Jack Gilbert

“No one knows where you are. People forget you.
You are vain and stubborn.” The man slices
tomatoes and lemons. takes out the fish
and scrambles eggs. I am not stubborn, he thinks,
laying all of it on the table in the courtyard 
full of early sun, shadows of swallows flying 
on the food. Not stubborn, just greedy.”

 

A self-imposed exile, a quiet commitment, no compromise in living his own life.
Yes, he was greedy indeed.

A wet fingertip on a window pane

“Music is the ambition of certain parts to take over the whole,
to command everything, replace everything – An art of spasms, of marking time, of shivering and shaking, of catching of breath, of fluttering heart, of feigning energy without bound, of abysses, of limitless doubts, of vexations and heartbreaks,… yet an art of lies of echolalia, of idiotic mimicry, of thwarted and to its humiliation, utilised.

The ideal of music is not far removed from the unbearable omnipotence
of a wet fingertip on a window pane.

– from “Tabulae meae Tentationum”, Paul Valéry 1897-1899 –

 

After reading the notebooks from Paul Valéry, the sentences from the world-renowned writers got plain and lost taste.

Destiny

“A poem must be a holiday of Mind. It can be nothing else.

One discards its poverty, its weaknesses, its everydayness.
One organizes all the possibilities of language. 

The holiday over, nothing must remain. Ashes, trampled garlands.”

– Paul Valéry –

When I meet a shower, a lightning, a rainbow… and a vibrating poem… I know what it feels like… it doesn’t belong to the earth… feet off the ground… leave them there, just for a while, just for a little longer.

Standing on a tightrope

“this is how I got started on my present difficult career,
innocently stepping onto the tightrope upon which I move painfully forward, unsure of reaching the end. In other words, I became an artist, 

I felt infinite strengths within me; all I had to do was find a way to use them.
It was not poverty that got in my way: in Africa, the sun and the sea cost nothing.
The obstacle lay rather in prejudice and stupidity.”

– in Preface of “The Wrong  Side and The Right Side”, Albert Camus, 1958 –

 

I envy his sun and ocean… always.

A taste

“You tasted it. Isn’t that enough? …
That’s all we’re given in life, that’s all we’re given of life.
A taste. There is no more.”

– in “The Dying Animal”, Philip Roth –

 

He can’t stop there, just tasting… tasting the very life far more than he deserves to savor …every bit of it. The bastard cut off the very thing he worshiped to replace the anguish of longing with the pain of loss… the selfish animal, a coward, I’ll say.

How calm the hour is… do not go back to sleep

“Render enigma to enigma, enigma for enigma.
Lift what is mystery in yourself to what is mystery in itself.
There is something in you that is equal to what surpasses you.”

– Paul Valéry –

The things that I love torture my soul, but tremendous energy is in there. That is equal to me, surpasses me, and nullifies me.