Sailors, by George Platt-Lynes

“Grave mouths of lions
Sinuous smiling of young crocodiles
Along the river’s water conveying millions
Isles of spice
How lovely he is, the son
Of the widowed queen
And the sailor
The handsome sailor abandons a siren,
Her widow’s lament at the south of the islet
It’s Diana of the barracks yard
Too short a dream
Dawn and lanterns barely extinguished
We are awakening
A tattered fanfare”

Jean Cocteau

It’s Like That

Jacques Prévert and Ida Chagall- Photo by Gisèle Freund. Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1953.
Ida Chagall, the only child of the artist Marc Chagall married twice (Michel Gordey was her fisrt husband) and had three children by her second husband, Franz Meyer, a former director of the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland.


“A sailor has left the sea
his ship has left the port
the king has left the queen
and a miser has left his gold
it’s like that
A widow has left her grief
a crazy woman has left the madhouse
and your smile has left my lips
it’s like that
You will leave me
you will leave me
you will leave me
you will come back to me
you will marry me
you will marry me
The knife marries the wound
the rainbow marries the rain
the smile marries the tears
the caress marries the frown
it’s like that
And fire marries ice
and death marries life
and life marries love
You will marry me
you will marry me
you will marry me,”

Jacques Prévert

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



DESDE el fondo de ti, y arrodillado,
un niño triste, como yo, nos mira.

Por esa vida que arderá en sus venas
tendrían que amarrarse nuestras vidas.

Por esas manos, hijas de tus manos,
tendrían que matar las manos mías.

Por sus ojos abiertos en la tierra
veré en los tuyos lágrimas un día.


YO NO lo quiero, Amada.

Para que nada nos amarre
que no nos una nada.

Ni la palabra que aromó tu boca,
ni lo que no dijeron las palabras.

Ni la fiesta de amor que no tuvimos,
ni tus sollozos junto a la ventana.


(AMO el amor de los marineros
que besan y se van.

Dejan una promesa.
No vuelven nunca más.

En cada puerto una mujer espera:
los marineros besan y se van.

Una noche se acuestan con la muerte
en el lecho del mar.


AMO el amor que se reparte
en besos, lecho y pan.

Amor que puede ser eterno
y puede ser fugaz.

Amor que quiere libertarse
para volver a amar.

Amor divinizado que se acerca
Amor divinizado que se va.)


YA NO se encantarán mis ojos en tus ojos,
ya no se endulzará junto a ti mi dolor.

Pero hacia donde vaya llevaré tu mirada
y hacia donde camines llevarás mi dolor.

Fui tuyo, fuiste mía. Qué más? Juntos hicimos
un recodo en la ruta donde el amor pasó.

Fui tuyo, fuiste mía. Tu serás del que te ame,
del que corte en tu huerto lo que he sembrado yo.

Yo me voy. Estoy triste: pero siempre estoy triste.
Vengo desde tus brazos. No sé hacia dónde voy.

…Desde tu corazón me dice adiós un niño.
Y yo le digo adiós.

Pablo Neruda




“FROM the bottom of you, and kneeled,
a sad boy, like me, it watches.
For this life that burns in your veins,
it would have to tie out lives together.
By those hands, daughters of your hands,
they would have to kill my hands.
By your open eyes in the earth,
I will see in them, your tears one day.


I DO not want, my Love.
So that nothing can tie us
Nothing can unite us.
Not even words that sweeten your mouth,
not even what the words did not say.
Nor the love party that we never had.
nor your cries next to the window.




I LOVE the love of the sailors
they kiss and go
They leave a promise.
They never return again.
In every door, a women waits:
the sailors kiss and go.
One night they lie down with the death
in the bed of the sea.


I LOVE the love that distributes
in kisses, bed and bread.
Love the can be eternal
and love that can be fleeting.
Love that wants to liberate you
to return to love again.
Divine love that gets close
Divine love that goes away.




NO longer are my eyes enchanted by yours
and no longer will my pain be sweetened next to you.
But towards where it goes I will take your glance
and towards where you walk you will take my pain.
I was yours, you were mine. What more? Together we made
a bend in the route where love happened.
I was yours, you were mine. You will be of that it loves to you,
of that it cuts in your orchard which I have seeded.
I go. I am sad: but I am always sad.
I come from your arms. I do not know towards where I go.
From your heart, a boy says good bye to me.
And I tell him good bye.”

Serenade (For Music)

Photograph by Michael Vincent Manalo


THE western wind is blowing fair
Across the dark Ægean sea,
And at the secret marble stair
My Tyrian galley waits for thee.
Come down! the purple sail is spread,
The watchman sleeps within the town,
O leave thy lily-flowered bed,
O Lady mine come down, come down!

She will not come, I know her well,
Of lover’s vows she hath no care,
And little good a man can tell
Of one so cruel and so fair.
True love is but a woman’s toy,
They never know the lover’s pain,
And I who loved as loves a boy
Must love in vain, must love in vain.

O noble pilot tell me true
Is that the sheen of golden hair?
Or is it but the tangled dew
That binds the passion-flowers there?
Good sailor come and tell me now
Is that my Lady’s lily hand?
Or is it but the gleaming prow,
Or is it but the silver sand?

No! no! ’tis not the tangled dew,
’Tis not the silver-fretted sand,
It is my own dear Lady true
With golden hair and lily hand!
O noble pilot steer for Troy,
Good sailor ply the labouring oar,
This is the Queen of life and joy
Whom we must bear from Grecian shore!

The waning sky grows faint and blue,
It wants an hour still of day,
Aboard! aboard! my gallant crew,
O Lady mine away! away!
O noble pilot steer for Troy,
Good sailor ply the labouring oar,
O loved as only loves a boy!
O loved for ever evermore!

Oscar Wilde

The Black Stairs

DP120741Paul Cadmus Stage Set Stairs, photo by George Platt Lynes, 1937



“Le nere scale della mia taverna
tu discendi tutto intriso di vento.
I bei capelli caduti tu hai sugli occhi
vivi in un mio firmamento remoto. Nella fumosa taverna
ora è l’odore del porto e del vento.
Libero vento che modella i corpi
e muove il passo ai bianchi marinai.”



(“You descend the black stairs of
my tavern all soaked in wind
your beautiful hair fallen on your eyes
you live in a universe
so remote.
In the smoky tavern
The smell is now of the port and the wind.
The free wind that shapes bodies
and moves its step with the white sailors.”)

Sandro Penna

Travel is Fatal to Prejudice

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”

Mark Twain


Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca


Lorca and Luis Buñuel

Sail Forth!


“…Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!”

Walt Whitman

Fragment from 183. Passage to India

(Note: E.M. Forster borrowed the book’s title A Passage to India from this Whitman’s poem)


Model Kim Nye wearing Ralph Lauren 1992 Spring Summer collection. Ad campaign photographed by Bruce Weber

A Mourning Poem for Lincoln

Walt Whitman’s notes for a revision of “O Captain! My Captain!”, 1865.


O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!O the bleeding drops of red,Where on the deck my Captain lies,Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!This arm beneath your head;It is some dream that on the deck, You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!But I, with mournful tread,Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman


Robin Williams  as Professor John Keating surrounded by his pupils in Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989)


Professor Keating: “O Captain, my Captain. Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you’re slightly more daring, O Captain my Captain.”

To Love and To Part

“It isn’t possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”

E.M. Forster


Tenor Peter Pears (Britten’s most frequent muse, personal and professional partner), E.M. Forster, Robin Long, Benjamin Britten and Billy Burrell on a boat, 1949

Ode to Federico García Lorca

Federico García Lorca (left) and Chilean poet Pablo Neruda


If I could weep with fear in a lonely house,
if I could pluck out my eyes and eat them,
I’d do it for your mourning orangetree voice
and for your poetry that flies up shouting.

For they paint the hospitals blue for you,
and the schools and maritime districts grow,
and the wounded angels are covered with feathers,
and the nuptial fish are covered with scales,
and the hedgehogs go flying to heaven:
for you the tailorshops with their black membranes
fill with spoons and with blood,
swallow torn ribbons, kill themselves with kisses,
and dress in white.

