Wadsworth Longfellow, the seaside and the secret.

“Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
And the answer from the shore!
Most of all, the Spanish ballad
Haunts me oft, and tarries long,
Of the noble Count Arnaldos
And the sailor’s mystic song.
Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft, monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;– Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
With his hawk upon his hand,
Saw a fair and stately galley,
Steering onward to the land;– How he heard the ancient helmsman
Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
Poised upon the mast to hear,
Till his soul was full of longing,
And he cried, with impulse strong,–
“Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
Teach me, too, that wondrous song!” “Wouldst thou,” so the helmsman answered,
“Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!” In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies;
Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

Word for word he wrote my feelings. The most favourite poem by one of the Masters of lyrical poetry. By the Seaside: The Secret of the Sea by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882). He stole my heart with this one. Apart from teaching and writing poetry, he spent years translating Dante’s Divine Comedy and the poetry of Michaelangelo.



Oliver, the ocean and the love.

I am in love with Ocean
lifting her thousands of white hats
in the chop of the storm,
or lying smooth and blue, the
loveliest bed in the world.
In the personal life, there is
always grief more than enough,
a heart load for each of us
on the dusty road. I suppose
there is a reason for this, so I will be
patient, acquiescent. But I will live
nowhere except here, by Ocean, trusting
equally in all blast and welcome
of her sorrowless, salt self.

– Ocean by Mary Oliver


Cheney, the hard work and the fast life.

Peter Cheney was born on the 22nd of February 1896. At 14 he won a literary competition in a magazine and this encouraged him to keep on writing. Much to his mother’s disappointment at 17 he gave up studying law to start writing satirical works for theatre, something he was really good at but this came to an end when WWI began. In 1915 he enlisted as a volunteer with the British Army but a year later got wounded and whilst recovering he wrote and then published two volumes of poetry. In the 1920s he worked for the Metropolitan Police as a crime investigator, later freelance, and this was of much inspiration for his crime novels, his first one being The Man is Dangerous (1936). Two years later he published The Urgent Hangman (1938). Thanks to the success from these two he stopped working as an investigator and started writing on full-time basis. Cheney used to act out his novels for his secretary to write in shorthand then type. Within 8 years he became very popular, in 1946 alone he sold 1.5 million copies of his books worldwide. His characters were pretty much like their creator, working too hard and living a fast and careless life. He died in 1951 at 55 after he fell into a coma.


The green; in books and in art.

From these lovely greens I am still to read Gone to Earth, The Old Curiosity Shop and I am especially curious about The Fountain Overflows, a story of a musical/literary family in crisis as seen through the child’s eye, which is said to be West’s most autobiographical novel… Green is a colour Van Gogh used a lot. Two things I can relate to is the associating of colours with moods, and the love of texture in paintings, both of which he was well known for. His paintings were also well known for the ‘furious’ brushstroke which was said to be an expression of his constant inner turmoil. Pictured here is his Cornfield and Cypresses, painted in St. Remy in 1889, the year before he died.


The orange, the personal and the expressive.

Some of my beloved orange, and  behind them one of my favourites from Picasso – Portrait of Max Jacob (early 1907). I love Picasso for many reasons, one of them for expressing very well in words what and how artists feel when they paint. He once said “The painter always paints himself”. How very true. I believe it’s the same for authors and when it comes to all other talents really. The passion behind each work is very personal yet very expressive of one’s self, how ever different the outcome. Experiencing their work is like having a glance at their own personality. It’s like being trusted with a part of themselves. Isn’t that another good enough reason why books should be cherished?


Ada, the forbidden and the overwhelming.

So much to say, not enough space. This book is not for the faint-hearted and definitely not for those who want an easy, light read. The subject itself, incest, is already a carrier of much debate to say the least, and it’s not something I usually want to delve into, but it’s Nabokov’s erratic writing that made this book intriguing for me. This man as an author: a ticking time-bomb. In this book he goes from past, present and future in one paragraph, sometimes he manages to do so in one sentence. If that’s not enough, he continuously slaps your brain with thought-provoking stuff, and this without a break! Nabokov here tells the story of the passionate, forbidden love between Ada and Van, legally listed down as cousins but in reality they are brother and sister. They know this but that doesn’t stop them. They start their relationship when he is 14, she 12 and no matter the forced intervals and the heavy trials this inflicts on their sanity, their love was enough to keep them looking for each other till the very end. Narrated by Van himself with Ada’s help (in their 80s) they will tell you about the shocking, unforgettable story of their undying love, and they will tell you about it with the same passion they always felt for each other… This, understandably, is considered to be Nabokov’s most demanding of novels. It will show you how far the minds the likes of Nabokov’s can go. Prepare yourself to be psychologically challenged/overwhelmed, but oh so very worth it!

Ada bookreveries.jpg
Ada, the forbidden and the overwhelming.

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