My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
it seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.
William Butler Yeats, “Vacillation”
Returning from my St. Louis Christmas vacation through torrential downpours while engulfed in darkening skies, all I can say is that Sunday was forgettable. Awaking this morning in the pre-dawn to find snow all over my Jeep was exhilarating and the first thing I did was build a fire in the fireplace–a fire that still burns tonight as I write this. Aside from a few business errands, today was a truly quiet and rewarding day before the fire with excellent books to read and only the best thoughts to think.
Rediscovering the work of Harold Bloom has returned me to a number of writers I abandoned years ago, and I am now re-reading them with a renewed sense of vision and satisfaction. I’m still recording ideas in my journal from a recent reading of “Hamlet.” This morning I chose to open a volume of William Butler Yeats from my personal library. I began with “Sailing to Byzantium”, “Byzantium” and “The Second Coming.” But then I read “Vacillation” for the first time and felt moved in the best way. I loved his description of a peak experience similar to what Emerson referred to as a “transparent eyeball” when everything is perfect for a short season. Proust also writes warmly about the way childhood memories revisited lifted his spirits to a different zone. I have known this throughout my life, and today enjoyed a series of such visitations.
My research took me to a 1917 essay Yeats wrote titled In Per Amica Silentia Lunae. In this work, Yeats explores the creative process from a number of angles, and I could see portions of the essay making their way into the 1932 poem “Vacillation.” These words came at a good time for me.
My time spent pondering lines from William Butler Yeats were comingled with long meditative moments gazing into this fire that has burned the entire day, filling my living space with lovely crackling sounds and the luxury of warmth penetrating my sweater.
Finally this evening, I resumed poking at a watercolor still life set up before I left for St. Louis. With renewed interest, I redrew some of the door’s locking system and began laying in details on the rusted surface. I’m beginning to rough up the door as well, combining pencil, watercolor wash, and smudging with my fingers and Q-tips to get different textures on the abused wood. Bach music has played through most of the evening as well, lending a quality to the atmosphere that I cannot describe except wtih words like “sublime”.
This has been a beautiful day for reflection, thanks for reading.
I make art in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself I am not alone.