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  • amolosh

Updated: May 30, 2023

. . . he recommended to all those who might be impressed with a sense of their importance to bury a copy or copies of each work properly secured from damp, &c. at a depth of seven or eight feet below the surface of the earth; and on their death-beds to communicate the knowledge of this fact to some confidential friends, who in their turn were to send down the tradition to some discreet persons of the next generation; and thus . . . the knowledge that here and there the truth lay buried . . . and was to rise again in some distant age . . . —this knowledge at least was to be whispered down from generation to generation.

—Thomas De Quincey, “Walking Stewart”

Livius Andronicus: An Odyssey is peregrinatory, and an Iliad, no doubt, genocidal, but an Idyssey is gestational as regards idiosyncrasy--or oddness.

Dr Johnson: Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy did not last.

Mrs Thatcher: There is no such thing as a womb with a view.

Ben Jonson: By G—, ’tis good, and if you like’t, you may!

—Petrus Tornarius, Imaginary Conversations

  • amolosh

In memoriam Max Azzarello


“Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood.

Amaze the welkin with your broken staves.”

—Shakespeare, Richard III

"Make the welkin ring!"

—R. S. Surtees, Mr Sponge's Sporting Tour (1853)


Old dogs, and bitches, too, with cataracts for eyes, steer the fratricidal masses

from sites appointed to anoint these humbug-sucking asses—

DC's Oval Office, Mar-a-Lago, the Forbidden City, Band des Bundes, Palais de l’Élysée,

Pradhānamantrī Kāryālaya, 10 Downing Street, dog-towered Kremlin, Naikaku Sōri Daijin Kantei—

dicing the present doom of Planet Earth.

They’ll be dead soon—and, if we leave it up to them, so'll we,

our children, our children’s children too,

and every last elephant, whale, and honeybee.

You know this just as well as I do—for what it’s worth.

Do not succumb to Fortune's unbecoming dumb-ass fun.

You needs must change your lives.

Get wiser now, and quickly, everyone!

But given that you’ll unlikely from your sport desist,

best look forward to—so fate would argue—ceasing to exist.

It won’t be that bad; in fact, it won't be anything:

The moon'll still sit there

amid the sparkling satellites and sing

on many a silent night all unaware

of the mazèd welkin’s interrupted ring.

  • amolosh

Friedrich Nietzsche, painting by Edvard Munch (1906)

“Brecht versus Rilke: once they had finished with us,

They had us by the balls and on our knees.

All that too is old hat now:

Benn vs. Rilke Pound vs. Rilke Gertrude Stein vs. Rilke . . .”

—Helmut Heißenbüttel, Gelegenheitsgedicht (Occasional Poem, 1976)


Hey! What’s happening?

All angels are scary, but don't I know you?

Why, it's old Fritz! Boy, am I ever glad to say hello!

Is this maybe like in the story of Tobias and the Angel, where

the Dottor Serafico just shows up at the door?

You’re a little underdressed for a mountain trip like this, if you don't mind my saying so,

But not a bit frightening (just a kid, who’s got the kid in me curious).

If it had been some terrifying archangel coming on down here from back of the stars,

I’d have been scared shirtless! So what are you now, like, anyway?

Don’t tell me you can’t talk because you’re mewing!*

Tell me! Do it for the plot!


You said that we must love the fate we've got—

amor fati, wasn't that the phrase?

But you didn’t say how—and it’s not the easiest thing in today's

world, you know. Then

syphilis broke your amazing brain. And you, who were,

Or might easily have been the greatest German poet,

Could do nothing but make those inarticulate gurgling noises.

Fame had made you famous.

People came to check you out, admiring your enormous mustache.

You just lay there.

(When you’re unknown, nobody understands you.

Famous, they don’t understand you either, but they pretend.)

Entre nous soit dit,† old buddy, Lou never loved you. It was always me.                     

And fame has been hard on me, too, you know.

Now they say I am the greatest of the German poets,

Goethe, Schiller, Hofmannsthal, Brecht, Gertrude Stein (Was she even a German poet??) . . .

Seems I’ve outdone them all.

It’s lonely at the top, no joke!

Frankly, I can’t always make sense of those Duino Elegies myself.

I just wrote down what the daemon came up with—like you did too, I guess.

Doch dies ist Sache der Götter.

Thank Christ, anyhow, I never caught der Siff! What a bummer that must have been!

*On "mewing," see "A technique attributed to a British orthodontist named Mike Mew that involves putting pressure on the roof of your mouth with your tongue to try and change the shape of your face."

† "Just between the two of us."

‡"That, though, is the gods' doing."

Heißenbüttel epigraph quoted by Wolfgang Leppmann in his superb biography, Rilke: A Life, translated by Russell M. Stockman (New York: Fromm International, 1984), viii. A masterpiece that some enterprising publisher really ought to reissue!

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