Monday

Feb. 8, 2010

In a Time of Economic Downturn, I Gaze Up at The Sky

by Michael Blumenthal

The sun came up this morning, just
as I knew it would. My morning coffee
tasted exactly like yesterday's: a tad bitter,
but nonetheless revivifying. The faces
of our dead Presidents on Mount Rushmore,
are still there, speaking of their trials
and tribulations from their scenic outlook
of granite. Tonight, when I get home from work,
my lover will make her way downstairs,
wearing my favorite underwear. We'll lie
in bed, pretending to watch a movie, both
knowing what we really want. The Dow,
no doubt, will continue its slide, just as the moon,
that lozenge of indifference, will continue
its path downward among the clouds. All of us—
sun, moon, coffee, clouds— might feel a twinge
of guilt: such indifference to profit and loss!
Yet, all over the world, tiny birds with broken wings
and injuries of all sorts are making their way
back to their nests, even the waterlogged anhinga
is drying its wings in the sun. It's good to know
so much keeps going on, despite everything.
Come closer, sweetheart, let's put the film on pause,
let's profit from whatever we've got— before
the closing bell, before the riffraff of recovery
finds us and brings us down again.

"In a Time of Economic Downturn, I Gaze Up at The Sky" by Michael Blumenthal. Reprinted with permission of the author. (buy now)

It's the birthday of novelist John Grisham (books by this author) born in Jonesboro, Arkansas (1955).

It's the birthday of the man known as the father of science fiction, Jules Verne, (books by this author) born in Nantes, France (1828).

Valentine's Day is coming up on Sunday, and we're celebrating all week with love letters from the literary world.

Poet John Keats (books by this author) lived to be just 25 years old, but in that time he wrote some of the most exquisite love letters in the English language. The letters were to Fanny Brawne to whom he became engaged.

He was 23 years old, recently back from a walking tour of Scotland, England, and Ireland (during which time he'd probably caught the tuberculosis that would soon kill him), and had moved back to a grassy area of London, where he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne. During this time, he composed a number of his great poems, including Ode to a Nightingale. And one Wednesday in the autumn, he wrote this letter, considered by many the most beautiful in the English language:

My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my soul I can think of nothing else. The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love ... I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder'd at it. I shudder no more. I could be martyr'd for my religion — love is my religion — I could die for that. I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet. You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavored often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more — the pain would be too great. My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

The following spring, Keats wrote: "My dear Girl, I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more I have lov'd. ... You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass'd my window home yesterday, I was filled with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time."

Keats and Brawne became engaged. He wanted to earn some money for them before they got married. But then he began coughing up blood. When he saw it, he said: "I know the color of that blood; it is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that color. That drop of blood is my death warrant. I must die." He wrote to tell her that she was free to break off their engagement since he would likely not survive. But she would not, and he was hugely relieved. But he died before they married.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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