The Lovers’ Almanac 29 January – Undiminished – art by Henry Ward Ranger – Birth of Anton Chekhov

Dear Zazie, Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse. Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge. Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

only this
and nothin’ more
what comes knockin’
the usual trio
the first
can be dismissed
the second
can still be denied
and the third
remains, for you

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

a flame of future
amid all the dark denial
no… cannot dispel
this hollowin’ sense of loss

a guilt that will not diminish
made of somethin’ imperishable
upon which time has not
the slightest erosive effect

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Henry Ward Ranger, circa 1910.

Today is the birthday of Henry Ward Ranger (western New York state; January 29, 1858 – November 7, 1916); American artist.  He was a prominent landscape and marine painter, an important Tonalist, and the leader of the Old Lyme Art Colony.  Among his paintings are, Top of the Hill, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and East River Idyll, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


 In 1883, he married an Helen Jennings, a divorced actress with a son.

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The Lovers’ Almanac 28 January – Affirmation – Birth of Colette

Dear Zazie, Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse. Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge. Rhett

The Lover’s Almanac

Dear Muse,

just ahead
of a snowstorm,
we reach the hotel
and go up to your room
we take off our jackets and boots
and git out a bottle of whiskey
we turn off all the lights
and light the candles
from the Hôtel Costes
the musk tinged
scent fills the room
neither of us speak
we sit there on the bed
sip whiskey and listen
to the wind blow
you lean back
against the headboard
i can tell from the look
in your eyes
what you want
to happen next
you reach over, strokin’
the back of my head
twistin’ my long hair
in your fingers
I put down my glass
and pull you close…
later spent and sore,
an understandin’
this was not just makin’ love
but an affirmation,
an exorcism of pain

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

Today is the birthday of Colette (Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Yonne; Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, 28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954 Paris); French novelist nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.  Perhaps her best known work, the novella Gigi (1944), was the basis for the film and Lerner and Loewe stage production of the same name.  She was also a mime, an actress and a journalist.

In 1893 she married Henry Gauthier-Villars (1859–1931) or ‘Willy’, his nom-de-plume, an author and publisher.  Her first four novels, the four Claudine stories, Claudine à l’école (1900), Claudine à Paris (1901), Claudine en menage (1902), and Claudine s’en va (1903), appeared under his name.

Willy, fourteen years older than his wife and one of the most notorious libertines in Paris, introduced Colette into avant-garde intellectual and artistic circles while engaging in sexual affairs and encouraging her own lesbian dalliances.  It was he who chose the titillating subject-matter of the Claudine novels, the girls’ school or convent ruled by a seductive female teacher.  Colette later said that she would never have become a writer if not for Willy.

Colette and Willy separated in 1906, although it was not until 1910 that the divorce became final.  She had no access to the sizable earnings of the Claudine books—the copyright belonged to Willy—and until 1912 she followed a stage career in music halls across France, sometimes playing Claudine in sketches from her own novels, earning barely enough to survive.  This period of her life is recalled in La Vagabonde (1910), which deals with women’s independence in a male society, a theme to which she would regularly return in future works.  During these years she embarked on a series of relationships with other women, notably with Mathilde de Morny, Marquise de Belbeuf (“Missy”), with whom she sometimes shared the stage.  On January 3, 1907, an onstage kiss between Missy and Colette in a pantomime entitled Rêve d’Égypte caused a near-riot, and as a result they were no longer able to live together openly, although their relationship continued for another five years.

In 1912 she married Henry de Jouvenel, the editor of Le Matin.  During the war she devoted herself to journalism, but marriage allowed her to devote her time to writing. 

Colette, painted c. 1896 by Jacques Humbert

In 1920 Colette published Chéri, portraying love between an older woman and a much younger man.  Chéri is the lover of Léa, a wealthy courtesan; Léa is devastated when Chéri marries a girl his own age, and delighted when he returns to her, but after one final night together she sends him away again.

The marriage to Jouvenel ended in divorce in 1924, partly due to Jouvenel’s infidelities and partly to Colette’s own affair with her sixteen-year-old stepson, Bertrand de Jouvenel.  In 1925 she met Maurice Goudeket, who became her final husband (the couple stayed together until her death).

