Saturday, 26 September 2015

Hamlet’s Bombay Dream

“... to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life.”

A Louis XV parcel-gilt and cream painted lit à la polonaise, mid 18th century (from La vie de château, collection Jean-Louis Remilleux), part of Christie’s Objects of Desire.

Featuring elaborately carved wood with gilded details, this 18th century French four-poster bed offers its inhabitant the possibility of total seclusion at the flick of a pink silk curtain. At just over three metres in height, the bed comes complete with a floral headboard, the entire structure topped with a gold ‘blossom-form’ roof. Pink sashes and tassles add to the sense of occasion.
Photography by Tim Walker for Casa Vogue October 2010, Clementine Keith-Roach and Her Oyster Shell Bed, Northamptonshire, UK.
via bombayelectric on instagram

Friday, 25 September 2015

a comedy for all the laughables, the laughably craven

A wee writing exercise inspired by darling John, whom I hold in the highest esteem, as ever, as always. 

The original (from Keats’ letter to Benjamin Bailey, dated November 22nd, 1817):

...O I wish I was as certain of the end of all your troubles as that of your momentary start about the authenticity of the Imagination. I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination — What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth — whether it existed before or not — for I have the same idea of all our passions as of love: they are all, in their sublime, creative of essential beauty. In a word, you may know my favorite speculation by my first book, and the little song I send in my last, which is a representation from the fancy of the probable mode of operating in these matters. The imagination may be compared to Adam’s dream, — he awoke and found it truth. I am more zealous in this affair because I have never yet been able to perceive how anything can be known for truth by consecutive reasoning — and yet it must be. Can it be that even the greatest philosopher ever arrived at his goal without putting aside numerous objections? However it may be, O for a life of sensation rather than of thoughts! It is a ‘Vision in the form of Youth,’ a shadow of reality to come. And this consideration has further convinced me, — for it has come as auxiliary to another favorite speculation of mine, — that we shall enjoy ourselves hereafter by having what we called happiness on earth repeated in a finer tone and so repeated. And yet such a fate can only befall those who delight in sensation, rather than hunger as you do after truth. Adam’s dream will do here, and seems to be a conviction that imagination and its empyreal reflection is the same as human life and its spiritual repetition. But, as I was saying, the simple imaginative mind may have its rewards in the repetition of its own silent working coming continually on the spirit with a fine suddenness — to compare great things with small — have you never by being Surprised with an old Melody — in a delicious place — by a delicious voice, felt over again your very Speculations and Surmises at the time it first operated on your Soul — do you not remember forming to yourself the singer’s face more beautiful than it was possible and yet with the elevation of the Moment you did not think so — even then you were mounted on the Wings of Imagination so high — that the Prototype must be here after — that delicious face you will see. What a time! 

I am continually running away from the subject — sure this cannot be exactly the case with a complex Mind — one that is imaginative and at the same time careful of its fruits — who would exist partly on Sensation partly on thought — to whom it is necessary that years should bring the philosophic Mind — such an one I consider yours and therefore it is necessary to your eternal Happiness that you not only drink this old Wine of Heaven, which I shall call the redigestion of our most ethereal Musings on Earth; but also increase in knowledge and know all things. I am glad to hear you are in a fair way for Easter — you will soon get through your unpleasent reading and then! — but the world is full of troubles and I have not much reason to think myself pesterd with many — I think Jane or Marianne has a better opinion of me than I deserve — for really and truly I do not think my Brothers illness connected with mine — you know more of the real Cause than they do nor have I any chance of being rack’d as you have been — You perhaps at one time thought there was such a thing as worldly happiness to be arrived at, at certain periods of time marked out, — you have of necessity from your disposition been thus led away — I scarcely remember counting upon any happiness — I look for it if it be not in the present hour, — nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my window, I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel. The first thing that strikes me on hearing a misfortune having befallen another is this — ‘Well, it cannot be helped: he will have the pleasure of trying the resources of his spirit’ — and I beg now, my dear Bailey, that hereafter should you observe anything cold in me not to put it to the account of heartlessness, but abstraction — for I assure you I sometimes feel not the influence of a passion or affection during a whole week — and so long this sometimes continues, I begin to suspect myself, and the genuineness of my feelings at other times — thinking them a few barren tragedy tears.

