[Table of Contents] [Search]


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Old Vellum, an apology & clarification & M. Theatre



Bryan - Thank you for your gracious note. My appreciation, also, for your
intellectual honesty. I understand you've done considerable legwork to
answer this question to your own satisfaction.

In return, I'm doing something I rarely do. I've enclosed Yeat's poem,
"Lapis Lazuli," because It answers so many of my own feelings on the issue
of perishability.

Be well.

LAPIS LAZULI

I have heard that hysterical women say
They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow,
Of poets that are always gay,
For everybody knows or else should know
That if nothing drastic is done
Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out
Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
Until the town lie beaten flat.

All perform their tragic play,
There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
that's Ophelia, that Cordelia;
Yet they, should the last scene be there
The great stage curtain about to drop,
If worthy their prominent part in the play
Do not break up their lines to weep.
They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
All men have aimed at, found and lost;
Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages
And all the drop scenes drop at once
Upon a hundred thousand stages,
It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce.

On their own feet they came, or on shipboard,
Camel-back, horse-hark ass-back, mule-back,
Old civilisations put to the sword.

Then they and their wisdom went to rack:
No handiwork of Callimachus
Who handled marble as if it were bronze,
Made draperies that seemed to rise
When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;
His long lamp chimney shaped like the stem
Of a slender palm, stood but a day;
All things fall and are built again
And those that build them again are gay.

Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
Are carved in Lapis Lazuli,
Over them flies a long-legged bird
A symbol of longevity;
The third, doubtless a serving-man,
Carries a musical instrument.

Every discolouration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent
Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

                        - W. B. Yeats


***************************************************************************
Paul Werner, New York City
www.theorangepress.com
    DRAGONSBLOOD AND ASHES: a project to research and teach the
techniques of the Medieval scribe and artist.
     THE ORANGE PRESS: most recent titles: "The WOID Reader," and "Vellum
Preparation: History and Technique."
     WOID: a journal of visual language in New York, including reviews,
listings and resources.

             ***********************************************
            BOOK_ARTS-L: The listserv for all the book arts.
      For subscription information, the Archive, and other related
            resources and links go to the Book_Arts-L FAQ at:
                      <http://www.philobiblon.com>
             ***********************************************


[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]