Monday, April 16, 2018

Forty-one False Starts


Self-portrait by David Salle, 1994.

It’s Monday. It was raining pails before in NYC. Now it’s sunny. This back and forth weather has made my throat a sieve. I’m groggy from enduring the past few weeks. My body is healing. I feel better but at a lower charge than my usual high wattage self. So much to share, I’ve done so much over sharing in some ways, but yeah, not enough stamina to go into it all now. Maybe never. I believe in secrets.

Instead of deep, dumb thoughts I will share the beginning of Janet Malcolm’s art-famous-y profile piece on David Salle from 1994. It’s called Forty-one False Starts and it is reveals/shows/bends the subject/topic/self of Salle forty-one times. It’s a clever device and should be able to do more but still, it’s a fun read. (Link to full article)

Salle. Male artists. A certain generation. A certain time in New York. In the Art World. What/How/Has anything even changed?

Enjoy.


Janet Malcolm
July 11, 1994

Forty-one False Starts
How does the painter David Salle know when to stop? How does the author know where to start? It’s all a question of process.

1
There are places in New York where the city’s anarchic, unaccommodating spirit, its fundamental, irrepressible aimlessness and heedlessness have found especially firm footholds. Certain transfers between subway lines, passageways of almost transcendent sordidness; certain sites of torn-down buildings where parking lots have silently sprung up like fungi; certain intersections created by illogical confluences of streets—these express with particular force the city’s penchant for the provisional and its resistance to permanence, order, closure. To get to the painter David Salle’s studio, walking west on White Street, you have to traverse one of these disquieting intersections—that of White and Church Streets and an interloping Sixth Avenue—which has created an unpleasantly wide expanse of street to cross, interrupted by a wedge-shaped island on which a commercial plant nursery has taken up forlorn and edgy residence, surrounding itself with a high wire fence and keeping truculently irregular hours. Other businesses that have arisen around the intersection—the seamy Baby Doll Lounge, with its sign offering “Go-Go Girls”; the elegant Ristorante Arquá; the nameless grocery and Lotto center; the dour Kinney parking lot—have a similar atmosphere of insularity and transience. Nothing connects with anything else, and everything looks as if it might disappear overnight. The corner feels like a no man’s land and—if one happens to be thinking about David Salle—looks like one of his paintings.

Salle’s studio, on the second floor of a five-story loft building, is a long room lit with bright, cold overhead light. It is not a beautiful studio. Like the streets outside, it gives no quarter to the visitor in search of the picturesque. It doesn’t even have a chair for the visitor to sit in, unless you count a backless, half-broken metal swivel chair Salle will offer with a murmur of inattentive apology. Upstairs, in his living quarters, it is another story. But down here everything has to do with work and with being alone.
A disorderly profusion of printed pictorial matter covers the surfaces of tables in the middle of the room: art books, art journals, catalogues, brochures mingle with loose illustrations, photographs, odd pictures ripped from magazines. Scanning these complicated surfaces, the visitor feels something of the sense of rebuff he feels when looking at Salle’s paintings, a sense that this is all somehow none of one’s business. Here lie the sources of Salle’s postmodern art of “borrowed” or “quoted” images—the reproductions of famous old and modern paintings, the advertisements, the comics, the photographs of nude or half-undressed women, the fabric and furniture designs that he copies and puts into his paintings—but one’s impulse, as when coming into a room of Salle’s paintings, is to politely look away. Salle’s hermeticism, the private, almost secretive nature of his interests and tastes and intentions, is a signature of his work. Glancing at the papers he has made no effort to conceal gives one the odd feeling of having broken into a locked desk drawer.

On the walls of the studio are five or six canvases, on which Salle works simultaneously. In the winter of 1992, when I began visiting him in his studio, he was completing a group of paintings for a show in Paris in April. The paintings had a dense, turgid character. Silk-screen excerpts from Indian architectural ornament, chair designs, and photographic images of a woman wrapped in cloth were overlaid with drawings of some of the forms in Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,” rendered in slashing, ungainly brushstrokes, together with images of coils of rope, pieces of fruit, and eyes. Salle’s earlier work had been marked by a kind of spaciousness, sometimes an emptiness, such as Surrealist works are prone to. But here everything was condensed, impacted, mired. The paintings were like an ugly mood. Salle himself, a slight, handsome man with shoulder-length dark hair, which he wears severely tied back, like a matador, was feeling bloody-minded. He was going to be forty the following September. He had broken up with his girlfriend, the choreographer and dancer Karole Armitage. His moment was passing. Younger painters were receiving attention. He was being passed over. But he was also being attacked. He was not looking forward to the Paris show. He hated Paris, with its “heavily subsidized aestheticism.” He disliked his French dealer. . . .

2
In a 1991 interview with the screenwriter Becky Johnston, during a discussion of what Johnston impatiently called “this whole Neo-Expressionist Zeitgeist Postmodernist Whatever-you-want-to-call-it Movement” and its habit of “constantly looking backward and reworking or recontextualizing art history,” the painter David Salle said, with disarming frankness, “You mustn’t underestimate the extent to which all this was a process of educating ourselves. Our generation was pathetically educated, just pathetic beyond imagination. I was better educated than many. Julian”—the painter Julian Schnabel—“was totally uneducated. But I wasn’t much better, frankly. We had to educate ourselves in a hundred different ways. Because if you had been hanging around the Conceptual artists all you learned about was the Frankfurt School. It was as if nothing existed before or after. So part of it was the pledge of self-education—you know, going to Venice, looking at great paintings, looking at great architecture, looking at great furniture—and having very early the opportunity to kind of buy stuff. That’s a form of self-education. It’s not just about acquisition. It was a tremendous explosion of information and knowledge.”

To kind of buy stuff. What is the difference between buying stuff and kind of buying it? Is “kind of buying” buying with a bad conscience, buying with the ghost of the Frankfurt School grimly looking over your shoulder and smiting its forehead as it sees the money actually leave your hand? This ghost, or some relative of it, has hung over all the artists who, like Salle, made an enormous amount of money in the eighties, when they were still in their twenties or barely into their thirties. In the common perception, there is something unseemly about young people getting rich. Getting rich is supposed to be the reward for hard work, preferably arriving when you are too old to enjoy it. And the spectacle of young millionaires who made their bundle not from business or crime but from avant-garde art is particularly offensive. The avant-garde is supposed to be the conscience of the culture, not its id.

3
All during my encounter with the artist David Salle—he and I met for interviews in his studio, on White Street, over a period of two years—I was acutely conscious of his money. Even when I got to know him and like him, I couldn’t dispel the disapproving, lefty, puritanical feeling that would somehow be triggered each time we met, whether it was by the sight of the assistant sitting at a sort of hair-salon receptionist’s station outside the studio door; or by the expensive furniture of a fifties corporate style in the upstairs loft, where he lives; or by the mineral water he would bring out during our talks and pour into white paper cups, which promptly lost their takeout-counter humbleness and assumed the hauteur of the objects in the Design Collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Salle was one of the fortunate art stars of the eighties—young men and women plucked from semi-poverty and transformed into millionaires by genies disguised as art dealers. The idea of a rich avant-garde has never sat well with members of my generation. Serious artists, as we know them or like to think of them, are people who get by but do not have a lot of money. They live with second or third wives or husbands and with children from the various marriages, and they go to Cape Cod in the summer. Their apartments are filled with faded Persian carpets and cat-clawed sofas and beautiful and odd objects bought before anyone else saw their beauty. Salle’s loft was designed by an architect. Everything in it is sleek, cold, expensive, unused. A slight sense of quotation mark hovers in the air, but it is very slight—it may not even be there—and it doesn’t dispel the atmosphere of dead-serious connoisseurship by which the room is dominated.

4
During one of my visits to the studio of the artist David Salle, he told me that he never revises. Every brushstroke is irrevocable. He doesn’t correct or repaint, ever. He works under the dire conditions of performance. Everything counts, nothing may be taken back, everything must always go relentlessly forward, and a mistake may be fatal. One day, he showed me a sort of murdered painting. He had worked on it a little too long, taken a misstep, killed it.

5
The artist David Salle and I are sitting at a round table in my apartment. He is a slight, handsome man of thirty-nine, with dark shoulder-length hair, worn tightly sleeked back and bound with a rubber band, accentuating his appearance of quickness and lightness, of being sort of streamlined. He wears elegant, beautifully polished shoes and speaks in a low, cultivated voice. His accent has no trace of the Midwest, where he grew up, the son of second-generation Russian Jewish parents. It has no affectation, either. He is agreeable, ironic, a little detached. “I can’t remember what we talked about last time,” he says. “I have no memory. I remember making the usual artist’s complaints about critics, and then saying, ‘Well, that’s terribly boring, we don’t want to be stuck talking about that’—and then talking about that. I had a kind of bad feeling about it afterward. I felt inadequate.”

6
The artist David Salle and I met for the first time in the fall of 1991. A few months earlier, we had spoken on the telephone about a mystifying proposal of his: that I write the text for a book of reproductions of his paintings, to be published by Rizzoli. When I told him that there must be some mistake, that I was not an art historian or an art critic, and had but the smallest acquaintance with his work, he said no, there wasn’t a mistake. He was deliberately looking for someone outside the art world, for an “interesting writer,” who would write an unconventional text. As he talked, I found myself reluctant to say no to him then and there, even though I knew I would eventually have to refuse. Something about the man made me say I would think about it. He then said that to acquaint me with his work and with himself he would send some relevant writings. A few days later, a stylish package arrived, preceded by a telephone call from an assistant at Salle’s studio to arrange the details of delivery. It contained three or four exhibition catalogues, several critical articles, and various published interviews, together with a long interview that was still in typescript but was bound in a hard black cover. It was by the screenwriter Becky Johnston, who, I later learned, was an “interesting writer” Salle had previously approached to do the Rizzoli book. She had done the interview in preparation for the text but had never written it.

7
David Salle’s art has an appearance of mysterious, almost preternatural originality, and yet nothing in it is new; everything has had a previous life elsewhere—in master paintings, advertising art, comics, photographs. Other artists have played the game of appropriation or quotation that Salle plays—Duchamp, Schwitters, Ernst, Picabia, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Johns—but none with such reckless inventiveness. Salle’s canvases are like bad parodies of the Freudian unconscious. They are full of images that don’t belong together: a woman taking off her clothes, the Spanish Armada, a kitschy fabric design, an eye.

8
David Salle is recognized as the leading American postmodernist painter. He is the most authoritative exemplar of the movement, which has made a kind of mockery of art history, treating the canon of world art as if it were a gigantic, dog-eared catalogue crammed with tempting buys and equipped with a helpful twenty-four-hour-a-day 800 number. Salle’s selections from the catalogue have a brilliant perversity. Nothing has an obvious connection to anything else, and everything glints with irony and a sort of icy melancholy. His jarring juxtapositions of incongruous images and styles point up with special sharpness the paradox on which this art of appropriated matter is poised: its mysterious, almost preternatural appearance of originality. After one looks at a painting by Salle, works of normal signature-style art—paintings done in a single style with an intelligible thematic—begin to seem pale and meagre, kind of played out. Paintings like Salle’s—the unabashed products of, if not vandalism, a sort of cold-eyed consumerism—are entirely free of any “anxiety of influence.” For all their borrowings, they seem unprecedented, like a new drug or a new crime. They are rootless, fatherless and motherless.

9
The artist David Salle has given so many interviews, has been the subject of so many articles, has become so widely inscribed as an emblematic figure of the eighties art world that it is no longer possible to do a portrait of him simply from life. The heavy shadow of prior encounters with journalists and critics falls over each fresh encounter. Every writer has come too late, no writer escapes the sense of Bloomian belatedness that the figure of Salle evokes. One cannot behave as if one had just met him, and Salle himself behaves like the curator of a sort of museum of himself, helpfully guiding visitors through the exhibition rooms and steering them toward the relevant literature. At the Gagosian Gallery, on Madison Avenue, where he exhibits, there is a two-and-a-half-foot-long file drawer devoted exclusively to published writings about Salle’s art and person.

My own encounter with Salle was most heavily shadowed by the interviews he had given two writers, Peter Schjeldahl and Becky Johnston. Reading their dialogues with him was like listening to conversations between brilliant characters in a hastily written but inspired play of advanced ideas and intense, slightly mysterious relationships.

10
The spectre of wrongdoing hovers more luridly over visual art than over literature or music. The forger, the pornographer, and the fraud are stock figures in the allegory that constitutes the popular conception of the art world as a place of exciting evil and cunning. The artist David Salle has the distinction of being associated with all three crimes. His paintings are filled with “borrowed” images (twice he has settled out of court with irked owners); often contain drawings of naked or half-undressed women standing or lying in indecent, if not especially arousing, positions; and have an appearance of messy disjunction that could be dismissed (and has been dismissed by Hilton Kramer, Robert Hughes, and Arthur Danto) as ineptitude palming itself off as advanced art. Most critics, however, have without hesitation accepted Salle’s work as advanced art, and some of them—Peter Schjeldahl, Sanford Schwartz, Michael Brenson, Robert Rosenblum, and Lisa Liebmann, for example—have celebrated its transgressive quality and placed his paintings among the works that most authoritatively express our time and are apt to become its permanent monuments.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Perfect Night




Here are examples of some perfect nights to do or imagine.


Order in bad/good/basic Chinese food and put on favorite comfy outfit. Eat out of the box and listen to podcasts. Lie in bed and binge watch something that you would be a bit embarrassed to watch with anyone else. Take a sleeping pill around 10pm and get ready for bed. Go to bed.

Invite a friend over you haven’t seen in a while but every time you hangout it doesn’t feel like you missed a beat. Go to store together to pick up ingredients. Chop things together and drink wine. Have music playing low in the background. Cook things together and gossip (but not in a mean way). Eat together and talk about deeper topics. Clean up together and drink one more glass of wine and then say goodnight. Hug and say you want to see them again soon.

Text the person you are sleeping with and tell them you want to have sushi and sex. They are into it. They pick up sushi and bring to your place. You eat sushi in bed and then make out and have sex. Then you clean up sushi and they put on their clothes and leave.

Get text from friend near end of workday and meet them at a cheap bar for cheap drinks. Talk while it’s still light out. Buy a bag of chips to stave off hunger. Talk and talk and talk till you can’t talk anymore. Get on subway a bit buzzed but happy. Make yourself a quick easy, filling dinner and take a warm shower.

Meet a new person you are dating at an opening. Excited to see them but also have friends there so feels not too serious. See them. Say hi and chat. Sort of hang out with them but also with friends. If they seem cool to hang out with ask them to go to after party. If they are fun at the after party, maybe make out with them or hook up with them if you are bored or sad.

Have someone make you dinner and you sip wine on the couch and stay out of their way. You help with cleaning and do the dishes. Smoke cigarettes out the window and look at the city.

If it’s a snowstorm outside: You, your pets, something warm like a stew or soup. Bake something easy, like cookies. Read a book that is good and easy or maybe a poem or two out loud. Lots of blankets and candles.

It it’s hot outside: You, and a friend or lover, wearing, light, airy clothes, preferably only one article of clothing. Hat or sunglasses. An iced beverage, like lemonade. A piece of fabric to be used as a sheet/table to sit/lay on. Comfortable shoes so you can explore. Weed if you smoke weed. Cigarettes and roof access.

Go to the museum at night. Meet on the steps. Get tickets. Walk near each other but don’t hold hands. Go to the park. Walk and maybe hold hands if you feel romantic towards them. If not, it’s okay to still feel close to them. Throw rocks into water. Go to an old timey bar or deli. Eat and drink casually. Outside if it’s warm. Take subway back downtown. Both close eyes and relax. Say goodbye when you part ways.

Go to friends house for a dinner party. Meet interesting people. Drink and eat yummy things. Feel warm and excepted. Feel fresh and invigorated. Share ideas not small talk. Want to feel close to everyone but not in a possessive way. Help friend be the best host they can be but not taking over. Meet someone you want to be better friends with. Leave with new emails/phone numbers and say you will contact them but you know it probably won’t happen and that’s ok.

Watch a movie on the couch. Spoon. Snuggle. Make out. Pause Movie. Have Sex. Continue to watch movie on the couch. Repeat as many times as you want to.  

Monday, April 2, 2018

Bodies




I went to the show at The Met, Like Life, Sculpture, Color, And The Body (1300 - Now), this weekend and it is show everyone should see. I could go on and on about it but I'm too busy today sadly... If you haven’t seen it yet, go. It’s dense, full and it makes you feel all sorts of things but more than that it makes you think things. Animal things. Fleshy, pinprick things. Sex. Death...

We are just vessels on this earth and who knows what for or why.

I have been thinking about the body in other ways as well. My own and others.

My own because I have to do something that makes me think of it as a thing. An absorbing pad of water, muscles and veins which ceaselessly pumps and moves and lives.

Others because the presence or absence of another person can feel like a blessing or a curse. It’s strange the twinged awareness you can feel when someone is missing not just in thought but in flesh.

We all have bodies. We all want bodies. We all hate bodies. We all hurt bodies.

I’m having a bit of brain/body detachment as I have too much to do to fully write but bloop. There were some thoughts. Go see the MET show! And look at yourself naked in a full-length mirror (alone) at least once in a while. It’s strange. Wild.



The Opposite of the Body, by Robin Ekiss



Of the face in general, let me say it’s a house
built by men and lived in by their dreams.

When you’ve been plucking eyes
out of the floorboards as long as I have,

you’ll see this, just as you’d see
the patience it requires

to render an eyebrown, half an hour
and an understanding of architecture.

When you see your body,
think its opposite: not the bridge,

but its lighted face reflecting the water,
some other city as seen from a ship—

your forehead, once ponderous,
now light as umbrellas—

still not beautiful enough to make time stop.
The pleasure in being a woman’s

knowing everything’s borrowed
and can’t be denied,

as when you take apart a clock,
there’s always another inside.

Monday, March 26, 2018

My Boring/Busy/Beautiful Life This Past Week, Part V


Creative dinner party guests

So, I know I said I’d have some real deep art thoughts by this week but man, what a week I just had. I’m trying to re-stabilize and although I saw art and thought art thoughts, I’m too exhausted to make them coherent and I have a lot of work to do for my day job so I’m going to give you one of these things. It’s been a few months, seems chill and there is art stuff in here to (sort of...).

Soon, I swear, this blog will be worth reading again.


Monday 19

I completely don’t remember anything from this day. I know I went to work. I think I just went home and did things like clean my apartment and read or something but I truly do not remember. I’ve been thinking about how my memory has been lately. I sometimes forget complete days, weeks, years, people, and entire relationships. I’m not sure if that’s good, bad or early onset something. Has me worried…

Tuesday 20

Went to work. Went on a date. Went to Samuri Mama and basically ate the same meal as the other person which was sort of funny. Went to a bar and chatted. The person gave me lox from Zabar’s as a gift because I mentioned I was craving lox and bagels the last time we hung out. We talked and grunge music was on so we sang along sometimes. We decided to play pool. We start playing pool and this young, hip looking couple come up and ask if they can play. We say yes because we are both polite. They ask us assertively ‘What Do You Do?” we told them and we asked what they did because it seemed like that was what they wanted to be asked and they said “Lawyers” and I asked them what kind of law and they said “Defense.” They beat us at pool, I am really bad at pool, and they were kind of being dicks but it was fine because we were having fun with each other and basically ignored them. I doubt they were lawyers.

Wednesday 21

Snow Day! Was a bit hung over from night before so took it easy in the morning. Made weird food for lunch. Someone came over and they told me the plot of a TV show they had an idea for. It was about a Hasidic family in Williamsburg. It was captivating. I wish HBO would make it. We made pizza and a salad and talked most of the day. I was supposed to have Reading Group but it got cancelled which was for the best because I didn’t feel like leaving my apartment and the book we are reading sort of sucks. I played with my cats. Thought about my life choices and binge watched Netflix until bed.

Thursday 22

Went to work. Went to Coop to get groceries for dinner I was making for Saturday. Missed someone a lot that day and made me sad but that’s life eh? Saw friend when getting out of Uber with boxes of groceries and they helped me upstairs which was really nice. Had to get ready to meet friend for dinner back in Manhattan. Got bad news email on train and almost cried in public. Walked to restaurant and felt sad walking past ex’s place. Had nice dinner at Café Pastico with friend in from LA who is opening show later that week. She is funny and quite but not shy. Waiter was being weird. Went to Clandestino for drinks. Saw a few people I knew, chatted but remained in deep conversation with friend. Was nice. Felt better.

Friday 23

Went to work. Had to deal with bad news email all day. Was very upsetting. It’s about my eggs and freezing and $10,000. Feels hopeless. Feel like universe is fucking with me big time. Crying to customer service, doctor’s office and mom. Go to Grace Church to chill out and meditate on why god seems to be pissed at me. Feel calmer, get udon. Sit at desk blankly and feel like I am in a black hole. Leave work and pick up spices at Indian store on 1st Ave. Stop in Bodega to see friend’s show. It’s really good and poetic. Feel better. Go to Karma to pick up friend and look at show. It’s good and it makes me feel better. We go to the F to go uptown but I’m exhausted emotionally and ask if we can bail. She says sure so we go to Tile bar for $3 wines. We drink and talk and time gets away from us. We are missing all the openings of our friends we were planning to go to. I feel guilty but the bad news email makes me feel like everyone will understand. We go to Honey’s for the after parties. We know a lot of people there so feels fun and chill. There is a guy there who has been DMing me and we make eyes. I find out he has a girlfriend and that she is there and so I’m like, heck no, and stop making eyes with him. I DM someone to see if they want to meet me at bar. They never show up. I talk to a guy who works at a cool gallery and ask him why he wants to be my friend so bad. He gets earnest and tells me he has no friends and is lonely. I feel for him and tell him he can text me to hang if he wants but only as friends. We do drugs and drink and do more of that most of the night. Me and my friend have deep talks. It feels like an intense night. Someone asks me if my friend and me want to have a threesome – eww, no. Someone asks me if they can go home with me, it’s 3:30am and I’m like, no thank you. I take a car home and driver is trying to chit chat. I tell him I don’t want to talk.

Saturday 24

My brain is fried and I feel like something has died inside of me. I wake up at 11am and then lay in bed for an hour hating life choices. Get up and slowly make food for dinner party. Indian beet salad, pickled apples, Chana Punjabi, chicken and rice with apricots and almonds, raita and other stuff. I have to do it in intervals because I have to take breaks since so tired from last night. Friend comes over to help set up. Have a quick but sad conversation with them. Cry while I am cutting chicken. More people come. Have dinner party. Feel tired but rally to be a good host. People seem like they are having fun. I’m not sure anymore. People leave. Two friends stay and we talk and laugh and it’s really nice. They leave and I clean up. Go to bed at 3:30am

Sunday 25

Feel like I and wrung out from over socializing. Vegetate all day but have to do work so do things on computer for a while. Friend is having her opening and meeting other friend so put on clean sweatpants and head out. Wish I could cancel but feel like I cancelled too much this week so go. Show is nice. Give friend a hug. Briefly chat with a few people. Other friend arrives. She sees the show and we are both hungry and tired so go to Café Himalaya. Food is yummy. We talk and eat and it is chill. We take train back home together. We are both so sleepy. I get home and take a hot shower and watch some TV before passing out and have sad, vivid dreams.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Questions That I Have For The Universe




Hey everyone. How’s it going? Me… I’m doing okay actually. Surprise, surprise. I think it has taken me about 4-6 weeks to get out of this major funk I was in and I’m not 100% yet but wow, what a difference. Anyways, sorry I’ve been a bit saddy-poo and a bit checked out of it all. I’ll get back into the art swing of it soon, but right now, I’m going to just ease back into thinking and wondering and that will lead to today’s post.

I’ve been thinking a lot (duh) but of late, more than that I’ve been having questions circling my mind. Many are rhetorical, but hey, sometimes all the fun is in the asking versus an answer. So here goes some off the cuff Qs jumping up and own in my head.

Ciao! Serious art/life thoughts soon…


Why do people get a pet right before they break up?

Why do I dislike flowers that are yellow and yellow in general?

Who sent me the bonsai plant from China anonymously?

Why is my cat out of his mind?

Is my other cat reincarnated and inside of him there is a person who is in love with me?

Why do people settle for a partner who sucks?

Why can’t you just say you want something and then it appears instantly before you?

What is money?

What is time?

Why can’t I remember 90% of my life?

Why don’t I care that I can’t remember 90% of my life?

If you tell someone a secret is that a form of emotional blackmail?

What’s up with God?

Can you be both self-caring and self-actualizing?

Is gluten free an actual thing or a marketing inside job?

Is love real or some form of social/neurological con-job?

How do people afford to live wherever they want?

How to people get to take months off at a time to do whatever?

Am I middle class or just fancy poor?

Can you keep being friends with someone who is selfish?

Is being selfish actually that bad?

How can people think being gay is bad?

What will 2080 look like?

Will elephants become extinct?

Why are some people terrible at kissing?

Is being shallow okay if you admit it?

Are our cell phones making us incapable of communicating with others in a deep way?

If I was a digital native would I be a better version of myself today?

Is everyone lonely?

When was I born?

Can trees feel?

Should I move to Europe and fall in love with a person with an accent?

If everyone stopped doing everything for one day, what would happen?

Why don’t I get math?

Is it better to plan your death or just wait to see what happens?

When will I start to look my age?

Why do people say big words in casual conversation?

Does any of it matter? Like at all?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Enoch Arden




I don’t feel like blogging today so instead I will share with you a narrative poem, Enoch Arden, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson first published in 1864.

I bought an old, small book of it years ago and it seems to be on my mind in the mood I am in.

Enjoy.


ENOCH ARDEN

Long lines of cliff breaking have left a chasm;
And in the chasm are foam and yellow sands;
Beyond, red roofs about a narrow wharf
In cluster; then a moulder'd church; and higher
A long street climbs to one tall-tower'd mill;
And high in heaven behind it a gray down
With Danish barrows; and a hazelwood,
By autumn nutters haunted, flourishes
Green in a cuplike hollow of the down.

  Here on this beach a hundred years ago,
Three children of three houses, Annie Lee,
The prettiest little damsel in the port,
And Philip Ray the miller's only son,
And Enoch Arden, a rough sailor's lad
Made orphan by a winter shipwreck, play'd
Among the waste and lumber of the shore,
Hard coils of cordage, swarthy fishing-nets,
Anchors of rusty fluke, and boats updrawn,
And built their castles of dissolving sand
To watch them overflow'd, or following up
And flying the white breaker, daily left
The little footprint daily wash'd away.

  A narrow cave ran in beneath the cliff:
In this the children play'd at keeping house.
Enoch was host one day, Philip the next,
While Annie still was mistress; but at times
Enoch would hold possession for a week:
`This is my house and this my little wife.'
`Mine too' said Philip `turn and turn about:'
When, if they quarrell'd, Enoch stronger-made
Was master: then would Philip, his blue eyes
All flooded with the helpless wrath of tears,
Shriek out `I hate you, Enoch,' and at this
The little wife would weep for company,
And pray them not to quarrel for her sake,
And say she would be little wife to both.

  But when the dawn of rosy childhood past,
And the new warmth of life's ascending sun
Was felt by either, either fixt his heart
On that one girl; and Enoch spoke his love,
But Philip loved in silence; and the girl
Seem'd kinder unto Philip than to him;
But she loved Enoch; tho' she knew it not,
And would if ask'd deny it.  Enoch set
A purpose evermore before his eyes,
To hoard all savings to the uttermost,
To purchase his own boat, and make a home
For Annie: and so prosper'd that at last
A luckier or a bolder fisherman,
A carefuller in peril, did not breathe
For leagues along that breaker-beaten coast
Than Enoch.  Likewise had he served a year
On board a merchantman, and made himself
Full sailor; and he thrice had pluck'd a life
From the dread sweep of the down-streaming seas:
And all me look'd upon him favorably:
And ere he touch'd his one-and-twentieth May
He purchased his own boat, and made a home
For Annie, neat and nestlike, halfway up
The narrow street that clamber'd toward the mill.

  Then, on a golden autumn eventide,
The younger people making holiday,
With bag and sack and basket, great and small,
Went nutting to the hazels.  Philip stay'd
(His father lying sick and needing him)
An hour behind; but as he climb'd the hill,
Just where the prone edge of the wood began
To feather toward the hollow, saw the pair,
Enoch and Annie, sitting hand-in-hand,
His large gray eyes and weather-beaten face
All-kindled by a still and sacred fire,
That burn'd as on an altar.  Philip look'd,
And in their eyes and faces read his doom;
Then, as their faces drew together, groan'd,
And slipt aside, and like a wounded life
Crept down into the hollows of the wood;
There, while the rest were loud in merrymaking,
Had his dark hour unseen, and rose and past
Bearing a lifelong hunger in his heart.

  So these were wed, and merrily rang the bells,
And merrily ran the years, seven happy years,
Seven happy years of health and competence,
And mutual love and honorable toil;
With children; first a daughter.  In him woke,
With his first babe's first cry, the noble wish
To save all earnings to the uttermost,
And give his child a better bringing-up
Than his had been, or hers; a wish renew'd,
When two years after came a boy to be
The rosy idol of her solitudes,
While Enoch was abroad on wrathful seas,
Or often journeying landward; for in truth
Enoch's white horse, and Enoch's ocean-spoil
In ocean-smelling osier, and his face,
Rough-redden'd with a thousand winter gales,
Not only to the market-cross were known,
But in the leafy lanes behind the down,
Far as the portal-warding lion-whelp,
And peacock-yewtree of the lonely Hall,
Whose Friday fare was Enoch's ministering.

  Then came a change, as all things human change.
Ten miles to northward of the narrow port
Open'd a larger haven: thither used
Enoch at times to go by land or sea;
And once when there, and clambering on a mast
In harbor, by mischance he slipt and fell:
A limb was broken when they lifted him;
And while he lay recovering there, his wife
Bore him another son, a sickly one:
Another hand crept too across his trade
Taking her bread and theirs: and on him fell,
Altho' a grave and staid God-fearing man,
Yet lying thus inactive, doubt and gloom.
He seem'd, as in a nightmare of the night,
To see his children leading evermore
Low miserable lives of hand-to-mouth,
And her, he loved, a beggar: then he pray'd
`Save them from this, whatever comes to me.'
And while he pray'd, the master of that ship
Enoch had served in, hearing his mischance,
Came, for he knew the man and valued him,
Reporting of his vessel China-bound,
And wanting yet a boatswain.  Would he go?
There yet were many weeks before she sail'd,
Sail'd from this port.  Would Enoch have the place?
And Enoch all at once assented to it,
Rejoicing at that answer to his prayer.

  So now that the shadow of mischance appear'd
No graver than as when some little cloud
Cuts off the fiery highway of the sun,
And isles a light in the offing: yet the wife--
When he was gone--the children--what to do?
Then Enoch lay long-pondering on his plans;
To sell the boat--and yet he loved her well--
How many a rough sea had he weather'd in her!
He knew her, as a horseman knows his horse--
And yet to sell her--then with what she brought
Buy goods and stores--set Annie forth in trade
With all that seamen needed or their wives--
So might she keep the house while he was gone.
Should he not trade himself out yonder? go
This voyage more than once? yea twice or thrice--
As oft as needed--last, returning rich,
Become the master of a larger craft,
With fuller profits lead an easier life,
Have all his pretty young ones educated,
And pass his days in peace among his own.

  Thus Enoch in his heart determined all:
Then moving homeward came on Annie pale,
Nursing the sickly babe, her latest-born.
Forward she started with a happy cry,
And laid the feeble infant in his arms;
Whom Enoch took, and handled all his limbs,
Appraised his weight and fondled fatherlike,
But had no heart to break his purposes
To Annie, till the morrow, when he spoke.

  Then first since Enoch's golden ring had girt
Her finger, Annie fought against his will:
Yet not with brawling opposition she,
But manifold entreaties, many a tear,
Many a sad kiss by day and night renew'd
(Sure that all evil would come out of it)
Besought him, supplicating, if he cared
For here or his dear children, not to go.
He not for his own self caring but her,
Her and her children, let her plead in vain;
So grieving held his will, and bore it thro'.

  For Enoch parted with his old sea-friend,
Bought Annie goods and stores, and set his hand
To fit their little streetward sitting-room
With shelf and corner for the goods and stores.
So all day long till Enoch's last at home,
Shaking their pretty cabin, hammer and axe,
Auger and saw, while Annie seem'd to hear
Her own death-scaffold raising, shrill'd and rang,
Till this was ended, and his careful hand,--
The space was narrow,--having order'd all
Almost as neat and close as Nature packs
Her blossom or her seedling, paused; and he,
Who needs would work for Annie to the last,
Ascending tired, heavily slept till morn.

  And Enoch faced this morning of farewell
Brightly and boldly.  All his Annie's fears,
Save, as his Annie's, were a laughter to him.
Yet Enoch as a brave God-fearing man
Bow'd himself down, and in that mystery
Where God-in-man is one with man-in-God,
Pray'd for a blessing on his wife and babes
Whatever came to him: and then he said
`Annie, this voyage by the grace of God
Will bring fair weather yet to all of us.
Keep a clean hearth and a clear fire for me,
For I'll be back, my girl, before you know it.'
Then lightly rocking baby's cradle `and he,
This pretty, puny, weakly little one,--
Nay--for I love him all the better for it--
God bless him, he shall sit upon my knees
And I will tell him tales of foreign parts,
And make him merry, when I come home again.
Come Annie, come, cheer up before I go.'

  Him running on thus hopefully she heard,
And almost hoped herself; but when he turn'd
The current of his talk to graver things
In sailor fashion roughly sermonizing
On providence and trust in Heaven, she heard,
Heard and not heard him; as the village girl,
Who sets her pitcher underneath the spring,
Musing on him that used to fill it for her,
Hears and not hears, and lets it overflow.

  At length she spoke `O Enoch, you are wise;
And yet for all your wisdom well know I
That I shall look upon your face no more.'

  `Well then,' said Enoch, `I shall look on yours.
Annie, the ship I sail in passes here
(He named the day) get you a seaman's glass,
Spy out my face, and laugh at all your fears.'

  But when the last of those last moments came,
`Annie my girl, cheer up, be comforted,
Look to the babes, and till I come again,
Keep everything shipshape, for I must go.
And fear no more for me; or if you fear
Cast all your cares on God; that anchor holds.
Is He not yonder in those uttermost
Parts of the morning? if I flee to these
Can I go from Him? and the sea is His,
The sea is His: He made it.'

    Enoch rose,
Cast his strong arms about his drooping wife,
And kiss'd his wonder-stricken little ones;
But for the third, sickly one, who slept
After a night of feverous wakefulness,
When Annie would have raised him Enoch said
`Wake him not; let him sleep; how should this child
Remember this?' and kiss'ed him in his cot.
But Annie from her baby's forehead clipt
A tiny curl, and gave it: this he kept
Thro' all his future; but now hastily caught
His bundle, waved his hand, and went his way.

  She when the day, that Enoch mention'd, came,
Borrow'd a glass, but all in vain: perhaps
She could not fix the glass to suit her eye;
Perhaps her eye was dim, hand tremulous;
She saw him not: and while he stood on deck
Waving, the moment and the vessel past.

  Ev'n to the last dip of the vanishing sail
She watch'd it, and departed weeping for him;
Then, tho' she mourn'd his absence as his grave,
Set her sad will no less to chime with his,
But throve not in her trade, not being bred
To barter, nor compensating the want
By shrewdness, neither capable of lies,
Nor asking overmuch and taking less,
And still foreboding `what would Enoch say?'
For more than once, in days of difficulty
And pressure, had she sold her wares for less
Than what she gave in buying what she sold:
She fail'd and sadden'd knowing it; and thus,
Expectant of that news that never came,
Gain'd for here own a scanty sustenance,
And lived a life of silent melancholy.

  Now the third child was sickly-born and grew
Yet sicklier, tho' the mother cared for it
With all a mother's care: nevertheless,
Whether her business often call'd her from it,
Or thro' the want of what it needed most,
Or means to pay the voice who best could tell
What most it needed--howsoe'er it was,
After a lingering,--ere she was aware,--
Like the caged bird escaping suddenly,
The little innocent soul flitted away.

  In that same week when Annie buried it,
Philip's true heart, which hunger'd for her peace
(Since Enoch left he had not look'd upon her),
Smote him, as having kept aloof so long.
`Surely' said Philip `I may see her now,
May be some little comfort;' therefore went,
Past thro' the solitary room in front,
Paused for a moment at an inner door,
Then struck it thrice, and, no one opening,
Enter'd; but Annie, seated with her grief,
Fresh from the burial of her little one,
Cared not to look on any human face,
But turn'd her own toward the wall and wept.
Then Philip standing up said falteringly
`Annie, I came to ask a favor of you.'
  He spoke; the passion in her moan'd reply
`Favor from one so sad and so forlorn
As I am!' half abash'd him; yet unask'd,
His bashfulness and tenderness at war,
He set himself beside her, saying to her:

  `I came to speak to you of what he wish'd,
Enoch, your husband: I have ever said
You chose the best among us--a strong man:
For where he fixt his heart he set his hand
To do the thing he will'd, and bore it thro'.
And wherefore did he go this weary way,
And leave you lonely? not to see the world--
For pleasure?--nay, but for the wherewithal
To give his babes a better bringing-up
Than his had been, or yours: that was his wish.
And if he come again, vext will he be
To find the precious morning hours were lost.
And it would vex him even in his grave,
If he could know his babes were running wild
Like colts about the waste.  So Annie, now--
Have we not known each other all our lives?
I do beseech you by the love you bear
Him and his children not to say me nay--
For, if you will, when Enoch comes again
Why then he shall repay me--if you will,
Annie--for I am rich and well-to-do.
Now let me put the boy and girl to school:
This is the favor that I came to ask.'

  Then Annie with her brows against the wall
Answer'd `I cannot look you in the face;
I seem so foolish and so broken down.
When you came in my sorrow broke me down;
And now I think your kindness breaks me down;
But Enoch lives; that is borne in on me:
He will repay you: money can be repaid;
Not kindness such as yours.'

           And Philip ask'd
`Then you will let me, Annie?'

    There she turn'd,
She rose, and fixt her swimming eyes upon him,
And dwelt a moment on his kindly face,
Then calling down a blessing on his head
Caught at his hand and wrung it passionately,
And past into the little garth beyond.
So lifted up in spirit he moved away.

  Then Philip put the boy and girl to school,
And bought them needful books, and everyway,
Like one who does his duty by his own,
Made himself theirs; and tho' for Annie's sake,
Fearing the lazy gossip of the port,
He oft denied his heart his dearest wish,
And seldom crost her threshold, yet he sent
Gifts by the children, garden-herbs and fruit,
The late and early roses from his wall,
Or conies from the down, and now and then,
With some pretext of fineness in the meal
To save the offence of charitable, flour
From his tall mill that whistled on the waste.

  But Philip did not fathom Annie's mind:
Scarce could the woman when he came upon her,
Out of full heart and boundless gratitude
Light on a broken word to thank him with.
But Philip was her children's all-in-all;
From distant corners of the street they ran
To greet his hearty welcome heartily;
Lords of his house and of his mill were they;
Worried his passive ear with petty wrongs
Or pleasures, hung upon him, play'd with him
And call'd him Father Philip.  Philip gain'd
As Enoch lost; for Enoch seem'd to them
Uncertain as a vision or a dream,
Faint as a figure seen in early dawn
Down at the far end of an avenue,
Going we know not where: and so ten years,
Since Enoch left his hearth and native land,
Fled forward, and no news of Enoch came.

  It chanced one evening Annie's children long'd
To go with others, nutting to the wood,
And Annie would go with them; then they begg'd
For Father Philip (as they call'd him) too:
Him, like the working bee in blossom-dust,
Blanch'd with his mill, they found; and saying to him
`Come with us Father Philip' he denied;
But when the children pluck'd at him to go,
He laugh'd, and yielding readily to their wish,
For was not Annie with them? and they went.

  But after scaling half the weary down,
Just where the prone edge of the wood began
To feather toward the hollow, all her force
Fail'd her; and sighing `let me rest' she said.
So Philip rested with her well-content;
While all the younger ones with jubilant cries
Broke from their elders, and tumultuously
Down thro' the whitening hazels made a plunge
To the bottom, and dispersed, and beat or broke
The lithe reluctant boughs to tear away
Their tawny clusters, crying to each other
And calling, here and there, about the wood.

  But Philip sitting at her side forgot
Her presence, and remember'd one dark hour
Here in this wood, when like a wounded life
He crept into the shadow: at last he said
Lifting his honest forehead `Listen, Annie,
How merry they are down yonder in the wood.'
`Tired, Annie?' for she did not speak a word.
`Tired?' but her face had fall'n upon her hands;
At which, as with a kind anger in him,
`The ship was lost' he said `the ship was lost!
No more of that! why should you kill yourself
And make them orphans quite?'  And Annie said
`I thought not of it: but--I known not why--
Their voices make me feel so solitary.'

  Then Philip coming somewhat closer spoke.
`Annie, there is a thing upon my mind,
And it has been upon my mind so long,
That tho' I know not when it first came there,
I know that it will out at last.  O Annie,
It is beyond all hope, against all chance,
That he who left you ten long years ago
Should still be living; well then--let me speak:
I grieve to see you poor and wanting help:
I cannot help you as I wish to do
Unless--they say that women are so quick--
Perhaps you know what I would have you know--
I wish you for my wife.  I fain would prove
A father to your children: I do think
They love me as a father: I am sure
That I love them as if they were mine own;
And I believe, if you were fast my wife,
That after all these sad uncertain years,
We might be still as happy as God grants
To any of His creatures.  Think upon it:
For I am well-to-do--no kin, no care,
No burthen, save my care for you and yours:
And we have known each other all our lives,
And I have loved you longer than you know.'

  Then answer'd Annie; tenderly she spoke:
`You have been as God's good angel in our house.
God bless you for it, God reward you for it,
Philip, with something happier than myself.
Can one live twice? can you be ever loved
As Enoch was? what is it that you ask?'
`I am content' he answer'd `to be loved
A little after Enoch.'  `O' she cried
Scared as it were `dear Philip, wait a while:
If Enoch comes--but Enoch will not come--
Yet wait a year, a year is not so long:
Surely I shall be wiser in a year:
O wait a little!'  Philip sadly said
`Annie, as I have waited all my life
I well may wait a little.'  `Nay' she cried
`I am bound: you have my promise--in a year:
Will you not bide your year as I bide mine?'
And Philip answer'd `I will bide my year.'

  Here both were mute, till Philip glancing up
Beheld the dead flame of the fallen day
Pass from the Danish barrow overhead;
Then fearing night and chill for Annie rose,
And sent his voice beneath him thro' the wood.
Up came the children laden with their spoil;
Then all descended to the port, and there
At Annie's door he paused and gave his hand,
Saying gently `Annie, when I spoke to you,
That was your hour of weakness.  I was wrong.
I am always bound to you, but you are free.'
Then Annie weeping answer'd `I am bound.'

  She spoke; and in one moment as it were,
While yet she went about her household ways,
Ev'n as she dwelt upon his latest words,
That he had loved her longer than she knew,
That autumn into autumn flash'd again,
And there he stood once more before her face,
Claiming her promise.  `Is it a year?' she ask'd.
`Yes, if the nuts' he said `be ripe again:
Come out and see.'  But she--she put him off--
So much to look to--such a change--a month--
Give her a month--she knew that she was bound--
A month--no more.  Then Philip with his eyes
Full of that lifelong hunger, and his voice
Shaking a little like a drunkard's hand,
`Take your own time, Annie, take your own time.'
And Annie could have wept for pity of him;
And yet she held him on delayingly
With many a scarce-believable excuse,
Trying his truth and his long-sufferance,
Till half-another year had slipt away.

  By this the lazy gossips of the port,
Abhorrent of a calculation crost,
Began to chafe as at a personal wrong.
Some thought that Philip did but trifle with her;
Some that she but held off to draw him on;
And others laugh'd at her and Philip too,
As simple folks that knew not their own minds;
And one, in whom all evil fancies clung
Like serpent eggs together, laughingly
Would hint a worse in either.  Her own son
Was silent, tho' he often look'd his wish;
But evermore the daughter prest upon her
To wed the man so dear to all of them
And lift the household out of poverty;
And Philip's rosy face contracting grew
Careworn and wan; and all these things fell on her
Sharp as reproach.

  At last one night it chanced
That Annie could not sleep, but earnestly
Pray'd for a sign `my Enoch is he gone?'
Then compass'd round by the blind wall of night
Brook'd not the expectant terror of her heart,
Started from bed, and struck herself a light,
Then desperately seized the holy Book,
Suddenly set it wide to find a sign,
Suddenly put her finger on the text,
`Under a palmtree.'  That was nothing to her:
No meaning there: she closed the book and slept:
When lo! her Enoch sitting on a height,
Under a palmtree, over him the Sun:
`He is gone' she thought `he is happy, he is singing
Hosanna in the highest: yonder shines
The Sun of Righteousness, and these be palms
Whereof the happy people strowing cried
"Hosanna in the highest!"'  Here she woke,
Resolved, sent for him and said wildly to him
`There is no reason why we should not wed.'
`Then for God's sake,' he answer'd, `both our sakes,
So you will wed me, let it be at once.'

  So these were wed and merrily rang the bells,
Merrily rang the bells and they were wed.
But never merrily beat Annie's heart.
A footstep seem'd to fall beside her path,
She knew not whence; a whisper in her ear,
She knew not what; nor loved she to be left
Alone at home, nor ventured out alone.
What ail'd her then, that ere she enter'd, often
Her hand dwelt lingeringly on the latch,
Fearing to enter: Philip thought he knew:
Such doubts and fears were common to her state,
Being with child: but when her child was born,
Then her new child was as herself renew'd,
Then the new mother came about her heart,
Then her good Philip was her all-in-all,
And that mysterious instinct wholly died.

