Danielpour divided the poem into 6 sections and then asked Jong, a longtime friend, if she could create a new version and between the two of them, a new work came into being. The new text, broken into 6 sections is a brilliant evocation of the glories and colours of classical Greek poetry, and its musical setting is equally mesmerizing.
Danielpour: Talking to Aphrodite: I. Erica Jong. We spoke with Mr. Danielpour about the work and he told us the story of the text and other details. He started the cycle in August while in residence at Yaddo and just over two weeks later, it was finished. The work received its premiere at Carnegie Hall in December , with the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as the intended soloist.
A medical emergency removed her from the performance, and she suggested the soprano Sara Shafer as her replacement. A few changes to register needed to be made to put in the range of Ms. Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said Thy edge should blunter be than appetite, Which but to-day by feeding is allayed, To-morrow sharpened in his former might: So, love, be thou, although to-day thou fill Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fulness, To-morrow see again, and do not kill The spirit of love, with a perpetual dulness.
Let this sad interim like the ocean be Which parts the shore, where two contracted new Come daily to the banks, that when they see Return of love, more blest may be the view; As call it winter, which being full of care, Makes summer's welcome, thrice more wished, more rare. Being your slave what should I do but tend Upon the hours, and times of your desire? I have no precious time at all to spend; Nor services to do, till you require. Nor dare I chide the world without end hour, Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you, Nor think the bitterness of absence sour, When you have bid your servant once adieu; Nor dare I question with my jealous thought Where you may be, or your affairs suppose, But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought Save, where you are, how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love, that in your will, Though you do anything, he thinks no ill. That god forbid, that made me first your slave, I should in thought control your times of pleasure, Or at your hand the account of hours to crave, Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure! Be where you list, your charter is so strong That you yourself may privilege your time To what you will; to you it doth belong Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime. I am to wait, though waiting so be hell, Not blame your pleasure be it ill or well.
If there be nothing new, but that which is Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd, Which labouring for invention bear amiss The second burthen of a former child.
Oh that record could with a backward look, Even of five hundred courses of the sun, Show me your image in some antique book, Since mind at first in character was done, That I might see what the old world could say To this composed wonder of your frame; Whether we are mended, or where better they, Or whether revolution be the same. Oh sure I am the wits of former days, To subjects worse have given admiring praise.
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd, Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight, And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth And delves the parallels in beauty's brow, Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow: And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand. Is it thy will, thy image should keep open My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken, While shadows like to thee do mock my sight? Is it thy spirit that thou send'st from thee So far from home into my deeds to pry, To find out shames and idle hours in me, The scope and tenor of thy jealousy? O, no! Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye And all my soul, and all my every part; And for this sin there is no remedy, It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine, No shape so true, no truth of such account; And for myself mine own worth do define, As I all other in all worths surmount. But when my glass shows me myself indeed Beated and chopp'd with tanned antiquity, Mine own self-love quite contrary I read; Self so self-loving were iniquity.
Against my love shall be as I am now, With Time's injurious hand crushed and o'erworn; When hours have drained his blood and filled his brow With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn Hath travelled on to age's steepy night; And all those beauties whereof now he's king Are vanishing, or vanished out of sight, Stealing away the treasure of his spring; For such a time do I now fortify Against confounding age's cruel knife, That he shall never cut from memory My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's life: His beauty shall in these black lines be seen, And they shall live, and he in them still green.
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced The rich proud cost of outworn buried age; When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed, And brass eternal slave to mortal rage; When I have seen the hungry ocean gain Advantage on the kingdom of the shore, And the firm soil win of the watery main, Increasing store with loss, and loss with store; When I have seen such interchange of state, Or state itself confounded to decay; Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death which cannot choose But weep to have that which it fears to lose. Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o'ersways their power, How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, Whose action is no stronger than a flower? O fearful meditation! Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, As to behold desert a beggar born, And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity, And purest faith unhappily forsworn, And gilded honour shamefully misplaced, And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted, And right perfection wrongfully disgraced, And strength by limping sway disabled And art made tongue-tied by authority, And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill, And simple truth miscalled simplicity, And captive good attending captain ill: Tired with all these, from these would I be gone, Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
Why should false painting imitate his cheek, And steal dead seeming of his living hue? Why should poor beauty indirectly seek Roses of shadow, since his rose is true? Why should he live, now Nature bankrupt is, Beggared of blood to blush through lively veins? For she hath no exchequer now but his, And proud of many, lives upon his gains. Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn, When beauty lived and died as flowers do now, Before these bastard signs of fair were born, Or durst inhabit on a living brow; Before the golden tresses of the dead, The right of sepulchres, were shorn away, To live a second life on second head; Ere beauty's dead fleece made another gay: In him those holy antique hours are seen, Without all ornament, itself and true, Making no summer of another's green, Robbing no old to dress his beauty new; And him as for a map doth Nature store, To show false Art what beauty was of yore.
Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend; All tongues, the voice of souls, give thee that due, Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend. Thy outward thus with outward praise is crown'd; But those same tongues, that give thee so thine own, In other accents do this praise confound By seeing farther than the eye hath shown. They look into the beauty of thy mind, And that in guess they measure by thy deeds; Then, churls, their thoughts, although their eyes were kind, To thy fair flower add the rank smell of weeds: But why thy odour matcheth not thy show, The soil is this, that thou dost common grow.
That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect, For slander's mark was ever yet the fair; The ornament of beauty is suspect, A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air. So thou be good, slander doth but approve Thy worth the greater, being wooed of time; For canker vice the sweetest buds doth love, And thou present'st a pure unstained prime. Thou hast passed by the ambush of young days Either not assailed, or victor being charged; Yet this thy praise cannot be so thy praise, To tie up envy, evermore enlarged, If some suspect of ill masked not thy show, Then thou alone kingdoms of hearts shouldst owe.
No longer mourn for me when I am dead Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell Give warning to the world that I am fled From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell: Nay, if you read this line, remember not The hand that writ it, for I love you so, That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, If thinking on me then should make you woe. Unless you would devise some virtuous lie, To do more for me than mine own desert, And hang more praise upon deceased I Than niggard truth would willingly impart: O!
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth, And so should you, to love things nothing worth. That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou see'st the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west; Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire, That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed, whereon it must expire, Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well, which thou must leave ere long. But be contented when that fell arrest Without all bail shall carry me away, My life hath in this line some interest, Which for memorial still with thee shall stay. When thou reviewest this, thou dost review The very part was consecrate to thee: The earth can have but earth, which is his due; My spirit is thine, the better part of me: So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life, The prey of worms, my body being dead; The coward conquest of a wretch's knife, Too base of thee to be remembered.
The worth of that is that which it contains, And that is this, and this with thee remains. So are you to my thoughts as food to life, Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground; And for the peace of you I hold such strife As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found. Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure; Now counting best to be with you alone, Then better'd that the world may see my pleasure: Sometime all full with feasting on your sight, And by and by clean starved for a look; Possessing or pursuing no delight Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day, Or gluttoning on all, or all away. Why is my verse so barren of new pride, So far from variation or quick change? Why with the time do I not glance aside To new-found methods, and to compounds strange? Why write I still all one, ever the same, And keep invention in a noted weed, That every word doth almost tell my name, Showing their birth, and where they did proceed? Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear, Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste; The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear, And of this book, this learning mayst thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show Of mouthed graves will give thee memory; Thou by thy dial's shady stealth mayst know Time's thievish progress to eternity. Look what thy memory cannot contain, Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain, To take a new acquaintance of thy mind. These offices, so oft as thou wilt look, Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book. So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse, And found such fair assistance in my verse As every alien pen hath got my use And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing And heavy ignorance aloft to fly, Have added feathers to the learned's wing And given grace a double majesty. Yet be most proud of that which I compile, Whose influence is thine, and born of thee: In others' works thou dost but mend the style, And arts with thy sweet graces graced be; But thou art all my art, and dost advance As high as learning, my rude ignorance.
Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid, My verse alone had all thy gentle grace; But now my gracious numbers are decayed, And my sick Muse doth give an other place. I grant, sweet love, thy lovely argument Deserves the travail of a worthier pen; Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent He robs thee of, and pays it thee again. He lends thee virtue, and he stole that word From thy behaviour; beauty doth he give, And found it in thy cheek: he can afford No praise to thee, but what in thee doth live. Then thank him not for that which he doth say, Since what he owes thee, thou thyself dost pay.
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is, The humble as the proudest sail doth bear, My saucy bark, inferior far to his, On your broad main doth wilfully appear. Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat, Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride; Or, being wracked, I am a worthless boat, He of tall building, and of goodly pride: Then if he thrive and I be cast away, The worst was this, my love was my decay.
Or I shall live your epitaph to make, Or you survive when I in earth am rotten, From hence your memory death cannot take, Although in me each part will be forgotten. Your name from hence immortal life shall have, Though I, once gone, to all the world must die: The earth can yield me but a common grave, When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse, Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read; And tongues to be your being shall rehearse, When all the breathers of this world are dead; You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen, Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men. I grant thou wert not married to my Muse, And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook The dedicated words which writers use Of their fair subject, blessing every book. Thou art as fair in knowledge as in hue, Finding thy worth a limit past my praise; And therefore art enforced to seek anew Some fresher stamp of the time-bettering days.
And do so, love; yet when they have devised, What strained touches rhetoric can lend, Thou truly fair, wert truly sympathized In true plain words, by thy true-telling friend; And their gross painting might be better used Where cheeks need blood; in thee it is abused. I never saw that you did painting need, And therefore to your fair no painting set; I found, or thought I found, you did exceed The barren tender of a poet's debt: And therefore have I slept in your report, That you yourself, being extant, well might show How far a modern quill doth come too short, Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow.
This silence for my sin you did impute, Which shall be most my glory being dumb; For I impair not beauty being mute, When others would give life, and bring a tomb. There lives more life in one of your fair eyes Than both your poets can in praise devise. Who is it that says most, which can say more, Than this rich praise, that you alone, are you, In whose confine immured is the store Which should example where your equal grew?
Lean penury within that pen doth dwell That to his subject lends not some small glory; But he that writes of you, if he can tell That you are you, so dignifies his story.
Who We Are:
Let him but copy what in you is writ, Not making worse what nature made so clear, And such a counterpart shall fame his wit, Making his style admired every where. You to your beauteous blessings add a curse, Being fond on praise, which makes your praises worse. My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still, While comments of your praise richly compiled, Reserve thy character with golden quill, And precious phrase by all the Muses filed. I think good thoughts, whilst others write good words, And like unlettered clerk still cry 'Amen' To every hymn that able spirit affords, In polished form of well-refined pen.
Hearing you praised, I say ''tis so, 'tis true,' And to the most of praise add something more; But that is in my thought, whose love to you, Though words come hindmost, holds his rank before.
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Then others, for the breath of words respect, Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect. Was it the proud full sail of his great verse, Bound for the prize of all too precious you, That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse, Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew? Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead? No, neither he, nor his compeers by night Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
He, nor that affable familiar ghost Which nightly gulls him with intelligence, As victors of my silence cannot boast; I was not sick of any fear from thence: But when your countenance filled up his line, Then lacked I matter; that enfeebled mine. For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving? The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting, And so my patent back again is swerving. Thy self thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing, Or me to whom thou gav'st it else mistaking; So thy great gift, upon misprision growing, Comes home again, on better judgement making.
Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter, In sleep a king, but waking no such matter. When thou shalt be disposed to set me light, And place my merit in the eye of scorn, Upon thy side, against myself I'll fight, And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn. With mine own weakness being best acquainted, Upon thy part I can set down a story Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted; That thou in losing me shalt win much glory: And I by this will be a gainer too; For bending all my loving thoughts on thee, The injuries that to myself I do, Doing thee vantage, double-vantage me.
Such is my love, to thee I so belong, That for thy right, myself will bear all wrong. Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault, And I will comment upon that offence: Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt, Against thy reasons making no defence. Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill, To set a form upon desired change, As I'll myself disgrace; knowing thy will, I will acquaintance strangle, and look strange; Be absent from thy walks; and in my tongue Thy sweet beloved name no more shall dwell, Lest I, too much profane, should do it wrong, And haply of our old acquaintance tell.
For thee, against my self I'll vow debate, For I must ne'er love him whom thou dost hate. Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an after-loss: Ah! If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last, When other petty griefs have done their spite, But in the onset come: so shall I taste At first the very worst of fortune's might; And other strains of woe, which now seem woe, Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.
Some glory in their birth, some in their skill, Some in their wealth, some in their body's force, Some in their garments though new-fangled ill; Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse; And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure, Wherein it finds a joy above the rest: But these particulars are not my measure, All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me, Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost, Of more delight than hawks and horses be; And having thee, of all men's pride I boast: Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take All this away, and me most wretched make. But do thy worst to steal thyself away, For term of life thou art assured mine; And life no longer than thy love will stay, For it depends upon that love of thine.
Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs, When in the least of them my life hath end. I see a better state to me belongs Than that which on thy humour doth depend: Thou canst not vex me with inconstant mind, Since that my life on thy revolt doth lie. O what a happy title do I find, Happy to have thy love, happy to die! But what's so blessed-fair that fears no blot? Thou mayst be false, and yet I know it not. So shall I live, supposing thou art true, Like a deceived husband; so love's face May still seem love to me, though altered new; Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place: For there can live no hatred in thine eye, Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many's looks, the false heart's history Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange. But heaven in thy creation did decree That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell; Whate'er thy thoughts, or thy heart's workings be, Thy looks should nothing thence, but sweetness tell. How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow, If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show! They that have power to hurt, and will do none, That do not do the thing they most do show, Who, moving others, are themselves as stone, Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow; They rightly do inherit heaven's graces, And husband nature's riches from expense; They are the lords and owners of their faces, Others, but stewards of their excellence.
The summer's flower is to the summer sweet, Though to itself, it only live and die, But if that flower with base infection meet, The basest weed outbraves his dignity: For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds. How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name! That tongue that tells the story of thy days, Making lascivious comments on thy sport, Cannot dispraise, but in a kind of praise; Naming thy name blesses an ill report.
Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege; The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge. Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness; Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport; Both grace and faults are lov'd of more and less: Thou mak'st faults graces that to thee resort. As on the finger of a throned queen The basest jewel will be well esteem'd, So are those errors that in thee are seen To truths translated, and for true things deem'd. How many lambs might the stern wolf betray, If like a lamb he could his looks translate! How many gazers mightst thou lead away, If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!
But do not so, I love thee in such sort, As thou being mine, mine is thy good report. How like a winter hath my absence been From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year! What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen! What old December's bareness everywhere! And yet this time removed was summer's time; The teeming autumn, big with rich increase, Bearing the wanton burden of the prime, Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease: Yet this abundant issue seemed to me But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit; For summer and his pleasures wait on thee, And, thou away, the very birds are mute: Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer, That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.
From you have I been absent in the spring, When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim, Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing, That heavy Saturn laughed and leapt with him. Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell Of different flowers in odour and in hue, Could make me any summer's story tell, Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew: Nor did I wonder at the lily's white, Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose; They were but sweet, but figures of delight, Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and you away, As with your shadow I with these did play. The forward violet thus did I chide: Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells, If not from my love's breath? The purple pride Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dy'd. The lily I condemned for thy hand, And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair; The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, One blushing shame, another white despair; A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both, And to his robbery had annexed thy breath; But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see, Where art thou Muse that thou forget'st so long, To speak of that which gives thee all thy might? Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song, Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light? Return forgetful Muse, and straight redeem, In gentle numbers time so idly spent; Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem And gives thy pen both skill and argument. Rise, resty Muse, my love's sweet face survey, If Time have any wrinkle graven there; If any, be a satire to decay, And make Time's spoils despised every where. Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life, So thou prevent'st his scythe and crooked knife.
O truant Muse what shall be thy amends For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed? Both truth and beauty on my love depends; So dost thou too, and therein dignified. Make answer Muse: wilt thou not haply say, 'Truth needs no colour, with his colour fixed; Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay; But best is best, if never intermixed'? Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb? Excuse not silence so, for't lies in thee To make him much outlive a gilded tomb And to be praised of ages yet to be.
Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how To make him seem, long hence, as he shows now. My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming; I love not less, though less the show appear; That love is merchandized, whose rich esteeming, The owner's tongue doth publish every where. Our love was new, and then but in the spring, When I was wont to greet it with my lays; As Philomel in summer's front doth sing, And stops his pipe in growth of riper days: Not that the summer is less pleasant now Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night, But that wild music burthens every bough, And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Therefore like her, I sometime hold my tongue: Because I would not dull you with my song. Look in your glass, and there appears a face That over-goes my blunt invention quite, Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace. Were it not sinful then, striving to mend, To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other pass my verses tend Than of your graces and your gifts to tell; And more, much more, than in my verse can sit, Your own glass shows you when you look in it. To me, fair friend, you never can be old, For as you were when first your eye I ey'd, Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold, Have from the forests shook three summers' pride, Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned, In process of the seasons have I seen, Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned, Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Let not my love be called idolatry, Nor my beloved as an idol show, Since all alike my songs and praises be To one, of one, still such, and ever so. Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind, Still constant in a wondrous excellence; Therefore my verse to constancy confined, One thing expressing, leaves out difference. Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument, Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words; And in this change is my invention spent, Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
Fair, kind, and true, have often lived alone, Which three till now, never kept seat in one. When in the chronicle of wasted time I see descriptions of the fairest wights, And beauty making beautiful old rhyme, In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights, Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best, Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow, I see their antique pen would have expressed Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies Of this our time, all you prefiguring; And for they looked but with divining eyes, They had not skill enough your worth to sing: For we, which now behold these present days, Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise. Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul Of the wide world dreaming on things to come, Can yet the lease of my true love control, Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured, And the sad augurs mock their own presage; Incertainties now crown themselves assured, And peace proclaims olives of endless age. Now with the drops of this most balmy time, My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes, Since, spite of him, I'll live in this poor rhyme, While he insults o'er dull and speechless tribes: And thou in this shalt find thy monument, When tyrants' crests and tombs of brass are spent.
What's in the brain that ink may character Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit? What's new to speak, what now to register, That may express my love, or thy dear merit? Nothing, sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine, I must each day say o'er the very same; Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine, Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name. So that eternal love in love's fresh case, Weighs not the dust and injury of age, Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place, But makes antiquity for aye his page; Finding the first conceit of love there bred, Where time and outward form would show it dead.
Never believe though in my nature reigned, All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood, That it could so preposterously be stained, To leave for nothing all thy sum of good; For nothing this wide universe I call, Save thou, my rose, in it thou art my all. Now all is done, have what shall have no end: Mine appetite I never more will grind On newer proof, to try an older friend, A god in love, to whom I am confined. Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best, Even to thy pure and most most loving breast. Thence comes it that my name receives a brand, And almost thence my nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer's hand: Pity me, then, and wish I were renewed; Whilst, like a willing patient, I will drink Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection; No bitterness that I will bitter think, Nor double penance, to correct correction.
Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye, Even that your pity is enough to cure me. Your love and pity doth the impression fill, Which vulgar scandal stamped upon my brow; For what care I who calls me well or ill, So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow? You are my all-the-world, and I must strive To know my shames and praises from your tongue; None else to me, nor I to none alive, That my steeled sense or changes right or wrong.
In so profound abysm I throw all care Of others' voices, that my adder's sense To critic and to flatterer stopped are. Mark how with my neglect I do dispense: You are so strongly in my purpose bred, That all the world besides methinks y'are dead. Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind; And that which governs me to go about Doth part his function and is partly blind, Seems seeing, but effectually is out; For it no form delivers to the heart Of bird, of flower, or shape which it doth latch: Of his quick objects hath the mind no part, Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch; For if it see the rud'st or gentlest sight, The most sweet favour or deformed'st creature, The mountain or the sea, the day or night, The crow, or dove, it shapes them to your feature.
Incapable of more, replete with you, My most true mind thus maketh mine eye untrue. Or whether doth my mind, being crowned with you, Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery? Or whether shall I say, mine eye saith true, And that your love taught it this alchemy, To make of monsters and things indigest Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble, Creating every bad a perfect best, As fast as objects to his beams assemble? Those lines that I before have writ do lie, Even those that said I could not love you dearer: Yet then my judgment knew no reason why My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.
But reckoning Time, whose million'd accidents Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of kings, Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents, Divert strong minds to the course of altering things; Alas! Love is a babe, then might I not say so, To give full growth to that which still doth grow? Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all, Wherein I should your great deserts repay, Forgot upon your dearest love to call, Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day; That I have frequent been with unknown minds, And given to time your own dear-purchased right; That I have hoisted sail to all the winds Which should transport me farthest from your sight.
Book both my wilfulness and errors down, And on just proof surmise accumulate; Bring me within the level of your frown, But shoot not at me in your wakened hate; Since my appeal says I did strive to prove The constancy and virtue of your love. Like as, to make our appetites more keen, With eager compounds we our palate urge; As, to prevent our maladies unseen, We sicken to shun sickness when we purge; Even so, being full of your ne'er-cloying sweetness, To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding; And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness To be diseased, ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, to anticipate The ills that were not, grew to faults assured, And brought to medicine a healthful state Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cured; But thence I learn and find the lesson true, Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you. What potions have I drunk of Siren tears, Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within, Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears, Still losing when I saw myself to win!
What wretched errors hath my heart committed, Whilst it hath thought itself so blessed never! How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted, In the distraction of this madding fever! O benefit of ill! So I return rebuked to my content, And gain by ills thrice more than I have spent. That you were once unkind befriends me now, And for that sorrow, which I then did feel, Needs must I under my transgression bow, Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel. For if you were by my unkindness shaken, As I by yours, you've passed a hell of time; And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.
But that your trespass now becomes a fee; Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me. Or on my frailties why are frailer spies, Which in their wills count bad what I think good? No, I am that I am, and they that level At my abuses reckon up their own: I may be straight though they themselves be bevel; By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown; Unless this general evil they maintain, All men are bad and in their badness reign. Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain Full charactered with lasting memory, Which shall above that idle rank remain, Beyond all date, even to eternity: Or, at the least, so long as brain and heart Have faculty by nature to subsist; Till each to razed oblivion yield his part Of thee, thy record never can be missed.
That poor retention could not so much hold, Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score; Therefore to give them from me was I bold, To trust those tables that receive thee more: To keep an adjunct to remember thee Were to import forgetfulness in me. No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change: Thy pyramids built up with newer might To me are nothing novel, nothing strange; They are but dressings of a former sight. Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire What thou dost foist upon us that is old; And rather make them born to our desire Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy, Not wondering at the present nor the past, For thy records and what we see doth lie, Made more or less by thy continual haste. This I do vow and this shall ever be; I will be true despite thy scythe and thee. If my dear love were but the child of state, It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered, As subject to Time's love or to Time's hate, Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No, it was builded far from accident; It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls Under the blow of thralled discontent, Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls: It fears not policy, that heretic, Which works on leases of short-number'd hours, But all alone stands hugely politic, That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers. To this I witness call the fools of time, Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime. Were't aught to me I bore the canopy, With my extern the outward honouring, Or laid great bases for eternity, Which proves more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour Lose all and more by paying too much rent For compound sweet, forgoing simple savour, Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent? No; let me be obsequious in thy heart, And take thou my oblation, poor but free, Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art, But mutual render, only me for thee.
Hence, thou suborned informer! O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour; Who hast by waning grown, and therein showest Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self growest. If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack, As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back, She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill May time disgrace and wretched minutes kill.
Priam is murdered with his family, not, in any strict sense, his peers. The answer lies, I think, in that phantasmagoria for that is his word , into which recollection of classical texts faded for the poet: creative forgetting rather than the anxiety of influence. Priam and the other Trojans too old for battle have taken their seats for the single combat proposed between Paris and Menelaus as a way of resolving the entire dispute.
In her sweet countenance shine Looks like the Goddesses.
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And yet though never so divine Before we boast, unjustly still, of her enforced prise, And justly suffer for her sake, with all our progenies, Labour and ruin, let her go; the profit of our land, Must pass the beauty. The new rhyme takes us beyond lacrimae rerum years of tears , and into a conjunction which imbricates a little further the meanings of the text it supplants. Yeats was wedded to it. Here, I suggest, Yeats is turning a private frame of reference to the Trojan war to Celtic account as he moves from the sprinkling of fanciful classical allusions in unsatisfactory early works, towards the discovery of an individual voice.
Here are the lines Yeats intended should open editions of his collected poems. Patrick You who are bent, and bald, and blind, With a heavy heart and a wandering mind, Have known three centuries, poets sing, Of dalliance with a demon thing.