Your affectionate friend, 
John Keats

Thursday, 24 September 2015

偽,muteness of a Chinese jar。


Being broken by an inferior essence, a failed poem of pretense is made even more poetic than the knees of an antiquarian butterfly.

—“a violent slap of the exquisite (a melody from the New Aristocrats manifesto)

Very drawn to artist Lukas Wegwerth's series of ceramic works “Crystallisation” displayed at Maison & Objet, Paris—
“The sure, sweet cement, lime and glue of love”* oozing out of celadon crazing of yore... (*Robert Herrick, The Kiss)

All I may, if small,
Do it not display
Larger for the Totalness —
’Tis Economy

To bestow a World
And withhold a Star —
Utmost, is Munificence —
Less, tho’ larger, poor.

~Emily Dickinson, from The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime (CXIII.)

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

—Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“From my rotting body,
flowers shall grow
and I am in them
and that is eternity.”

—Edvard Munch

The Moments of Dominion
That happen on the Soul
And leave it with a Discontent
Too exquisite—to tell—

~Emily Dickinson

Troisième Symphonie de Gustav Mahler
Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris (Nolwenn Daniel & Christophe Duquenne, Mélanie Hurel & Alessio Carbone)
Deuxième Mouvement: Printemps
Choréographie de John Neumeier

Monday, 21 September 2015


III: Emily

                              your long legs
                              to carry high

                              the small head

                              if he knows

                              the dance as
                              your genius

                              the cleft in
                              chin’s curl

                              may it
                              carry you far

~final part of the poem “3 Stances” by William Carlos Williams, from his book Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems

my Muse, my legend of love: Svetlana Zakharova (linked to Macbeth performance with Andrei Uvarov), Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet
Светлана Захарова

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Poetic Essence: Keatsian fine excess and remembrance

These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which, as they kiss, consume.

~Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet: Act II, Scene 6

Emma Bennett, Death & Co, 2008; Oil and French enamel on Canvas, 170 x 130 cm.
The music and beauty of memento mori
I am entirely in love with artist Emma Bennett’s mystical and poetic paintings, quietly glistening in the darkened melodies of vanitas and mono no aware—a silently powerful Floating World that is swooningly gorgeous. Her work takes my breath away.

Anne Vallayer-Coster, “Panaches de mer, lithophytes et coquilles (Still-Life with Tuft of Marine Plants, Shells and Corals),” Oil on Canvas, 1769, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

“In poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their center.

1st. I think poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not by singularity; it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.

2nd. Its touches of beauty should never be half-way, thereby making the reader breathless, instead of content. The rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should, like the sun, come natural to him, shine over him, and set soberly, although in magnificence, leaving him in the luxury of twilight.

But it is easier to think what poetry should be, than to write it. And this leads me to another axiom—That if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.

~John Keats, from a letter to John Taylor, February 27, 1818

Willem van AelstVase of Flowers with Pocket Watch

“The more I see her, the more I am convinced she is a very isolated figure. A man should never be that, not even a young one, for since reflection is essential to his development he must have come into contact with others. But for that reason a girl should rather not be interesting, for the interesting always contains a reflection upon itself, just as the interesting in art always gives you the artist too. A young girl who wants to please by being interesting really only succeeds in pleasing herself.”

