I will try to do another post later today, but right now I am going back to sleep. TTYL.
|“Afternoon” by Philip Gladstone|
|“Male Nudes with Sunflowers” by Sheri Larsen|
Constantine Cavafy was born Konstantínos Pétrou Kaváfis in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1863, the ninth child of Constantinopolitan parents. His father died in 1870, leaving the family poor. Cavafy’s mother moved her children to England, where the two eldest sons took over their father’s business. Their inexperience caused the ruin of the family fortunes, so they returned to a life of genteel poverty in Alexandria. The seven years that Constantine Cavafy spent in England—from age nine to sixteen—were important to the shaping of his poetic sensibility: he became so comfortable with English that he wrote his first verse in his second language.
After a brief education in London and Alexandria, he moved with his mother to Constantinople, where they stayed with his grandfather and two brothers. Although living in great poverty and discomfort, Cavafy wrote his first poems during this period, and had his first love affairs with other men. After briefly working for the Alexandrian newspaper and the Egyptian Stock exchange, at the age of twenty-nine Cavafy took up an appointment as a special clerk in the Irrigation Service of the Ministry of Public Works—an appointment he held for the next thirty years. Much of his ambition during these years was devoted to writing poems and prose essays.
Cavafy had an unusually small social circle. He lived with his mother until her death in 1899, and then with his unmarried brothers. For most of his mature years Cavafy lived alone. Influential literary relationships included a twenty-year acquaintance with E. M. Forster. The poet himself identified only two love affairs, both apparently brief. His one intimate, long-standing friendship was with Alexander Singopoulos, whom Cavafy designated as his heir and literary executor when he was sixty years old, ten years before his death.
Cavafy remained virtually unrecognized in Greece until late in his career. He never offered a volume of his poems for sale during his lifetime, instead distributing privately printed pamphlets to friends and relatives. Fourteen of Cavafy’s poems appeared in a pamphlet in 1904; the edition was enlarged in 1910. Several dozens appeared in subsequent years in a number of privately printed booklets and broadsheets. These editions contained mostly the same poems, first arranged thematically, and then chronologically. Close to one-third of his poems were never printed in any form while he lived.
In book form, Cavafy’s poems were first published without dates before World War II and reprinted in 1949. PÍÍMATA (The Poems of Constantine P. Cavafy) appeared posthumously in 1935 in Alexandria. The only evidence of public recognition in Greece during his later years was his receipt, in 1926, of the Order of the Phoenix from the Greek dictator Pangalos.
Perhaps the most original and influential Greek poet of the 20th century, his uncompromising distaste for the kind of rhetoric common among his contemporaries and his refusal to enter into the marketplace may have prevented him from realizing all but a few rewards for his genius. He continued to live in Alexandria until his death in 1933, from cancer of the larynx. It is recorded that his last motion before dying was to draw a circle on a sheet of blank paper, and then to place a period in the middle of it.
It haunts me so
those summer nights
in dim lit homes
where music flows
and tempers flare
and lullabies fill the air.
I while away the hours
under the electric swell of light,
Bone-idle and coral pink,
this dry spell grills,
but Southern nights do fill me.
Spider-blue legs peddle tales
and roaming by my streets.
Scuttling through like marsh rabbit,
neighbors wave their charmed hellos.
Feverish and swollen together,
they inhale the blossoms,
riding high, and move through summer
as the lake declines.
It haunts me so
those summer nights
in dim lit homes
where music flows
and tempers flare
and lullabies fill the air.
Mary Hamrick was born in New York and moved to Florida as a young girl; her writing often reflects the contrast between her Northern and Southern upbringing. Her work appears online in Mad Hatters’ Review and Tattoo Highway.
No. 35, Gay or Bi Shakespeare (or was deVere his ghost writer?) Shakespeare is in love with a younger man, but is lamenting his loss of what had been a loving relationship.
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine
With all triumphant splendor on my brow
But out, alack! he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth.
