Wilfred Thesiger

[English | 1910–2003]

a.k.a. مُبَارَك بِن لَنْدَن‎

From Thesiger's album (Vol. 13)
Do you remember?

Thesiger was a writer, an amazing photographer and an explorer. His most notable works are Arabian Sands (1959) which documented his journey across the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula and, The Marsh Arabs (1964) which documented his time living in the marshes of Iraq.

In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions.

Wilfred Thesiger was a distinguished gentleman

I tasted freedom and a way of life from which there could be no recall.

Arabia
Arabia

p.s.
I haven’t been (yet) but Wilfred Thesiger’s book collection and his photographs are on display at the Pitt Rivers Museum (part of Oxford University 😍). For maps of his journeys in Arabia see here and here for his photographs of Arabia.

Edmund Spenser

[English | 1553–1599]

And all for love, and nothing for reward.

It's love that inspires
It’s love that inspires.

And he that strives to touch the stars, Oft stumbles at a straw.

Edmund Spenser was an English poet who is recognisef as one of the premier craftsmen of early Modern English verse. In fact, he is often considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.

I hate the day, because it lendeth light To see all things, but not my love to see

The Faerie Queene was the first epic in English and one of the most influential poems in the language for later poets from Milton to Tennyson. Dedicating his work to Elizabeth I, Spenser brilliantly united medieval romance and renaissance epic to expound the glory of the Virgin Queen. The poem recounts the quests of knights including Sir Guyon, Knight of Constance, who resists temptation, and Artegall, Knight of Justice, whose story alludes to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Composed as an overt moral and political allegory, The Faerie Queene, with its dramatic episodes of chivalry, pageantry and courtly love, is also a supreme work of atmosphere, colour and sensuous description.

Her angel’s face, As the great eye of heaven shined bright, And made a sunshine in the shady place.

Gaius Catullus

(Roman | 84–54 BC)

I hate and I love
Why do I, you ask?
I don’t know, but it’s happening
and it hurts

Gaius Catullus was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, which is about personal life rather than classical heroes

Let us live and love, nor give a damn what sour old men say.
The sun that sets may rise again, but when our light has sunk into the earth it is gone forever.

W.O.L.O., dearest J

Lesbia, I am mad:
my brain is entirely warped

by this project of adoring
and having you

and now it flies into fits
of hatred at the mere thought of your

doing well, and at the same time
it can’t help but seek what

is unimaginable–
your affection. This it will go on

hunting for, even if it
means my total and utter annihilation.

Kisses r sumptuous & life sustaining.

Lesbia, you ask how many kisses of yours
would be enough and more to satisfy me.
As many as the grains of Libyan sand
that lie between hot Jupiter’s oracle,
at Ammon, in resin-producing Cyrene,
and old Battiades sacred tomb:
or as many as the stars, when night is still,
gazing down on secret human desires:
as many of your kisses kissed
are enough, and more, for mad Catullus,
as can’t be counted by spies
nor an evil tongue bewitch us.

📙 The Secret Sharer

(Joseph Conrad | 1857–1924)

The Secret Sharer portray’s a young men at sea confronting a turning points in his life.

Joseph Conrad was a Polish-British writer who is now regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. Conrad’s exploration of the human condition as reflected by the men who toil at sea — or deep in jungles — can be considered as profound as most philosophical works and musings.

The Secret Sharer is a tale about a new captain who is piloting a ship in South East Asia. He is not very popular with his crew. To complicate matters, he willingly shelters a stowaway, a chief mate of another nearby ship. This stowaway is accused of killing another sailor. The captain develops an affinity to him, sees himself in him, hides him from search parties, and eventually steers his ship to a small uninhabited island so as to let the stowaway — the “secret sharer” — silently swim away and escape being punished for a murder that he was adamant was an act of life or death self-defence. The deep point is this: does the stowaway actually exist at all! Or is he but a figment of the young captain’s imagination?

We live as we dream – alone…

“I had immense plans,” he irresolutely muttered.

W B Yeats

(Irish | 1865–1939)

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature.

I have spread my dreams under your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

U R my moon ‘Secret Sharer.’

For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon

The pool, the not fit for purpose outfit, the thrill & the excitement. Then, then came the pain, the god awful pain and desperation… my empire of hurt; it cuts way way beyond the bone.

A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him up for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

👁‍🗨 Robert Frost

(American | 1874–1963)

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I had that gold, I held it and I possessed it. I erroneously took it for granted and now it’s gone. It’s gone but it can never be forgotten.

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.

What once was, no longer is. But I’ll dig ’til I die. I live for one more kiss; one more seismic shift.

Poetry is what gets lost in translation.

Robert Frost was an American poet and winner of four Pulitzer Prizes.
Arguably he is one of the greatest American poet of the 20th c. His 1916 poem, “The Road Not Taken,” is often read at graduation ceremonies across the United States.

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This may be one of the first poems we ever worked on together:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

Did we conclude it was a dream, a morbid dream about mortality? Oh J, what have I done, what possessed me to be so cavalier with the open book?

👁‍🗨 Walt Whitman

(American | 1819–1892)

Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse unreturn’d love,
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love, the pay is certain one
way or another,
(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return’d,
Yet out of that I have written these songs.)

Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I’ve read in my life.

Walt Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most important nineteenth-century poets.

We were together. I forget the rest.