An elegant, honest disquiet prevails in Zachariah Wells’ essay “A Walking Shadow.” The essay, part of our “Day Jobs” series, started out as a piece about his working on the Halifax to Montreal train as a service attendant while maintaining a career as a writer. However as things started to falter in his life, the essay took another shape. As I mentioned in an email exchange with Wells, the charm of working in the field of literary arts is the unexpected gem we receive when soliciting work. So while not the essay we originally conceived this one sears with humanity as he writes of his father, the rocky future in railroading, his own history, and the question of what lies ahead.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:27 AM
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Obviously, I'm in the middle of a difficult time. I left home a week ago today not knowing if my father would still be living when I returned. His condition had deteriorated rapidly since being diagnosed with lung cancer in September and he took a major turn for the worse after being admitted to a hospice last week. The day before I was to leave for New York, I said to my mother that I should cancel the trip. She told me I should do no such thing and that my father would have said the same. So I went, deciding to cut an Ottawa high school visit out of my schedule and take a plane home instead of the train.
I arrived in New York late Thursday morning. When I checked in with my mother that evening, I learned that Andy had died a few hours earlier. This made being away harder yet, but also made it all the more important that I carry on. My father had a powerful aversion to preciousness and hated to have a fuss made over birthdays and such. In one of the last conversations I had with him, he was reading the obits in the Charlottetown Guardian and vociferating about the purple prose they contained. "Not for me," he said, "I'll have none of it! Just put me in the ground. Or burn me."
So, I'll say no more on that subject. Here is the audio from two of the readings I did. First, the Best Canadian Poetry launch at The Corner Bookstore in New York's Upper East Side. Second, my reading with Elizabeth Greene and Matthew Tierney at the First Edition Reading Series in Perth, Ontario.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 5:54 AM
Monday, October 29, 2012
THE POETRY IN HIM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:21 AM
Friday, October 19, 2012
A couple of events coming up. I'll be reading in NYC at launches for the Best Canadian Poetry 2012 on Oct. 26. There's one reading at 2 and another at 6.
The following day, I blast back over the border for a reading in pretty little Perth, Ontario. Details on that reading, here.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:46 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Friday, October 12, 2012
Doped on the day-bed in the maple-stained
sunlight flowing through the bow window he built—
it leaked and, though stopgapped, dark watermarks
still flaw the stanchions that anchor the panes—
my father, propped up on pillows, reclines,
gnarled, arthritic hands crossed on his breastbone,
mouth open a crack and jaw slack, so that
his bottom lip underhangs the top and his face
makes an uncanny true-flesh facsimile
of the death mask of Brunelleschi,
at rest beneath the improbable, homely
softwood cathedral he raised with his hands.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 1:04 PM
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
I have an essay up at Contemporary Poetry Review on the poetry and poetics of description. CLM followers might have a feeling of deja vu, as I posted an audio version of this piece some time ago after I delivered it as a lecture at UNB. See, I'm doing my bit for the planet by recycling.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:08 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
A cool thing about being in this anthology is that I'll be reading at two launch events in New York City on Oct. 26. Which happens to be the day before I read in Perth, ON, at the First Edition Reading Series. Nothin but jetset glamour in the poetry world, I tells ya.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:47 AM
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 5:11 PM
Friday, September 14, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:55 AM
Friday, August 10, 2012
A'right, so I haven't been using this space for non-literary content much of late, but I wanted to put this up somewhere other than Facebook. I really can't express how much contempt I have for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, but I gave it a shot this evening, when I sent him this email:
Dear Mr. MacKay:
You helicopter-hopping turncoat hypocrite. Shall I add nitwit to the list, sir? I just now heard you say on CBC radio that you are concerned about service reductions to Via Rail's operations in the Maritimes. You went on to say that service might be restored if people were willing to use the train more. Perhaps you are aware that the service cuts are a direct response to decreased funding for Via legislated by the government. Perhaps you are aware that the government is formed by the party you belong to. Perhaps you are aware that party only exists because of your willingness to sell out the values of the party to which you used to belong. Perhaps you are aware that your party's majority in parliament is not reflective of majority support, but a byproduct of a broken electoral system, Machiavellian strategising and apathy?