  And where was Enoch? prosperously sail'd
The ship `Good Fortune,' tho' at setting forth
The Biscay, roughly ridging eastward, shook
And almost overwhelm'd her, yet unvext
She slipt across the summer of the world,
Then after a long tumble about the Cape
And frequent interchange of foul and fair,
She passing thro' the summer world again,
The breath of heaven came continually
And sent her sweetly by the golden isles,
Till silent in her oriental haven.

  There Enoch traded for himself, and bought
Quaint monsters for the market of those times,
A gilded dragon, also, for the babes.

  Less lucky her home-voyage: at first indeed
Thro' many a fair sea-circle, day by day,
Scarce-rocking, her full-busted figure-head
Stared o'er the ripple feathering from her bows:
Then follow'd calms, and then winds variable,
Then baffling, a long course of them; and last
Storm, such as drove her under moonless heavens
Till hard upon the cry of `breakers' came
The crash of ruin, and the loss of all
But Enoch and two others.  Half the night,
Buoy'd upon floating tackle and broken spars,
These drifted, stranding on an isle at morn
Rich, but loneliest in a lonely sea.

  No want was there of human sustenance,
Soft fruitage, mighty nuts, and nourishing roots;
Nor save for pity was it hard to take
The helpless life so wild that it was tame.
There in a seaward-gazing mountain-gorge
They built, and thatch'd with leaves of palm, a hut,
Half hut, half native cavern.  So the three,
Set in this Eden of all plenteousness,
Dwelt with eternal summer, ill-content.

  For one, the youngest, hardly more than boy,
Hurt in that night of sudden ruin and wreck,
Lay lingering out a three-years' death-in-life.
They could not leave him.  After he was gone,
The two remaining found a fallen stem;
And Enoch's comrade, careless of himself,
Fire-hollowing this in Indian fashion, fell
Sun-stricken, and that other lived alone.
In those two deaths he read God's warning `wait.'

  The mountain wooded to the peak, the lawns
And winding glades high up like ways to Heaven,
The slender coco's drooping crown of plumes,
The lightning flash of insect and of bird,
The lustre of the long convolvuluses
That coil'd around the stately stems, and ran
Ev'n to the limit of the land, the glows
And glories of the broad belt of the world,
All these he saw; but what he fain had seen
He could not see, the kindly human face,
Nor ever hear a kindly voice, but heard
The myriad shriek of wheeling ocean-fowl,
The league-long roller thundering on the reef,
The moving whisper of huge trees that branch'd
And blossom'd in the zenith, or the sweep
Of some precipitous rivulet to the wave,
As down the shore he ranged, or all day long
Sat often in the seaward-gazing gorge,
A shipwreck'd sailor, waiting for a sail:
No sail from day to day, but every day
The sunrise broken into scarlet shafts
Among the palms and ferns and precipices;
The blaze upon the waters to the east;
The blaze upon his island overhead;
The blaze upon the waters to the west;
Then the great stars that globed themselves in Heaven,
The hollower-bellowing ocean, and again
The scarlet shafts of sunrise--but no sail.

  There often as he watch'd or seem'd to watch,
So still, the golden lizard on him paused,
A phantom made of many phantoms moved
Before him haunting him, or he himself
Moved haunting people, things and places, known
Far in a darker isle beyond the line;
The babes, their babble, Annie, the small house,
The climbing street, the mill, the leafy lanes,
The peacock-yewtree and the lonely Hall,
The horse he drove, the boat he sold, the chill
November dawns and dewy-glooming downs,
The gentle shower, the smell of dying leaves,
And the low moan of leaden-color'd seas.

  Once likewise, in the ringing of his ears,
Tho' faintly, merrily--far and far away--
He heard the pealing of his parish bells;
Then, tho' he knew not wherefore, started up
Shuddering, and when the beauteous hateful isle
Return'd upon him, had not his poor heart
Spoken with That, which being everywhere
Lets none, who speaks with Him, seem all alone,
Surely the man had died of solitude.

  Thus over Enoch's early-silvering head
The sunny and rainy seasons came and went
Year after year.  His hopes to see his own,
And pace the sacred old familiar fields,
Not yet had perish'd, when his lonely doom
Came suddenly to an end.  Another ship
(She wanted water) blown by baffling winds,
Like the Good Fortune, from her destined course,
Stay'd by this isle, not knowing where she lay:
For since the mate had seen at early dawn
Across a break on the mist-wreathen isle
The silent water slipping from the hills,
They sent a crew that landing burst away
In search of stream or fount, and fill'd the shores
With clamor.  Downward from his mountain gorge
Stept the long-hair'd long-bearded solitary,
Brown, looking hardly human, strangely clad,
Muttering and mumbling, idiotlike it seem'd,
With inarticulate rage, and making signs
They knew not what: and yet he led the way
To where the rivulets of sweet water ran;
And ever as he mingled with the crew,
And heard them talking, his long-bounden tongue
Was loosen'd, till he made them understand;
Whom, when their casks were fill'd they took aboard:
And there the tale he utter'd brokenly,
Scarce credited at first but more and more,
Amazed and melted all who listen'd to it:
And clothes they gave him and free passage home;
But oft he work'd among the rest and shook
His isolation from him.  None of these
Came from his county, or could answer him,
If question'd, aught of what he cared to know.
And dull the voyage was with long delays,
The vessel scarce sea-worthy; but evermore
His fancy fled before the lazy wind
Returning, till beneath a clouded moon
He like a lover down thro' all his blood
Drew in the dewy meadowy morning-breath
Of England, blown across her ghostly wall:
And that same morning officers and men
Levied a kindly tax upon themselves,
Pitying the lonely man, and gave him it:
Then moving up the coast they landed him,
Ev'n in that harbor whence he sail'd before.

  There Enoch spoke no word to anyone,
But homeward--home--what home? had he a home?
His home, he walk'd.  Bright was that afternoon,
Sunny but chill; till drawn thro' either chasm,
Where either haven open'd on the deeps,
Roll'd a sea-haze and whelm'd the world in gray;
Cut off the length of highway on before,
And left but narrow breadth to left and right
Of wither'd holt or tilth or pasturage.
On the nigh-naked tree the Robin piped
Disconsolate, and thro' the dripping haze
The dead weight of the dead leaf bore it down.
Thicker the drizzle grew, deeper the gloom;
Last, as it seem'd, a great mist-blotted light
Flared on him, and he came upon the place.

  Then down the long street having slowly stolen,
His heart foreshadowing all calamity,
His eyes upon the stones, he reach'd the home
Where Annie lived and loved him, and his babes
In those far-off seven happy years were born;
But finding neither light nor murmur there
(A bill of sale gleam'd thro' the drizzle) crept
Still downward thinking `dead or dead to me!'

  Down to the pool and narrow wharf he went,
Seeking a tavern which of old he knew,
A front of timber-crost antiquity,
So propt, worm-eaten, ruinously old,
He thought it must have gone; but he was gone
Who kept it; and his widow, Miriam Lane,
With daily-dwindling profits held the house;
A haunt of brawling seamen once, but now
Stiller, with yet a bed for wandering men.
There Enoch rested silently many days.

  But Miriam Lane was good and garrulous,
Nor let him be, but often breaking in,
Told him, with other annals of the port,
Not knowing--Enoch was so brown, so bow'd,
So broken--all the story of his house.
His baby's death, her growing poverty,
How Philip put her little ones to school,
And kept them in it, his long wooing her,
Her slow consent, and marriage, and the birth
Of Philip's child: and o'er his countenance
No shadow past, nor motion: anyone,
Regarding, well had deem'd he felt the tale
Less than the teller: only when she closed
`Enoch, poor man, was cast away and lost'
He, shaking his gray head pathetically,
Repeated muttering `cast away and lost;'
Again in deeper inward whispers `lost!'

