mention of Joyce’s “Ulysses”.
‘Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:
“Introibo ad altare Dei”
Joyce’s mockery of the Roman Catholic mass: the bowl a stand-in for the chalice of wine which, in the mass, becomes the blood of Christ; the stairhead becomes the alter steps. Buck, of course, serves as priest…According to Joyce the novel opens on Thursday, 16th June 1904 at 8.30 AM. The 16th of June is the feast day of St. John Francis Regis, a saint much venerated in southern France. Since it’s a feast day for a confessor the appropriate vestments for the mass are white and gold. However Joyce mentions a yellow gown, and priestly vestment would be cloth of gold, not dull yellow. In the middle ages heretics were made to wear yellow.
Mention of the razor – sign of the slaughterer, the priest as butcher. While ungirdled suggests violation of the priestly vow of chastity. “Introibo ad altare Dei” – from psalm 43:4 – ‘I will go up to God’s alter’ used as the opening prayer of the mass…This mocking invocation of God is a reminder of the opening of Homer’s “Odyssey” with its invocation of the muse…
From Joyce to Nabokov. ‘Lolita, light of my life…’
‘Lo-lee-ta’ the middle syllable alludes to the poem ‘Annabel Lee’ by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe the lover of young girls, a tragic, frustrated figure. Annabel Lee is variously invoked over the course of the novel; both she and Lolita die, the later figuratively as well as literally with regard to her fading nymphic qualities…Ah, those childbrides can never survive.
Lola, a diminutive of Dolores, is also the name of the young cabaret entertainer who enchants a middle-aged professor in the German film ‘The blue angel’…Dolores derived from the Latin, “dolor”: sorrow, pain, traditionally an allusion to the Virgin Mary, our mother of sorrows, and hence an invocation of the less than spiritual poem of Algernon Swinburne, “Dolores”.
And so it goes on, allusion and invocation, layer upon layer. The seemingly simple made complex…just like life.
I’ve said things to upset a lot of people over time. I’m okay with that. I used to worry about how I was perceived by others, but then one day I decided I didn’t really care that much. So now I just say things I feel like saying and to hell with the rest of the crap.
If nothing else it’s more honest.
My sense of wonder at the hyperreality of love is echoed by day-to-day commonplaces, the banal backdrop to our lives…We are like characters from Pushkin or Boris Pasternak. Yes, yes, I see you as my Lara. Obsessed, as I am, with images of you in your bath…
We are as alike as two drops of water.
Your nakedness echoing Eve’s innocence in Paradise Lost, when she recounts first catching sight of her own reflection in water:
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
Of waters issued from a cave and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
Pure as the expanse of heaven; I thither went
With unexperienced thought . . .
As I bent down to look, just opposite,
A shape within the watery gleam appeared
Bending to look on me, I started back,
It started back, but pleased I soon returned.
And our deranged minds become “bien ranges” once more…
April 14, 2016
Diary 14th April
So here I am holding on by a toenail and my left bollock. Heavy rain forecast for later in the day…just for a change!
Ah, those wonderful April showers!
Visit to a private hospital yesterday. Not particularly inspiring. The toilet in the main reception area was poky and poorly lighted…Unlike the NHS hospital nearby which has fabulous toilet facilities. However, there was a coffeemaker in reception and you could help yourself to free cups of good coffee. The consultant we saw was helpful, suggesting a course of action which we are now avidly pursuing…
The best thing about influence on yourself by other writers is to realise the fact of it and swallow it, and never throw it away. It’s like throwing away all the advantages of metre or rhyme or music inherent in great works, everything must be grist to your mill. Yes, you should be on your guard, but never afraid of such influences.
Inspiration is a deeply personal thing. Intimately so. And poetry is an artificial art…Artificial from start to finish. But it must be anchored firmly to “life” if it is to last. And if it “works” it will be almost more powerful than life itself!
Tintinnabulation is such a wonderful word, created, some sources suggest, by Edgar Allan Poe for his poem “The Bells”:
“Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.”
In fact Charles Dickens employed it in “Dombey and Sons” in 1847 slightly before Poe:
“It was drowned in the tintinnabulation of the gong, which sounding again with great fury, there was a general move towards the dining-room”.
Arvo Pärt describes his current style of musical composition as “tintinnabuli.” He explains:
“Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers – in my life, my music, my work. In my dark hours, I have the certain feeling that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it? Traces of this perfect thing appear in many guises – and everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this. . . . The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I call it tintinnabulation…”
Enough nonsense for now. I must get on. Ciao!