Of Darkness and Of Hurtling Sound

notre Dame
Notre Dame cathedral, Paris France

The Staircase of Notre Dame, Paris

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

As one who, groping in a narrow stair,
Hath a strong sound of bells upon his ears,
Which, being at a distance off, appears
Quite close to him because of the pent air:
So with this France. She stumbles file and square
Darkling and without space for breath: each one
Who hears the thunder says: “It shall anon
Be in among her ranks to scatter her.”
This may be; and it may be that the storm
Is spent in rain upon the unscathed seas,
Or wasteth other countries ere it die:
Till she,—having climbed always through the swarm
Of darkness and of hurtling sound,—from these
Shall step forth on the light in a still sky.


Paris In Spring

by Sara Teasdale

The city’s all a-shining
Beneath a fickle sun,
A gay young wind’s a-blowing,
The little shower is done.
But the rain-drops still are clinging
And falling one by one —
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time has begun.

I know the Bois is twinkling
In a sort of hazy sheen,
And down the Champs the gray old arch
Stands cold and still between.
But the walk is flecked with sunlight
Where the great acacias lean,
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And the leaves are growing green.

The sun’s gone in, the sparkle’s dead,
There falls a dash of rain,
But who would care when such an air
Comes blowing up the Seine?
And still Ninette sits sewing
Beside her window-pane,
When it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time’s come again.

We Have The World To Roam

cabaret
Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in Cabaret

“Fear, after all, is our real enemy. Fear is taking over our world. Fear is being used as a tool of manipulation in our society. Itʼs how politicians peddle policy and how Madison Avenue sells us things that we donʼt need.” (A Single Man)

Christopher Isherwood

 

Morning Song

Sara Teasdale, 1884 – 1933

A diamond of a morning
    Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
    And left the faint white moon.

O white moon, you are lonely,
    It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
    Only the lonely are free.


 

Bob Fosse’s Broadway show and film Cabaret had its birth place in Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel Goodbye To Berlin, which is often published with other stories under the name Berlin Stories. As a writer, Isherwood earned far more over his lifetime writing plays and for Hollywood movies than for his novels. What is interesting is the multiple stage and movie adaptations of Goodbye To Berlin were created by other people, who found inspiration in Isherwood’s work. The success of the stage version of Cabaret continues to generate income for his estate. Isherwood loosely modeled Sally Bowles from a real life character Jean Ross, but the stage and movie depictions would evolve to have little connection to the real life Ross. Isherwood was quoted towards the end of his life that he could barely remember Jean Ross, Sally Bowles a true creation of Isherwood’s imagination.

Isherwood wrote Berlin stories at a time when he and Auden were frequent traveling companions. They were both gay and Berlin offered intellectual and physical stimulation that suited their adventurous natures. Isherwood’s writing is viewed by some as the beginning of modern gay story telling in literature and the theater. Isherwood left Berlin and moved to Los Angeles, California, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

Isherwood was not a poet but he was a brilliant romantic.  His greatest creation was his own avant-garde life, which reads like fiction, complete with evading authorities, on the run across Europe before WWII, his lover ultimately being arrested by the Nazi’s, seducing the great love of his life who was 30 years his junior in his late 40’s, immersing himself in India’s culture, his translation of the Bhagavad Gita with Swami Prabhavananda is considered the first fluid translation in English.  Isherwood was a bit misogynistic, an anti-Semite, a hypochondriac, but also a kind and gentle human being. Isherwood lived a big life and left an iconic character in Sally Bowles to keep on singing.

 


 

Poem

by W. H. Auden

He watched with all his organs of concern
How princes walk, what wives and children say;
Reopened old graves in his heart to learn
What laws the dead had died to disobey;

And came reluctantly to his conclusion:
“All the arm-chair philosopher’s are false,
To love another adds to the confusion,
The song of pity is the Devil’s waltz.”

And bowed to fate, and was successful so
That soon he was the king of all the creatures:
Yet, shaking in an autumn nightmare, saw

Approaching down an empty corridor,
A figure with his own distorted features
That wept, and grew enormous, and cried Woe.