August 4th, 2005



I hear the car turn in the drive and the smack of the morning paper on the driveway. It's the world arriving! Before going out, I turn off the living room lights and stand for a minute, adjusting to the darkness. Outside, the moonless night is dense. Uncertain exactly where my foot will fall, I step slowly, rather than break the perfect dark with a flashlight beam. I touch the familiar shrubs and invisible lamp post, feel the verge of the lawn with my toes. What crunches underfoot as I make my way down the walk might be dried leaf, or might be an unlucky insect or night-crawler. Reaching the driveway, I use that more light-sensitive spot toward the corner of my eye to try to see where the faint white form of the newspaper lies.

After a while I sense a paleness against the dark asphalt, and seek it out with my toe. The paper slides a bit, its rubber band twanging slightly as it scrapes the hard surface. I pick it up. Now I can use the paper as a feeler, holding it out to avoid colliding with either the lamp post or the bush as I find my way back to the front porch. The sky is sprinkled with stars, and the surrounding trees loom as ragged voids in dim night. My footsteps stilled, there is utter silence. It seems that not even the keenest sighted beasts have ventured out tonight. No dog has barked for hours.

After a while, I go back into the house and,not wanting to stumble over furniture, light a lamp. Its pale light is improbably bright. I toss the newspaper on a table, unread. I no longer care that the world has arrived.
bazille_summer scene

Unsrprising Heat, and a Surprising Link

August's hazy dog days continue. Sultry shade and infernal sunlight are the only options for those who venture out. Through mid-day, the fields are bereft of bird songs, though jays can be heard squawking among the trees of the forest. The sourgrass is wilting, its leaves turning pale or brown, the bulk of the stems lying flat, their small blossoms withered. Other plants thrive. The trees in the orchard are full of tiny green apples now, and by night I hear the sprinklers irrigating them. I am grateful that night comes a bit sooner.

And now for something completely different.

Here is a poem, terribly romantic, written in the 1830s by a young German who created a small body of work and then went on to become famous for other things. He was probably about 17 when he wrote this piece. Read it before looking at the author's name, at the end of the poem. You might be as surprised as I was.

(I used to know how to write the HTML code that made letters and background the same color, so that the text was revealed only when highlighted by the cursor, but I've forgotten it. As I want the name of the author to be a surprise, I'll just put it in very tiny letters at the bottom of the entry, along with a link to a page that has links to most of his poetry, along with that of a close friend of his who also wrote some verses around the same time. This particular poem is from the "Book of Verse" linked on that page.)


Know you that magic image sweet
When souls into each other go,
And then in one soft breath outflow,
Melodious, loving, mild, replete?
They flame up in one rose-bloom, blushing red,
And coyly hide deep in some mossy bed.

Roam far and wide throughout the land,
The magic image you'll not find
That talisman can never bind,
Nor sun's fierce rays portend.
The light of no sun ever gave it birth,
It never knew the nourishment of Earth.

Ever resplendent there it stays,
Though Time its rapid pinions beats,
Though bright Apollo guides his steeds,
Though worlds fade into nothingness.
Alone its own true power did it create
That neither world nor God can dominate.

Perhaps 'tis like the Cithern sounding,
As played on one eternal Lyre,
In endless glow, in endless fire,
In yearning's lofty urge resounding.
Once hear within yourself those strings that play
Your steps to wander shall not further stray.

"Harmony" was one of a handful of poems, written by the young Karl Marx between the ages of 16 and 19.