The Seducer's Diary (part of his larger book Either/Or), by Søren Kierkegaard

Francesca Woodman

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Oneiric Sketches of a Broken Poem

Miss Horatia Feilding, half-sister of William Henry Fox Talbot, playing the harp, c. 1842

Scents, with their eyelids heavy, 
from the oneiric sketches of our broken poems:

a muser and a paresseuse 
of ephemeral truths, dreaming
in the absence of dreams. 

an evanescent truth 
less sorrowful; that truthful ephemerality
even less perceivable...

the memory of a door lies in its unrecoverable closedness 
to a space imagined,
—traversed and touched only by a fingertip—
to what is left open

and songs sung 
to eyes half asleep

~my sketch composed on 19th September ’15


“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.”

― T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets: Burnt Norton, 1936

William Henry Fox Talbot, photogenic drawing negative using botanical specimens from his garden, taken in 1839, the year he announced his discoveries in photography.



The silent fireworks continued 
to burn across the sky
We stopped
and held our hands
We laid our gaze upon the deer
opposite the enormous swamp
gazing back at us
for a long time

There was a deer
There was a deer of sorrow
that grazed upon wild lilies 

~《有鹿》許悔之, a poem by Taiwanese poet Hsu Huei-Ji; translated from the Chinese into English by me.


“Everything is blooming most recklessly; 
if it were voices instead of colors, 
there would be an unbelievable shrieking 
into the heart of the night.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Peak of Dawn, photograph by Katsuyoshi Nakahara, for National Geographic Your Shot.
Shirley poppies bloom in a field near Japan’s Mount Tsukuba, here silhouetted against an early morning sky. The mountain—which can be ascended via a hiking trail or cable car—has two peaks, each rising more than 2,800 feet.

to sleep 
bed’d among flowers  

for scent
to wake lovers

children become
mothers and fathers


“Often the object of a desire, 
when desire is transformed into hope, 
becomes more real than reality itself.”

― Umberto Eco, The Book of Legendary Lands

detail from an Edgar Degas painting

“At first he told them that everything was just the same, that the pink snails were still in the house where he had been born, that the dry herring still had the same taste on a piece of toast, that the waterfalls in the village still took on a perfumed smell at dusk. They were the notebook pages again, woven with the purple scribbling, in which he dedicated a special paragraph to each one. Nevertheless, and although he himself did not seem to notice it, those letters of recuperation and stimulation were slowly changing into pastoral letters of disenchantment. One winter night while the soup was boiling in the fireplace, he missed the heat of the back of his store, the buzzing of the sun on the dusty almond trees, the whistle of the train during the lethargy of siesta time, just as in Macondo he had missed the winter soup in the fireplace, the cries of the coffee vendor, and the fleeting larks of springtime. 

Upset by two nostalgias facing each other like two mirrors, he lost his marvelous sense of unreality and he ended up recommending to all of them that they leave Macondo, that they forget everything he had taught them about the world and the human heart, that they shit on Horace, and that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.

― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

William Henry Fox Talbot (English, 1800-1877), Lace, photogenic drawing negative,
before December 1845, 17.1 x 22.1cm, The J . Paul Getty Museum

Aimai-je un rêve?
Mon doute, amas de nuit ancienne, s’achève
En maint rameau subtil, qui, demeuré les vrais
Bois même, prouve, hélas! que bien seul je m’offrais
Pour triomphe la faute idéale de roses.

“Did I love a dream?
My doubt, night’s ancient hoard, pursues its theme
In branching labyrinths, which being still
The veritable woods themselves, alas, reveal
My triumph as the ideal fault of roses.”

~from Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem L’après-midi d’un faune, translated by Henry Weinfeld (read also A.S. Kline's translations of Mallarmé’s poetry)

William Henry Fox Talbot, Adiantum Capillus-Veneris (Maidenhair Fern),
photogenic drawing negative, probably early 1839, 22.5 x 18.3cm.

“It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things.”
“Everything that is sacred and that wishes to remain so must envelop itself in mystery.”
“For me, Poetry takes the place of love, because it is enamored of itself, and because its sensual delight falls back deliciously in my soul.”