Gigi (1944)

On her death on August 3, 1954, she was refused a religious funeral by the Catholic Church on account of her divorces, but was given a state funeral, the first French woman of letters to be granted this honour, and interred in Père-Lachaise cemetery.

Colette’s tomb in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

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The Lovers’ Almanac 27 January – Embers – art by Samuel Palmer & Arkhip Kuindzhi

Dear Zazie, Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse. Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge. Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

dark days for sure,
one year ago
not easy facin’ up
to dyin’ embers
dyin’ hell,
more like
damn near dead

but that was five months before
what was not thought possible
finally happened
then, i never thought about quittin’
guess that proves i still had hope

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

remember so well,
beside the dyin’ embers…

horses tethered nearby
campfire crackles
blanket of stars above
two joined as one
in a passion, unlike
anything they have ever known

ah, who am I kiddin’
what the hell good
does it do to remember
somethin’ that cannot be had

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Samuel Palmer
Samuel Palmer - Self-Portrait - WGA16951.jpg

Self portrait, circa 1826

Today is the birthday of Samuel Palmer (London 27 January 1805 – 24 May 1881 Redhill, Surrey); British landscape painter, etcher and printmaker.  He was also a prolific writer.  Palmer was a key figure in Romanticism in Britain and produced visionary pastoral paintings.


Garden in Shoreham. 1820s or early 1830s.

Palmer fell in love with the fourteen-year-old Hannah Linnell, whom he later married.

A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star c.1830

A Dream in the Apennine (c.1864).
Arkhip Kuindzhi
Portrait of Arkhip Kuindzhi

Portrait of Kuindzhi by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1869

Today is the birthday of Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (or Kuinji; Mariupol January 27, 1842(?) – July 24, 1910 St. Petersburg); landscape painter of Greek descent.


John Collier by his first wife
Marian, née Huxley ~1882

Today is the birthday of John Maler Collier (27 January 1850 – 11 April 1934); English artist, and an author.  He painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style, and was one of the most prominent portrait painters of his generation.  Both his marriages were to daughters of Thomas Henry Huxley.  He studied painting at the Munich Academy where he enrolled on 14 April 1875 at the age of 25.


Collier’s first wife, Marian Huxley, 1883

In due course, Collier became an integral part of the family of Thomas Henry Huxley PC, President of the Royal Society from 1883 to 1885. Collier married two of Huxley’s daughters. Collier’s first wife, in 1879, was Marian (Mady) Huxley.  She was a painter who studied, like her husband, at the Slade and exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere.  After the birth of their only child, a daughter, she suffered severe post-natal depression and was taken to Paris for treatment where, however, she contracted pneumonia and died in 1887.

In 1889 Collier married Mady’s younger sister Ethel Huxley.  Until the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act 1907 such a marriage was not possible in England, so the ceremony took place in Norway.

Lady Godiva ~1898, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

Angela McInnes by Collier, 1914

Clytemnestra by John Collier, 1882

A glass of wine with Caesar Borgia 1893

Tannhäuser in the Venusberg 1901


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The Lovers’ Almanac 26 January – pour la nuit sera noire – art by Louis Anquetin

Dear Zazie, Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse. Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge. Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

oh here comes
one of my favorite visions…
you in that killer black dress
and those Louboutin shoes
me in my boots and my
white dinner jacket tux
where we go
or what we do
does not matter
because the world is ours
to do with as we please

it is enough,
for awhile, to keep
the black night at bay
that and a Vesper Martini

been listenin’ to Etta today
a Thursday kinda dreamin’
somethin’, or someone’s,
got a hold on me, still
at last, my lonely days
have just begun

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

délier son âme
dans la rue la plus noire
qu’il pût trouver…

N’attendez pas pour moi ce soir,
pour la nuit sera noire

a vision
intense, hauntin’
reflective of madness
diminished to ochres and blacks
nocturnal, unreal, devourin’

no way out
or no will
matters not
to keep on goin’
further in

pour la nuit sera noire

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Autoportrait à la pipe, self-portrait, 1892

Today is the birthday of Louis Anquetin ( Étrépagny, France 26 January 1861 – 19 August 1932 Paris) French painter.

In 1882 he came to Paris and began studying art at Léon Bonnat’s studio, where he met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The two artists later moved to the studio of Fernand Cormon, where they befriended Émile Bernard and Vincent van Gogh.

Around 1887, Anquetin and Bernard developed a painting style that used flat regions of color and thick, black contour outlines. This style, named cloisonnism by critic Edouard Dujardin, was inspired by both stained glass and Japanese ukiyo-e. One example of this can be seen in Avenue de Clichy: Five O’Clock in the Evening.

He eventually opted to study the methods of the Old Masters. Thus, Anquetin’s works following the mid-1890s, such as Rinaldo and Armida, were especially Rubensian and allegorical in nature. In 1907 he met Jacques Maroger, a young artist who shared his interest, with whom he collaborated.

Later in life, Anquetin wrote a book on Rubens, which was published in 1924.


Reading Woman, 1890, pastel on paper

Woman at the Champs-Élysées by Night, c. 1889–93

L’Avenue de Clichy, cinq heures du soir, 1887
  • Moulin Rouge, 1893

  • Elégante de profil au Bal Mabille, 1888

  • Woman with Umbrella, 1891

  • Reaper, 1887

  • Le pont de l’Europe, 1889, pastel on paper

  • Inside Bruant’s Mirliton, 1886-1887

L’Arrivée (1895), private collection

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The Lovers’ Almanac 25 January – Distance – verse by Robert Burns – Birth of Virginia Woolf

Dear Zazie, Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse. Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge. Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

a fine one
for buildin’ fences
for puttin’ up walls
even built some
to keep me from myself

got really good
at actin’ the part
got even better
at puttin’ distance
between myself
and anyone
who tried to git close

never knew what it was
to need someone

only ever came to know


© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

“What is this feeling”

that is the question
never came across
a definition that satisfied,
tried some good ones though

not just knowin’ the other
perhaps ignorance
or a question of distance

made for this
countless hours
made for this
old memories,
forgot or not
days, old long since…

golden light, surrounds
all that existed,
all that mattered…
but untimely frost,
sever forever

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Robert Burns
PG 1063Burns Naysmithcrop.jpg

The best-known portrait of Burns,
by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787 (detail)

Today is the birthday of Robert Burns (Alloway, Ayrshire 25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796 Dumfries), also known as Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, Ploughman Poet and various other names and epithets; Scottish poet and lyricist.  Widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and celebrated worldwide.  He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a light Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland.  He also wrote in standard English, and in these writings his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world.  Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature.  In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them.  His poem (and song) “Auld Lang Syne” is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and “Scots Wha Hae” served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country.  Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world today include “A Red, Red Rose”, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”, “To a Louse”, “To a Mouse”, “The Battle of Sherramuir”, “Tam o’ Shanter” and “Ae Fond Kiss”.

His first child, Elizabeth Paton Burns (1785–1817), was born to his mother’s servant, Elizabeth Paton (1760–circa 1799), while he was embarking on a relationship with Jean Armour, who became pregnant with twins in March 1786.  Burns signed a paper attesting his marriage to Jean, but her father “was in the greatest distress, and fainted away”.  To avoid disgrace, her parents sent her to live with her uncle in Paisley.  Although Armour’s father initially forbade it, they were eventually married in 1788.  Armour bore him nine children, only three of whom survived infancy.

About 1786, Burns fell in love with Mary Campbell (1763–1786), whom he had seen in church while he was still living in Tarbolton.  She was born near Dunoon and had lived in Campbeltown before moving to work in Ayrshire.  He dedicated the poems “The Highland Lassie O”, “Highland Mary”, and “To Mary in Heaven” to her.  His song “Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary, And leave auld Scotia’s shore?” suggests that they planned to emigrate to Jamaica together.  Their relationship has been the subject of much conjecture, and it has been suggested that on 14 May 1786 they exchanged Bibles and plighted their troth over the Water of Fail in a traditional form of marriage.  Soon afterwards Mary Campbell left her work in Ayrshire, went to the seaport of Greenock, and sailed home to her parents in Campbeltown.

