"Looking at things, he saw nothing—or to paraphrase Wallace Stevens, "the nothing"— that arose from his hunger a more vivid and permanent world. He had a wonderful eye for almost anything he looked at, dogs, children, qualities of light, words of art; but in the end he looked at them in order to take them inside himself and transform them: to soak them in his homelessness and spiritual hunger so that when he returned them to the world, they were no more at home in it that he was, and gave off unearthly light. In this dialectic, everything out there only drives him deeper inside himself, into the huge raw wound of his longing and the emptiness that fueled it."
Robert Hass’ Introduction in The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
the best thing to do for yourself is to walk to the library
“At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?”
– Ezra Pound, excerpt from The River–Merchant’s Wife: A Letter,
Townes Van Zandt – Blue Ridge Mountains
This song was actually written about me and by me and for me.
"gather up the gold you found,
you fool it’s only moonlight”
Silence cannot be maintained with one who has never heard it.
La Serenissima, in morning light, is beautiful.
But you already knew that.
Palette of honeyed ochre and ship’s bell bronze,
water precisely the color of the hand-ground pigment
with which the water of Venice has been painted for
angled slats of aquamarine chopped by wakes to agate,
matte black backlit with raw opal
and anodized aluminum, rope-work of wisteria, wands
of oleander emerging from hidden gardens. At noon,
near the boat-yard of the last gondola maker, a violin echoes
from deep inside an empty cistern.
Lo and behold. Ecco.
A swirl of wind-blown ashes from yet another cigarette
and for a moment you see December snow
in Saint Petersburg, the Lion’s Bridge, crystalline halo
crowning Akhmatova’s defiant silhouette.
Sunset: bitter orange and almond milk,
sepia retinting the canals with cartographer’s ink
as you study the small gray lagoon crabs
patrolling a kingdom of marble slabs
descending into the depths; rising almost imperceptibly,
the tide licks at, kisses, then barely spills
across the top step’s foot-worn, weed-velveted lip
in slippery caravans, dust-laden rivulets.
So another day’s cargo of terrestrial grit
enriches their scuttled realm,
and they make haste, like drunken pirates in a silent film,
erratically but steadfastly, to claim it.
Joseph Brodsky in Venice (1981), Campbell McGrath