You are probably not aware that Via has not touched service on much less frequented routes, such as the trains to Churchill and Senneterre. You are probably also not aware that declines in ridership--which have been much exaggerated, given that ridership actually rose last year on The Ocean--are THE DIRECT CONSEQUENCE of large and small service reductions that have been ongoing for years--including recent refusals by Via to increase the size of The Ocean's consist, despite being consistently sold out. Ridership declines are also the indirect consequence of Canada's strong dollar, which has led to a drastic decrease in visits by American tourists--which is the direct consequence of your Party's love affair with the Alberta tar sands and the "Dutch disease" that love affair has caused. So don't blame Maritimers or "local policies" for this, you ass. Do something about it.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:59 PM
Friday, August 3, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:52 PM
Friday, July 27, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:57 PM
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
and pitched our tent below the red-roofed kirk
afloat like an ark on a blue-lupin
lea. In the lee of the cliff, we blew up
our bed to lie down beneath the midnight
sun, hard by the black-sand beaches of Vík.
Afloat on the youngest land Earth's bred, we slept
and woke to the surging sea, to the screak
plummet and nest. In wind and rain, we struck
by a route discrete from the way we came.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:59 PM
Friday, June 22, 2012
We arrived home from Iceland last night, where we spent a week driving around various parts of the country and camping at night. Trip of a lifetime. Iceland might just be the greatest place on earth. Most of our trip was spent in "the nature," as they say there, but we snuck in a bit of culture, too, including a reading hosted by Angela Rawlings, who is living in Reykjavik these days. It was a great literary exchange between people from all over the world (Iceland, Canada, Columbia, Germany, Palestine and Hungary). As visitors to Iceland, Rachel and I were featured readers, along with German fiction and children's writer Finn-Ole Heinrich. Here are some pictures from our trip. Just a few that I snapped on my tablet. We'll be uploading more soon. When we got in last night, I found issue 68 of Arc waiting for me. In it, you will find a long review by yours truly of Bruce Taylor's knockout book No End in Strangeness. One of the best poetry books of the 2000's, folks. As always, much else of interest within the covers of Arc, so I'm looking forward to digging in. Once I get caught up...
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:16 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Friday, June 1, 2012
whole and sane. Holy thoughts and sacred
to the fascinating marvels of my life.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:26 AM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
I know nothing of the role I play.
Rolling over, I raise a middle finger to the day
whose light pours through the slats
of my venetian blinds and pounds me with its brickbats
and reproofs. This is proof that I exist
despite the fact the timepiece on my wrist
no longer ticks and the calendar page
has read September since I can't remember when. Rage
against the coming of the light gets you
nowhere fast, but the blood it sets in motion lets you
feel a little something. From the parlour comes
the rhubarb-rhubarb buzz of conversation, drums
rumble in the pit, I rise and shuffle into the day,
knowing nothing of the role I play.
first line from Wislawa Szymborska's "Life While-You-Wait" (translation Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh)
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:27 AM
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 5:35 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:01 AM
Monday, April 23, 2012
A few months back, Garrick Davis, the editor of Contemporary Poetry Review, a site I've long read and admired for its erudite and incisive criticism, approached me about contributing to CPR. Having a very full dayjob and freelance dance card these days, I'm not writing much by way of reviews, so I asked him if he'd be open to co-publishing a piece I had written for Canadian Notes & Queries, on the recent anthology Modern Canadian Poets. Happily, Garrick agreed to this and the other day my review went up on the CPR site.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:48 AM
Monday, April 16, 2012
...There will always be something in any poem, some reverberation of the numinous, which is not patient of explication, otherwise it would not be a poem.
