I read and I listened. I discovered that the band was playing mostly Top 40 songs from the 1970s: my high school and college years. I was compelled to pay closer attention, for part of my life was being played back to me. I bid farewell to Louisa. The sound came and went on the breeze: it took me 30 seconds or so to recognize each song after it began. "Take It Easy." Of course. "Blue Bayou" (via Linda Ronstadt, I presume, not Roy Orbison). Steve Miller's "Jungle Love." And so on.
Later in the evening came a moment of inspiration from whoever was selecting the songs for the band's playlist: "Amie" by Pure Prairie League. What a wonderful surprise. I always loved that song, but I hadn't thought of it for years. The World is forever bestowing unbidden gifts upon us.
Earlier in the week, while browsing in F. L. Lucas's Greek Poetry for Everyman, I came upon this:
Of the Gods and these other matters none knows the verity --
No man that lived before us, no man that yet shall be.
However full-perfected the system he hath made,
Its maker knoweth nothing. With fancy all's o'erlaid.
Xenophanes (c. 570 - c. 478 B.C.) (translated by F. L. Lucas), in F. L. Lucas, Greek Poetry for Everyman (J. M. Dent 1951), p. 257.
A fine thought. Beware of the architects, and the bearers, of systems. We are all ignorant. The sooner we acknowledge our ignorance, the better.
Bertram Priestman (1868-1951), "Wooded Hillside" (1910)
I have spent most of this month with ancient Greek poets, Walter Pater, and William Wordsworth. This was not a plan, just a happy accident. I am finding they go well together. A day or so after reading the four lines by Xenophanes, I read this:
"He was always a seeker after something in the world that is there in no satisfying measure, or not at all."
Walter Pater, from "A Prince of Court Painters," Imaginary Portraits (Macmillan 1890), page 48.
Another fine thought. A lovely thought. Or so it seems to me. A thought that some may feel the force of. Others, not. That's how these things go.
Bertram Priestman, "Suffolk Water Meadows" (1906)
Awaiting me at the end of the week was this:
Treat well the living. Dead men are but dust
And shadow: our nothingness to nothing goes.
Euripides (translator unknown), in T. F. Higham and C. M. Bowra (editors), The Oxford Book of Greek Verse in Translation (Oxford University Press 1938), page 460. The lines are from Meleager, a play of which only fragments exist.
A third fine thought. The lines brought Philip Larkin to mind:
. . . we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
Philip Larkin, "The Mower," in Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (Faber and Faber/The Marvell Press 1988).
Those are the three thoughts that came my way this week. I feel fortunate they found me.
One more thought: the hydrangeas in this part of the world seem unusually brilliant this year. The blue takes your breath away. I wonder: has this always been the case? Have I been asleep all these years?
Bertram Priestman, "Wareham Channel, Dorset" (1910)