Monday, September 3, 2012

Living for one's soul

in The New York Times last night,
and I thought of a man who has
lived for his soul. It was how we
were taught to create our work, 
without putting it into so many
words. It has been a magnificent,
fortunate weekend: there is the
exciting new study of James, and
a revival of a beautiful life of
Horace, by a traveling friend of
Chatwin's. Theirs are voices that
will go on forever, and have fig-
ured continuously here, inexhaus-
tible as they are.

The Fall will be rich, with such
resources, and not taken from us;
you can feel the gathering in the
scent of the page, the scratch of
the nib in the notebook of "the
gentleman scholar," the burn of a
passable Sherry in a preceptor's
study, hexameters unraveling em-
bedded warmth of daytimes to re-

And now in a short piece, Michael 
Graves has written so well of the 
recklessness of our pursuit of the 
humane communion, as an extract of 
the human hand. This, in answer to
Horace's doubt of purpose in his
ode to a wealthy lawyer, Torquatus,
is one of the prettiest things I
have read in a long time, I am not
surprised to say.

   Who knows whether tomorrow the gods will have
   Anything more to give than they have given?
   What you can give to your own dear heart today
   Will not fall into the clutch of your heir tomorrow.

   Who knows if Jove who counts our score
   Will toss us in a morning more?
   What with your friend you nobly share
   At least you rescue from your heir.

   Torquatus, if the gods in heaven shall add
   The morrow to the day, what tongue has told?
   Feast then thy heart, for what thy heart has had
   The fingers of no heir will ever hold.

Quis scit an adiciant hodiernae crastina summae
   tempora di superi?
Cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis, amico
   quae dederis animo.

ii   George King

iii  Michael Graves
      Temple of Juno, Paestum

Michael Graves
Architecture and the Lost Art
  of Drawing
The New York Times
September 1, 2012

  Ode to Torquatus
  iv, 7
  David Ferry (i)
  op. cit.
  Samuel Johnson (ii)
  A.E. Housman (iii)

Peter Levi
  A Life
Duckworth, 1997©
I.B. Tauris & Co., Ltd, 2012©


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