This week, love and self-reflection seem to rule the day, followed by our ever-hearty, Tom Jones.
Read by Xe Sands
This piece was written by a beautiful person with whom I share almost my longest friendship (only two have you beat, and not by much). It’s been 30 years this year. Thirty. I told him to shut up when he said that aloud.
I don’t have words to describe what this person means to me, how we are connected – those threads that have formed throughout the past 30 years. 30 years of life, tenuous at times, strengthened and weakened by various episodes, distances…hell, even hormones (oh my god that letter I sent? Can I have a do-over please?).
There is a reason that poetry feeds my soul, that it crawls inside my chest and curls around my heart and squeezes until I cannot breathe. This person, this presence created poetry for me – he would write things and give them to me…on notebook paper and index cards…typed up collections (no printers back then). All carefully scribbled pieces of himself.
Through him, through this gift of himself that came in bits and pieces over years and then decades, did words take a different shape in my heart, did words become weapons of meaning, did I learn to let them just wash over me and settle into my deepest places.
So happy birthday, old friend. I cannot express how I feel or what you mean with words because that’s not my craft, so I’ll simply have to say thank you for sharing the poetry of yourself with me.
Nachtgedanken, by Heinrich Heine
Night Thoughts, by Heinrich Heine
Read in German and English by Sonia Vilim
Night Thoughts (Nachgedanken) is Heinrich Heine´s conclusive poem from his cycle Timepieces (Zeitstücke) published in 1844 and composed in his exile in Paris. The beginning verse has become a well-known saying. At that time, the central European countries found themselves in a general pre-revolutionary situation. This piece does not represent a direct analysis of the political situation in Germany, but focuses much more on the relationship to his country, referring to Germany as his beloved “Mother” he hadn´t seen for twelve years and with whom he kept up a correspondence
Thinking of Germany at night
Just puts all thought of sleep to flight;
No longer I can close an eye,
Tears gather and I start to cry.
So many years have come and passed
Since I saw my old mother last,
Twelve years I have seen come and go;
My yearning and my longing grow.
My longing’s grown since our farewell.
Perhaps she cast on me a spell,
The good old woman I can’t sleep
And thinking of her— whom God may keep.
From all her letters I must see
How deep the love she feels for me,
The tremblings of her hand betray
More than her trembling heart would say.
The mother’s always in my mind,
Already twelve years lie behind,
Twelve long years since I did depart
And clasped the mother to my heart
Germany will for evermore
Endure; she’s healthy to the core;
Returning I shall always find
Her oaks and lindens left behind.
My longing for her I could bear
But for the good old woman there;
There will always be Germany,
But the old mother may pass away.
And since I left the Fatherland,
The grave has claimed so many a friend
Whom I have loved—I count the toll
And fear to death will bleed my soul.
And count I must, and as I count
My torment and their numbers mount;
I feel how their dead bodies heave
Upon my breast—thank God, they leave!
Thank God—for a French morning light
Breaks through my window gay and bright;
My wife, resplendent as the day
Smiles all my German cares away.
Tom Jones – Book 3, Chapter 6, by Henry Fielding
Read by Mark Turetsky
Book 3 Chapter 6 of Tom Jones.
This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.
Now things are beginning to get interesting! It seems like both Square and Thwackum are trying to woo Bridget/Mrs. Blifil! This apparently explains their hated of Tom Jones and also their professed affection for young Blifil. Little do they know that she hates her son, and is entirely inappropriately affectionate to young Tom. Furthermore, rumor around town is that the reason the widow Blifil is so taken with Tom is that he’s now a strapping young lad of 18, and she’s in love with him! Scandal!
Also, it seems like time certainly has past. Over the last few chapters, we’ve gone from Tom being around 14, to Blifil being 16, to Tom now being 18. And yet nothing much has happened, aside from a summation of the changing family politics of the Allworthy household.
A note on this week’s illustration. It’s from stage 4 of A Harlot’s Progress, by William Hogarth. The jailer on the left is said to resemble Thwackum exactly. I like the winking woman in the middle.