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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Minimum Headroom, Max Reflection: Quietness (1810), Decoys (1820), Italian Variations (1820), from Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats

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Enfield reflectors | by satguru

Enfield reflectors | Every part still present and correct (Enfield, London): photo by David Howard, 5 August 2010
Quietness (1810)

My mother fell into a consumption. I cooked her meals for her, sat in a chair and read her novels, administered the drug called Quietness that seemed to lift her not only from her pain but from herself, for a few minutes, or an hour, and with a cool cloth wiped away the tangled strands of grimy hair that fell across her fevered brow - that face doubly dear to me - because for those several years, after my father's fatal fall, and the horrid interloper Rawlings, a wretched clerk whose true trade it was to prey on widows, then later the other disgraces, the tales of her being kept by the Jew at Enfield, and my grandmother telling us nothing of her, we had supposed her forever gone - and then her coming back a sad wanderer, drinking brandy - this dying beauty, coiling in her pain upon the drenched bedsheets - I believe it was her seeming not so much my mother as some marvelous revenant out of a ghost story or a tragedy, forced to undergo its end a second time, that made my fear so grave, my love for her so strong, and my grief in the later days back at school so unnerving - so that during study hours I stood behind the master's desk to dwell unto myself, in my anguish over losing her, while the other boys and the master himself kindly waited upon me, and the room fell hushed.

TC: Quietness (1810), from Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats (1994)

Enfield headroom | by satguru 

Enfield headroom | It is a pisser trying to use a flash with a reflective sign reflecting it away. There was one on the other side of the crossing till recently on its own and without a tree but too late to get that, it had the earlier font and probably no cats eyes. (Enfield, London): photo by David Howard, 20 November 2011

IMG_1168 | by Tupinambah

 IMG_1168 (Enfield, London): photo by Tupinambah, 8 April 2012

IMG_1168 | by Tupinambah

 IMG_1168 (Enfield, London): photo by Tupinambah, 8 April 2012

IMG_1168 | by Tupinambah

 IMG_1168 (Enfield, London): photo by Tupinambah, 8 April 2012

A Month in Enfield | by Archimandrill

Enfield Lock | by fslangridge

 Enfield Locks (Enfield, London): photo by Fred Langridge, 24 June 2017

Enfield Lock | by fslangridge

 Enfield Locks (Enfield, London): photo by Fred Langridge, 24 June 2017

Enfield Lock | by fslangridge

 Enfield Locks (Enfield, London): photo by Fred Langridge, 24 June 2017

Spire shadow 2 | by Archimandrill

Spire shadow 2 | Chase Side, Enfield: photo by Oliver, 5 April 2018

Spire shadow 2 | by Archimandrill

Keats in Italy

Post Office | by ADMurr
  
 Post Office [Palermo] | ("The fascist era PO on Via Roma"): photo by Andrew Murr, 25 June 2018

Palermo | by ADMurr

 Palermo: photo by Andrew Murr, 29 June 2018

Palermo, rain | by ADMurr

Energy | by ADMurr

 Energy [Sicily]: photo by Andrew Murr, 28 June 2018

Wheat in Sicily | by ADMurr

 Wheat in Sicily: photo by Andrew Murr, 27 June 2018

Abandoned farm house | by ADMurr

 Abandoned farm house [Susafa, Sicily] | That's a swimming pool ladder in the window ("Don't jump in, this ladder led to an improvised toilet"): photo by Andrew Murr, 28 June 2018

Ragusa | by ADMurr

 Ragusa [Noto, Sicily]: photo by Andrew Murr, 19 June 2018

Noto | by ADMurr

Noto, Sicily: photo by Andrew Murr, 19 June 2018
 Decoys (1820)


View of the Campagna: Claude Lorrain, n.d. (British Museum, London)


Traveling on their interminable stagecoach through the bleak wastelands of the Campagna, the bone-weary Englishmen saw scabrous herdsmen poking at the skulls of dead horses, starved dogs scavenging in broken-down drainage canals, and rotting body parts of bandits impaled on poles.  Fetid swamp air and vapors wreathed the countryside in suffocating morning mists which suddenly gave way to a high noon of brutal, relentless sun.  



