levity: (evening stretched out against the sky)
Around them they could hear the uneasy breathing of the city. An ambulance wailed. There was a sound that might have been gunfire, or a car’s muffler backfiring. Horns honked. Brakes screeched. Tires screamed. There was the distant wail of a child. “The sound of terror, Canon,” the Bishop said. “Listen. It has become the same in every city in the world. All our churches, all our police force, firemen, amublances, relief agencies, are waging a losing battle against the plague of violence that has stricken our cities. But now: imagine that someone has a Micro-Ray. He can take the most hardened criminal; he can the touch his brain with controlled light in such a way that the man can become a lunatic, even worse than he already is, or docile as a little child.”

“But that’s monstrous,” the Canon said.

“It can be. Misused, it is. Or misunderstood, as Austin fails to misunderstand it. But now think. Think of the possibilities. Think of taking a vicious degenerate, someone whose willful descent into evil has made him subhuman in every way. A brief and painless touch by the Micro-Ray can turn him into a happy law-abiding citizen. What do you think of that?”

For a long moment Tallis did not answer. Then he said, “My Lord, I think that is monstrous too.”



Every break from school that lasts longer than three days automatically gets marked off in my brain as L'Engle rereading time. I read A Wrinkle in Time at seven and The Young Unicorns at eight and things just snowballed (is there a tropical-country equivalent for that term) from there; my internal landscape is somehow fifty percent Discworld, fifty percent The Count of Monte Cristo, and one hundred percent Madeleine L'Engle. Finding out that someone grew up with her books too is like finding someone from same primary school or hometown- you can rattle on all you want about faults and flaws and favorites and waves of nostalgia knowing you have the same thing to stand on, the same points of reference; you can go on about how she is aware and critical of but still falls into the Noble Savage trap because you know they share the burn of when someone you love does something incredibly stupid (I mean, you go on about it anyway? but I still get the impulse to say the words not that bad, like not that bad is supposed to make things better). I don't know what the point of all this is, just that her books are at the point where science fiction meets fantasy and are completely unlike anything else of either genre, that A Swiftly Tilting Planet without intending to do so made all other time-travel narratives seem one-note and simplistic and boring, that everything she writes is suffused with wonder at math and science and people and this universe's worth of possibility.

---

ETA: (Advanced, if appropriate) Happy New Year to you all! Eat your round things, don't forget to jump, and enjoy all your firecrackers, who needs ten fingers anyway. I hope 2013 treats you well. :D
levity: (that free will thing was a bugger)
while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance


1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.

8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.

9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.

11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.

12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.

13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.
levity: (desire lives in the heart)
"Why should I not want something better? Doesn't everyone? Don't you? The old order, it is good for the old. A farmer wants his son to be afraid of beautiful women, so that he will not leave home too soon, so he tells a story about how one drowned his brother's cousin's friend in a lake, not because he was a pig who deserved to be drowned, but because beautiful women are bad, and also witches. And it doesn't matter that she didn't ask to be beautiful, or to be born in a lake, or to live forever, or to not know how men breathe until they stop doing it. Well, I do not want to be beautiful, or a woman, or anything. I want to know how men breathe. I want my daughter to be in the Young Pioneers, and to grow up to be something important, like a writer or an immunologist, to grow up not even knowing what a rusalka is, because then I will know her world does not in any way resemble one in which farmers tell their sons how bad beautiful women are."
levity: (desire lives in the heart)
ROSALIND
Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as
well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why
they are not so punish'd and cured is that the lunacy is so
ordinary that the whippers are in love too. Yet I profess curing
it by counsel.

ORLANDO
Did you ever cure any so?

ROSALIND
Yes, one; and in this manner. He was to imagine me his
love, his mistress; and I set him every day to woo me; at which
time would I, being but a moonish youth, grieve, be effeminate,
changeable, longing and liking, proud, fantastical, apish,
shallow, inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles; for every
passion something and for no passion truly anything, as boys and
women are for the most part cattle of this colour; would now like
him, now loathe him; then entertain him, then forswear him; now
weep for him, then spit at him; that I drave my suitor from his
mad humour of love to a living humour of madness; which was, to
forswear the full stream of the world and to live in a nook
merely monastic. And thus I cur'd him; and this way will I take
upon me to wash your liver as clean as a sound sheep's heart,
that there shall not be one spot of love in 't.