~Stéphane Mallarmé

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

une piscine caché


To whom,
is a writer that does not write―
a bard that utters no poems
a dreamer of dreamless dreams?

When does
a piano of soundlessness
sing, and

How does an underwater flower
pass into decay

without blossoming?

Felice Casorati, Ragazza di Pavarolo (1938)

Sunday, 2 August 2015

‘falling is the essence of a flower’

Felice Casorati, La preghiera, 1914 circa, tempera su panno,
Galleria d’Arte Moderna Achille Forti

Self-embrace on Silk Prayer

*With thanks to Hamlet-at-Sea of this incarnation, for being the final catalyst of my poem.

“Is it a blessing for a poet to be a natural poet-magnet?”
The romantic thinker wonders to herself.
‘Oh you Little Fool,’ she whispered,
A foolish thinker I am.

All these men, coming
in and out of me. All this pleasure and pain,
flickering like dying blue flames.
An instant garden trampled upon for hundreds of years
by those he loves with his Life—ah, such blasphemous
Beauty. An instant paradise turned
into the most exquisite ice ablaze.
A bruised garden amidst the flames.
The love and devotion that it takes to create
—such Beauty—
I can never fully comprehend.

Threads of a thousand hues are weaving themselves
in and out of each other; breathing esoteric,
breathing erotic, into
the weakest Bird of the most powerful strength—
A Bird without a name—

Can I be spared—Can I be
abstract like your patterns of this mesmerising nature, again?
I plead with my heart to be
as romantic and as abstract, like
your Little Brother, again.
Tears from the eyes of his heart are still rolling,
shining on my quill
like dews on those pink Oleander flowers—
falling, falling, fallen.

(And in case you were wondering, I was not speaking of
your little brother, I was speaking of
Mine. Like all these quests for Beauty and pleasure—I was
speaking, and thinking, of Mine.)

Breathing erotic. Breathing esoteric.
All these fiery blossoms burning way below sub-zero,
I could faint,
just listening to them.


*Title: from Mishima Yukio's last words:

A small night storm blows
Saying ‘falling is the essence of a flower’
Preceding those who hesitate

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

I cannot paint what then I was. The sounding cataract haunted me like a passion.

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
‘Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit’s cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.

                                These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

                                If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro’ the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o’er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

                                Nor perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; ‘tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798, by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Sunday, 31 May 2015


Dishonesty of three gnawed fingers:

To have your attention held
between the lips
of what disinterest stirs,

To fixate upon
and name your obsession
what you do not adore—

This must be the flower’s poison
in the imagination
of a Proustian whore.

I have always loved the mystery/horror genre.
Roses, by David Sims for Visionaire
image by John Mangila

It’s quite an artform for one to stay looking golden on the outside, while feeling so profoundly rotten inside—not even sublimely or spectacularly ugly, merely this arid and lacklustre vapidness.

At some point it has got to start showing.

Roses, by David Sims for Visionaire

As if looking through the glass at a white goldfish with angel wings, swimming in water purified by beautiful sorrow. (image by John Mangila)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Scene 1: Lacrima / Scene 2: Du Fu Sings

Lacrima: Caruso-san

His pale blue skin, the voice of the flute,
Curtains rise for the Beautiful One’s play—

The role of the bleeding heart
is not to watch over that silver thread
woven callously, vicariously,
into the forgotten tapestry of the world,
but to shield with swan wings,
violently, majestically,
the other role of eternal unhappiness.
So that the arteries can ossify,
so that the obsolescence
of the bleeding heart and his eternal unhappiness
can encase themselves in a serene sleep
and seem obliviously irrelevant
to all but the Beautiful One.

+ + +

Du Fu Sings

Die yourself into a tree
Decant your breaths
A million times over

Would you walk through that door?

