birds

Eagles, wilde Turkeis much bigger than Engliſh, Cranes, Herons white and ruſſet, Hawkes, wilde Pigeons (in winter beyond number or imaginaton, my ſelfe haue ſeene three or four hourse together flockes in the aire, so thicke than even they haue ſhaddowed the skie from vs), Turkie Buſſards, Partridge, Snipes, Owles, Swans, Geeſe, Brants, Ducke and Mallard, Droeis, Shel Drakes, Cormorants, Teale, Widgeon, Curlewes, Puits, beſides other small birds, as Blacke birde, hedge ſparrowes, Oxeies, woodpeckers, and in winter about Chriſtmas many flockes of Parakertoths.

(Paul Metcalf, Waters of the Potowmack, p. 378 in Collected Works, vol. II.)

desire

“La grande douleur de l’homme, qui commence dès l’enfance et se poursuit jusque à la mort, c’est que regarder et manger sont deux opérations différentes. La béatitude éternelle est un état où regarder c’est manger.”

(Simone Weil, “Contradiction”, in La Pesanteur et la Grace, epigraph to William S. Wilson’s “Desire” in Why I Don’t Write Like Franz Kafka.)

a stage to be passed through

“As time goes by, we drift away from the great texts, the finished works on which an author’s reputation is build, towards the journals, diaries, letters, manuscripts, jottings. This is not simply because, as an author’s stature grows posthumously, the fund of published texts becomes exhausted and we have to make do not only with previously unpublished or unfinished material but, increasingly, with matter that was never intended for publication. It is also because we want to get nearer to the man or woman who wrote these books, to his or her being. We crave an increasingly intimate relationship with the author, unmediated, in so far as possible, by the contrivances of art. A curious reversal takes place. The finished works serve as prologue to the jottings; the published book becomes a stage to be passed through – a draft – en route to the definative pleasure of the notes, the fleeting impressions, the sketches, in which it had its origin.”

(Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence, p. 111.)

islands redux

“We always have the ideal image of being on an island but actually being on an island always turns out to be hellish. For what it is worth, Lawrence wasn’t too keen on islands either. ‘I don’t care for islands, especially very small ones,’ he decided on Île de Port Cros. A week later, as if, first time around, he had simply been trying out an opinion, and had now made up his mind he announced, definitively: ‘I don’t like little islands.’

Me neither. All you can think of when you are on a small island is the impossibility of leaving when you want to, either because the island you are on is too big and you want to go to a smaller one or because the island is too small and you want to go to a bigger one.”

(Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D. H. Lawrence. pp.18–19.)

portrait with a goat

We were reading to ourselves. Sometimes to others.
I was quietly reading the margin
when the doves fell, it was blue
outside. Perhaps in a moment,
he said. The moment never came.
I was reading something else now,
it didn’t matter. Other people came, and
dropped off their resumés. I wasn’t being idle,
exactly. Someone wanted to go away
altogether in this preposterous season.

(John Ashbery, in As Umbrellas Follow Rain)