Pretend, for example, that you were born in Chicago and have never had the remotest desire to visit Hong Kong, which is only a name on a map for you; pretend that some convulsion, sometimes called accident, throws you into connection with a man or a woman who lives in Hong Kong; and that you fall in love. Hong Kong will immediately cease to be a name and become the center of your life. And you may never know how many people live in Hong Kong. But you will know that one man or one woman lives there without whom you cannot live. And this is how our lives are changed, and this is how we are redeemed.
What a journey this life is! Dependent, entirely, on things unseen. If your lover lives in Hong Kong and cannot get to Chicago, it will be necessary for you to go to Hong Kong. Perhaps you will spend your life there, and never see Chicago again. And you will, I assure you, as long as space and time divide you from anyone you love, discover a great deal about shipping routes, airlines, earth quake, famine, disease, and war. And you will always know what time it is in Hong Kong, for you love someone who lives there. And love will simply have no choice but to go into battle with space and time and, furthermore, to win.
On Leontyne Price's 95th birthday tomorrow, please enjoy her stunning "Vissi d'arte" as Tosca – one of the most transcendent arias ever written, delivered by the most soaring voice, which Jessye Norman called "a cloud filled with silver".
I lived for my art, I lived for love, I never did harm to a living soul! With a secret hand I relieved as many misfortunes as I knew of. Always with true faith my prayer rose to the holy shrines. Always with true faith I gave flowers to the altar. In the hour of grief why, why, o Lord, why do you reward me thus? I gave jewels for the Madonna’s mantle, and I gave my song to the stars, to heaven, which smiled with more beauty. In the hour of grief why, why, o Lord, ah, why do you reward me thus?
Élisabeth Chaplin (b. 1890) was a French painter who lived in Tuscany for most of her life. She was connected to many of the painters of the Les Nabis movement, and much of her work relates to the themes of symbolism, post-impressionism, and early modernism.
She spent much of her life at Villa Treppiede in Fiesole, Florence, and continued painting up until her death in 1982.
I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling high up in heaven, And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit narrowing, I understood then That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight- feathers Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer. I could see the naked red head between the great wings Bear downward staring. I said, 'My dear bird, we are wasting time here. These old bones will still work; they are not for you.' But how beautiful he looked, gliding down On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the sea-light over the precipice. I tell you solemnly That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak and become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes-- What a sublime end of one's body, what an enskyment; what a life after death.
-- Robinson Jeffers, Carmel-by-the-Sea, published posthumously in TheBeginning and the End (1963)