+ + +

Hypocrisy is a form of mental masturbation of the weak.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

弔詭/弔念:Cioran and my fragmented poem (Chinese & English)

By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing.” ~Emil Cioran

The ideal life for a muser and a paresseuse would be: to dream in the absence of dreams, and to dream of the absence of dreams, in other words, to dream nothing at all. The grandest thing to muse upon, would be those intricately-woven, beautifully-entangled illusions of all there is, i.e. nothingness—all of it, that is all there is. It’s just that long and inevitably mundane process (with perhaps some specks of high drama) one has to go through, could seem interminable.


Some more words from Emil Cioran to further tickle me:

To live entirely without a goal! I have glimpsed this state, and have often attained it, without managing to remain there: I am too weak for such happiness.”

I don’t understand why we must do things in this world, why we must have friends and aspirations, hopes and dreams. Wouldn’t it be better to retreat to a faraway corner of the world, where all its noise and complications would be heard no more? Then we could renounce culture and ambitions; we would lose everything and gain nothing; for what is there to be gained from this world?


the Chinese original of this poem (titled 玉) was written in 1999,
English translation/re-composition (re-titled Celadon) was created in 2011-2


Brett Whiteley, A Day at Bondi, 1984 // etching, black ink on white wove paper

Thursday, 21 May 2015


... an Elgin marble from a waking dream

Would it not be a marvel
to find your calling—your niche—
to be suffering
(emptily, on empty)
draped over
a marvellous throne
where everyone feels
envy, breathlessly

Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty) by Louis Sussmann-Hellborn, 1878, via Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Diary fragments from Lady Emily’s lethargic life of yearning (i)

To live a life of truths saturated with ugliness and barren of beauty would be an unjustifiable lie.


An anonymous billet-doux arrived this morning. Were I not so intimately familiar with the author’s command of composing erotica-in-disguise, I would have assumed this Prince had fallen in lust with his object of affection after hearing my Goncourt comment. But such is not the case, given I am infinitely acquainted with his style:

Yes, the edge of that precipice offers the most pleasing panorama—a valley teeming with verdure, watered by a stream where the hart quenches his thirst with impunity, happily lapping with a tongue glistening in the warm sun of the temptress. Such places are quoted to us by voices that cry in the night, citing the authority of dreams on its riparian seat, of pillowed ivory, the cheek may rest. 
Impunity, impunity only the bank punished with the hart’s burden as it takes its fill. A stream so beneficent one may lift it towards one’s lips rather than bend towards it. A stream whose source one may also devour. A stream whose waters teach lips eloquence. A stream that engenders others by virtue of the thirst it transfigures, whose moan is answerable to the plash of its puddles plied.

As I sat with the Prince many a blue moon ago, ruminating over the ridiculousness of life, I mused upon his poetic prowess in erotica, “You, dear sir, would make a handsome living writing these words.” To which he mischievously replied with a sparkle in his eye, “My tongue is best employed, when hearts rather than coins are cloyed.”

Antoon van Welie (Dutch, 1866–1956), Douleur, pastel, 1895

Goncourt tugged on a string in the womb of my heart tonight, and I say, “I have always derived inexplicable pleasure from singing to a virtuous nobleman, leading him in my hand to the edge of sin and leaving him there to live between the temptation and the fear of that sin.”


This afternoon, as languid and as annoyed as any other, Baron Gustave spoke to me about a petty—though entertaining—spectacle amongst the court eunuchs, whose comical adventures of trivialities delighted and somewhat intrigued me. On this person’s extraordinary literary competencies, Baron Gustave concluded, “He would have been an effective priest if he knew how to read anything but music.”

Archduchess Maria Isabella

If death has a way of revealing the essence of things, as the poet Stéphane Mallarmé wrote of Edgar Allan Poe, then some of the essence that has been revealed these days is self-righteousness, bigotry, and above all, hypocrisy. The easy way out, the easy way out—always the easy way out. There is no intrinsic value to anything in this world—nor any intrinsic reality. The double-standard (of humanity) and pretentiousness are overwhelming. And then follows the avalanche of apathy.
Why are we such sheep that only blindly follow?