But I must insist that I am not endorsing a lapse into some deliquescent, quasi-mystical vacuity. That would be an insupportable cop-out. The poet may ask of his reader the willing suspension of disbelief; he does not, ever, ask for any diminution of the critical faculties. On the contrary, he would have the reader's critical faculties raised to the highest possible degree. No one can be more aware of the fact that, if everything means everything, then nothing means anything. Purgatory would be for me a perpetual mooning about in some gormless Dream-Analysis Workshop. The poet attempts to work within the most stringent of strictures; he abhors above all else the slovenly, the imprecise, in thought or in language.
--Richard Outram, "An Exercise in Exegesis," from Richard Outram: Essays on His Works
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:43 AM
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Once the genius of Shakespeare, or Coleridge and Wordsworth, or Whitman, or Eliot is generally agreed, the critics who backed the wrong horse are generally written out of literary history, or held up to ridicule. Yet those critics of whom time makes fools—John Wilson Croker on Endymion(“We almost doubt that any man in his senses would put his real name to such a rhapsody”), Francis Jeffrey on The Excursion (“This will never do”), and many another—are often more worth reading than the critics of the day who got it right. We know what the latter critics will say—their taste is what our ears have been filled with; but, unless we read the other critics with attention, we can forget what an uncertain thing a poet’s reputation was at the start, forget what withering glances the poems themselves had to overcome, forget that, if the naysayers had had their way, literary history might have been different.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:29 PM
Thursday, March 29, 2012
One of the best things about unemployment/freelance is that you're home when exciting mail arrives. Today, I answered the door to my friendly postie, who had in hand this lovely package:
So now I have my weekend project all lined up: packaging these beauties so I can mail them out with minimal delay to all you wonderful folks who helped me travel to Linares. And for all those who've been meaning to order a copy, you can still do so at the Indiegogo page I set up, as the campaign doesn't officially close for another twelve days.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:06 AM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
My brief review of Julie Bruck's new collection, Monkey Ranch, is now online at the Quill & Quire site.
And my lengthy review of the Carcanet-published anthology Modern Canadian Poets is now in print, in Canadian Notes and Queries 84 (another beautiful issue, which I look forward to reading; please do subscribe). The review isn't online yet, but will be co-published soon by the American web-journal Contemporary Poetry Review. I've been reading CPR with admiration for years, so was chuffed to receive an invitation to publish criticism there, from editor Garrick Davis.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:54 AM
I recorded my session with the students at U. Ste. Anne yesterday. Archive.org has a new audio player widget, which doesn't seem to allow me to embed the player directly to the blog, but you can go to their site to hear it, if you're so inclined.
As I said, I'll be having a second session with the students on Friday morning, 8:30 a.m. at the school's Halifax campus, on Walnut Street (same building as the St. Thomas Lemarchant School). You're welcome to come, if you can stand the thought of an hour of my voice at that time of day.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:32 AM
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:20 PM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 3:11 PM
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Just got my contributor's copy of Arc 67, in which you can find my brief review of D.G. Jones' retrospective volume The Stream Exposed with all its Stones. And much other stimulating content besides.
And I believe, tho I've yet to see it, the new issue of Quill & Quire has my brief review of Julie Bruck's fine new collection Monkey Ranch.
In future publication news, I got the proofs and contract today for my interview and two poems, forthcoming in the next issue of the Alberta litmag FreeFall. The interview is with Micheline Maylor, who has published glowing reviews of Jailbreaks and Track & Trace in past numbers of FreeFall, so the magazine has a special place in my cold, dark heart.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:43 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Hard to believe it's coming to an end already. A slew of people left today, returning to their various homes or carrying on with further Mexican journeys. Only four festival participants left, myself included. I'm glad I had today for decompression. The schedule's been so full that this has been the first real opportunity to just wander around the streets of Linares a bit. It really is a charming little city, utterly bereft of kitschy tourist trap shops. This is simply a place where people work and live. There are occasional signs of the troubles that plague Mexico-- state troopers armed to the teeth, rumours of vans cruising the streets, driven by men in bulletproof vests--but I've seen no actual violence or crime.