Comment: “Between the time Shakespeare wrote Sonnet 32 and 33, the poet’s entire attitude toward his relationship with his young friend had changed. While he had been focused on his own mortality throughout Sonnets 27-32, now the poet has a new and more pressing dilemma to jar him from his previous obsession. In Sonnets 33-35 the poet makes it clear that he has been deeply hurt by his young friend, who many believe to be the historical Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s patron. We cannot say what specific wrong-doing prompted such displeasure, although we can assume that the young man had many interests other than the poet, and he may have surrounded himself with other friends (and possibly other lovers), leaving the poet feeling isolated and unwanted. The poet’s dislike of his friend’s actions are clear from the overall reading, but also from his choice of words: “ugly”, “disgrace”, “basest”, “disdaineth”, and “staineth.” Moreover, the sun permits the clouds to cover his face as he cowers off to the west, and the direct comparison is made between the sun and the poet’s friend in the third stanza. Even though he denies it in the concluding couplet, the poet seems to resent the friend for causing a rift in their relationship.
“As mentioned, the sonnet does end on a positive note with the poet ready to forgive his friend, content to accept that disappointment in this life is wholly natural. “Two Renaissance commonplaces, the sun-king comparison and the sun-son word play, are put to such good use in the friend’s behalf that ‘out alack’, the emphatic but conventional phrase denoting the speaker’s regret, seems no more than a polite formula.”
Source of Sonnet and comment: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/33.html
Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 33. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) <http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/33detail.html >.
Comment and Notes of Another Shakespeare Scholar: “A sonnet that hardly needs an introduction. This and the following record a rejection by the youth of the poet. How serious or real this was we have no means of knowing. Perhaps it is an imaginary interlude in the sonnet sequence. Most readers however take it as having autobiographical content, and that approach is given credence by what appears to be the genuineness of the sorrow, and by the fact that the episode of estrangement, whatever caused it, is dealt with in this and the following three sonnets.
“The fact that we are more disposed to believe in the biographical truth of the sonnet because of its beauty of imagery and language is a reality of human nature which cannot be easily dispensed with. It would be disapponting to learn that the youth and the poet’s impassioned love for him were mere creations of an idle brain, with deliberate intent to lay a false trail and make truth out of fiction. For while we may allow that a Macbeth and a Hamlet are engendered in the heat of artistic creation, their existence gives us a vicarious experience which is not harmed by their fictional reality. I am not convinced that this is so with the sonnets, for we long to trust their sincerity, and to see what it teaches us of our own capacity for love, what it explores and what it defines. Therefore I always assume what I take to be the standard or Wordsworthian approach (pace Browning), that this is a true record of love, no doubt edited and embellished, (for who could ever be word perfect in such matters?).
“But we have to acknowledge also that the lover’s frown and her (in this case his) overcast brow, like the sun clouding over on a fine morning, was also a part of the sonnet tradition. Shakespeare was here making use of that rich tradition, as well as recording in his own inimitable way the feelings of one so cast down by his beloved’s disdain.”
1. Full many a glorious morning have I seen: Full many = very many.
2. Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye: Flatter – also has the meaning to stroke. In its normal sense it conveys the idea of insincerity and deception, and ultimate disillusionment. Hence the morning sun was making the mountains appear more brilliant than they in fact were. sovereign eye = majestic, kingly gaze. Note that here the usual flattery of king by subject has been reversed. The king flatters his courtiers, the mountains.
3. Kissing with golden face the meadows green: The sun kisses the earth. The glorious morning is partly subsumed into the character of the sun, as a result of sovereign eye and kissing.
4. Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy: Gilding = turning to gold; covering with gold. alchemy – this was the science which sought to discover how to turn base metals into gold. It was considered to be part magic, part science, and had a reputation for trickery and deceit. Nevertheless Elizabeth employed an alchemist in the early years of her reign, having been lured by the prospect of large sums of gold…
5. Anon permit the basest clouds to ride: Anon = very soon, almost immediately; permit – the subject is morning line 1, and, by implication, the sky and the sun.basest = blackest, dirtiest, of humble origin; low born. Cf. Edmund in King Lear:…Why brand they us With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base? I.2.9-10. There is also a contrast with gilding and alchemy. Base metals were the ugly materials of the alchemist’s study, which were destined to be turned into gold, the noblest metal of all.to ride – as horsemen. The clouds ride on the face of heaven as horsemen ride on the face of the earth.