ORLANDO
I would not be cured, youth.

ROSALIND
I would cure you, if you would but call me Rosalind, and
come every day to my cote and woo me.

ORLANDO
Now, by the faith of my love, I will. Tell me where it is.

ROSALIND
Go with me to it, and I'll show it you; and, by the way,
you shall tell me where in the forest you live. Will you go?
levity: (desire lives in the heart)
1

        The blond boy in the red trunks is holding your head underwater
because he is trying to kill you,
     and you deserve it, you do, and you know this,
            and you are ready to die in this swimming pool
  because you wanted to touch his hands and lips and this means
                              your life is over anyway.
         You’re in the eighth grade. You know these things.
  You know how to ride a dirt bike, and you know how to do
      long division,
and you know that a boy who likes boys is a dead boy, unless
                  he keeps his mouth shut, which is what you
                                              didn’t do,
      because you are weak and hollow and it doesn’t matter anymore.


2

      A dark-haired man in a rented bungalow is licking the whiskey
from the back of your wrist.
         He feels nothing,
             keeps a knife in his pocket,
                         peels an apple right in front of you
         while you tramp around a mustard-colored room
in your underwear
                 drinking Dutch beer from a green bottle.
      After everything that was going to happen has happened
you ask only for the cab fare home
            and realize you should have asked for more
                         because he couldn’t care less, either way.

The man on top of you is teaching you how to hate, sees you as a piece of real estate )
levity: (evening stretched out against the sky)
Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite "The boy stood on
the burning deck." Love's the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love's the burning boy.
levity: (evening stretched out against the sky)
Your first time out of the country
of your own skin, I didn’t bring a map.

You always hated that I’d been lucky
enough to pick my way through streets

I couldn’t pronounce to find cathedrals,
graveyards. If you were a city, you said,

I’d only like to know your suburbs.

If you were a city, I said, I’d like to know
your poor neighborhoods, your inner parts.

Read your graffiti. Drink your tap water.
Feel your smog and dirt stick to my sweat.

Hear your orchestra of sirens and gunshots.
I’d know which of your streets to walk.

If you were a city, I’d expect to be robbed.
levity: (clarity)
THE Cathedral bell, tolled, could never tell;
nor the Liver Birds, mute in their stone spell;
or the Mersey, though seagulls wailed, cursed, overhead,
in no language for the slandered dead...
not the raw, red throat of the Kop, keening,
or the cops’ words, censored of meaning;
not the clock, slow handclapping the coroner’s deadline,
or the memo to Thatcher, or the tabloid headline...
but fathers told of their daughters; the names of sons
on the lips of their mothers like prayers; lost ones
honoured for bitter years by orphan, cousin, wife -
not a matter of football, but of life.
Over this great city, light after long dark;
truth, the sweet silver song of the lark.
levity: (bring it)
The notion of cancer as an affliction that belongs paradigmatically to the twentieth century is reminiscent, as Susan Sontag argued so powerfully in her book Illness as Metaphor, of another disease once considered emblematic of another era: tuberculosis in the nineteenth century. Both diseases, as Sontag pointedly noted, were similarly “obscene—in the original meaning of that word: ill-omened, abominable, repugnant to the senses.” Both drain vitality; both stretch out the encounter with death; in both cases, dying, even more than death, defines the illness.

But despite such parallels, tuberculosis belongs to another century. TB (or consumption) was Victorian romanticism brought to its pathological extreme—febrile, unrelenting, breathless, and obsessive. It was a disease of poets: John Keats involuting silently toward death in a small room overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome, or Byron, an obsessive romantic, who fantasized about dying of the disease to impress his mistresses. “Death and disease are often beautiful, like . . . the hectic glow of consumption,” Thoreau wrote in 1852. In Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, this “hectic glow” releases a feverish creative force in its victims—a clarifying, edifying, cathartic force that, too, appears to be charged with the essence of its era.