    But Enoch yearn'd to see her face again;
`If I might look on her sweet face gain
And know that she is happy.'  So the thought
Haunted and harass'd him, and drove him forth,
At evening when the dull November day
Was growing duller twilight, to the hill.
There he sat down gazing on all below;
There did a thousand memories roll upon him,
Unspeakable for sadness.  By and by
The ruddy square of comfortable light,
Far-blazing from the rear of Philip's house,
Allured him, as the beacon-blaze allures
The bird of passage, till he madly strikes
Against it, and beats out his weary life.

  For Philip's dwelling fronted on the street,
The latest house to landward; but behind,
With one small gate that open'd on the waste,
Flourish'd a little garden square and wall'd:
And in it throve an ancient evergreen,
A yewtree, and all round it ran a walk
Of shingle, and a walk divided it:
But Enoch shunn'd the middle walk and stole
Up by the wall, behind the yew; and thence
That which he better might have shunn'd, if griefs
Like his have worse or better, Enoch saw.

  For cups and silver on the burnish'd board
Sparkled and shone; so genial was the hearth:
And on the right hand of the hearth he saw
Philip, the slighted suitor of old times,
Stout, rosy, with his babe across his knees;
And o'er her second father stoopt a girl,
A later but a loftier Annie Lee,
Fair-hair'd and tall, and from her lifted hand
Dangled a length of ribbon and a ring
To tempt the babe, who rear'd his creasy arms,
Caught at and ever miss'd it, and they laugh'd:
And on the left hand of the hearth he saw
The mother glancing often toward her babe,
But turning now and then to speak with him,
Her son, who stood beside her tall and strong,
And saying that which pleased him, for he smiled.

  Now when the dead man come to life beheld
His wife his wife no more, and saw the babe
Hers, yet not his, upon the father's knee,
And all the warmth, the peace, the happiness,
And his own children tall and beautiful,
And him, that other, reigning in his place,
Lord of his rights and of his children's love,--
Then he, tho' Miriam Lane had told him all,
Because things seen are mightier than things heard,
Stagger'd and shook, holding the branch, and fear'd
To send abroad a shrill and terrible cry,
Which in one moment, like the blast of doom,
Would shatter all the happiness of the hearth.

  He therefore turning softly like a thief,
Lest the harsh shingle should grate underfoot,
And feeling all along the garden-wall,
Lest he should swoon and tumble and be found,
Crept to the gate, and open'd it, and closed,
As lightly as a sick man's chamber-door,
Behind him, and came out upon the waste.

  And there he would have knelt, but that his knees
Were feeble, so that falling prone he dug
His fingers into the wet earth, and pray'd.

  `Too hard to bear! why did they take me hence?
O God Almighty, blessed Saviour, Thou
That didst uphold me on my lonely isle,
Uphold me, Father, in my loneliness
A little longer! aid me, give me strength
Not to tell her, never to let her know.
Help me no to break in upon her peace.
My children too! must I not speak to these?
They know me not.  I should betray myself.
Never: not father's kiss for me--the girl
So like her mother, and the boy, my son.'
  There speech and thought and nature fail'd a little,
And he lay tranced; but when he rose and paced
Back toward his solitary home again,
All down the long and narrow street he went
Beating it in upon his weary brain,
As tho' it were the burthen of a song,
`Not to tell her, never to let her know.'

  He was not all unhappy.  His resolve
Upbore him, and firm faith, and evermore
Prayer from a living source within the will,
And beating up thro' all the bitter world,
Like fountains of sweet water in the sea,
Kept him a living soul.  `This miller's wife'
He said to Miriam `that you told me of,
Has she no fear that her first husband lives?'
`Ay ay, poor soul' said Miriam, `fear enow!
If you could tell her you had seen him dead,
Why, that would be her comfort;' and he thought
`After the Lord has call'd me she shall know,
I wait His time' and Enoch set himself,
Scorning an alms, to work whereby to live.
Almost to all things could he turn his hand.
Cooper he was and carpenter, and wrought
To make the boatmen fishing-nets, or help'd
At lading and unlading the tall barks,
That brought the stinted commerce of those days;
Thus earn'd a scanty living for himself:
Yet since he did but labor for himself,
Work without hope, there was not life in it
Whereby the man could live; and as the year
Roll'd itself round again to meet the day
When Enoch had return'd, a languor came
Upon him, gentle sickness, gradually
Weakening the man, till he could do no more,
But kept the house, his chair, and last his bed.
And Enoch bore his weakness cheerfully.
For sure no gladlier does the stranded wreck
See thro' the gray skirts of a lifting squall
The boat that bears the hope of life approach
To save the life despair'd of, than he saw
Death dawning on him, and the close of all.

  For thro' that dawning gleam'd a kindlier hope
On Enoch thinking `after I am gone,
Then may she learn I loved her to the last.'
He call'd aloud for Miriam Lane and said
`Woman, I have a secret--only swear,
Before I tell you--swear upon the book
Not to reveal it, till you see me dead.'
`Dead' clamor'd the good woman `hear him talk!
I warrant, man, that we shall bring you round.'
`Swear' add Enoch sternly `on the book.'
And on the book, half-frighted, Miriam swore.
Then Enoch rolling his gray eyes upon her,
`Did you know Enoch Arden of this town?'
`Know him?' she said `I knew him far away.
Ay, ay, I mind him coming down the street;
Held his head high, and cared for no man, he.'
Slowly and sadly Enoch answer'd her;
`His head is low, and no man cares for him.
I think I have not three days more to live;
I am the man.'  At which the woman gave
A half-incredulous, half-hysterical cry.
`You Arden, you! nay,--sure he was a foot
Higher than you be.'  Enoch said again
`My God has bow'd me down to what I am;
My grief and solitude have broken me;
Nevertheless, know that I am he
Who married--but that name has twice been changed--
I married her who married Philip Ray.
Sit, listen.'  Then he told her of his voyage,
His wreck, his lonely life, his coming back,
His gazing in on Annie, his resolve,
And how he kept it.  As the woman heard,
Fast flow'd the current of her easy tears,
While in her heart she yearn'd incessantly
To rush abroad all round the little haven,
Proclaiming Enoch Arden and his woes;
But awed and promise-bounded she forbore,
Saying only `See your bairns before you go!
Eh, let me fetch 'em, Arden,' and arose
Eager to bring them down, for Enoch hung
A moment on her words, but then replied.

  `Woman, disturb me not now at the last,
But let me hold my purpose till I die.
Sit down again; mark me and understand,
While I have power to speak.  I charge you now,
When you shall see her, tell her that I died
Blessing her, praying for her, loving her;
Save for the bar between us, loving her
As when she laid her head beside my own.
And tell my daughter Annie, whom I saw
So like her mother, that my latest breath
Was spent in blessing her and praying for her.
And tell my son that I died blessing him.
And say to Philip that I blest him too;
He never meant us any thing but good.
But if my children care to see me dead,
Who hardly saw me living, let them come,
I am their father; but she must not come,
For my dead face would vex her after-life.
And now there is but one of all my blood,
Who will embrace me in the world-to-be:
This hair is his: she cut it off and gave it,
And I have borne it with me all these years,
And thought to bear it with me to my grave;
But now my mind is changed, for I shall see him,
My babe in bliss: wherefore when I am gone,
Take, give her this, for it may comfort her:
It will moreover be a token to her,
That I am he.'

       He ceased; and Miriam Lane
Made such a voluble answer promising all,
That once again he roll'd his eyes upon her
Repeating all he wish'd, and once again
She promised.

      Then the third night after this,
While Enoch slumber'd motionless and pale,
And Miriam watch'd and dozed at intervals,
There came so loud a calling of the sea,
That all the houses in the haven rang.
He woke, he rose, he spread his arms abroad
Crying with a loud voice `a sail! a sail!
I am saved'; and so fell back and spoke no more.

  So past the strong heroic soul away.
And when they buried him the little port
Had seldom seen a costlier funeral.