Vagabonds

Photograph by Robert Doisneau

 
 

Pitoyable frère ! Que d’atroces veillées je lui dus ! “Je ne me saisissais pas fervemment de cette entreprise. Je m’étais joué de son infirmité. Par ma faute nous retournerions en exil, en esclavage.” Il me supposait un guignon et une innocence très-bizarres, et il ajoutait des raisons inquiétantes.
Je répondais en ricanant à ce satanique docteur, et finissais par gagner la fenêtre. Je créais, par delà la campagne traversée par des bandes de musique rare, les fantômes du futur luxe nocturne.
Après cette distraction vaguement hygiénique, je m’étendais sur une paillasse. Et, presque chaque nuit, aussitôt endormi, le pauvre frère se levait, la bouche pourrie, les yeux arrachés, — tel qu’il se rêvait — et me tirait dans la salle en hurlant son songe de chagrin idiot.
J’avais en effet, en toute sincérité d’esprit, pris l’engagement de le rendre à son état primitif de fils du soleil, — et nous errions, nourris du vin des cavernes et du biscuit de la route, moi pressé de trouver le lieu et la formule.

 
 

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Pitiful brother! What atrocious vigils I owe to him! ‘I failed to seize on this venture ardently. I made light of his infirmity. It would be my fault if we return to exile, to slavery.’ He credited me with strange ill-luck and innocence, and added disquieting reasons.

I’d reply by jeering at this satanic scholar, and end by approaching the window. I created, beyond the landscape traversed by lines of rare music, phantoms of future nocturnal luxury.

After this vaguely hygienic diversion, I would stretch out on the straw mattress. And, almost every night, as soon as I was asleep, the poor brother would rise, with rotten mouth, and blinded eyes – such as he dreamed himself – and drag me across the room howling his dream of idiot sorrow!

I had in fact, in all sincerity, pledged to restore him to his primitive state as child of the sun – and we wandered, nourished on the wine of caves, and the biscuit of the road, myself impatient to find the place and the formula.

Arthur Rimbaud

To You

 
 

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true Soul and Body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce, shops, law, science, work, forms, clothes, the house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating, drinking, suffering, dying.

 
 

 
 

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

 
 


 
 

O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago;
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.

 
 

 
 

I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you;
None have done justice to you—you have not done justice to yourself;
None but have found you imperfect—I only find no imperfection in you;
None but would subordinate you—I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you;
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

 
 

 
 

Painters have painted their swarming groups, and the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color’d light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color’d light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

 
 

 
 

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are—you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)

 
 

 
 

The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;
I pursue you where none else has pursued you;
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these balk others, they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside.

 
 

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as good is in you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you;
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

 
 

 
 

As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give the like carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—you are immense and interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent dissolution—you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

 
 

 
 

The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an unfailing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.

Walt Whitman

 
 

Photos by Robert Doisneau

Bravo, Paris Exposition!

Boules à neige (Snow Globes). Photo by Robert Doisneau, 1949

Snow globes appeared at the Paris Universal Expo of 1878, and by 1879 at least five or more companies were producing snow globes and selling them throughout Europe. In 1889, a snow globe containing a model of the newly built Eiffel Tower was produced to commemorate the International Exposition in Paris, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution. Snow globes became popular in England during the Victorian era and, in the early 1920s, crossed the Atlantic to the United States of America where they became a popular collectors item.

 
 

“Add to your show, before you close it, France,
With all the rest, visible, concrete, temples, towers, goods, ma-
chines and ores,
Our sentiment wafted from many million heart-throbs, ethereal
but solid,
(We grand-sons and great-grand-sons do not forget your grand-
sires,)
From fifty Nations and nebulous Nations, compacted, sent over-
sea to-day,
America’s applause, love, memories and good-will.”

Walt Whitman

To The Garden The World

A group at Garsington Manor, country home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, near Oxford. Left to right: Lady Ottoline Morrell, Maria Nys (neither members of Bloomsbury), Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and Vanessa Bell. By Unknown photographer, vintage snapshot print, July 1915

 
 

“To the garden the world anew ascending,

Potent mates, daughters, sons, preluding,

The love, the life of their bodies, meaning and being,

Curious here behold my resurrection after slumber,

The revolving cycles in their wide sweep having brought me again,

Amorous, mature, all beautiful to me, all wondrous,

My limbs and the quivering fire that ever plays through them, for
reasons, most wondrous,

Existing I peer and penetrate still,

Content with the present, content with the past,

By my side or back of me Eve following,

Or in front, and I following her just the same.”

Walt Whitman

O Nature, Your Primal Sanities!

Virginia Woolf photographed by Vita Sackville-West at Rodmell 1926

 
 

“…Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
—These, demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless excitement, and rack’d by the war-strife;)
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart,
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;
Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking your streets, 15
Where you hold me enchain’d a certain time, refusing to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich’d of soul—you give me forever faces;
(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries;
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask’d for.)…”

Walt Whitman
Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun

A Farm Picture

Cecil Beaton takes time off at his country home, Reddish House, located in the Wiltshire Village of Broad Chalke. Undated photo. (AP Photo)

 
 

“Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,

A sunlit pasture field with cattle and horses feeding,

And haze and vista, and the far horizon fading away.”

Walt Whitman

I Sit and Look Out

Pasolini, Duane Michals,  1969

 
 

83

“I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.”

Walt Whitman

We Two Boys Together Clinging

We Two Boys Together Clinging, David Hockney, 1961

 
 

“We two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.”

Walt Whitman

Whitman’s Birthday Suit

“Censorship is always ignorant, always bad: whether the censor is a man of virtue or a hypocrite seems to make no difference: the evil is always evil. Under any responsible social order decency will always take care of itself. I’ve suffered enough myself from the censors to know the facts at first hand.”
Walt Whitman

 
 

Walt Whitman’s Birthday Suit by Thomas Eakins, 1885