Athos, Olympus, Ætna, Atlas, made
These hills seem things of lesser dignity,
All, save the lone Soracte’s height, display’d
Not now in snow, which asks the lyric Roman’s aid
For our remembrance, and from out the plain
Heaves like a long-swept wave about to break,
And on the curl hangs pausing: not in vain
May he, who will, his recollections rake
And quote in classic raptures, and awake
The hills with Latian echoes…
– Byron, Childe Harold
Three chairs on the deck of the house opposite rock of their own volition, looking at the sea and seven sail-less sailboats.
The bright pink flowers of potted geranium plants refuse to lose their petals.
And I, sadly, am reading William Hazlitt.
καὶ μικρὸν μὲν ἀνεκάθισεν, ἀνθρώπων τοσούτων ἐπερχομένων, καὶ διέβλεψεν εἰς τὸν ᾿Αλέξανδρον. ὡς δ’ ἐκεῖνος ἀσπασάμενος καὶ προσειπὼν αὐτὸν ἠρώτησεν, εἴ τινος τυγχάνει δεόμενος, ‘μικρὸν’ εἶπεν· ‘ἀπὸ τοῦ ἡλίου μετάστηθι’.
τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἀνθρώπους ὄντας παραλόγως περιπεσεῖν τινι τῶν δεινῶν οὐ τῶν παθόντων, τῆς τύχης δὲ καὶ τῶν πραξάντων ἐστὶν ἔγκλημα, τὸ δ’ ἀκρίτως καὶ προφανῶς περιβαλεῖν αὑτοὺς ταῖς μεγίσταις συμφοραῖς ὁμολογούμενόν ἐστι τῶν πασχόντων ἁμάρτημα. διὸ καὶ τοῖς μὲν ἐκ τύχης πταίουσιν ἔλεος ἕπεται μετὰ συγγνώμης καὶ ἐπικουρία, τοῖς δὲ διὰ τὴν αὑτῶν ἀβουλίαν ὄνειδος καὶ ἐπιτίμησις συνεξακολουθεῖ παρὰ τοῖς εὖ φρονοῦσιν.
– Polybius 2.7.1–3
- Yes, yes, it’s a famous passage – I’ve not wit enough at present to be obscure. Note to self: do not forget Cicero’s haircut & Clodius’ hubristas (Cicero, 30.6–7); also the macrons & Diogenes’ ‘littleness’. [↩]
The rough brick wall bore in chalk the legend: ‘PROPERTY IS THEFT’; heedless, I read ‘PROPERTIUS IS DEFT’, which seemed a strange idea. Also, apropos of nothing:
He is a small, broad-shouldered man, with the thin, dead-looking fair hair, mild eyes, and bulging, over-heavy forehead of the German vegetarian intellectual. He wears sandals and an open-necked shirt.
– Christopher Isherwood
Goodbye to Berlin, p. 196
Books to be packed.
She sat rather glumly looking at her own hands, her chin drawn in as though suffering from indigestion, or a surfeit of English.
– Patrick White
The Vivisector, p. 317.
I am, as it were, at sea. The most difficult part of packing books is deciding which ones I am most likely to want to read or refer to in the near future. Should Vita Sackville-West’s Joan of Arc go in the suitcase, or Kafka’s Briefe an Felice? Ought The Book of Memory make the two-month voyage by boat in a box, or Ovid’s Tristia or the Teubner Odyssey? Alas – but one of the many problems in shaping one’s ‘old course, in a Country new’.1
Compounding these difficulties, I accidentally purchased The Old English Baron, The Vampyre, and Melmoth the Wanderer – I justify the frivolity (and added baggage) with feeble flutterings about my invalid mind in need of distraction and repose. This sort of mental hypochondria has helped me overcome the guilt of many an ill-judged book-purchase before, and I do not think it will fail me now. (Although how the Gothic is supposed to help strengthen my intellect I have not, as yet, discovered; at least it’s not Ann Radcliffe.)
- Is there meant to be a pun, do you think, on course and corse? Probably. You with the Arden Lear ready to hand, yes, you in the back, sir: would you mind checking the notes for me?
Also, I was going to be terribly pretentious (in the manner of Gissing) and write ‘eheu’ for ‘alas’; congratulate me, please, on my restraint. [↩]
It is easier to pretend to dislike what one does not wish to leave; this is true of places and people.