When you fly dressed in peach,
when you laugh with a laugh of hurricane rice,
when you flap your arteries and teeth to sing,
your throat and your fingers,
I could die for the sweetness you are,
I could die for the crimsom lakes
where you live in the midst of Autumn
with a fallen charger and a bloodied god,
I could die for the graveyards that pass at night
like ashen rivers, with water and graves,
between muffled bells:
rivers dense as dormitories
of sick soldiers, that suddenly swell
towards death in rivers with marble numbers
and rotten garlands, and funeral oils:
I could die from seeing you at night
watching the drowned crosses pass,
afoot and weeping,
because you weep before the river of death,
abandoned and wounded,
you weep weeping, your eyes filled
with tears, with tears, with tears.

At night, desperately alone, if I could gather
forgetfullness, shadow and smoke
above railroads and steamships,
with a black funnel,
chewing the ashes,
I’d do it for the tree in which you grow,
for the nests of golden waters you unite,
and for the net that covers your bones
telling you the secret of the night.


Neruda, Lorca and other guests of a party in Buenos Aires (Argentina). 1934


Cities with damp onion fragrance
wait for you to pass singing hoarsely,
and silent boats of sperm pursue uyou,
and green swallows nest in your hair,
and snails and weeks too,
furled masts and cherrytrees
circle definitively when your pale head with fifty eyes
and your mouth of submerged blood appear.

If I could fill the mayors’ posts with soot
and throw down watches, sobbing,
it would be to watch: when at your house
summer arrives with broken lips,
a crowd arrives in death-watch clothes,
regions of sad splendor arrive,
dead plows and poppies arrive,
gravediggers and horsemen arrive,
planets and maps of blood arrive,
divers covered with ash arrive,
masqueraders dragging virgins
pierced with large knives arrive,
hospitals, ants, roots, springs and veins arrive,
the night arrives with the bed on which
a lonely Hussar dies among the spiders,
a rose of hatred and pins arrives,
a yellowed embarkation arrives,
a windy day with a child arrives,
I arrive with Oliverio and Norah,
Vicente Aleixandre, Delia,
Maruca, Malva Marina, María Luisa y Larco,
la Rubia, Rafael, Ugarte,
Cotapos, Rafael Alberti,
Carlos, Bebé, Manolo Altolaguirre, Molinari,
Rosales, Concha Méndez,
and others I’ve forgotten.
Come to what crowns you, youth of health,
gay butterfly, youth pure
as a black lightning perpetually free;
and talking between ourselves.
now, when no one is left among the rocks,
let us speak simply, as you are, as I am:
what are the verses for, if not for the dew?
What are the verses for, if not for this night
in which a bitter dagger finds us out, for this day,
for this twilight, for this broken corner
where the beaten heart of man prepares to die?

Over everything at night,
at night there are many stars,
all within a river
like a ribbon beside the windows
of houses filled with poor people.

Someone they know has died,
maybe they’ve lost their jobs in the offices,
in the hospitals, in the elevators, in the mines;
they endure their purpose stubbornly, wounded,
and there’s purpose and weeping everywhere:
while the stars flow on in an endless river
there is much weeping in the windows,
the thresholds are worn by the weeping,
the bedrooms are soaked by the weeping
that comes in the shape of a wave to corrode the carpets.

you see the world, the streets,
the vinegar,
the farewells in the stations
where the smoke lifts its decisiive wheels
toward where there is nothing but some
separations, stones, iron tracks.

There are so many people asking questions everywhere.
There’s the bloodied blind man, and the angry man,
the discouraged man,
the miserable man, the tree of fingernails,
the thief with envy riding his back.

Life’s like this, Federico; here you have
the things my friendship can offer you,
from a melancholy manly man.
Already you’ve learned many things by yourself,
and slowly you will be learning more.


Pablo Neruda

(This poem was written in 1935, a year before Lorca was murdered by the Spanish Nationalistic forces)