Have no fear of happiness—it exists as an illusion only. (This is not to say that happiness does not exist—it exists, like everything else in this apparent world, but as an illusion only.)


Thence began the odyssey of a little fool as he decided to write poems for the rest of his life in that faraway city named after a woman.

John William Waterhouse

Thursday, 7 May 2015

They crave ecstasy, distilled and stilled with Orpheus’ music.

I see a lily on thy brow,
       With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
       Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
       Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
       And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
       And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
       And made sweet moan

I set her on my pacing steed,
       And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
       A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
       And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
       ‘I love thee true’.

(from “La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad,” by John Keats)

❤ Workshop of Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1444/45-1510). Venus, ca. late 1480s. Tempera on canvas, 158 x 68,5cm (62 3/16 x 26 15/16 in.). Photo Credit: Staatliche Museen Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Photo © Jörg P. Anders

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

as if hope and heart could meet, as if they might dance themselves out of the dark

The paper blushes, beads of sweat from that aftermath of love.


La poésie a inventé le monde, le monde, elle l'a oublié.
(Poetry invented the world; the world it then forgot.)

leg image via Mikio Watanabe
The Meaning of Simplicity (translated by Rae Dalven), via Poetry Foundation
艾未未,白瓷花。(via @aiww Instagram)
Ai Weiwei, “Blossom” (via @for_site & @george_fikry Instagram)
image via @nicamille Instagram

Monday, 13 April 2015

Between the mirage hue of Tiepolo Pink linings hides the tempting phantom of Proust’s invisible Venice

Jean François de Troy (French 1679 – 1752), The Abduction of Europa (detail of Europa's hand and cape), 1716, oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

“It was the very evening on which Albertine had put on for the first time the indoor gown in gold and blue by Fortuny which, by reminding me of Venice, made me feel all the more strongly what I was sacrificing for her, who showed no corresponding gratitude towards me. If I had never seen Venice, I had dreamed of it incessantly since those Easter holidays which, when still a boy, I had been going to spend there, and earlier still, since the Titian prints and Giotto photographs which Swann had given me long ago at Combray. The Fortuny gown which Albertine was wearing that evening seemed to me the tempting phantom of that invisible Venice. It was overrun by Arab ornamentation, like Venice, like the Venetian palaces hidden like sultan’s wives behind a screen of perforated stone, like the bindings in the Ambrosian Library, like the columns from which the oriental birds that symbolised alternately life and death were repeated in the shimmering fabric, of an intense blue which, as my eyes drew nearer, turned into a malleable gold by those same mutations which, before an advancing gondola, change into gleaming metal the azure of the Grand Canal. And the sleeves were lined with a cherry pink which is so peculiarly Venetian that it is called Tiepolo pink.”

~Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu // In Search of Lost Time, Volume 5: The Captive, The Fugitive, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff & Terence Kilmartin, revised by D. J. Enright, p. 531.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, 1696 – 1770), details of An Allegory with Venus and Time, about 1754-8, oil on canvas. The National Gallery, London. 

*“Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: a thematic essay”on The Metropolitan Museum of Art's website
*“Proust & Fortuny”on A Hymn to Intellectual Beauty: Creative Minds and Fashion blog

Saturday, 11 April 2015

this living hand

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calm'd—see here it is—
I hold it towards you. 

~John Keats (1795-1821), This Living Hand, 1819?

Friday, 6 February 2015

The music of memento mori:薔薇,無常。

花開花落:The reverie of mono no aware...

Breathing out their swansong. “A flower is perfect, when it is almost old.” An old favourite photograph I took of a rose bouquet I brought home. After having balleted through their beautiful efflorescence, these softly rouged petals dreamed their eventual, eternal slumber scattered upon my piano.

Poetry in the melodies of Eudaimonia’s sigh of bliss.

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