The Portrait of Jan Six — Rembrandt

RIP Amiri Baraka

RIP Amiri Baraka, 1934-2014

RIP Seamus Heaney

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RIP Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

“Funeral Rites”

I shouldered a kind of manhood
stepping in to lift the coffins
of dead relations.
They had been laid out

in tainted rooms,
their eyelids glistening,
their dough-white hands
shackled in rosary beads.

Their puffed knuckles
had unwrinkled, the nails
were darkened, the wrists
obediently sloped.

The dulse-brown shroud,
the quilted satin cribs:
I knelt courteously
admiting it all

as wax melted down
and veined the candles,
the flames hovering
to the women hovering
behind me.
And always, in a corner,
the coffin lid,
its nail-heads dressed

with little gleaming crosses.
Dear soapstone masks,
kissing their igloo brows
had to suffice

before the nails were sunk
and the black glacier
of each funeral
pushed away.

II

Now as news comes in
of each neighbourly murder
we pine for ceremony,
customary rhythms:

the temperate footsteps
of a cortège, winding past
each blinded home.
I would restore

the great chambers of Boyne,
prepare a sepulchre
under the cupmarked stones.
Out of side-streets and bye-roads

purring family cars
nose into line,
the whole country tunes
to the muffled drumming

of ten thousand engines.
Somnambulant women,
left behind, move
through emptied kitchens

imagining our slow triumph
towards the mounds.
Quiet as a serpent
in its grassy boulevard

the procession drags its tail
out of the Gap of the North
as its head already enters
the megalithic doorway.

III

When they have put the stone
back in its mouth
we will drive north again
past Strang and Carling fjords

the cud of memory
allayed for once, arbitration
of the feud placated,
imagining those under the hill

disposed like Gunnar
who lay beautiful
inside his burial mound,
though dead by violence

and unavenged.
men said that he was chanting
verses about honour
and that four lights burned

in corners of the chamber:
which opened then, as he turned
with a joyful face
to look at the moon.

The Poor Poet — Carl Spitzweg

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Poet Sleep (Samuel Johnson)

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Letter from WB Yeats to Ezra Pound (July 1918)

“I Do Not Like the Human Race” — Charles Bukowski

Giacomo Leopardi’s Death Mask

Roberto Bolaño’s Chair/Arthur Rimbaud’s Fork and Spoon

Photos by Patti Smith

(Story at The New York Times Magazine).

Heinrich Heine’s Death Mask

“The History of My Life” — John Ashberry

“The History of My Life” by John Ashberry—

Once upon a time there were two brothers.
Then there was only one: myself.

I grew up fast, before learning to drive,
even, there was I: a stinking adult

I thought of developing interests
someone might take an interest in. No soap.

I became very weepy for what had seemed
like the pleasant early years. As I aged

increasingly, I also grew more charitable
with regard to my thoughts and ideas,

thinking them at least as good as the next man’s.
Then a great devouring cloud

came and loitered on the horizon, drinking
it up for what seemed like months or years.

Dante’s Death Mask

Goethe’s Death Mask

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Death Mask

John Keats’s Death Mask

William Wordsworth’s Death Mask