Cancer, in contrast, is riddled with more contemporary images. The cancer cell is a desperate individualist, “in every possible sense, a nonconformist,” as the surgeon-writer Sherwin Nuland wrote. The word metastasis, used to describe the migration of cancer from one site to another, is a curious mix of meta and stasis—“beyond stillness” in Latin—an unmoored, partially unstable state that captures the peculiar instability of modernity. If consumption once killed its victims by pathological evisceration (the tuberculosis bacillus gradually hollows out the lung), then cancer asphyxiates us by filling bodies with too many cells; it is consumption in its alternate meaning—the pathology of excess. Cancer is an expansionist disease; it invades through tissues, sets up colonies in hostile landscapes, seeking “sanctuary” in one organ and then immigrating to another. It lives desperately, inventively, fiercely, territorially, cannily, and defensively—at times, as if teaching us how to survive. To confront cancer is to encounter a parallel species, one perhaps more adapted to survival than even we are.

This image—of cancer as our desperate, malevolent, contemporary contemporary doppelgänger—is so haunting because it is at least partly true. A cancer cell is an astonishing perversion of the normal cell. Cancer is a phenomenally successful invader and colonizer in part because it exploits the very features that make us successful as a species or as an organism.


- from Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies. So far, the only complaint I have about this book is that I will never be able to write it myself. Between him and [livejournal.com profile] guede_mazaka, I am turning into a very bitter person.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that Mukherjee gets it, the all-consuming perfect terribleness of cancer, the way we aren't even close to a viable long-term solution. There is no witty conclusion, because there isn't the space.

---

Tumbling problems aside, I still have not yet managed to stop listening to Marina & The Diamonds, part because, as with all the favorites you know you're going to like thirty seconds in, it's like those two albums have my name written all over them. The bright smiling anger and the satire and the performativity, the cheerful wink and nod at the construction of her whole image and the simultaneous deconstruction, the plucky synthetic pop and the clear fuck-off I do what I want and the consequences are all mine air. Oh well.

---

Waging a war against our printer. Losing.
levity: (beauty is a hint of storm)
We can stick anything into the fog and make it look like a ghost.
But tonight let us not become tragedies.

We are not funeral homes
with propane tanks in our windows
lookin’ like cemeteries.
Cemeteries are just the Earth’s way of not letting go.
Let go.
Tonight, poets, let’s turn our wrists so far backwards
the razor blades in our pencil tips
can’t get a good angle on all that beauty inside.

Step into this.
With your airplane parts.
Move forward.
And repeat after me with your heart:
I no longer need you to fuck me as hard as I hated myself.
Make love to me
like you know I am better than the worst thing I ever did.
Go slow.
I’m new to this,
but I have seen nearly every city from a rooftop
without jumping.

I have realized that the moon
did not have to be full for us to love it.
That we are not tragedies
stranded here beneath it.
That if our hearts
really broke
every time we fell from love
I’d be able to offer you confetti by now.
But hearts don’t break, y’all,
they bruise and get better.
We were never tragedies.
We were emergencies.
You call 9 – 1 – 1.
Tell them I’m havin’ a fantastic time.
levity: (clarity)
You believed in your own story,
then climbed inside it—
a turquoise flower.
You gazed past ailing trees,
past crumbling walls and rusty railings.
Your least gesture beckoned a constellation
of wild vetch, grasshoppers, and stars
to sweep you into immaculate distances.

The heart may be tiny
but the world's enormous.

And the people in turn believe—
in pine trees after rain,
ten thousand tiny suns, a mulberry branch
bent over water like a fishing-rod,
a cloud tangled in the tail of a kite.
Shaking off dust, in silver voices
ten thousand memories sing from your dream.

The world may be tiny
but the heart's enormous.


trans. Donald Finkel
levity: (all these things that I've done)
1. Offer the wolves your arm only from the elbow down. Leave tourniquet space. Do not offer them your calves. Do not offer them your side. Do not let them near your femoral artery, your jugular. Give them only your arm.

