Earlier this week, revisiting The Complete Poems of Walter de la Mare (948 wonderful pages), I discovered this:
I saw bleak Arrogance, with brows of brass,
Clad nape to sole in shimmering foil of lead,
Stark down his nose he stared; a crown of glass
Aping the rainbow, on his tilted head.
His very presence drained the vital air;
He sate erect -- stone-cold, self-crucified;
On either side of him an empty chair;
And sawdust trickled from his wounded side.
Walter de la Mare, The Burning-Glass and Other Poems (Faber and Faber 1945).
A thought from Walter Pater comes to mind:
"Experience, already reduced to a group of impressions, is ringed round for each one of us by that thick wall of personality through which no real voice has ever pierced on its way to us, or from us to that which we can only conjecture to be without. Every one of those impressions is the impression of the individual in his isolation, each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world."
Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (Macmillan 1893), page 249.
"Each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world." The temptation is great to conclude that one is wise and virtuous. A comforting delusion.
To believe you are magnificent. And gradually to discover that you are not magnificent. Enough labor for one human life.
Czeslaw Milosz, Road-side Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1998), page 60.
Joseph Farquharson (1846-1935)
"Harvesting, Forest of Birse, Aberdeenshire" (1900)
The trees are still mostly full, still mostly green. Yesterday afternoon, in a gusty wind, their boughs tossed and roared. The day was clear and brilliant, and dappled light and shadow turned and turned on the ground. It could have been a summer day. But, at intervals, lines of fallen leaves rushed along the sidewalks and the streets, carried away by the wind.
What has become of the two woolly bear caterpillars who appeared in my last post? I encountered two more of the lovely, endearing creatures last week. Like their companions, they were crossing a path, headed off toward the trees, full of intent, going about their appointed business. As for humanity, we always have been, and always will be, a scold-ridden species, confused and grasping, forever meddling, never content. Best to keep one's own counsel. A woolly bear caterpillar. "Everything Is Going To Be All Right."
I traversed a dominion
Whose spokesmen spake out strong
Their purpose and opinion
Through pulpit, press, and song.
I scarce had means to note there
A large-eyed few, and dumb,
Who thought not as those thought there
That stirred the heat and hum.
When, grown a Shade, beholding
That land in lifetime trode,
To learn if its unfolding
Fulfilled its clamoured code,
I saw, in web unbroken,
Its history outwrought
Not as the loud had spoken,
But as the mute had thought.
Thomas Hardy, Poems of the Past and the Present (Macmillan 1901).
David MacKay (1853-1904), "Crail at Harvest Time"
"The imperceptible movement of an invisible soul and the enormous sun." (Philippe Jaccottet (translated by Tess Lewis), Seedtime: Notebooks, 1954-79 (Seagull Books 2013), page 159.) There is the world. And then there is the World. Where does one reside?
From My Window
An old man leaning on a gate
Over a London mews -- to contemplate --
Is it the sky above -- the stones below?
Is it remembrance of the years gone by,
Or thinking forward to futurity
That holds him so?
Day after day he stands,
Quietly folded are the quiet hands,
Rarely he speaks.
Hath he so near the hour when Time shall end,
So much to spend?
What is it he seeks?
Whate'er he be,
He is become to me
A form of rest.
I think his heart is tranquil, from it springs
A dreamy watchfulness of tranquil things,
And not unblest
Mary Coleridge, in Theresa Whistler (editor), The Collected Poems of Mary Coleridge (Rupert Hart-Davis 1954).
Duncan Cameron (1837-1916), "Harvest Time in Lorne" (1888)