Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Boat on the Serchio

Our boat is asleep on Serchio's stream,
Its sails are folded like thoughts in a dream,
The helm sways idly, hither and thither;
Dominic, the boatman, has brought the mast,
And the oars, and the sails; but ’tis sleeping fast,
Like a beast, unconscious of its tether.

The stars burnt out in the pale blue air,
And the thin white moon lay withering there;
To tower, and cavern, and rift, and tree,
The owl and the bat fled drowsily.
Day had kindled the dewy woods,
And the rocks above and the stream below,
And the vapours in their multitudes,
And the Apennine’s shroud of summer snow,
And clothed with light of aery gold
The mists in their eastern caves uprolled.

Day had awakened all things that be,
The lark and the thrush and the swallow free,
And the milkmaid’s song and the mower’s scythe
And the matin-bell and the mountain bee:
Fireflies were quenched on the dewy corn,
Glow-worms went out on the river’s brim,
Like lamps which a student forgets to trim:
The beetle forgot to wind his horn,
The crickets were still in the meadow and hill:
Like a flock of rooks at a farmer’s gun
Night’s dreams and terrors, every one,
Fled from the brains which are their prey
From the lamp’s death to the morning ray.

All rose to do the task He set to each,
Who shaped us to His ends and not our own;
The million rose to learn, and one to teach
What none yet ever knew or can be known.
And many rose
Whose woe was such that fear became desire;--
Melchior and Lionel were not among those;
They from the throng of men had stepped aside,
And made their home under the green hill-side.
It was that hill, whose intervening brow
Screens Lucca from the Pisan’s envious eye,
Which the circumfluous plain waving below,
Like a wide lake of green fertility,
With streams and fields and marshes bare,
Divides from the far Apennines—which lie
Islanded in the immeasurable air.

‘What think you, as she lies in her green cove,
Our little sleeping boat is dreaming of?’
‘If morning dreams are true, why I should guess
That she was dreaming of our idleness,
And of the miles of watery way
We should have led her by this time of day.’--

‘Never mind,’ said Lionel,
‘Give care to the winds, they can bear it well
About yon poplar-tops; and see
The white clouds are driving merrily,
And the stars we miss this morn will light
More willingly our return to-night.--
How it whistles, Dominic’s long black hair!
List, my dear fellow; the breeze blows fair:
Hear how it sings into the air--’

--‘Of us and of our lazy motions,’
Impatiently said Melchior,
‘If I can guess a boat’s emotions;
And how we ought, two hours before,
To have been the devil knows where.’
And then, in such transalpine Tuscan
As would have killed a Della-Cruscan,

...

So, Lionel according to his art
Weaving his idle words, Melchior said:
‘She dreams that we are not yet out of bed;
We’ll put a soul into her, and a heart
Which like a dove chased by a dove shall beat.’

...

‘Ay, heave the ballast overboard,
And stow the eatables in the aft locker.’
‘Would not this keg be best a little lowered?’
‘No, now all’s right.’ ‘Those bottles of warm tea--
(Give me some straw)—must be stowed tenderly;
Such as we used, in summer after six,
To cram in greatcoat pockets, and to mix
Hard eggs and radishes and rolls at Eton,
And, couched on stolen hay in those green harbours
Farmers called gaps, and we schoolboys called arbours,
Would feast till eight.’

...

With a bottle in one hand,
As if his very soul were at a stand
Lionel stood—when Melchior brought him steady:--
‘Sit at the helm—fasten this sheet--all ready!’

The chain is loosed, the sails are spread,
The living breath is fresh behind,
As with dews and sunrise fed,
Comes the laughing morning wind;--
The sails are full, the boat makes head
Against the Serchio’s torrent fierce,
Then flags with intermitting course,
And hangs upon the wave, and stems
The tempest of the...
Which fervid from its mountain source
Shallow, smooth and strong doth come,--
Swift as fire, tempestuously
It sweeps into the affrighted sea;
In morning’s smile its eddies coil,
Its billows sparkle, toss and boil,
Torturing all its quiet light
Into columns fierce and bright.

The Serchio, twisting forth
Between the marble barriers which it clove
At Ripafratta, leads through the dread chasm
The wave that died the death which lovers love,
Living in what it sought; as if this spasm
Had not yet passed, the toppling mountains cling,
But the clear stream in full enthusiasm
Pours itself on the plain, then wandering
Down one clear path of effluence crystalline
Sends its superfluous waves, that they may fling
At Arno’s feet tribute of corn and wine;
Then, through the pestilential deserts wild
Of tangled marsh and woods of stunted pine,
It rushes to the Ocean.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

dedicated to FT, who definitely needs to take a "boat ride"! ;)

18 comments:

Gert said...