Wednesday finished with an epic evening of literature and music. Maybe a few too many acts on the bill, but still some remarkable performances, especially from Estonian poet Katlin Kaldmaa. I also really enjoyed a couple of older gents playing traditional Mexican tunes. Muy simpatico.
Thursday, I and others were back at the Colegio Linares, where I talked to a grade 7 class and a grade 11 class. The classroom visits have all been terrific, even if the older kids didn't swarm us for autographs...
In the evening, I attended a talk on the place of Mexico in Pablo Neruda's Canto General. The lecture was delivered by Irish poet Kieran Furey in Spanish, so I didn't catch a whole lot of it, but it was very well received by those who understood it better than I did.
It's really been a fantastically stimulating week. I feel privileged to have been invited and humbled to have received so much help getting here. In post-mortem conversation last night, my campaign was cited as a potential model for future fundraising for the Linares festival. I hope that Colin Carberry and the other folks around here who make this event happen are able to keep it going and growing.
I blast off quite early tomorrow, catching a 7 am shuttle to Monterrey. From there, I fly to Atlanta, where I lay over for a few hours before carrying on to Montreal, from whence I'll be training it home, arriving Monday evening. Hasta luego.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:06 PM
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Very busy day yesterday and was too damn tired to post anything last night.
Read to a class at the Technical University in the morning, which went well, then had lunch (best prime rib fajitas ever) with other festival participants and people from the university.
After a bit of a siesta, I was up again and out for supper, then off to the university for a big reading in an auditorium, which was also quite good and was followed by a lively Q&A.
Today so far has been great. This morning I visited a class of 9 & 10 year olds at Colegio Linares, a local private school. I read them Anything But Hank! and they were really into it. Once more, I was swarmed by kids with questions and autograph requests. Left a copy of the book with the school library. A number of them spoke quite good English.
This afternoon, several of us were driven out to one of the state university's campuses, where we read to a crowd of 60 or so in a stunning, cool old chapel.
And this evening, I'll be reading at the Noche Bohemien, which will also feature musical acts. Apparently, over 100 tickets have been sold.
So, altho this festival was deemed too small to qualify for travel grants, I've read to many, many more people here than I have at bigger festivals in Ottawa and Toronto. Go figure.
In other news, I have received and corrected the proofs for the translation chapbook, so it should exist in three dimensions before too long. There are still 30-odd copies not spoken for, if you want to claim one. If there are any left once the campaign closes, I'll sell them by other means.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:16 PM
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
It's been such a full day that I had to stop and think about whether this was the first or second day of the festival. It's too late to write at length, but in precis form:
8:45: Opening ceremony at a local school. Dignitaries on hand, speeches, music, a dance performance by local artists informed by native traditions. Afterwards, inundated by young kids with notebooks and scraps of paper seeking autographs. I don't know what I was expecting, but whatever it was, this blew it out of the water. Incredible red carpet reception.
10:30: Did a reading with Jasmine D'Costa (from India, now living in Toronto) and Katlin Kaldmaa (from Estonia), at a technical college. About 100 students on hand. Wonderful response from them. I've recorded it and will post it when I have a bit of time.
4:00: After late lunch, went to a reading at the very impressive casino building. All of the writers who did not read in the morning read at this event, including Al Moritz. Some wonderful things. The most poignant moment occurred when Veronica Garza Flores, reading the translation of an excerpt of Irish writer Jack Harte's novel, was so moved she started to cry. She pulled herself together and finished the reading. Unheralded overflows like this one are among my favourite things about live readings.
6:00: Hustled off after the reading to the radio station where each of us had a few moments' worth of interview. In my time, I told the interviewer how much Linares reminds me of Charlottetown, which in an odd way it really does.
8:00: Went out of town a few clicks to a friend of Colin Carberry's where we enjoyed a delicious barbecue and much lively conversation.
