Saturday, March 24, 2007

For your Saturday

Posting may be light the next week or so, because we have family in town and work has been taking up an inordinate amount of my other time and thought.

But I feel I need to start the weekend off with something.

First, from a letter of October 25, 1918, from Violet Trefusis to her lover, Vita Sackville-West, reproduced in Sackville-West's son, Nigel Nicolson's Portrait of a Marriage (1978)
Heaven preserve me from littleness and pleasantness and smoothness. Give me great glaring vices, and great glaring virtues, but preserve me from the neat little neutral ambiguities. Be wicked, be brave, be drunk, be reckless, be dissolute, be despotic, be an anarchist, be a sufragette, be anything you like, but for pity's sake be it to the top of your bent. Live fully, live passionately, live disastrously. Let's live, you and I, as none have ever lived before.

Let's follow that with words from someone else who felt the pull of strong passions his whole life, but who directed much of it towards god, John Donne.
A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt though forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still: though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For, I have more.

Wilt though forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin? and, made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year, or two: but wallowed in, a score?
When thou has done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by they self, that at my death thy son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done,
I fear no more.

Donne and his struggles with desire were an influence on the poetry of Lord Rochester, who, however saw no reason to check his desires, living as he did without a belief in any higher power or eternal reward.

And, finally, in case you're trying, as your weekend beckons, between a quiet evening of reading and a raucous night on the town, I'll close with some Thomas à Kempis. Being an unbeliever myself, I think his words are unlikely to save you from damnation, but their peace might save you from a hangover.

From The Imitation of Christ (1420-27)
The man who has not diligently practiced holy repentance is not worthy of heavenly consolations. If you want to experience this repentance in your heart, go to your room and shut out the din of the world, as it is written: commune with your own hearts on your beds and be silent. Retire to your room and there you will preserve what you usually lose by leaving it.

If you keep to your room you will find delight in it, but if you only visit it, it becomes irksome and annoying. If, at the time of your conversion, you had accustomed yourself to stay in your room and remain there, it would now be your good friend and a source of great pleasure to you.

As a keep-to-my room sort, all I would add to Thomas's prescription is a martini and, of course, a good book. Enjoy your weekend.

1 comment:

  1. I did indeed do some silent communing on my bed this weekend. But not exactly with my own heart.