Now here’s a real shill for neoliberalism! Shoot at dawn, as far as I’m concerned… ;-)

-FJ said...

Amen!

Cultural Capitalism is a Neoliberal wet-dream come true. Identify by cultural-demographic market and merchandise, merchandise, merchandise!

Gert said...

Just bought himself a $1.65 M upper Westside NY pad too.... It pays to sleep with the enemy.

Yooooooge Donald joined the Rep nom fray, I see. Could be fun to watch.

Gert said...

FT needs some soothing music, I think. Got any Bobby Vinton? ;-)

Thersites said...

Nice locale! It does pay to shill for Team Acela.

Bobby Vinton? Are you sure that's not to "decadent"? ;)

He does seem a bit backed-up of late. I keep telling him to "die the death that lovers love"

Gert said...

Too decadent, Thersites? For a short while a rumour circulated in Belgium that he had topped himself because his audiences kept falling asleep! ;-)

FT reminds me of a mad uncle. When you causally and w/o much purpose mention 'it's a free country', he'll go into a terse rant about 'it used to be, son!', usually focusing on his conflation of health and safety stuff and 'PC' or how you can't call some people 'golliwogs' any more. Unlike FT he thankfully doesn't bring in da Jooooos or Marxists at every occasion.

Gert said...

Very funny, that ACELA thing. Which brings me to a more ‘serious’ point.

I saw your (Farmer’s) exchange with ‘Ronnie’. He brought nothing to the table other than Classic Liberal blahblah, we agreed. But on a level I sympathise (or at least ‘identify/understand’) with him: his inability/unwillingness to distinguish you from a run-of-the-mill Conservative, you know, the type that seems to be against Big Gummint but in favour of Big Corp too (the ‘religion of Capitalism’). I know better but with him it's just a reflex, I think.

Most bloggers in that ‘new’ cluster (‘Silver’, AOW, Z etc) seem totally uncritical of the corporative takeover (but so appears 'Ronnie') and support Rep candidates to seem supportive of that. Am I wrong?

-FJ said...

Silver and AoW are actually more anti-corp and closer to me "economically" than Z. Z's more "establishment" and supportive of the status quo D/R neoliberal economic consensus. I suppose that I'm more of a social conservative with radical-libertarian economic views, as opposed to a traditional establishment social liberal with conservative (in the neo-liberal sense) economic views... the effect of too much Plato, I suppose.

I used to have a very hard time understanding the traditional Democratic vs Progressive splits, too.

Gert said...

Ta. I think a reaction to neoliberalism will originate on the Progressive side. I see far more talk about it there.

-FJ said...

I hear the talk. I just don't hear many constructive alternatives thats not all "happy talk". :(

Gert said...

It starts with awareness ('talk'). Now it needs to move forward, become 'programmatic' at some point.

Thersites said...

Well, let's first see how they formulate the "problem". I see it as one of "too much" of a thing". Do they, however, all see it all as a "bad" thing?

Thersites said...

I mean, I like the concept of being able to maintain a certain "social distance". And money is the current means by which we do it. My problem with "socialism" is that I see it as everyone being born into family of the same "firm". But what if I don't want like my family? How can I get away from my associations with them always needing to "return" a favour "granted"?

Gert said...

I think many on the US right are far too hung up on the word ‘socialism’, that ‘aversion’ being much of a relic from the Cold War (combined with a poor understanding of socialism – see That Blogger’s obsessive calling anyone whom he disagrees a ‘commie/marxist’)

The only thing that will defeat neoliberalism is a broad coalition, as it cannot be done via ‘democratic’ means alone (‘democracy’ is part of the problem) and that means putting some water in your wine on some points. I’m sure you didn’t agree fully with Ralph Nadar either.

If I was American I would be working for Bernie now even though his stance of I/P is disappointing to me. But that would not stop me.

Britain needs a figure like that: to lead a new anti-austerity, anti-neoliberal coalition party and with a new name too (not a re-hash of ‘labour’ or ‘lib dem’)

Gert said...

Oh, re. "happy talk"? Seriously, I don't see much of that at ALL. The politicalish US bloggosphere (e.g.) is filled with dissatisfaction, re. the economic 'stagression', crony capitalism, distrust of Jeb!Clinton, Obama etc. (I disregard the comical whiney 'Once upon a Time in America' fake nostalgia by crashing bores like 'Z.')

Rarely has a nation with an 'optimistic DNA' sounded so gloomy.

-FJ said...

I suppose "happy talk" was a bit too vague. I meant talk of an world-wide utopian state where no one goes hungry, robots do all the drudge work, every kid receives a free education, and poverty is consigned to the dustbins of history.

Gert said...

I don't really see any of that talk either: in that sense the 'march of History' is truly over, I think.

-FJ said...

Especially since history is always written through the rear-view mirror. ;)