Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Cool Out of a Cellar a Mile Deep

Dear Mike,

Brecht's Pleasures (the book or the bathing or both) put me in mind of this brief vita-beatior reverie from one of Keats' letters. Also a short poem by classicist Luis Alberto de la Cuenca inspired by the passage (translation mine).

Hyder Edward Rollins, ed., The Letters of John Keats, Vol. II: 1819-1821 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958, rpt. 2011), p. 56 (1 May(?) 1819):
O there is nothing like fine weather, and health, and Books, and a fine country, and a contented Mind, and a Diligent habit of reading and thinking, and an amulet against ennui—and, please heaven, a little claret-wine cool out of a cellar a mile deep—with a few or a good many ratafia cakes—a rocky basin to bathe in, a strawberry bed to say your prayers to Flora in, a pad nag to go you ten miles or so; two or th[r]ee sensible people to chat with; two or three spiteful folkes to spar with; two or three odd fishes to laugh at and two or three numskuls to argue with—instead of using dumb bells on a rainy day...
Luis Alberto de Cuenca (b. 1950), Por fuertes y fronteras (Visor, 1996), p. 65:
Sobre una Carta de John Keats

Un dios por quien jurar. El buen tiempo (supongo).
La salud. Muchos libros. Un paisaje de Friedrich.
La mente en paz. Tu cuerpo desnudo en la terraza.
Un macizo de lilas donde rezar a Flora.
Dos o tres enemigos y dos o tres amigos.
Todo eso junto es la felicdad.

On a Letter by John Keats

A god to swear by. Fine weather (I suppose).
Health. Plenty of books. A Friedrich landscape.
A contented mind. Your unclothed body on the terrace.
A clump of lilacs for the worship of Flora.
Two or three enemies and two or three friends.
All that together is happiness.
As a topos, isn't 'Haec sunt' a sanguine cousin of and antidote to 'Ubi sunt'?

Best wishes,
Eric [Thomson]

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