2. Wear chapstick when kissing the bomb.

3. Pretend you don't know English.

4. Pretend you never met her.

5. Offer the bomb to the wolves. Offer the wolves to the zombies.

6. Only insert a clean knife into your chest. Rusty ones will cause tetanus. Or infection.

7. Don't inhale.

8. Realize that this love was not your trainwreck, was not the truck that flattened you, was not your Waterloo, did not cause massive hemorrhaging from a rusty knife. That love is still to come.

9. Use a rusty knife to cut through most of the noose in a strategic place so that it breaks when your weight is on it.

10. Practice desperate pleas for attention, louder calls for help. Learn them in English, French, Spanish: May Day, Aidez-Moi, Ayúdeme.

11. Don't kiss trainwrecks. Don't kiss knives. Don't kiss.

12. Pretend you made up the zombies, and only superheroes exist.

13. Pretend there is no kryptonite.

14. Pretend there was no love so sweet that you would have died for it, pretend that it does not belong to someone else now, pretend like your heart depends on it because it does. Pretend there is no wreck -- you watched the train go by and felt the air brush your face and that was it. Another train passing. You do not need trains. You can fly. You are a superhero. And there is no kryptonite.

15. Forget her name.
levity: (humans need fantasy to be human)
Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr. Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end.

The next day, I had to go the funeral of one of my favorite uncles. Driving back from the graveyard with my family, I looked down the hill toward the shoreline of Lake Michigan and I saw the tents and the flags of the carnival and I said to my father, Stop the car. He said, What do you mean? And I said, I have to get out. My father was furious with me. He expected me to stay with the family to mourn, but I got out of the car anyway and I ran down the hill toward the carnival.

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was running away from death, wasn’t I? I was running toward life. And there was Mr. Electrico sitting on the platform out in front of the carnival and I didn’t know what to say. I was scared of making a fool of myself. I had a magic trick in my pocket, one of those little ball-and-vase tricks—a little container that had a ball in it that you make disappear and reappear—and I got that out and asked, Can you show me how to do this? It was the right thing to do. It made a contact. He knew he was talking to a young magician. He took it, showed me how to do it, gave it back to me, then he looked at my face and said, Would you like to meet those people in that tent over there? Those strange people? And I said, Yes sir, I would. So he led me over there and he hit the tent with his cane and said, Clean up your language! Clean up your language! He took me in, and the first person I met was the illustrated man. Isn’t that wonderful? The Illustrated Man! He called himself the tattooed man, but I changed his name later for my book. I also met the strong man, the fat lady, the trapeze people, the dwarf, and the skeleton. They all became characters.

Mr. Electrico was a beautiful man, see, because he knew that he had a little weird kid there who was twelve years old and wanted lots of things. We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan and he treated me like a grown-up. I talked my big philosophies and he talked his little ones. Then we went out and sat on the dunes near the lake and all of a sudden he leaned over and said, I’m glad you’re back in my life. I said, What do you mean? I don’t know you. He said, You were my best friend outside of Paris in 1918. You were wounded in the Ardennes and you died in my arms there. I’m glad you’re back in the world. You have a different face, a different name, but the soul shining out of your face is the same as my friend. Welcome back.

Now why did he say that? Explain that to me, why? Maybe he had a dead son, maybe he had no sons, maybe he was lonely, maybe he was an ironical jokester. Who knows? It could be that he saw the intensity with which I live. Every once in a while at a book signing I see young boys and girls who are so full of fire that it shines out of their face and you pay more attention to that. Maybe that’s what attracted him.

When I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the horses running around and around to the music of “Beautiful Ohio,” and I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. He gave me importance, immortality, a mystical gift. My life was turned around completely. It makes me cold all over to think about it, but I went home and within days I started to write. I’ve never stopped.

Seventy-seven years ago, and I’ve remembered it perfectly. I went back and saw him that night. He sat in the chair with his sword, they pulled the switch, and his hair stood up. He reached out with his sword and touched everyone in the front row, boys and girls, men and women, with the electricity that sizzled from the sword. When he came to me, he touched me on the brow, and on the nose, and on the chin, and he said to me, in a whisper, “Live forever.” And I decided to.