A citron colour gloomed in her hair, But down to her feet white vesture flowed, And with the glimmering crimson glowed Of many a figured embroidery; And it was bound with a pearl-pale shell That wavered like the summer streams, As her soft bosom rose and fell. Patrick You are still wrecked among heathen dreams VP When Aeneas in the Carthaginian temple looks at the painting of the wreck of Troy, he is already a character in a legend, just as. Patrick knows Oisin from a three hundred year old legend. The same is true of Oisin but he takes a simpler attitude:. But the tale, though words be lighter than air, Must live to be old like the wandering moon VP 3.
A royal crown was on her head; And a brown mantle of precious silk, Spangled with stars of red gold, Covering her shoes down to the grass. A gold ring was hanging down From each yellow curl of her golden hair; Her eyes blue, clear, and cloudless, Like a dew drop on the top of the grass. A garment wide, long, and smooth, Covered the white steed; There was a comely saddle of red gold, And her right hand held a bridle with a golden bit. What they undertook to do They brought to pass; All things hang like a drop of dew Upon a blade of grass VP Who dreamed that beauty passes like a dream?
For these red lips, with all their mournful pride, Mournful that no new wonder may betide, Troy passed away in one high funeral gleam, And Usna's children died. We and the labouring world are passing by: Amid men's souls, that waver and give place Like the pale waters in their wintry race, Under the passing stars, foam of the sky, Lives on this lonely face VP This brilliant stroke is dissipated, however, by the third stanza.
Bow down, archangels, in your dim abode: Before you were, or any hearts to beat, Weary and kind one lingered by His seat; He made the world to be a grassy road Before her wandering feet VP Dodds told the story to Derry Jeffares NC As she stepped out of that hansom cab in Bedford Park on 30 January , did she know what pre-existent phantasmagoria she was stepping into? I was twenty-three years old when the troubling of my life began Presently she drove up to our house in Bedford Park I had never thought to see in a living woman so great beauty. It belonged to famous pictures, to poetry, to some legendary past.
A complexion like the blossom of apples, and yet face and body had the beauty of lineaments which Blake calls the highest beauty because it changes least from youth to age, and a stature so great that she seemed of a divine race. Her movements were worthy of her form, and I understood at last why the poet of antiquity, where we would but speak of face and form, sings, loving some lady, that she paces like a goddess. I remember nothing of her speech that day except that she vexed my father by praise of war, for she too was of the Romantic movement and found those uncontrovertible Victorian reasons, that seemed to announce so prosperous a future, a little grey.
As I look backward, it seems to me that she brought into my life in those days—for as yet I saw only what lay upon the surface—the middle of the tint, a sound as of a Burmese gong, an overpowering tumult that had yet many pleasant secondary notes. She vexed my father by praise of war, war for its own sake, not as the creator of certain virtues but as if there were some virtue in excitement itself. I supported her against my father She said, and turning away, shone radiant with her rosy neck, and from her head ambrosial locks breathed divine fragrance: her robe hung flowing to the ground, and by her gait the goddess stood confessed.
The hero, soon as he knew her for his mother She had arrived to fulfill a role he had created for her in his work, walking into his script as a goddess walks, with her shape-changing ability to recall associated types. These wondrous scenes while the Trojan prince surveys, while he is lost in thought, and in one gaze stands unmoved; Queen Dido, of surpassing beauty, advanced to the temple, attended by a numerous retinue of youth.
But what cared I that set him on to ride, I, starved for the bosom of his faery bride? Her quasisupernatural grandeur finds its way into the closing lines of Cathleen ni Houlihan , the play in which she took the title role in Peter [to Patrick, laying a hand on his arm]. Did you see an old woman going down the path? I did not, but I saw a young girl, and she had the walk of a queen. Mr Yeats himself is far happier than others in having an earthly home as well, to which he can turn the longings of an exile. For there is a spirit of exile with which some men are born, and even in their own native country they do not escape the torment of its savage indignation.
Plate 5 is blown up from a tiny thumbnail sketch by Jack B. Yeats, and pasted into a copy of The Wind Among the Reeds Since I was a boy I have always longed to hear poems spoken to a harp, as I imagined Homer to have spoken his, for it is not natural to enjoy an art only when one is by oneself.