Present moment: exhausted and off to bed.
Tomorrow a.m.: Going to the university at 10:30, where I'll be doing a solo session with a class.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:33 AM
Thursday, March 8, 2012
I thought I'd provide a little taste of the translations. Here is Lidia Valencia-Fourcans' and Hernan Sicilio's take on my poem "What He Found Growing in the Woods":
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:08 PM
After much back and forth with my long-suffering translators, we now have what seem to me to be excellent Spanish versions of ten of my poems. I have printed those poems and stuffed them in my carry-on. I have emailed them to Jim Johnstone at Cactus Press HQ. And tomorrow, shortly after noon, I will be enroute to Mexico. By train. Which will take me to Montreal, where I'll spend a bit less than 24 hours before boarding a very early flight to JFK, then on to Mexico City, then Monterrey, where I will be met and conveyed to Linares. What a journey! In many ways. I can't wait to get there.
The campaign, as anyone can see by glancing to the right, has been an incredible success. Yet another thing that has made this whole business so wonderfully affirmative. It's nice to get a grant, but you always know, if you're honest, that all it means is a couple of people happened to like your work well enough on a given day--and that those people had nothing much to gain or lose in the process. Something like this has so much more reciprocity to it. I feel humble and grateful for all of the support I've received for this most marginal of endeavours.
There are still translation chapbooks unspoken for if you want to read me in Spanish (with English en face). Hasta luego. Updates to follow.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:03 PM
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
As you can tell by glancing to the right, I have not only achieved my fundraising goal, but have now exceeded it. I had no expectation of the campaign being this incredibly successful; thank you so much to everyone who has contributed. As I said, I will be redirecting funds raised in excess of my goal to Colin Carberry, to help cover any costs he's incurred as a result of funding lost when the Linares government pulled its support.
Around forty copies of the translation chapbook have been claimed to-date; Jim Johnstone and I have decided to publish it in a limited edition numbered print run of 100. The translations are almost finished; I should be receiving final draughts from Lidia Valencia Fourcans in a few days. So I'll start mailing them out, along with other books claimed, when I get home from Mexico in three weeks or so. I'll be keeping the campaign open for another six weeks, or until all the chapbooks are claimed, whichever comes first.
Onwards and upwards!
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:49 PM
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Contributions to my campaign have slowed in recent days, but I'm still edging ever closer to my goal. In the hopes of stimulating things somewhat and because I know all about how lean things are for a lot of people these days, I've added a couple of econo-perks. Donating less than $10 has always been an option, but now it's more explicitly so. If you've been meaning to contribute, I hope you stop by campaign HQ. Thanks again to everyone who has contributed.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:04 AM
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Great news tonight from Mexico. Seems that locals in the private sector are stepping up to replace much of the support withdrawn by the Linares government. The festival was going ahead regardless, but this is welcome news.
As of the present moment, I have received almost one third of my campaign goal, with 54 days left till the deadline. This is wonderful; like the festival, I'm going ahead with or without funding, but the support makes it so much easier. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 5:05 PM
Monday, February 13, 2012
So, there have been some developments in Mexico that are less than ideal (I've provided details on my campaign website, which you can click to on the right), but the festival is going ahead and I have now raised 24% of my campaign goal, which is wonderful. Gracias a todos!
I have also received an offer to publish the translation chapbook, from Jim Johnstone of Cactus Press. This will save me production costs and time, so it is a major contribution to my campaign.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:12 PM
Friday, February 10, 2012
I won't be posting daily about the campaign, but today's a significant day because I've received the rough draft translations of my poems from Lidia Valencia Fourcans. Very exciting. We need to get our heads together to work out some knotty problems of diction and syntax, but it's great to see the poems taking shape in Spanish.
