Paracelsus

Excerpt from Paracelsus Attains (Paracelsus II)
by Robert Browning, 1835

Paracelsus.
[...]
Tell me what thou wouldst be, and what I am.

Aprile.
I would love infinitely, and be loved.
First: I would carve in stone, or cast in brass,
The forms of earth. No ancient hunter lifted
Up to the gods by his renown, no nymph
Supposed the sweet soul of a woodland tree
Or sapphirine spirit of a twilight star,
Should be too hard for me; no shepherd-king
Regal for his white locks; no youth who stands
Silent and very calm amid the throng,
His right hand ever hid beneath his robe
Until the tyrant pass; no lawgiver,
No swan-soft woman rubbed with lucid oils
Given by a god for love of her—too hard!
Every passion sprung from man, conceived by man,
Would I express and clothe it in its right form,
Or blend with others struggling in one form,
Or show repressed by an ungainly form.
Oh, if you marvelled at some mighty spirit
With a fit frame to execute its will—
Even unconsciously to work its will—
You should be moved no less beside some strong
Rare spirit, fettered to a stubborn body,
Endeavouring to subdue it and inform it
With its own splendour! All this I would do:
And I would say, this done, “His sprites created,
“God grants to each a sphere to be its world,
“Appointed with the various objects needed
“To satisfy its own peculiar want;
“So, I create a world for these my shapes
“Fit to sustain their beauty and their strength!”
And, at the word, I would contrive and paint
Woods, valleys, rocks and plains, dells, sands and wastes,
Lakes which, when morn breaks on their quivering bed,
Blaze like a wyvern flying round the sun,
And ocean isles so small, the dog-fish tracking
A dead whale, who should find them, would swim thrice
Around them, and fare onward—all to hold
The offspring of my brain. Nor these alone:
Bronze labyrinth, palace, pyramid and crypt,
Baths, galleries, courts, temples and terraces,
Marts, theatres and wharfs—all filled with men,
Men everywhere! And this performed in turn,
When those who looked on, pined to hear the hopes
And fears and hates and loves which moved the crowd,
I would throw down the pencil as the chisel,
And I would speak; no thought which ever stirred
A human breast should be untold; all passions,
All soft emotions, from the turbulent stir
Within a heart fed with desires like mine,
To the last comfort shutting the tired lids
Of him who sleeps the sultry noon away
Beneath the tent-tree by the wayside well:
And this in language as the need should be,
Now poured at once forth in a burning flow,
Now piled up in a grand array of words.
This done, to perfect and consummate all,
Even as a luminous haze links star to star,
I would supply all chasms with music, breathing
Mysterious motions of the soul, no way
To be defined save in strange melodies.
Last, having thus revealed all I could love,
Having received all love bestowed on it,
I would die: preserving so throughout my course
God full on me, as I was full on men:
He would approve my prayer, “I have gone through
“The loveliness of life; create for me
“If not for men, or take me to thyself,
“Eternal, infinite love!”

If thou hast ne’er
Conceived this mighty aim, this full desire,
Thou hast not passed my trial, and thou art
No king of mine.

Paracelsus.
Ah me!
[...]

Entire poem: wikisource

Short essay about Paracelsus from the Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes: bartleby.com

Posted in Other Voices

I know that I was the interloper

emily-portrait

“Well I know that I was the interloper: if a man who loves a woman much, so much that it seems his whole life hangs on her way with him, can be called an interloper. Child I suppose it is mans way to want a woman altogether to himself: I said it in the old days “Love me only a little, just a little” and now it seems as I grow older I am saying “Love me altogether and only me” And I know you told me all in the beginning: and I have nothing to offer you: I am poor: I am not clever, it is as wicked of me to want you to keep caring for me when my name is ‘Nemo’ as it is to make or do other wrongs… when like today you spoke about him: something catches at my heart and I feel lost, out in the cold… why did I not know you first? Why did you not tremble to my touch first of all the men in this world. Of all tales of love and sorrow I feel ours stand out for there was no hope in the beginning and there is none now…”

— Ernest Shackleton, letter to Emily Dorman, c. 1897-8

Posted in Images, Shackleton

A Tale of the Sea

A Tale of the Sea

I slept and dreamt of the ocean:
Of tarry sailors joys:
Of the tales which they loved to fashion
Of days when they were boys:
And I laughed aloud in my sleep:
“In those days they said they were men:
Is there one who has a record
Of worth: for a poets pen?”

Then I saw a great long line
Of ghostly ships come from the North;
Come churning the seas to foam
Splashing their bows with froth.
Dipping now into the hollows:
Now on the top they rise;
Pointing their booms to the oceans bed
And anon to the wind swept skies.

— Ernest Shackleton, composed aboard the tramp steamer Monmouthshire, en route from China to Europe (1894/5)

Posted in Shackleton

Impressions (2)

“Shackleton was contented with his own company — at the same time he never stood aloof in any way, but was eager to talk — to argue as sailors do … he had a quiet drawl in his ordinary speech but however slow his words his eyes were bright and his glances quick — When he was on a subject that … appealed to his imagination, his voice changed to a deep vibrant tone, his features worked, his eyes shone, and his whole body seemed to have received an increase of vitality… Shackleton on these occasions … was not the same man who perhaps ten minutes earlier was spouting lines from Keats or Browning — this was another Shackleton with his broad shoulders hunched, his square jaw set — his eyes cold and piercing; at such a time he might have been likened to a bull at bay.

“But withal, he was very human, very sensitive. He quickly responded to his sympathetic nature and was slow to pass judgment on his fellows.”

— J. A. Hussey, Union Castle Line

Posted in Other Voices

Impressions (1)

“Well Shacky, what do you think of this old tub? You’ll be skipper of her one day.” “You see, old man,” he said “as long as I remain with this company, I’ll never be more than a skipper. But I think I can do something better. In fact, really, I would like to make a name for myself (he paused for a moment or two) and her.” He was looking pensively over the sea at the moment, and I noticed his face light up at the mention of “her.”

“To see him once made an impression on one’s mind, and my first impression was: That this man is made for something better than a captain of a small trading vessel.

“At that time a marked ‘standoffishness’ existed between officers and engineers but Shackleton soon broke down the barrier which showed he was a man among men.”

— Third Engineer James Dunmore, Flintshire (Welsh Line), 1898; as reported in The United Methodist, 1922

Posted in Other Voices

Scrubbing the decks

James Wordie, Alfred Cheetam, Alexander Macklin

Posted in Images

“Wuzzles”

worsley-with-sextant

“[Worsley] was fundamentally light-hearted, given to bursts of excitement and unpredictable enthusiasms…. He felt it was his duty to play the part of commander, but he was woefully out of place in the role. His tendency to indulge his moods became obvious one Sunday morning, when a church service was being held. After some appropriately reverent prayers, the idea struck him to sing a few hymns — and he broke up the proceedings by clapping his hands and demanding impetuously, ‘Where’s the ruddy band?'”
— Alfred Lansing, Endurance

Posted in Images, Other Voices