Campagna landscape: Arnold Böcklin, 1857-8 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

The towns were malaria-infected: Keats' hacking cough echoed through a flyblown trattoria where a crone in a black shawl served them a cadaverous duck.  Severn tasted shot in it; Keats contended it was a decoy.  The cardinal hunting with a gun on the road to Rome -- they met him late that afternoon, just as Keats began to be unable to differentiate the objects of his vision from purely subjective phenomena -- had an owl with a mirror fastened to its breast feathers.  The owl was tied to a long stick, which the red-cloaked cardinal had set up to attract passing songbirds.  Seeing their own images, the birds approached, and the cardinal fired errantly at them.  Severn felt pity for the owl, which had by far the best chance of being shot, and Keats a curious sense of identification.

TC: Decoys (November 1820), from Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats (1994)


Stormy Weather over the Roman Campagna: Karl Blecher, 1829 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin0

Coda: Echo and Variation: XII

High noon of brutal relentless sun,
Cardinal hunting with a gun on the road,
Owl with a mirror fastened to its breast,
Lions aboard Bernini's broken boat,
Body parts of bandits impaled on poles,

Dusty carcasses of animals that hang
The black winds of the negative universe,
Trattoria where a crone in a black shawl
Appears to strum an unknown lyre like
The letter seal given me by Fanny Brawne.

Swamp air and vapors wreathe the countryside,
Herdsmen poking at the skulls of horses,
Black the hue of mourning still drapes
Corporeal tissue decomposing
A week at market, darkening by degrees

From a faded terracotta red - the color
Steeps my brain in a dreamful fever-sleep,
Noon blasted by bolts of brass and gold
Wherein I labor beating out the links
Of fate, link after link, an endless chain. 

TC: XII ["High noon of brutal, relentless sun..."], from Coda: Echo and Variation in Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats (1994)

Roma, May 2008 | by Roccantica

 Roma, May 2008 | R0010124 copia_a: photo by Roccantica, 22 May 2008

Roma, October 2017 #6 | by Roccantica

 Roma, October 2017 #6 | DSCF2177 copia_a: photo by Roccantica, 20 October 2017

Bright cloud | by ADMurr

 Bright cloud [Griffith Park, LA]: photo by Andrew Murr, 18 June 2018

7 comments:

TC said...

Keats was called Junkets by his friends (a dear soul, he had many friends), a small joke upon his own Cockney pronunciation of his name.

He attended Clarke's school in Enfield.

This is Enfield, more recently:

Who Killed Brown Owl (2004)

He voyaged to Italy with Joseph Severn at the end of his too short life, and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.

kent said...

Tommy, can you read me? k

kent said...

A small joke from a big heart. k

kent said...

That deaf, blind and sore kid sure plays a mean Pindar. k

TC said...

Pinball Wizard: The Who (live at Leeds 1970)

Loud and clear, k.

Underclass short kid turns deficit to advantage through genius and cultivation of unique skills, and maybe most importantly, persistence in the face of extreme social prejudice... took courage, uppetiness, and a serious set of oeufs, at the time, not forgetting that size ain't everything.

If only Johnny had breathed on for another couple of hundred years to perform arena rock anthems - but would they have been about the rigors and trials of settling into a serene existence in Humpstead cohabiting w that not-worth-the-candle little boojie tease Fanny B, and her mom showing up every 5 mins, just to have the wee look-in! No making out now kids!

For one deranged second during the agony that was Italy he became convinced that if only he had "had" her, he would have been "well". Dream on, Johnny.

JK = Keith Moon though! The great die young, and were anyway deranged!

Wooden Boy said...

Junkets on a Sad Planet is a great series.

We have our own brutal, relentless sun here at the moment.

TC said...

Ours is cloakt in ash yet glares thro' smoke dismally. A cold day in the inferno.

The terrible signs and omens shot all thro' that last slow voyage up the Campagna.