Monday

Jul. 26, 2010

The City, Berobed in Blue

by Eleanor Lerman

What do you think has come over me?
I did not feel like this yesterday
but today, all I find myself thinking is,
This could be my last apartment,
my last lover; this could be the last dog
I ever own—
as if I were going to die
at any moment. Which of course
is possible (myocardial infarction,
genetic defect, lighting bolt)

The anxiety may pass, but not
the age. Yikes, every moment says
And then, Look out!

Well, what can be done but put
a good face on it? A big one,
round as a moon and glittering
to the last. Or maybe slide into
an om state, where nothing is
something and everything is
more or less of something else

Better yet, maybe it's time to think
about the city, berobed in blue,
which now appears to me in memory
as a good place for a young girl,
who only I can recognize

See how lightly she steps off into
another, and then another morning
And as if she has never done it before,
begins to breathe

"The City, Berobed in Blue" by Eleanor Lerman, from The Sensual World Re-emerges. © Sarabande Books, 2010. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

On this day in 1908, W. B. Yeats' muse, Maud Gonne, wrote Yeats a letter where she described having a ghostly vision of him the previous night. When she wrote this letter exactly 102 years ago today, Maud Gonne was living in Paris, had already turned down four marriage proposals from Yeats in the past two decades, and married a man whom Yeats considered a brute.

Both Yeats and Gonne were deeply interested in the occult. They were each members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a British secret society that practiced ritual magic, trances, and invocations in order to access hidden wisdom. On this day, she described to Yeats her "astral" visit to him that night before. She wrote:

"Willie —
Last night all my household had retired at a quarter to 11 and I thought I would go to you astrally [...]

We went somewhere in space I don't know where — I was conscious of starlight & of hearing the sea below us. You had taken the form I think of a great serpent, but I am not quite sure. I only saw your face distinctly & as I looked into your eyes (as I did the day in Paris you asked me what I was thinking of) & your lips touched mine. We melted into one another till we formed only one being, a being greater than ourselves who felt all & knew all with double intensity — the clock striking 11 broke the spell & as we separated it felt as if life was being drawn away from me through my chest with almost physical pain."

In a poem inspired by Maud Gonne, Yeats wrote:

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

It's the birthday of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw,(books by this author) born in Dublin (1856). He's the author of dozens of plays, including Pygmalion (1912), and Saint Joan (1923).

Shaw said, "All great truths begin as blasphemies."

It's the birthday of writer Aldous Huxley, (books by this author) born in Surrey, England (1894). He's best known to us today as the author of the novel Brave New World (1932), about a future in which genetically engineered people take drugs to keep them happy, have sex all the time, and never fall in love.

It's the birthday of Carl Jung, (books by this author) born in Kesswil, Switzerland (1875). He was the founder of analytic psychology. He noticed that myths and fairytales from all kinds of different cultures have certain similarities. He called these similarities archetypes, and he believed that archetypes come from a collective unconscious that all humans share. He said that if people get in touch with these archetypes in their own lives, they will be happier and healthier.

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

 









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