Thursday, March 31, 2022

Nonno's poem

How calmly does the olive branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair
Some time while light obscures the tree
The zenith of its life will be
Gone past forever
And from thence
A second history will commence
A chronicle no longer gold
A bargaining with mist and mold
And finally the broken stem
The plummeting to earth, and then
An intercourse not well designed
For beings of a golden kind
Whose native green must arch above
The earth's obscene corrupting love
And still the ripe fruit and the branch
Observe the sky begin to blanch
Without a cry, without a prayer
With no betrayal of despair
Oh courage! Could you not as well
Select a second place to dwell
Not only in that golden tree
But in the frightened heart of me?
- Tennessee Williams, from "The Night of the Iguana".

 

Monday, February 21, 2022


"You must not allow yourself to lose heart." He spoke shyly but with conviction. "Losing heart is a great sin. Although it seems to me that there are trials yet to come. Yes, to be sure, great trails," he spoke with gathering confidence. "Lately, you know, I have been spending all of my time over my books, in my specialty of course, theology mostly."

He lifted the book up so that the last light form the window fell on the page, and he read: "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood."*

*Revelation 16:4 

End of the first chapter of "The White Guard" by Mikhail Bulgakov, tr. Marion Schwartz, Yale University Press, 2008. 




Saturday, October 30, 2021

When grief for fictions idle words 
More real than human life appears,
Reflect that life itself's a dream
And do not mock the readers tears.

- the last lines of "The Story of the Stone, Volume V: The Dreamer Wakes" by Cao Xueqin and Gao E, tr. John Minford.

Monday, October 11, 2021

 

Charms and Holy Water are Used to Exorcize Prospect Garden. Source: Sun Wen, Illustrations for the Complete Dream of the Red Chamber.


"The menfolk of both Rong-guo and Ning-guo House had taken courage from the presence of the priests, and were gathered in the Garden to watch the demon-hunt."

Since at first there was no space,
Things can have no proper place.
From Void all comes;
To void must all return.

- from "The Story of the Stone, Volume IV: The Debt of Tears" by Cao Xueqin and Gao E, tr. John Minford.

Monday, August 16, 2021

The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labor lies.

- Virgil, Aeneid, Book VI, tr. John Dryden

Thursday, July 15, 2021

 

Portrait of a Young Man, Bronzino, 1550- 1555