'Tis verse that gives
Immortal youth to mortal maids.
-Walter Savage Landor
From my journals, April 5, 1996
When packing and unpacking boxes of books for the move to Canada, I came upon a series of old journals, many of which were hilarious and painful and evocative diaries from years ago. Among these there were several volumes entirely made up of quotations and excerpts I admired or felt moved by in my fervent teenage years.
I thought I might resurrect this old and wonderful habit by posting a sort of a blog journal of quotations, drawn from these old volumes and from more recent reading I have done.
(Coincidentally, I have spent a lot of time in recent classes reading poems with my students that partake in this "immortality topos" - the 'Ah, my love, our bodies will perish but my poetry will make our love immortal' genre of poetry. My favorite of these is Spenser's sonnet, "One day I wrote her name upon the strand," in which the sonneteer, besotted, writes his lover's name in the sand, oblivious to the fact that the ocean comes and washes his writing away over and over again. The female beloved is forced to be the pragmatic one, reminding him that even as the waves erase his writing, so too will the ebb and flow of time wash them and their love away. She sounds like a saucy one - it is clear why he loves her. Ah no, he replies, not all writing can be washed away so easily. Take my poetry, for instance....)