Loved, idealized voices
of those who have died, or of those
lost for us like the dead.
Sometimes they speak to us in dreams;
sometimes deep in thought the mind hears them.
And, with their sound, for a moment return
sounds from our life’s first poetry —
like distant music fading away at night.
Constantine P. Cavafy, Voices, 1889, Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard
The poet presents the imagination with images from life and human characters and situations, sets them all in motion and leaves it to the beholder to let these images take his thoughts as far as his mental powers will permit. This is why he is able to engage men of the most differing capabilities, indeed fools and sages together. The philosopher, on the other hand, presents not life itself but the finished thoughts which he has abstracted from it and then demands that the reader should think precisely as, and precisely as far as, he himself thinks. That is why his public is so small.
Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims, Translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1844
Abelardo Morell, Le Antichita Romane by Piranesi #1, 1994
Your lungs fill & spread themselves,
wings of pink blood, and your bones
empty themselves and become hollow.
When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon
and your heart is light too & huge,
beating with pure joy, pure helium.
The sun’s white winds blow through you,
there’s nothing above you,
you see the earth now as an oval jewel,
radiant & seablue with love.
It’s only in dreams you can do this.
Waking, your heart is a shaken fist,
a fine dust clogs the air you breathe in;
the sun’s a hot copper weight pressing straight
down on the think pink rind of your skull.
It’s always the moment just before gunshot.
You try & try to rise but you cannot.
Margaret Atwood, Flying Inside Your Own Body (via pauses-and-silences
At last! I am alone! Nothing can be heard but the rumbling of a few belated and weary cabs. For a few hours at least silence will be ours, if not sleep. At last! The tyranny of the human face has disappeared, and now there will be no one but myself to make me suffer.
Charles Baudelaire, From “One O’Clock in the Morning”
Was something brushed across my mind
That no one on earth will ever find?
Robert Lee Frost, From “A Passing Glimpse”
You are the future, the immense morning sky
turning red over the prairies of eternity.
You are the rooster-crow after the night of time,
the dew, the early devotions, and the Daughter,
the Guest, the Ancient Mother, and Death.
You are the shape that changes its own shape,
that climbs out of fate, towering,
that which is never shouted for, and never mourned for,
and no more explored than a savage wood.
You are the meaning deepest inside things,
that never reveals the secret of its owner.
And how you look depends on where we are:
from a boat you are shore, from the shore a boat.
Rainer Maria Rilke, You are the future, Translated by Robert Bly
Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps:
silence of paintings. You language where all language
Rainer Maria Rilke, From “To Music”, Translated by Stephen Mitchell