Also great to receive all the generous donations yesterday. I certainly didn't expect to have almost 15% of my goal within 24 hours. Muchas gracias to all who have pledged support.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:49 AM
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Regular readers of this blog may recall me saying a while back that I'd been invited to read at the Linares International Literary Festival in Mexico next month. I applied to the Canada Council for a travel grant to cover my airfare (the Festival can only pay for my hotel and meals, which is pretty standard), but the CC deemed the Linares Festival to be insufficiently "large" for my participation to merit funding.
So, as an experiment, I've decided to try out this micro-funding thing that's all the rage. On the right, you'll see a link to my funding campaign at Indiegogo.com. Contributing to the campaign isn't a simple matter of donating money to me (tho it can be, if you'd prefer): you get stuff in return. So please do check it out and make a contribution if you're so inclined. And by all means, spread the word.
Muchas gracias, amigos y amigas!
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:04 AM
Thursday, February 2, 2012
So, I've got four poems up at the Maple Tree Literary Supplement site, for your reading pleasure.
Aaaaaaand, today in the mail I received my copies of UNB's Journal of Student Writing, wherein is printed my essay on Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus. Probably pretty hard to find unless you're on campus, I'm guessing, but if you're stone-cold jonesing for a bit of left-field scholarship, you can read it here.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 3:50 PM
Sunday, January 22, 2012
I've been having a most enjoyable little tour. After Montreal, I read and talked to a first year writing class at the University of Western Ontario in London, which was a lot of fun, as such things almost always are. And tomorrow, I'm reading here in Kingston. Hope you can make it if you're in the area.
Monday, January 23rd, 7:30 PM: Kingston, The Grad Club, with Matt Rader and Anne-Marie Turza. DETAILS
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 2:11 PM
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Hey there, sports fans! I have a couple of readings coming up, and if you live in Montreal or Kingston (or within hailing distance), I'd love it if you could make it out.
Monday, January 16th, 8 PM: Montreal, Argo Bookshop, with Kaspar Hartman and John Eric Bennett. DETAILS
Monday, January 23rd, 7:30 PM: Kingston, The Grad Club, with Matt Rader and Anne-Marie Turza. DETAILS
I was supposed to be reading in Perth, ON, on January 20, but that event was cancelled, unfortunately. On the 18th, I'm visiting a class at the University of Western Ontario in London, but I don't believe that one's open to the public.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 7:49 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Just got my copies of The Worcester Review (XXXII: 1&2), a special issue devoted to Elizabeth Bishop, including an essay of mine, which is an excerpt of the (very long) essay I wrote about Bishop's "The Bight" while I was at UNB last year. Lots of other nifty-looking content in the magazine, including an essay by PEI expat poet and scholar Thomas O'Grady on "Elizabeth Bishop as a Maritime Poet."
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 8:09 AM
Rhonda Douglas has a very thoughtful review of The Best Canadian Poetry 2010 on the Arc site. She has nice things to say about my contribution to the anthology, which pleases me of course, but reserves her highest commendation for Ross Leckie's mesmerizingly beautiful poem, "The Critique of Pure Reason." Hear, hear.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:36 AM
There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamoured of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to Gothic art its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy, especially the art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of reverie. Gradually white fingers creep through the curtains, and they appear to tremble. In black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room and crouch there. Outside, there is the stirring of birds among the leaves, or the sound of men going forth to their work, or the sigh and sob of the wind coming down from the hills and wandering round the silent house, as though it feared to wake the sleepers and yet must needs call forth sleep from her purple cave. Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern. The wan mirrors get back their mimic life. The flameless tapers stand where we had left them, and beside them lies the half-cut book that we had been studying, or the wired flower that we had worn at the ball, or the letter that we had been afraid to read, or that we had read too often. Nothing seems to us changed. Out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we had known. We have to resume it where we had left off, and there steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits, or a wild longing, it may be, that our eyelids might open some morning upon a world that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for our pleasure, a world in which things would have fresh shapes and colours, and be changed, or have other secrets, a world in which the past would have little or no place, or survive, at any rate, in no conscious form of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness and the memories of pleasure their pain.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:19 AM