Tag Archives: Melville

Notes Over My Writing Desk

Notes over my writing desk

Notes over my writing desk

Notes Over My Writing Desk, from top left down to right:

“The heart of so great a mystery cannot ever be reached by following one road only.” – Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (c. 345 – 402), a Roman statesman, orator, and man of letters, quoted by Augustine from exchange with St. Ambrose. Quoted by Arnold Toynbee in his Gifford Lecture.

“The passionate love of the artist for his subject is the soul of art. Without love no work of art is possible.” –Tolstoy, Letter, September 1889.

Virgil– write it out in prose. “No day without its line.” [Apocryphal? It shouldn’t be…]

“For the artist, however, a worldview is a tool and instrument, like a hammer in the hands of a stonemason.” –Mandelstam, from “The Morning of Acmeism,” quoted by Saul Bellow in Summations (The Bennington Chapbooks in Literature, 1987).

“Get the work out.” –Robert Hayden, to me once in conversation.

From top right, down:

“Long choosing, and beginning late.” — John Milton, Paradise Lost, BOOK IX

“Make the works.” — Walt Whitman, on a type of name plate reportedly on his desk

“I think we’re in danger of seeing a new dark age come over the mental life of the country. It is a very serious matter.” — Saul Bellow, The Dean’s December (1982).

“And the honour of virtue consists in contending, not in winning.” — Montaigne

“Certain it is, however, that this great power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world, without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the uneven balance.” — Herman Melville, “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” 1850.

“The supreme test of a book is that we should find some unusual intelligence working behind the words.” — Herman Melville, “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” 1850.

Bottom, right, from a dream, August 30, 2008:

“This is the structure, this is the theme”: Sacrifice thyself for the good of others. Serve them. Lead them to the Light. Accept and bear thy load of suffering and pain for their sake, for the sake of God, the Absolute Reality. Oneness of God. Oneness of the Prophets. Oneness of humanity. “Radiant acquiescence.”

Frederick Glaysher

Leave a Comment

Filed under Epic

A Decadent Literary Period

November 15, 2009

All literary periods decline into coteries, with poets and writers attempting to shore up one another. In fact, it’s part of human nature, to herd together, huddle for warmth, comfort, create a department. The weak and cowardly are especially given to this impulse. While it increases what passes with many for survival, those who go out of the cave in pursuit of the Real are the ones who slay the Beast, ultimately providing provender for the fearful and vulnerable.

That is what all the great poets and writers did. Rabelais and Cervantes, Melville and Robert Frost, many others, into their heart and soul, not some contemptible university or creative writing program and the subsidies that keep their seemingly hegemonic dominance afloat.

I first subscribed to Poets & Writers when it was the earliest incarnation of a newsletter, the name of which escapes me now, in the 1970s. It was evident even then, to me, that a coterie was forming, analogous to so many, as with the Provencal poets, Japanese literature from time to time, and elsewhere. That it has become the rapacious monster that it has is no surprise, known to all, who are discerning. I have thought for decades that there is only one way to slay it. The test and ordeal of the spirit that the greatest writers have always had to face and go through. That of writing the book that overturns the entire prevailing outlook, as Cervantes did with all the cloying works of chivalry. In other words, it must be earned through perseverance (Johnson on Shakespeare), diligence, independent study, confronting the darkness in one’s own soul and time, and the blessings of the Muse.

Nothing could be more contrary to the cynical, contemptible university system of patronage and extortion of public funds, by poetry bureaucrats, which passes for literature today. All the more reason that the lone, solitary writer, dedicated to the literary tradition of what is the most noble and true in human nature, seeking the truth, not tenure, service, not the approval of parasites, can, as Saul Bellow phrased it once, bury them, and reorient aright the great ship of literature.

Frederick Glaysher

Original post, comment #3, Scarriet, TENETS of FAITH: Being Right on the AWP, BAP, P&W, AoAP and even the PFoA

Leave a Comment

Filed under Universality