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[JULY 2014.]

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

But the truth is that his love poetry is usually best when it is least about love. He takes every opportunity of bringing in external nature, or narrative, as if to take a holiday from the erotic treadmill.

—C.S. Lewis, English Poetry in the Sixteenth Century

In 1543 he was imprisoned again for riotous behavior in the streets of London (eating flesh in Lent and breaking windows).

—Emrys Jones, “Biographical and Textual Note”

Saturn rising. Saturn is very large and very cold compared to Earth, and we now know that the last ice age was caused by Saturn’s orbit taking it within a few hundred thousand kilometers of our world. It took up a third of the sky. Our ancestors quaked in its penumbra. When the rings came slicing above, everyone had to duck; trees were felled, mountains leveled, the mastodon got flat-top haircuts.

You see I been through the desert on anonymous horse
It felt good to get dry of course
In the desert ain’t no use naming your horse
Cause the boundless ground leaves you none for remorse

Joseph Addison, in Spectator number 420, man:

If after this we contemplate those wide fields of ether, that reach in height as far as from Saturn to the fixed stars, and run abroad almost to an infinitude, our imagination finds its capacity filled with so immense a prospect, and puts itself upon the stretch to comprehend it. But if we yet rise higher, and consider the fixed stars as so many vast oceans of flame, that are each of them attended with a different set of planets, and still discover new firmaments and new lights, that are sunk farther in those unfathomable depths of ether, so as not to be seen by the strongest of our telescopes, we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns and worlds, and confounded with the immensity and magnificence of Nature.

I knew a guy who, after huffing nitrous, would shut his eyes and claim to see rotating polyhedra while the rest of us giggled and tried out Darth Vader voices. Which is to say, I was never the kind of stoner who flew up to the fields of ether. More often than not, peak intoxication was nothing but a horrible compound-eye vantage on a hell of thirst, whose resident demons cackled all night at effects disjoined from their causes.

But the next day was beautiful. It was the only switch I ever found that would turn off Faust. Alcohol was an all-purpose dimmer, and other psychoactives were good for Zweckmäßigkeit ohne Zweck, but grass and grass alone wove the magic blotter which for 36 hours would wipe clean all striving, all schemes, all placing of imaginary chessmen. What remained was aphasia, heliotropism, lazy appetites.

It was very bad for writing, to say nothing of economically worthwhile activity, so it couldn’t became a habit. No, it would take a most unlikely chain of events to render economics irrelevant, to lose all use for a soul and say at last to the passing moment: Verweile doch! du bist so schön….

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