Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wings

Just in case everybody was kinda weirded out by the last post (insert slyly self-satisfied giggle), here's a traditional blog thingamajiggie to get us back on track. For the first time in my life, I realize I have been "tagged." (Have I been tagged before without knowing? Shiver.) From Jessica Duchen:

Find the nearest book. Turn to page 123.
Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
Name the book and the author, and tag three more folks.


"Not so much perhaps of our secret in itself, but of what's represented and as, we must somehow feel, protected and made deeper and closer by it." And his fine face, relaxed into happiness, covered her with all his meaning. "Our being as we are."

--Henry James, The Wings of the Dove


Reluctantly I tag in turn Matt, Eighth Blackbird, and hmmm... Heather over at Musewings. And on the 3rd day of January, 2007, amidst the chaos of our world's endless dirty laundry, and while gazing at yet another sinkful of stewing dishes, I'll offer a toast--even on confessional Think Denk--to secrets, to what our secrets represent, and nothwithstanding the virtues of resolutions, a toast to our being, in the best sense, as we are.

FRIGHTENING POSTSCRIPT: It so happens I picked up the next nearest book just for kicks and giggles right after I posted the above, which happened to be a book of poetry by Eugenio Montale, and on page 123, fifth sentence, I got the following very different thought:

The wind rises, the dark is torn to shreds,
and the shadow you cast on the fragile
railing bristles. Too late

if you want to be yourself! The mouse
drops from the palm tree, the lightning's on the fuse,
on the long, long lashes of your gaze.


All I have to say about that is: eerie. "Too late if you want to be yourself!" And happy New Year's to you too, Eugenio.

11 comments:

hari said...

it's never too late to be yourself; hopefully; i think?

Anonymous said...

Ad nauseam is the correct spelling
(the spelling Nazi) giggles

Anonymous said...

You didn't object to "pehaps," spelling Nazi?? (giggles)

(sorry Jeremy!)

Anonymous said...

Here is my choice; p.123 of Collected works of C P Cavafy. The powm is "Before Time altered them"
Here it is; It starts with:

They were full of sadness at their parting.
They hadn't wanted it: circumstances made it necessary.
The need to earn a living forced one of them
to go far away -New York or Canada.
The love they felt wasn't, of course, what it once had been;

"Line 5 follows..
the attraction between them had gradually diminished,
the attraction had diminished a great deal.
But to be separated, that wasn't what they wanted.


It was circumstances. Or maybe Fate
appeared as an artist and decided to part them now,
before their feeling died out completely, before Time altered
them
the one seeming to remain for the other always what he was,
the good-looking young man of twenty-four.

is this what you wanted JD?

Anonymous said...

To digress

Cavafy's best poem (alas poetry loses a lot in translation.....)

When suddenly, at the midnight hour,
an invisible troupe is heard passing
with exquisite music, with shouts --
your fortune that fails you now, your works
that have failed, the plans of your life
that have all turned out to be illusions, do not mourn in vain.
As if long prepared, as if courageous,
bid her farewell, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all do not be fooled, do not tell yourself
it was a dream, that your ears deceived you;
do not stoop to such vain hopes.
As if long prepared, as if courageous,
as it becomes you who have been worthy of such a city,
approach the window with firm step,
and with emotion, but not
with the entreaties and complaints of the coward,
as a last enjoyment listen to the sounds,
the exquisite instruments of the mystical troupe,
and bid her farewell, the Alexandria you are losing.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

Anonymous said...

Yes very true; this is a great poem but then who of us is Marc Anthony and has lost Alexandria (and Cleopatra to boot). Thanks for reminding us of this wonderful poem. But I think Waiting for the Barbarian is Cavafy's greatest poem. Unfortunately it was not on page 123; still here it is for those who have not read it.

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city's main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a great poem. Difficult to chose among Cavafy's poems, there are so many great ones (let's not forget Ithaca or Ithaki as I would prefer)

We are all Marc Anthony and we all lose Alexandria in the end (The storyline is obviously used as a metaphor...)

I suspect anonymous #2 to be greek, like me....

Anonymous said...

no, I'm an aussie anonymous #7 ... unless you misspelt "geek!"

Lane Savant said...

Page 123, line 5 of my Sibelius user's manual is even worse poetry than Montale's

Steven said...

On the whole, it must be noticed that pieces in [3, 3] are very rare in the manuscripts of white mensural notation.

-Willi Apel "The Notation of Polyphonic Music 900-1600", pg 123, line 5

Claire said...

okay here's my contribution

"Social Constructionists propose a related function for emotions. They argue that emotions, as social constructions, serve sociocultural purposes. Unlike Descartes and Darwin, the Social Constructionist does not see most emotions as originating in the body or as serving the needs of the individual."

- Suzanne Cunningham, What Is a Mind?