6. With ugly rack on his celestial face: rack = a line or procession of moving clouds; thin, flying, broken clouds, or any portion of floating vapor in the sky.(Webster’s) The winds in the upper region, which move the clouds above, which we call the rack, … pass without noise. Bacon. his = the sun’s, the sky’s, the morning’s.
7. And from the forlorn world his visage hide:the forlorn world – the world becomes forlorn, presumably because it is darkened by the ugly rack of clouds, which hide the sun’s celestial face (visage).
8. Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:Stealing = moving furtively, stealthily, like a thief. with this disgrace = with the disgrace of having his visage blotted out. disgrace could also refer to physical disfigurement.
9. Even so my sun one early morn did shine:my sun = the youth whom I love; you; the heavenly eye of my life. This is however the first mention ofsun in the sonnet.
10. With all triumphant splendour on my brow: all triumphant splendour = gloriously arrayed, in total splendour. triumph conveys the idea of a triumphal procession, a procession to commemorate the victory of a famous commander. on my brow = upon my forehead, upon my face.
11. But out, alack, he was but one hour mine:But, out, alack – editors gloss this as being an emphatic way of saying ‘Alas’, out being an intensifier, and cognate with its use in expressions such as ‘out upon it!’. However I think it also has reference here to the sun, which was only ‘out’, i.e. shining, for one hour. he was but one hour mine = I enjoyed his (the sun’s, my love’s) presence for only one hour.
12. The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now: The region = the upper air, the upper region of the sky. him = my love, (the sun).
13. Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth: him….my love – these cannot both refer to the youth. If my love = the youth, then him must be the sun of 5-8 and 9-12, which has been disgraced by clouds ruining his face. But if him refers to the youth, then my love is ‘my love for him’, personified, which does not disdain him (the youth) for having become inaccessible. no whit = not in the least, not a jot.
14. Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth: The homophonic meaning, sons, is played upon. Sons of the flesh are also liable to blemish and disgrace, as heavenly suns are. stain can be used transitively or intransitively, so that the youth, as well as becoming stained himself, has passed the infection on to others.
Source of 2nd scholar’s comment/notes: http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/sonnet/33
For more on Shakespeare:http://artofmalemasturbation.tumblr.com/Shakespear and http://artofmalemasturbation.tumblr.com/sonnets (NSFW)
Il dit non avec la tête
Mais il dit oui avec le coeur
Il dit oui à ce qu’il aime
Il dit non au professeur
Il est debout
On le questionne
Et tous les problèmes sont posés
Soudain le fou rire le prend
Et il efface tout
Les chiffres et les mots
Les dates et les noms
Les phrases et les pièges
Et malgré les menaces du maître
Sous les huées des enfants prodiges
Avec des craies de toutes les couleurs
Sur le tableau noir du malheur
Il dessine le visage du bonheur.
He says no with his head
But he said yes with heart
He said yes to what he loves
He said no to the teacher
He is questioned
And all problems are posed
Sudden laughter seizes him
And he erases all
The words and figures
Names and dates
Sentences and snares
And despite the teacher’s threats
To the jeers of infant prodigies
With chalk of every color
On the blackboard of misfortune
He draws the face of happiness.
Jacques Prévert (4 February 1900 – 11 April 1977) was a French poet and screenwriter. His poems became and remain very popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools. Some of the movies he wrote are extremely well regarded, with Les Enfants du Paradis considered one of the greatest films of all time.
A question that intrigues scholars and readers alike: was Emily Dickinson a lesbian? While there’s not (to this date, anyway) direct evidence that Dickinson was sexually active with either men or women, she did write passionate letters to women (as did many women of that age). Some historians find this as evidence of what today would be called lesbianism — others point to incidents where she seemed to be in love with men as counter-evidence.