Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hermes by Marcel Schwob

Souls on the Banks of Acheron by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, 1898


Whether the dead be
enclosed in sculptured
stone sarcophagi, or
sealed in the hollow of
metal or clay urns, or encased up-
right, gilded and decorated in blue,
with brain and viscera removed,
swathed in linen bands, yet will I
conduct them in a company and
guide them on their way with my
controlling wand.

 We advance down a swift path
that eye of man hath not seen.
Harlots press close against virgins,
murderers against philosophers,
mothers against those that refused
to bear children, and priests against
perjurers. For they repent them
of their sins, were they those of
the imagination or of the deed.
And having never been free upon
earth, since they were there tram-
melled by customs and laws, or
their own beliefs, they fear isolation
and cling to each other for help.
She that slept naked in the tiled
chambers among the men is consol-
ing a young girl who died before
her nuptial eve, — yet dreaming
imperiously of her love. One that
was wont to murder on the high-
ways, his face grimed with ashes
and soot, places his hand on the
brow of a thinker who wished to
regenerate the world and preached
death. The woman who loved her
children and suffered through them
buries her face in the bosom of an
hetaira who, by intent, was without
issue. The long-robed man that
was persuaded he believed in his
God and constrained himself to
kneel often, now weeps on the
shoulder of a cynic who broke
every law of the flesh and spirit
before the eyes of the world. So
sustains the one the other along
the route, journeying under the
yoke of memory.

 Then they come to the bank of
Lethe where I range them along
the shore of the silent-flowing water.
Some plunge therein their heads
containing evil thoughts, others the
hands that wrought evil. Rising
therefrom, the water of Lethe has
effaced all remembrance.

 Therewith they stand aloof from
one another, and each smiles believ-
ing he is free.

Hermes psychagogos.



Source:

Mimes, with a prologue and epilogue by Marcel Schwob, tr. A, Lenalie, p. Thomas B. Mosher, 1901.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Saint Sebastian, Antonello da Messina, 1476-77

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Our Lady of Sighs



The second sister is called Mater Suspiriorum — Our Lady
of Sighs. She never scales the clouds, nor walks abroad
upon the winds. She wears no diadem. And her eyes, if
they were ever seen, would be neither sweet nor subtle; no
man could read their story; they would be found filled with
perishing dreams, and with wrecks of forgotten delirium.
But she raises not her eyes; her head, on which sits a
dilapidated turban, droops for ever, for ever fastens on the
dust. She weeps not. She groans not. But she sighs
inaudibly at intervals. Her sister. Madonna, is oftentimes
stormy and frantic, raging in the highest against heaven,
and demanding back her darlings. But Our Lady of Sighs
never clamours, never defies, dreams not of rebellious
aspirations. She is humble to abjectness. Hers is the
meekness that belongs to the hopeless. Murmur she may,
but it is in her sleep. Whisper she may, but it is to herself
in the twilight. Mutter she does at times, but it is in
solitary places that are desolate as she is desolate, in ruined
cities, and when the sun has gone down to his rest.


- Thomas De Quincey


Source:

Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow by Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mankind

David Park Barnitz (1878-1901)


Mankind


They do not know that they are wholly dead,
Nor that their bodies are to the worm given o'er;
They pass beneath the sky forevermore;
With their dead flesh the earth is cumbered.
Each day they drink of wine and eat of bread,
And do the things that they have done before;
And yet their hearts are rotten to the core,
And from their eyes the light of life is fled.
Surely the sun is weary of their breath;
They have no ears, and they are dumb and blind;
Long time their bodies hunger for the grave.
How long, O God, shall these dead corpses rave?
When shall the earth be clean of humankind?
When shall the sky cease to behold this death?


- David Park Barnitz


Sources:



Monday, August 7, 2017

Le Fauconnier, Germain Détanger, 1882

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Defilers

David Park Barnitz (1878-1901)


The Defilers


O endless idiocy of humankind!
O blatant dead that howl and scream and roar!
O strange dead things the worms have gambled for!...
O dull and senseless, foolish, mad and blind!
How long now shall your scent defile the wind?
How long shall you make vile the earth's wide floor?
How long, how long, O waiting ages hoar,
Shall the white dawn their gaping faces find?
O vile and simple, blind of heart and mind,
When shall your last wave roll forevermore
Back from the sick and long-defiled shore?
When shall the grave the last dead carcass bind?
O shameless humankind! O dead! O dead!
When shall your rottenness be buried?



- David Park Barnitz 



Sources:




Tuesday, October 4, 2016



Is there anything so delicious as the first exploration of a great library—alone—unwatched? You shut the heavy door behind you slowly, reverently, lest a noise should jar on the sleepers of the shelves. For as the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus were dead and yet alive, so are the souls of the authors in the care of their ancient leathern binding. You walk gently round the walls, pausing here to read a title, there to draw out a tome and support it for a passing glance — half in your arms, half against the shelf. The passing glance lengthens till the weight becomes too great, and with a sigh you replace it, and move again, peering up at those titles which are foreshortened from the elevation of the shelf, and so roam from folio to octavo, from octavo to quarto, till at last, finding a little work whose value, were it in the mart, would be more than its weight in gold, you bear it to the low leather-covered armchair and enjoy it at your ease. But to sip the full pleasure of a library you must be alone, and you must take the books yourself from the shelves. A man to read must read alone. He may make extracts, he may work at books in company; but to read, to absorb, he must be solitary.

- Richard Jefferies


Source: