Thursday, November 27, 2008


O Sweetest Melancholy

Beaumont and Fletcher, The Nice Valour; or, The Passionate Madman, Act III, Scene III:
Hence, all you vain delights,
As short as are the nights
Wherein you spend your folly:
There's nought in this life sweet
If man were wise to see't,
But only melancholy,
O sweetest Melancholy!

Welcome, folded arms, and fixèd eyes,
A sigh that piercing mortifies,
A look that's fasten'd to the ground,
A tongue chain'd up without a sound!
Fountain-heads and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves!
Moonlight walks, when all the fowls
Are warmly housed save bats and owls!
A midnight bell, a parting groan!
These are the sounds we feed upon;
Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley;
Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.
E.B. White, Portrait:
He goes his way with a too cautious stride
That checks him safe just short of every goal;
Seeks not conclusions lest they try his pride,
Claims not fair booty lest it glut his soul.
If it be love, he finds it unrequited,
And seasons it with sadness to the taste;
If it be fame, he finds his name is slighted,
And turns his luck aside in constant haste.
Frustration tickles his most plaintive strings
And satisfies his bent for somber living;
He daubs with mystery the obvious things,
And holds fulfillment off—always contriving
From life (held very gingerly) to press
The fine musk odor of unhappiness.
Baron Wormser, Melancholy:
Weakness—the pale succumbing to loneliness,
Refusing to admit anyone else, indulging
The blue perquisites of adolescence
Long past their sensible deliquescence.

He knew it but went on drinking and regretting,
Not calling his friends and regretting,
Making scenes over nothing and regretting.
It helped to make him despise himself,

Which was, he sensed, what he wanted. He was
Then, in his oblique way, at ease to wander
The city's brazen or quiet streets, conjuring
Random lives and how the slim arc
Of emotion was pulverized. Back home, he put
On some Monk, lay down, half-cried.
Related post: Black Bile.

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