Tag Archives: Caspar David Friedrich

That Warm Late-Summer Eve — Stanza 57

Monk by the Sea (c. 1809), by Caspar David Friedrich.  'Alone and quite disoriented.'

Monk by the Sea (c. 1809), by Caspar David Friedrich. 'Alone and quite disoriented.'

Res Publica, Book One, Canto the First

57.

Alone and quite disoriented.
A tarp of Western rain, or ghost-
like fog blacked-out New Zealand’s coast
which often, at night, was ornamented
with candy sprinkles of light. And this,
dear reader, this dark and lonely abyss
at which I found myself that warm
late-summer eve just after a storm
had sent me adrift – this isolated
mass of hardened, sharp, serrated
earth – without a single friend
– is where my Canto One will end.

Zireaux’s comments on this stanza
Our stanza-a-day format makes this last line sound untruthful, as two more stanzas still remain in this opening canto. Jumping in time, to tomorrow and Thursday, our reader will see exactly why Arcady chooses to end the canto when he does.

 

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That Vast Imploding Gulf of Loneliness — Stanza 55

Seashore with Shipwreck by Moonlight, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1835-1840

Seashore with Shipwreck by Moonlight, by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

Res Publica, Book One, Canto the First

55.

And yet I felt that same foreboding
sense I’d had while dreaming – the sense
of being abandoned to fatal portents;
and too, alas, that vast imploding
gulf of loneliness. The air
and water were mostly still. But there
were sounds: the gentle creaking
of my boat – a demon speaking.
The trickle of water, like tiny twittering
trumpets heralding the glittering
stars – my crown of thorns. One sound
unnerved me. I looked around.

 

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Enough, Digression! You Mountain Climber — Stanza 52

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1817-18) by Caspar David Friedrich

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1817-18) by Caspar David Friedrich

Res Publica, Book One, Canto the First

52.

Enough, Digression! You mountain climber.
We trek too far and leave behind
our reader! What dizzying peaks my mind
has scaled with you – this novice rhymer
knows, as with the climber’s art,
descent is often the difficult part.
Discovery’s as much about
reporting back as seeking out.
Those daydreamed heights. The records we’ve broken.
The views we’ve seen – yet left unspoken;
and thus, unknown; and thus unfound.
Without an ear, what good is sound?

Zireaux’s comments on this stanza
One must write on mountaintops. Compare the lines of this beautiful stanza to something Arcady says much later in Res Publica: ‘A hill requires ridges, crags / – not height alone – if it’s to snag / the best of climbers.’

On the New Zealand climbing scale, Res Publica has a grade of somewhere between (depending on which route you take) two and seven. Rope is often required. Ice picks, as well. Bivvy bags for some stanzas. There are both vertical and crux sections; and periods of sustained technical demand. In other words — a most comforting thought for this author — any reader snagged by these verses thus far is most certainly a worthy climber.

 

Read from the beginning of Res Publica | Listen to the audio version (read by Stuart Devenie) | Buy a signed copy of the book

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