- Ray Bradbury

The world is a poorer place without you. Rest in peace, you wonderful man.

25.

May. 1st, 2012 02:01 am
levity: (evening stretched out against the sky)

This is my favorite poem in the whole world.

Well, that's ridiculous, of course, because I can pick out a favorite poem about just as well as I can pick out a favorite book- that is, not well at all. But sometimes people ask you what your favorite book is, and sometimes it's easier not to go on about how you can't have a favorite, because picking one- or two, or three, or whatever- means not acknowledging all the others that you've read that affected how you read the one (two, three, etc.) you picked, and because there are desert island books and there are books that were there for you in your time of need and vulnerability and there are formative books and there are books that will always make you believe in things and there are books that are just plain brilliant. For official purposes, my formative books are Madeleine L'Engles and the brilliant book is Captain Corelli's Mandolin and the ones that make me believe are Discworld and Tolkien, and my favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.

And this is my desert island poem and the poem I wish I'd written and the poem I can sink into any time and the poem I've quoted from on my phone's start-up message and on my e-mail footers since I was fourteen, so I guess it's fair to say that if I had a favorite poem, it would be this one, so I'd like to close my poetry month posting with it. You can all me a cliche now. Thank you for reading along, guys. :D

---

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .                               10
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.


In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo. )

25.

May. 1st, 2012 02:01 am
levity: (evening stretched out against the sky)

This is my favorite poem in the whole world.

Well, that's ridiculous, of course, because I can pick out a favorite poem about just as well as I can pick out a favorite book- that is, not well at all. But sometimes people ask you what your favorite book is, and sometimes it's easier not to go on about how you can't have a favorite, because picking one- or two, or three, or whatever- means not acknowledging all the others that you've read that affected how you read the one (two, three, etc.) you picked, and because there are desert island books and there are books that were there for you in your time of need and vulnerability and there are formative books and there are books that will always make you believe in things and there are books that are just plain brilliant. For official purposes, my formative books are Madeleine L'Engles and the brilliant book is Captain Corelli's Mandolin and the ones that make me believe are Discworld and Tolkien, and my favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.

And this is my desert island poem and the poem I wish I'd written and the poem I can sink into any time and the poem I've quoted from on my phone's start-up message and on my e-mail footers since I was fourteen, so I guess it's fair to say that if I had a favorite poem, it would be this one, so I'd like to close my poetry month posting with it. You can all me a cliche now. Thank you for reading along, guys. :D

---

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .                               10
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.


In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo. )

24.

Apr. 30th, 2012 10:21 am
levity: (clarity)
Antilamentation

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.


- Dorianne Laux

24.

Apr. 30th, 2012 10:21 am
levity: (clarity)
Antilamentation

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.


- Dorianne Laux

23.

Apr. 30th, 2012 02:31 am
levity: (bring it)
And the previous poem's older sibling, which will always be associated with Muonsters English class and Igitot saying that the narrator was making a toast to my family.

(Odysseus was always my favorite, if only because of what everyone else piled on top of the originalest stuff. He never got to go home and he went to see the edge of the world because that was what was next and Dante sent him to hell for it. Fairest you can get, then, if because it doesn't really matter. I never did figure out why everyone preferred to call him by his Roman name; nobody goes on ulysseys, but that may just be to prevent confusion.)

---

Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees:  All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea:  I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
Life piled on life/Were all too little )

23.

Apr. 30th, 2012 02:31 am
levity: (bring it)
And the previous poem's older sibling, which will always be associated with Muonsters English class and Igitot saying that the narrator was making a toast to my family.

(Odysseus was always my favorite, if only because of what everyone else piled on top of the originalest stuff. He never got to go home and he went to see the edge of the world because that was what was next and Dante sent him to hell for it. Fairest you can get, then, if because it doesn't really matter. I never did figure out why everyone preferred to call him by his Roman name; nobody goes on ulysseys, but that may just be to prevent confusion.)

---

Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees:  All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea:  I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
Life piled on life/Were all too little )

22.

Apr. 30th, 2012 01:15 am
levity: (that flighty temptress adventure)
Ithaca

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.


- Constantine P. Cavafy

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