poetictouch

poetictouch:

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Lost Days - A scene from the 1967 film Dante’s Inferno: The Private Life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poet and Painter - Starring Oliver Reed as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Judith Paris as Elizabeth Siddal and Andrew Faulds as William Morris.

Lost Days
The House Of Life
Sonnet 86
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

The lost days of my life until to-day,
What were they, could I see them on the street
Lie as they fell? Would they be ears of wheat
Sown once for food but trodden into clay?
Or golden coins squandered and still to pay?
Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet?
Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat
The throats of men in Hell, who thirst alway?

I do not see them here; but after death
God knows I know the faces I shall see,
Each one a murdered self, with low last breath.
‘I am thyself, — what hast thou done to me?’
‘And I — and I — thyself,’ (lo! each one saith,)
‘And thou thyself to all eternity!’

ringtales
Over dinner, my landlady laughs about her day
teaching rich Korean kids the difference
between nightstand and one-night stand.
[…]
I don’t get relationships. Once I got lace
panties in the mail from a friend who lives
in Winnipeg. He wrote, I’m coming to visit
you at Christmas!
So I spent December
avoiding him, pretending to be busy, ice-skating
until my feet purpled, wondering how love
could transpire so oppositely between two
people. […]
I want to climb into you and strap myself
in, but that’s not really love. Instead,
we idle in separate uncertainties, exhausting
reassurances. You thank my landlady
for dinner and roll away into a night
that imperfectly intersects my own, and I try
to stop imagining the ways we could fail
each other, and the people in rooms
everywhere who are continually failing
each other, and hope towards someday
having one nightstand with you, maybe two.
Kayla Czaga from “That Great Burgundy-Upholstered Beacon of Dependability,” The Fiddlehead No.259 Spring 2014 (via ringtales)
lightthroughrain

I am here. Those three words contain all that can be said – you begin with those words and you return to them. Here means on this earth, on this continent and no other, in this city and no other, and in this epoch I call mine, this century, this year. I was given no other place, no other time, and I touch my desk to defend myself against the feeling that my own body is transient. This is all very fundamental, but after all, the science of life depends on the gradual discovery of fundamental truths.

I have written on various subjects, and not, for the most part, as I would have wished. Nor will I realize my long-standing intention this time. But I am always aware that what I want is impossible to achieve. I would need the ability to communicate my full amazement at “being here” in one unattainable sentence which would simultaneously transmit the smell and texture of my skin, everything stored in my memory, and all I now assent to, dissent from. However, in pursuing the impossible, I did learn something. Each of us is so ashamed of his own helplessness and ignorance that he considers it appropriate to communicate only what he thinks others will understand. There are, however, times when somehow we slowly divest ourselves of that shame and begin to speak openly about all the things we do not understand. If I am not wise, then why must I pretend to be? If I am lost, why must I pretend to have ready counsel for my contemporaries? But perhaps the value of communication depends on the acknowledgment of one’s own limits, which, mysteriously, are also limits common to many others; and aren’t these the same limits of a hundred thousand years ago? And when the air is filled with the clamor of analysis and conclusion, would it be entirely useless to admit you do not understand?

I have read many books, but to place all those volumes on top of one another and stand on them would not add a cubit to my stature. Their learned terms are of little use when I attempt to seize naked experience, which eludes all accepted ideas. To borrow their language can be helpful in many ways, but it also leads imperceptibly into a self-contained labyrinth, leaving us in alien corridors which allow no exit. And so I must offer resistance, check every moment to be sure I am not departing from what I have actually experienced on my own, what I myself have touched. I cannot invent a new language and I use the one I was first taught, but I can distinguish, I hope, between what is mine and what is merely fashionable. I cannot expel from memory the books I have read, their contending theories and philosophies, but I am free to be suspicious and to ask naïve questions instead of joining the chorus which affirms and denies.

Intimidation. I am brave and undaunted in the certainty of having something important to say to the world, something no one else will be called to say. Then the feeling of individuality and a unique role begins to weaken and the thought of all the people who ever were, are, and ever will be – aspiring, doubting, believing – people superior to me in strength of feeling and depth of mind, robs me of confidence in what I call my “I.” The words of a prayer two millennia old, the celestial music created by a composer in a wig and jabot make me ask why I, too, am here, why me? Shouldn’t one evaluate his chances beforehand – either equal the best or say nothing. Right at this moment, as I put these marks to paper, countless others are doing the same, and our books in their brightly colored jackets will be added to that mass of things in which names and titles sink and vanish. No doubt, also at this very moment, someone is standing in a bookstore and, faced with the sight of those splendid and vain ambitions, is making his decision – silence is better. That single phrase which, were it truly weighed, would suffice as life’s work. However, here, now, I have the courage to speak, a sort of secondary courage, not blind. Perhaps it is my stubbornness in pursuit of that single sentence. Or perhaps it is my old fearlessness, temperament, fate, a search for a new dodge. In any case, my consolation lies not so much in the role I have been called on to play as in the great mosaic-like whole which is composed of the fragments of various people’s efforts, whether successful or not.

I am here – and everyone is in some “here” – and the only thing we can do is try to communicate with one another.

Czeslaw Milosz, from My Intention (via violentwavesofemotion)