In October 1786, Mary and her father sailed from Campbeltown to visit her brother in Greenock.  Her brother fell ill with typhus, which she also caught while nursing him.  She died of typhus on 20 or 21 October 1786 and was buried there.


  • Nature’s law,
    That man was made to mourn.

    • Man Was Made to Mourn, st. 4 (1786)
  • Man’s inhumanity to man
    Makes countless thousands mourn.
    Man was made to Mourn.

    • Man was Made to Mourn (1786)
  • Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And never brought to min’?
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And days o’ auld lang syne?

    • Auld Lang Syne, st. 1 (1788)
  • For auld lang syne, my dear,
    For auld lang syne,
    We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
    For auld lang syne!

    • Auld Lang Syne, chorus (1788)
  • The golden Hours on angel wings
    Flew o’er me and my Dearie;
    For dear to me as light and life
    Was my sweet Highland Mary.

    • Highland Mary, st. 2 (1792)
  • But, oh! fell death’s untimely frost,
    That nipt my flower sae early.

    • Highland Mary, st. 3 (1792)
  • Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
    Ae farewell, alas, forever!

    • Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever, st. 1
  • But to see her was to love her;
    Love but her, and love for ever.
    Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
    Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
    Never met—or never parted,
    We had ne’er been broken-hearted.

    • Ae Fond Kiss, And Then We Sever, st. 2

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

  • My Heart’s in the Highlands, st. 1
Virginia Woolf
George Charles Beresford - Virginia Woolf in 1902 - Restoration.jpg

Virginia Woolf in 1902; photograph by George Charles Beresford.

Today is the birthday of Adeline Virginia Woolf (Kensington, Middlesex, née Stephen; 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941 River Ouse, near Lewes, Sussex); English writer and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century.

During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.  Her best-selling works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Virginia Stephen married the writer Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912.  Despite his low material status (Woolf referring to Leonard during their engagement as a “penniless Jew”) the couple shared a close bond. In 1937, Woolf wrote in her diary: “Love-making—after 25 years can’t bear to be separate … you see it is enormous pleasure being wanted: a wife. And our marriage so complete.”  The two also collaborated professionally, in 1917 founding the Hogarth Press, which subsequently published Virginia’s novels along with works by T. S. Eliot, Laurens van der Post, and others.

The ethos of the Bloomsbury group encouraged a liberal approach to sexuality, and in 1922 she met the writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West, wife of Harold Nicolson.  After a tentative start, they began a sexual relationship, which, according to Sackville-West in a letter to her husband dated 17 August 1926, was only twice consummated.  However, Virginia’s intimacy with Vita seems to have continued into the early 1930s.  In 1928, Woolf presented Sackville-West with Orlando, a fantastical biography in which the eponymous hero’s life spans three centuries and both sexes.  Nigel Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West’s son, wrote, “The effect of Vita on Virginia is all contained in Orlando, the longest and most charming love letter in literature, in which she explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her.”  After their affair ended, the two women remained friends until Woolf’s death in 1941.

Woolf suffered from severe bouts of mental illness throughout her life and committed suicide by drowning in 1941 at the age of 59.


“What is this romance?” she mused.
“Ah, that’s the question. I’ve never come across a definition that satisfied me, though there are some very good ones”—he glanced in the direction of his books.
“It’s not altogether knowing the other person, perhaps—it’s ignorance,” she hazarded.
“Some authorities say it’s a question of distance—romance in literature, that is—”
“Possibly, in the case of art. But in the case of people it may be—” she hesitated.

  • Night and Day (1919).

I want to tell you that you have given me complete happiness. No one could have done more than you have done. Please believe that.
But I know that I shall never get over this: and I am wasting your life. It is this madness. Nothing anyone says can persuade me. You can work, and you will be much better without me. You see I can’t write this even, which shows I am right. All I want to say is that until this disease came on we were perfectly happy. It was all due to you. No one could have been so good as you have been, from the very first day till now. Everyone knows that.

