Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Die of Love for Him...

"I die of love for him, perfect in every way,
Lost in the strains of wafting music.
My eyes are fixed upon his delightful body
And I do not wonder at his beauty.
His waist is a sapling, his face a moon,
And loveliness rolls off his rosy cheek
I die of love for you, but keep this secret:
The tie that binds us is an unbreakable rope.
How much time did your creation take, O angel?
So what! All I want is to sing your praises."

Abu Nuwas (757-815)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Corydon and Alexis: Arcadian Love

The shepherd Corydon with love was fired 
For fair Alexis, his own master's joy: 
No room for hope had he, yet, none the less, 
The thick-leaved shadowy-soaring beech-tree grove 
Still would he haunt, and there alone, as thus, 
To woods and hills pour forth his artless strains. 
"Cruel Alexis, heed you naught my songs? 
Have you no pity? you'll drive me to my death. 
Now even the cattle court the cooling shade 
And the green lizard hides him in the thorn: 
Now for tired mowers, with the fierce heat spent, 
Pounds Thestilis her mess of savoury herbs, 
Wild thyme and garlic. I, with none beside, 
Save hoarse cicalas shrilling through the brake, 
Still track your footprints 'neath the broiling sun. 
Better have borne the petulant proud disdain 
Of Amaryllis, or Menalcas wooed, 
Albeit he was so dark, and you so fair! 
Trust not too much to colour, beauteous boy; 
White privets fall, dark hyacinths are culled. 
You scorn me, Alexis, who or what I am 
Care not to ask- how rich in flocks, or how 
In snow-white milk abounding: yet for me 
Roam on Sicilian hills a thousand lambs; 
Summer or winter, still my milk-pails brim. 
I sing as erst Amphion of Circe sang, 
What time he went to call his cattle home 
On Attic Aracynthus. Nor am I 
So ill to look on: lately on the beach 
I saw myself, when winds had stilled the sea, 
And, if that mirror lie not, would not fear 
Daphnis to challenge, though yourself were judge. 
Ah! were you but content with me to dwell. 
Some lowly cot in the rough fields our home, 
Shoot down the stags, or with green osier-wand 
Round up the straggling flock! There you with me 
In silvan strains will learn to rival Pan. 
Pan first with wax taught reed with reed to join; 
For sheep alike and shepherd Pan hath care. 
Nor with the reed's edge fear you to make rough 
Your dainty lip; such arts as these to learn 
What did Amyntas do?- what did he not? 
A pipe have I, of hemlock-stalks compact 
In lessening lengths, Damoetas' dying-gift: 
'Mine once,' quoth he, 'now yours, as heir to own.' 
Foolish Amyntas heard and envied me. 
Ay, and two fawns, I risked my neck to find 
In a steep glen, with coats white-dappled still, 
From a sheep's udders suckled twice a day- 
These still I keep for you; which Thestilis 
Implores me oft to let her lead away; 
And she shall have them, since my gifts you spurn. 
Come hither, beauteous boy; for you the Nymphs 
Bring baskets, see, with lilies brimmed; for you, 
Plucking pale violets and poppy-heads, 
Now the fair Naiad, of narcissus flower 
And fragrant fennel, doth one posy twine- 
With cassia then, and other scented herbs, 
Blends them, and sets the tender hyacinth off 
With yellow marigold. I too will pick 
Quinces all silvered-o'er with hoary down, 
Chestnuts, which Amaryllis wont to love, 
And waxen plums withal: this fruit no less 
Shall have its meed of honour; and I will pluck 
You too, ye laurels, and you, ye myrtles, near, 
For so your sweets ye mingle. Corydon, 
You are a boor, nor heeds a whit your gifts 
Alexis; no, nor would Iollas yield, 
Should gifts decide the day. Alack! alack! 
What misery have I brought upon my head!- 
Loosed on the flowers Siroces to my bane, 
And the wild boar upon my crystal springs! 
Whom do you fly, infatuate? gods ere now, 
And Dardan Paris, have made the woods their home. 
Let Pallas keep the towers her hand hath built, 
Us before all things let the woods delight. 
The grim-eyed lioness pursues the wolf, 
The wolf the she-goat, the she-goat herself 
In wanton sport the flowering cytisus, 
And Corydon Alexis, each led on 
By their own longing. See, the ox comes home 
With plough up-tilted, and the shadows grow 
To twice their length with the departing sun, 
Yet me love burns, for who can limit love? 
Ah! Corydon, Corydon, what hath crazed your wit? 
Your vine half-pruned hangs on the leafy elm; 
Why haste you not to weave what need requires 
Of pliant rush or osier? Scorned by this, 
Elsewhere some new Alexis you will find."

Virgil, Eclogue, 2.
ca 37 BC 

Vintage Dream

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Et in Arcadia Ego...

I have never seen this Von Gloeden's photograph before...
As far as I know, it was never published in any modern book devoted to von Gloeden...
This photograph was used as a postcard around 1910.
Yes, around 1910, it was possible to send such a postcard through European posts networks...
Would it be possible today ?
I guess not...

This is for me like a quintessence of von Gloeden's visual, artistic, imaginary, sensitive universe...

It is an Arcadian dream... Boys singing and dancing, celebrating a Greek god... Apollo ? Or Dionysius ? I guess Dionysius...

There is such a lovely mood in this scene...

This scene takes place in the wilderness, above Taormina's village... Nobody else than von Gloeden was looking at these naked boys dancing together, or listening to the music of the young flute player...

Most of these boys were young peasants, shepherds, fisher men, perhaps some of them were repairing cars in a garage...

I wonder how von Gloeden was able to deal with their laughs, with their jokes, with their unruly behaviour...

Or perhaps these boys were totally focussed on the scene they were supposed to play...

"Listen to me, ragazzi... You are now the kaloi paides, the kala meirakia, the formosi pueri of Callimachus, Theocritus and Vergil...  Apollo and Dionysius are watching you ! Eros is watching you too ! So, no bad jokes, play it nice, please ! Sing and dance, and freeze when I make a photoshot ! Grazie mille, ragazzi !"

This great postcard is now part of my personal collection....

By the way, should I relaunch "Rêves Siciliens" blog ?

It seems I did...