Pan With Us

Walter R. Roehmer as Pan, George Platt Lynes, circa 1939

 

Pan came out of the woods one day,—
His skin and his hair and his eyes were gray,
The gray of the moss of walls were they,—
And stood in the sun and looked his fill
At wooded valley and wooded hill.

He stood in the zephyr, pipes in hand,
On a height of naked pasture land;
In all the country he did command
He saw no smoke and he saw no roof.
That was well! and he stamped a hoof.

His heart knew peace, for none came here
To this lean feeding save once a year
Someone to salt the half-wild steer,
Or homespun children with clicking pails
Who see no little they tell no tales.

He tossed his pipes, too hard to teach
A new-world song, far out of reach,
For a sylvan sign that the blue jay’s screech
And the whimper of hawks beside the sun
Were music enough for him, for one.

Times were changed from what they were:
Such pipes kept less of power to stir
The fruited bough of the juniper
And the fragile bluets clustered there
Than the merest aimless breath of air.

They were pipes of pagan mirth,
And the world had found new terms of worth.
He laid him down on the sun-burned earth
And ravelled a flower and looked away—
Play? Play?—What should he play?

Robert Frost

A Boys’s Will

1915

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Failed Communication Between Lovers

“This photograph is my proof There was that afternoon,
when things were still good between us, and she embraced me, and we were so happy. It did happen, she did love me, Look see for yourself!”

Photograph by Duane Michals

 
 

THE DANGLING CONVERSATION

It’s a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.

And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar

In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with book markers
That measure what we’ve lost.

Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time

And the dangled conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”

And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You’re a stranger now unto me

Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

Paul Simon

 
 

The Dangling Conversation is a song written by Paul Simon, first released in September 1966 as a Simon and Garfunkel single The Dangling Conversation/The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine. The song only climbed to 25 on the US charts and never made it onto the UK charts. Simon was surprised that it was not a bigger hit and attributed the song’s lack of success to its heaviness. It was released a month later as a recording on the Simon and Garfunkel album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

The theme is failed communication between lovers. The song starts in a room washed by shadows from the sun slanting through the lace curtains and ends with the room “softly faded.” They are as different as the poets they read: Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost.

Simon has compared this song to The Sound of Silence, but says The Dangling Conversation is more personal.

Joan Baez recorded a version of the song which is one of her greatest hits, originally released in 1967 on the Joan album. She changed one of the lines to “Is the church really dead?” and Simon insisted that a line be inserted on the album’s back cover that read: “Paul Simon asks Joan to note that the original line is, ‘Is the theater really dead?'”

Les Fradkin has a dramatic version on his 2006 album, Jangleholic.

 
 

To watch a scene of Frederick Wiseman‘s 1968 documentary High School related to this song, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

Christmas Trees

Salvador Dalí photographed by Enrique Meneses

 
 

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north.
He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

Robert Frost

A Particular Group of Writers

Homer

 
 

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

 
 

Jonathan Swift

 
 

Herman Melville

 
 

Franz Kafka

 
 

Kurt Vonnegut

 
 

Joseph Conrad

 
 

Charles Dickens

 
 

William Faulkner

 
 

Leo Tolstoy

 
 

Alice Walker

 
 

William Butler Yeats

 
 

Jules Verne

 
 

Louisa May Alcott

 
 

Ann Rice

 
 

Marcel Proust

 
 

Edgar Allan Poe

 
 

summersfrost591a8f029af251061ea181ae372a2c90Robert Frost

 
 

Walt Whitman

 
 

Virginia Woolf

 
 

Illustrations by Mark Summers

The Road Not Taken

Peter Gabriel photographed by Anton Corbijn

 
 

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

 
 

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost