Richard Parkes Bonington View Near Rouen, 1825
Found this looking through the Met’s works. Pretty intense work in the foliage for 1825 and from an Englishman! Gifted.
The above is 17 minutes of Simon Jarvis reading from his new book The Night Office.
And here is a quote from his Q&A that is also available at the website below…
One of the things that people who find Christianity puzzling have often said to me—in their horror at my conversion to Christianity—is that Liturgy is a kind of cosy consolation and I think my feeling of what happens to me in Liturgy is almost precisely the reverse of that. That it’s a moment in which the continuous stream of fantasy which is contemporary cultural distraction from news to alienated labour is actually interrupted in a public way—for it to be acknowledged that all our lives stand on Leibniz’s question, “Why is there anything and not nothing?” That every moment of life is completely mysterious. Liturgy is a place where that is opened up.
These smashed saints sponsor me: their absent heads
are just that aperture of free reflection
through which I miss them. From abolished dreads
if it be false to drink this sweet refection,
more false still what would tuck up in their beds,
their first gone quarries, gone beyond detection
each howling stump whose stone neck still denounces
rapacious greed which eats what it denounces.
from Night Office by Simon Jarvis p.43
If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.’
Form a C.S Lewis letter.
Stopped mid-motion in the middle
Of what we call our life, I looked up and saw no sky—
Only a dense cage of leaf, tree, and twig. I was lost.
In an excellent article on Dante in the NYRB the author gives the opening lines of Mary Jo Bang’s translation of the Inferno. It’s damn good. I have a problem where I sometimes search new translations of the Inferno and read the opening and get mad that I can’t read Italian. And Eliot implying one should learn Italian so that one can actually read Dante buzzes around my head. I tried (Rosetta Stone) and I failed. Anyway, I’ll get this Mary Jo Bang translation on the strength of that nausea-inducing ‘stopped mid-motion in the middle…’
The Herefordshire Carol by Geoffrey Hill
So to celebrate that kingdom: it grows
greener in winter, essence of the year;
the apple-branches musty with green fur.
In the viridian darkness of its yews
it is an enclave of perpetual vows
broken in time. Its truth shows disrepair,
disfigured shrines, their stones of gossamer,
Old Moore’s astrology, all hallows,
the squire’s effigy bewigged with frost,
and hobnails cracking puddles before dawn.
In grange and cottage girls rise from their beds
by candlelight and mend their ruined braids.
Touched by the cry of the iconoclast,
how the rose-window blossoms with the sun!
What a friend we have in Jesus
‘From the tomb of the strife-years the new-born shapes begin already to look uncommonly like the brats of mother Europa.
We begin already to discern our own.
Are the proto-forms already ours?
Is that the West-wind on our cheek-bones?’
page 91 of The Anathemata by David Jones. He is wondering about the Iron Age.