  • Letter to Leonard Woolf (28 March 1941), from The Virginia Woolf Reader (1984) edited by Mitchell A. Leaska

Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.

I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful.

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The Lovers’ Almanac 24 January – Never the Words – art by Vasily Surikov & Konstantin Bogaevsky – prose by Edith Wharton – lyrics by Warren Zevon

Dear Zazie,  Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge.  What words do you long to hear?  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

do you believe
you git to choose
who you love

then she said
“You said I was a candle
and you were the only mirror
Is that true
I am afraid that the words
I long to tell you,
are only to you,
old stories,
you’ve read or lived

So afraid of this,
That I hide them
Lest I should see you
smiling at them”

if, whenever you touch me,
i believe,
if you cannot come into the room
without my heart droppin’
if, when you hold me,
words fail me

you need not be afraid
tell me what you long to tell

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

Never The Words

Tightrope or feather bed
I chose tightropes
She chose feather beds
And this is what she said…
“Thinking last night, when asked,
But could not tell
You’ve spent your emotional life
While I have hoarded mine

Puts a great gulf between us,
Sets us on opposite shores,
At hopelessly distant points
Of our respective shores

You said I was a candle
And you were the only mirror
That could reflect my light
That’s true, but I am afraid
So afraid that the words
I long to unpack for you,
Are only, to you, old stories,
Old familiar tales you’ve read, lived

So afraid of this, that often
And often I stuff my words
Back into their box,
Lest I should see you smiling at them

If, wherever you touch me,
A heart beats under your touch
If you can’t come into the room
Without my feeling all over me
A ripple of flame
If, when you hold me, I don’t speak,
It’s because all the words in me
Seem to throb, my thoughts blur

Why should I be so afraid
Of your seeing, hearing my words
When I can turn the familiar
Old tales back into such beauty”

Tried to tell her not to be afraid
She never put her fears aside
Never unwrapped the words
Never said what I longed to hear

The Song of the Day is “Words” by Skylar Grey.  We do not own the rights to this song.  No copyright infringement inteded.  All rights reserved by the artist/producer.

Vasily Surikov

Self-portrait (1879)

Today is the birthday of Vasily Ivanovich Surikov (Krasnoyarsk, Yeniseysk Governorate, Russian Empire; 24 January 1848 – 19 March 1916, Moscow); Russian Realist history painter.  Many of his works have become familiar to the general public through their use as illustrations.


Suvorov Crossing the Alps

In 1878, he married Elisabeth Charais, a French woman who was descended from the Decembrist, Pyotr Svistunov, on her mother’s side.

In 1888, his wife died.  He was buried at Vagankovo Cemetery, next to his wife.

Ships. Evening Sun 1912

Today is the birthday of Konstantin Fyodorovich Bogaevsky (Eastern Crimean city of Feodosia, 24 January [O.S. 12 January] 1872 – 17 February 1943 Feodosia); Russian painter notable for his Symbolist landscapes.


Edith Wharton
Edith Newbold Jones Wharton.jpg

Edith Wharton, c. 1889

Today is the birthday of Edith Wharton (New York; born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937 Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France); Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer.  She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.  Wharton combined her insider’s view of America’s privileged classes with a natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight.

Wharton said, “Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.”  She wrote about frustrated love in novels like The House of Mirth (1905), Ethan Frome (1911), and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize.

She was a teenage bookworm, readin’ insatiably from her family’s expansive library and feelin’ alienated and adrift in the New York high-society circles her family moved in.  At 23, she married a family friend, a classy,  good-lookin’ sportsman named Edward “Teddy” Robbins Wharton, who was not particularly fond of books.  He had a tendency for manic spells, extravagant spendin’ sprees, and infidelity.  It was a long and miserable marriage.

She met Henry James in Europe and became good friends with him.  He encouraged her to write about the New York City she knew so well and disliked.  He said, “Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”  And it was Henry James who introduced her to his friend Morton Fullerton, a dashin’, promiscuous, intellectual American expat journalist who reported for the London Times from Paris.  Wharton fell hard for the man, filled her diary with passages about how their romance and  conversation made her feel complete, wrote him pleadin’ letters, and about a year into their affair, when she was in her late 40s, moved full-time to Paris, where he resided.  The affair ended in 1911, the year she published Ethan Frome.  She once wrote to him:

“Do you know what I was thinking last night, when you asked me, & I couldn’t tell you? — Only that the way you’ve spent your emotional life while I’ve … hoarded mine, is what puts the great gulf between us, & sets us not only on opposite shores, but at hopelessly distant points of our respective shores. Do you see what I mean?

“And I’m so afraid that the treasures I long to unpack for you, that have come to me in magic ships from enchanted islands, are only, to you, the old familiar red calico & beads of the clever trader, who has had dealing with every latitude, & knows just what to carry in the hold to please the simple native — I’m so afraid of this, that often & often I stuff my shining treasures back into their box, lest I should see you smiling at them!

“Well! And what if you do? It’s your loss, after all! And if you can’t come into the room without my feeling all over me a ripple of flame, & if, wherever you touch me, a heart beats under your touch, & if, when you hold me, & I don’t speak, it’s because all the words in me seem to have become throbbing pulses, & all my thoughts are a great golden blur — why should I be afraid of your smiling at me, when I can turn the beads & calico back into such beauty —?”

Edith Wharton said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it.”

Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon 1978 press photo.jpg

1978 press photo of Zevon

Today is the birthday of Warren William Zevon (Chicago; January 24, 1947 – September 7, 2003 Los Angeles); American rock singer-songwriter and musician.

Zevon’s compositions include “Werewolves of London”, “Lawyers, Guns and Money”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band”, all of which are featured on his third album, Excitable Boy (1978).  Zevon also wrote major hits that were recorded by other artists, including “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, “Accidentally Like a Martyr”, “Mohammed’s Radio”, “Carmelita”, and “Hasten Down the Wind”.

Along with his own compositions, Zevon recorded or performed occasional covers, including Allen Toussaint’s “A Certain Girl”, Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan”.  He was a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show with David Letterman.  Letterman later performed guest vocals on “Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)” with Paul Shaffer and members of the CBS Orchestra on Zevon’s album My Ride’s Here.


Warren Zevon (1976)

  • She’s so many women,
    He can’t find the one who was his friend.
    So he’s hanging on to half her heart.
    He can’t have the restless part,
    So he tells her to hasten down the wind.

    • Hasten Down the Wind
  • Poor, poor pitiful me.
    Poor, poor pitiful me.
    These young girls won’t let me be.
    Lord have mercy on me.
    Woe is me.

    • Poor Poor Pitiful Me
  • Loneliness and frustration,
    We both came down with an acute case.
    And when the lights came up at two,
    I caught a glimpse of you.
    And your face looked like something
    Death brought with him in his suitcase

    • The French Inhaler
  • So much to do, there’s plenty on the farm;
    I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
    Saturday night I like to raise a little harm;
    I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

    • I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
  • Carmelita hold me tighter,
    I think I’m sinking down.
    And I’m all strung out on heroin
    On the outskirts of town.

    • Carmelita
  • And if California slides into the ocean
    Like the mystics and statistics say it will,
    I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill.Don’t the sun look angry through the trees?
    Don’t the trees look like crucified thieves?
    Don’t you feel like Desperados under the eaves?
    Heaven help the one who leaves.

    • Desperadoes Under the Eaves
  • Except in dreams, you’re never really free.
    • Desperados Under the Eaves

Excitable Boy (1978)

  • Roland the headless Thompson gunner,
    Norway’s bravest son.
    Time, time, time
    For another peaceful war.
    But time stands still for Roland
    ‘Til he evens up the score.
    They can still see his headless body stalking through the night
    In the muzzle flash of Roland’s Thompson gun;
    In the muzzle flash of Roland’s Thompson gun.

    • Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, written by Warren Zevon and David Lindell
  • He took little Suzie to the Junior Prom.
    Excitable boy, they all said.
    And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home.
    Excitable boy, they all said.

    • Excitable Boy, written by Warren Zevon and LeRoy Marinell
  • I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,
    Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain.
    He was looking for a place called Le Ho Fooks.
    Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein.

