William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Reading’

Unnumbered Poem

After I finish reading the Library of America edition of Walt Whitman’s complete poems and prose, and when the wind dies down, I think I will turn to Emily Dickinson — 1960, Boston: Little, Brown. October 30, 2019   Unnumbered Poem If each act isn’t sacred, and each moment divine, tell me, then — who are you, and what do you do with your time?

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Pleasure and Pain

If the mind’s a muscle that remembers its pain, Then work it, work it, and work it again. And if pleasure be its prowess and rightful domain, Raise the chalice, and treasure the palace it’s in. October 24, 2019. Late Afternoon. Upon finishing Herman Melville: Complete Poems. Library of America, 2019.

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Death’s Divine Music

To awaken, as Thoreau once did from a dream, to find oneself a musical instrument, with the last notes dying away. To say, I was borne this day unto death’s divine music, and then pass in a canoe over the brink of a waterfall, only to find, upon landing, that the canoe has become a cabin in the woods and the waterfall a gentle rain on the roof. And now […]

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All Ye Who Enter

In 1851, in a journal entry written in late-September, Thoreau writes in its own separate paragraph the following sentence: The poet writes the history of his body. This statement, or observation, occurs seemingly out of the blue, between references to the growth pattern of pine trees and the tendency of a certain kind of grass to burn slowly and steadily without flame. In Part 2 of Clarel, his 18,000-line poem […]

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Autumnal

Reading Thoreau to the ticking of one’s body clock, until a visitor, upon entering the room, is as likely to find a cricket in the chair as someone with a book in his lap — that’s how it is. Earlier this afternoon, a hummingbird kept returning to the front window to feed on her reflection. As I read the season, I see now that in the earliest chapters, many clues […]

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Happiness

All of Herman Melville’s poetry, complete in a beautiful, one thousand-page book — the new Library of America edition, out just days ago, is already in this reader’s hands. This is another of those projects I enjoy so well, like the slow and careful reading aloud of Thoreau’s fourteen-volume journal, which I have currently under way, Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, and the complete works of other writers I have […]

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Front Walk

In his journal, Emerson writes of walking with Hawthorne, talking with Thoreau, Carlyle’s latest book, and Tennyson’s new poems. In mine, I write of you, in terms of my own plain self. And this is our wealth: that we are each a funny blend of science and superstition, of pain, nerve, and luck. And this is our grief — the loss of dear Waldo, Emerson’s five-year-old son. August 4, 2019 […]

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Ross Freeman

How beautiful, and how strange, the sense of continuity, harmony, and balance that keeps a lifetime of writing and reading suspended, as it were, or meaningfully afloat — such is memory — and as I hold my glass up to the light, I am surprised to find it still full.   Ross Freeman He went to the window and closed the drapes. His typewriter on the table looked like an […]

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Ask Yourself

At the rate I’m going, steady though it may be, it will take me several years to finish reading all fourteen volumes of Thoreau’s journal. I hope I have those years. But if I don’t, I’m happy to have had those leading up to them. And when I say hope, I mean I’m willing to live them if they’re given me, and that I understand very well they might not […]

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