Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little Leather Library

(some even given away in cereal boxes)

Authors included in these twenty-six* miniature volumes:

James Allen, Honoré de Balzac, James Barrie, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Robert Burns, Guy de Maupassant, A. Conan Doyle, Henry Drummond, Alexandre Dumas, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward FitzGerald, Elbert Hubbard, Washington Irving,
Charles Lamb, Maurice Maeterlinck, Thomas Moore, George Bernard Shaw,
Henry David Thoreau, Ivan Turgenev, Walt Whitman,
John Greenleaf Whittier, W.B. Yeats

* the complete set contains many more titles

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thinking of Puccini

When I first saw this magnificent photograph by Stasja Voluti last year online, and before I was aware of the name she had given it, my immediate response was, Beethoven. But Puccini, I think, is more accurate, as these birds, so gracefully assembled, look like they might well be listening to Che gelida manina from La bohème. Besides, Beethoven’s notation was nowhere near this elegant.

Thinking of Puccini

Titled, Signed, and Numbered C-Print
by Stasja Voluti

(Print 3 of 4)

Stasja’s Blog

Such a lovely gift. Thank you, Stasja, for this tangible evidence of your vision, and of the heart that guides it. It is an honor to be counted among your friends.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Works of Rabelais

faithfully translated from the French,
with variorum notes, and numerous illustrations by Gustave Doré,
privately printed with twenty new additional illustrations

In a routine search online, I could find little information on this volume, some of which was contradictory. A few sources are under the impression that this was a pirated edition, and it is generally agreed (guessed) that it was published sometime during the first quarter of the twentieth century. The book measures approximately 7 x 10 ¾ inches, and contains numerous illustrations by Gustave Doré, which are also found in many other editions. This particular volume differs in that it also contains illustrations by one William Siegel. The translation is by Thomas Urquhart (a fascinating character in his own right) and Peter Anthony Motteux. What got me started in this direction were engaging essays on Urquhart and François Villon in a collection by Charles Whibley called Studies in Frankness (1912). And so as soon as I finish François Villon: A Documented Survey, by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis, I’ll move ahead one century to Rabelais; and then, from there yet another century forward, I’ll wade into the recently acquired Molière volumes. Yes, I know how fascinating this all must sound. But this is the way I go about my life.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Joseph Auslander: Cyclops’ Eye

Cyclops’ Eye

Harper & Brothers

Stated first edition, with the following privately printed note laid in: “This book is from the library of Roland and Donna Baughman. Roland joined the Huntington Library in 1924 and became Associate Curator of Rare Books. In 1927, he formed Grey Bow Press, collaborating with Gregg Anderson. In 1946, he left California to become Curator of Special Collections at Columbia University, where he remained until his death in 1967. He was considered an expert on the forgeries of Thomas Wise, discovering two additional forgeries not in Carter/Pollard’s Enquiry. He was also one of the leading authorities on L. Frank Baum, and Arthur Rackham in this country, producing landmark catalogues of their work.”

Charity of Frost

Love came to me as came to me
The cool clear meaning of your hands:
So quietly——as quietly
As water when it stands.

It cannot end as all things end,
Grow old and sicken and be lost;
Like water it will comprehend
The charity of frost.

[Page 29]

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Writ in water

Even after all these years, I feel that way when I publish a piece of writing online. Oh, it looks real enough, but when I turn away from the screen and back to my workroom full of books, some of them hundreds of years old, I swear I can hear the beating of wings.

Back home, my great-grandparents’ barn was a cathedral of light and sense and sound. I’ll never forget, as a child looking up, the fleeing of pigeons into the sunlight through holes in the roof. Little did I know, the living image of that experience would come to symbolize an act I’d repeat thousands of times as I commit poem after poem, note after note, story after story, to a world I can imagine and magically traverse, and even love, but never really see — except that I do see it, because this electronic experiment is but another facet of ourselves, our activity and yearning in another dimension.

I do not know what will become of the work I publish online. I do not know what will become of the books I have published. I do not expect ever to know. I do not try to know. I am too busy listening, and then rising to answer the call.

Do you know? Not about mine, but about your own. Do you worry? Do you care? Or do you simply let it go?

Each time I ask myself when I became a writer, I give a different answer. I was writing notes to myself and hiding them when I was ten. Once on the farm, when I was twelve, I wrote something on a small piece of scrap paper, and then tore it up and buried it. I remember it so clearly that, if it were possible for us to go there, I could show you exactly where to dig. And it would still be there. And I would be embarrassed by what it says.

When I was fifteen, I wrote a poem for my father that made him cry — my father, strong as a bull, more than two hundred pounds with hairy chest and arms, fierce, good, honest, and a proud descendant of the heroes of yore. What did that moment do to us? I have been trying to understand it ever since.

And where is that piece of writing? Like him, gone, gone, gone.

Here, too.