17 December 2008
"the last echoes died on the white slopes"
I just finished Brideshead Revisited. It is magical and makes me think of Amy and her limes in Little Women. And the heart's journeys and struggles...Will we ever be satisfied? And yet there seems to be hope. Every time I suffer one of life's disappointments and need to look for the silver lining, I will murmur to myself, "But the white raspberries are ripe..."
"'Do you remember,' said Julia, in the tranquil, lime-scented evening, 'do you remember the storm?"
"That night and the night after and the night after, wherever she went, always in her own little circle of intimates, she brought to all whose eyes were open to it a moment of joy, such as strikes deep to the heart on the river's back when the kingfisher suddenly flames across dappled water."
"That day was the beginning of my friendship with Sebastian, and thus it came about, that morning in June, that I was lying beside him in the shade of the high elms watching the smoke from his lips drift up into the branches."
"'Perhaps,' I thought, while her words still hung in the air between us like a wasp of tobacco smoke-- a thought to fade and vanish like smoke without a trace-- 'perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us."
"Julia wore the embroidered Chinese robe which she often used when we were dining alone at Brideshead...It was thus that I had rejoiced to see her nights without number, and that night, watching her as she sat between the firelight and the shaded lamp, unable to look away for love of her beauty, I suddenly thought, 'When else have I seen her like this? Why am I reminded of another moment of vision?' And it came back to me that this was how she had sat in the liner, before the storm; this was how she had looked, and I realized that she had regained what I thought she had lost forever, the magical sadness which had drawn me to her, the thwarted look that had seemed to say, 'Surely I was made for some other purpose than this?'"
"Julia pulled off her hat and tossed it into the rack above her, and shook her night-dark hair with a little sigh of ease-- a sigh fit for the pillow, the sinking firelight and a bedroom window open to the stars and the whisper of bare trees."
"These memories are the memorials and pledges of the vital hours of a lifetime. These hours of afflatus in the human spirit, the springs of art, are, in their mystery, akin to the epochs of history, when a race which for centuries has lived content, unknown, behind its own frontiers, digging, eating, sleeping, begetting, doing what was requisite for survival and nothing else, will, for a generation or two, stupefy the world; commit all manner of crimes, perhaps; follow the wildest chimeras, go down in the end in agony, but leave behind a record of new heights scaled and new rewards won for all mankind; the vision fades, the soul sickens, and the routine of survival starts again."
I found a box of this paper at the back of a bureau so I must write to you as I am mourning for my lost innocence. It never looked like living. The doctors despaired of it from the start...
I am never quite alone. Members of my family keep turning up and collecting luggage and going away again, but the white raspberries are ripe.
I have a good mind not to take Aloysius to Venice. I don't want him to meet a lot of horrid Italian bears and pick up bad habits.
Love or what you will.