Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lines for breakfast

Victoria is back, Paul 
is not, which has been 
an obdurate suspension. 
Here I interlineate, in
the company of almost
too many extraordinary
counselors and confi-
dants in printed form.

A poet I've cited sever-
al times and an essayist
of similar frequency con-
verged for me without war-
ning, other than by traits
they observe in common.

   Penser c'est l'homme. They aren't
   heedless flowers that blow and
   perish; they have thought their
   lives into shape, a shape worthy
   of survival. Dust and heat, blood
   and tears, thought and vigil cre-
   ated the art of Keats, as his let-
   ters show; and Achilles was an in-
   tellectual, the only intellectual
   among the heroes of Homer.. And 
   the rest of life, the interstices
   of this grand design - well, it is
   enough, by the pleasures of society,
   and the taste of divine solitude, to
   keep melancholy at bay.

   You can't tell anything much about who you are
   By exercising on the Romantic bars.
   What are the wild waves saying? I don't know.

   And Shelley didn't know, and knew he didn't.
   In his great poem, "Ode to the West Wind," he
   Said that the leaves of his pages were blowing away.

In May of 1944 the British Army major's 
journal entry confides a resolution to 
write a great work of history, some day; 
and I think, to all of those who knew him 
(I've been close with several who did), 
his framing of stirring ambition in terms 
of Homer's unexemplary hero must suggest 
certain regrets of his subsequent life, 
which to me is radiantly companionable.

The excerpt from David Ferry comes from
a work collected in his superlative Be-
wilderment, "Ancestral Lines." Studying
Schumann, Shelley, a friend and a dog, 
the expansion of ancestry enriches exact-
ly as it did for Trevor-Roper, the ques-
tion he's addressing - And who it is I am
because of them.

Here nothing so grand is at stake. I also
go less far in attribution to others, than
Ferry's figurative "I" speculates here, on
going. What immortal warmth there is to be
distributed in this language, comes dialec-
tically, I suppose, but somehow in a timely
way, in the candour of good company. Doubt
will see one through, and an English dog.

Hugh Trevor-Roper
Lord Dacre of Glanton
The Wartime Journals
op. cit.

David Ferry
op. cit.

Dominik Sadoch
  Louis Cattelat photography

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