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Who was reading? And which version? Who else was present? Was there music? Yeats would cheat when asked to translate Greek from sight by laying his crib inside his book. Plate 5. In the same situation, many of us have been at the mercy of some literal translation interlineated in our schoolbooks by a previous owner. Yeats turned to a poet for help. Once I nodded, and would have dropped asleep if I had not laughed.
And he caught up a swift arrow that lay bare upon the board, He laid it on the bow-bridge and the nock, and the string he drew; And thence, from his seat on the settle, he shot a shaft that flew Straight aimed—and of all the axes missed not a single head! From the first ring through and through them and out at the last it sped! Night after night in winter, Gaelic story-tellers would chant old poems to them over the poteen; and night after night in summer, when the Gaelic story-tellers were at work in the fields or away at the fishing, they would read to one another Virgil and Homer, for they would not enjoy in solitude, but as the ancients enjoyed Myth , Homer and Virgil were taught in Irish hedge schools.
The dreams of beauty that formed themselves in the mind of the blind poet become flat and vapid when he embodies them in the well-known names of Helen and Venus. Strange, but the man who made the song was blind; Yet, now I have considered it, I find That nothing strange; the tragedy began With Homer that was a blind man, And Helen has all living hearts betrayed VP That the topless towers be burnt And men recall that face, Move most gently if move you must In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child, That nobody looks; her feet Practice a tinker shuffle Picked up on a street. Like a long-legged fly upon the stream Her mind moves upon silence VP All lives that has lived; So much is certain; Old sages were not deceived: Somewhere beyond the curtain Of distorting days Lives that lonely thing That shone before these eyes Targeted, trod like spring VP A key passage in the setting copy for the republication of The Adoration of the Magi in the same book the first time that the poems and the prose had appeared together is found in Plate 6.
Plate 6. In that early version, first published in , she whispers to them the secret names of the immortal Irish gods just before she expires. This rather vigorously cross-hatched revision of the text shows Yeats deleting that passage, and offering instead:.
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Pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis, quae temptare Thetin ratibus, quae cingere muris oppida, quae iubeant telluri infindere sulcos. A shudder in the loins engenders there The broken wall, the burning roof and tower And Agamemnon dead VP I saw a staring virgin stand Where holy Dionysus died, And tear the heart out of his side, And lay the heart upon her hand And bear that beating heart away; And then did all the muses sing Of Magnus Annus at the spring, As though God's death were but a play.
The Roman Empire stood appalled: It dropped the reins of peace and war When that fierce virgin and her Star Out of the fabulous darkness called The old inflects the new as the new inflects the rewriting of the old: rereading shows him writing while discovering his intentions for what to write. Early Poems and Stories compelled such self-imbrication, and not merely because of the co-presence in that volume of the early verse and prose. I believe there are two defining moments, the first a matter of seeing clearly his own emerging poetic strength, the second a conceptual refinement of that aesthetic into an ethic, largely because he himself became interested, just as Virgil had been, in the larger rhythms of human destiny.
The Two Kings is immortal, and immortal because of its intensity and concentration. In The Two Kings there is another quality often sought for by Tennyson, but never attained, and that is splendor of imagination , a liberating splendor , cold as sunrise. Grammar should come when the need comes. As he grows older he will read to me the great lyric poets and I will talk to him about Plato. Do not teach him one word of Latin. The Roman people were the classic decadence, their literature form without matter.
They destroyed Milton, the French seventeenth and our own eighteenth century, and our schoolmasters even to-day read Greek with Latin eyes. Greece, could we but approach it with eyes as young as its own, might renew our youth If he wants to learn Irish after he is well founded in Greek, let him — it will clear his eyes of the Latin miasma.
If you will not do what I say, whether the curriculum or your own will restrain, and my son comes from school a smatterer like his father, may your soul lie chained on the Red Sea bottom Ex Things thought too long can be no longer thought, For beauty dies of beauty, worth of worth, And ancient lineaments are blotted out.
Irrational streams of blood are staining earth; Empedocles has thrown all things about; Hector is dead and there's a light in Troy; We that look on but laugh in tragic joy. What matter?