“Akhmatova often sat smoking a cigarette at a side table, dressed in a tight skirt, with a scarf round her shoulders and a necklace of black agate. She was always surrounded by a group of admirers. Alexander Blok, the great poet of the preceding generation, found Akhmatova’s beauty strangely terrifying. Mandelstam described her as ‘a black angel’ with the mark of God upon her.”—
-Elaine Feinstein, Anna of All the Russias: A Life of Anna Akhmatova
“When I lost my younger brother and my baby I lost pain too. It was without an object, so to speak: it was built on the past. But now there is hope, and pain is implanted in hope. Sometimes I’m amazed I don’t die; a cold blade plunged deep into the living flesh, night and day, and you survive.”—Marguerite Duras, The War: A Memoir (translated by Barbara Bray)
“I thank you with all my heart (do not come) I shall write to you tomorrow. This evening my head aches too much. I have gone into certain rooms which through chance I had not revisited, and I have explored unknown areas of my grief, which spreads ever more widely as I go further into it.”—Marcel Proust, from a letter to La Comtesse de Noailles, undated 1905 (source)
Shall the water not remember Ember my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above of its mirror my half-imaginary airy portrait? My only belonging longing; is my beauty, which I take ache away and then return, as love of teasing playfully the one being unbeing. whose gratitude I treasure Is your moves me. I live apart heart from myself, yet cannot not live apart. In the water’s tone, stone? that brilliant silence, a flower Hour, whispers my name with such slight light: moment, it seems filament of air, fare the world becomes cloudswell. well.
“The brave know
They will not rise again
That no flesh will grow around them
On Judgment Morning
That they won’t remember anything
That they won’t see anyone ever again
That nothing of theirs is waiting
Am not brave.”—Marie Luise Kaschnitz, “Not Brave” (translated by Eavan Boland)
“….One of those long, romantic novels, six hundred and fifty pages of small print, translated from French or German or Hungarian or something — because few of the English ones have the exact feeling I mean. And you read one page of it or even one phrase of it, and then you gobble up all the rest and go about in a dream for weeks afterwards, for months afterwards—perhaps all your life, who knows?—surrounded by those six hundred and fifty pages, the houses, the streets, the snow, the river, the roses, the girls, the sun, the ladies’ dresses and the gentlemen’s voices, the old, wicked, hard-hearted women and the old, sad women, the waltz music—everything. What is not there you put in afterwards, for it is alive, this book, and it grows in your head. ‘The house I was living in when I read that book,’ you think, or ‘This colour reminds me of that book.’”—Jean Rhys (via aeloquence)
I sure wish I could be in Fort Collins, Colo., today for the day-long community reading of Virginia Woolf’s 1931 masterpiece The Waves.
Today is the first annual international Wavesday, which is modeled on Bloomsday, the event held in Dublin on June 16 each year to celebrate James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Organizers differentiate the Woolf event by saying it will have “less early-morning boozing and more grammatical coherence.”
Wavesday begins at 9 a.m. and runs until evening. During that time, The Waves will be read in its entirety at nine locations, one for each section of the novel. The day will end with a potluck feast in the late evening.
“…the idea of alienation. And loss. I believe that that’s the beginning of poetry. Poetry begins with alienation, and poetry speaks against our vanishing. The lyric poem in particular seems to me to have the burden and the splendor of preserving the human image in words, as the most intense form of discourse. Poetry speaks about and against loss in its root function. I see the writing of a poem as a descent. The descent is psychological. That which is darkest in human experience. It can be in yourself, it can be in others, it can be in the death of someone you love. It’s a descent into the unconscious. You try to unearth something. You try to bring something to the light.”—Edward Hirsch (via ahuntersheart)
“When I hear violin music, I feel a painful clutch at my heart. I didn’t understand that pain. It’s my father playing the violin. I didn’t understand his death, I couldn’t accept it. But the blow hit hard, it left scars.”—Anna Kamienska, from Industrious Amazement: A Notebook
A blue sky out of the Oresteia
Arches above us. O father, all by yourself
You are pithy and historical as the Roman
I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress.
Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are
In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.
It would take more than a lightning-stroke
To create such a ruin.
Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind,
Counting the red stars and those of plum-
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.
No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel
On the blank stones of the landing.”
“I brought my love to bear, and then you died.
It was the gangrene ate you to the bone
My mother said: you died like any man.
How shall I age into that state of mind?
I am the ghost of an infamous suicide,
My own blue razor rusting at my throat.
O pardon the one who knocks for pardon at
Your gate, father - your hound-bitch, daughter, friend.
It was my love that did us both to death.”—Sylvia Plath, from “Electra on Azalea Path”
“Since I had started to break down all my writing and get rid of all facility and try to make instead of describe, writing had been wonderful to do. But it was very difficult, and I did not know how I would ever write anything as long as a novel. It often took me a full morning of work to write a paragraph.”—Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (via lesmotsjustes)
“so that each day penetrates each night
so that each word runs to the other side of truth
so that each verse comes out of itself
and gives off its own light
so that each face leaning on a hand
sweats into the skin of the palm
So that this pen
changes into pure silence
I wanted to say into love”—
Anna Kamienska, from “Transformation,” trans. Grazyna Drabik and David Curzon
“I sat drinking and did not notice the dusk,
Till falling petals filled the folds of my dress.
Drunken I rose and walked to the moonlit stream;
The birds were gone, and men also few.”—Li Po, Self-Abandonment (via grammatolatry)
It is a melancholy of my own woven out of my own world out of all that did not happen all that was done out of paths through woods and across fields out of hanging branches of hazel that hit the face out of the tangle of graveyard blackberries out of the whiteness of snows out of heavy birds
A melancholy of my own like the face undeserved impossible to tear off
“‘Right now America might be the only country in the world for a writer,’ he says without prologue. ‘You help your writers by ignoring them in every conceivable way. I must say I do like that. If one has no professional existence, one is free to come and go as one pleases…be what one pleases. Anonymity - to be no one everywhere - it’s a delicious condition, don’t you think?’”-”— W.H. Auden, as interviewed by John Malcolm Brinnin in “On First Meeting W.H. Auden,” published in our Fall 1975 issue. (via pshares)