    • Werewolves of London, written by Warren Zevon, LeRoy Marinell, and Waddy Wachtel
  • He’s the hairy-handed gent, who ran amok in Kent.
    Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair.
    You better stay away from him. He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim.
    Huh, I’d like to meet his tailor.

    • Werewolves of London
  • I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen
    Doing the werewolves of London.
    I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s…
    His hair was perfect.

    • Werewolves of London
  • We made mad love:
    Shadow love,
    Random love,
    And abandoned love.
    Accidentally like a martyr.
    The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder

    • Accidentally like a Martyr
  • Send lawyers, guns and money.
    Dad, get me out of this!

    • Lawyers

The Envoy (1982)

  • So I’m gonna hurl myself against the wall,
    ‘Cause I’d rather feel bad than not feel anything at all.

    • Ain’t That Pretty At All, written by Warren Zevon and LeRoy Marinell

Sentimental Hygiene (1987)

  • Every day I get up in the morning and go to work
    And do my job–whatever.
    I need some
    Sentimental Hygiene.
    Everybody’s at war these days.
    Let’s have a mini-surrender.
    I need some Sentimental hygiene

    • Sentimental Hygiene
  • They made hypocrite judgments after the fact,
    But the name of the game is be hit and hit back.

    • Boom Boom Mancini
  • I woke up this morning and fell out of bed;
    Trouble waiting to happen.
    Should’ve quit while I was ahead;
    Trouble waiting to happen.
    I turned on the news to the Third World War,
    Opened up the paper to World War IV.
    Just when I thought it was safe to be bored,
    Trouble waiting to happen.

    • Trouble Waiting to Happen, written by Warren Zevon and J. D. Souther

Transverse City (1989)

  • When I was young, times were hard.
    When I got older it was worse.

    • The Long Arm of the Law

Mr. Bad Example (1991)

  • I’m very well acquainted with the seven deadly sins
    I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in
    I’m proud to be a glutton and I don’t have time for sloth
    I’m greedy and I’m angry and I don’t care who I cross.

    • Mr. Bad Example
  • Down in the basement
    I have a Craftsman lathe.
    Show it to the children
    When they misbehave.

    • Model Citizen, written by Warren Zevon, LeRoy Marinell, and Waddy Wachtel
  • And I’m searching for a heart,
    Searching everyone.
    They say love conquers all.
    You can’t start it like a car,
    You can’t stop it with a gun.

    • Searching For a Heart

Mutineer (1995)

  • We contemplate eternity
    Beneath the vast indifference of heaven.

    • The Indifference of Heaven

Life’ll Kill Ya (2000)

  • Life’ll kill ya,
    That’s what I said.
    Life’ll kill ya,
    Then you’ll be dead.
    Life’ll find ya
    Wherever you go.
    Requiescat in pace
    That’s all she wrote.

    • Life’ll Kill Ya
  • I can saw a woman in two.
    But you won’t want to look in the box when I do

    • For My Next Trick I’ll Need A Volunteer
  • You know I hate it when you put your hand inside my head
    And switch all my priorities around.
    Why don’t you go pick on someone your own size instead?

    • I’ll Slow You Down
  • My shit’s fucked up.
    It had to happen to the best of us.
    The rich folk suffer like the rest of us,
    It will happen to you.

    • My Shit’s Fucked Up

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The Lovers’ Almanac 23 January – A Need – prose by Stendahl – art by Édouard Manet – Birth of Luisa Casati

Dear Zazie,   Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge.  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

a need…

to experience
all that beauty
and sorrow
have to offer

to push

for a reminder

to know
if you will come

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

a need…
in the cold, dark hours
when there ain’t no kiddin’
about what has been done
and what has not

for a losin’
all control, fallin’
and lettin’ go,
knowin’ you will
be caught feelin’

too much to ask, after the fall,
to find someone to be the all

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Marie-Henri Beyle

Stendhal, by Olof Johan Södermark, 1840

Today is the birthday of Stendahl (Marie-Henri Beyle 23 January 1783 Grenoble, France – 23 March 1842 Paris). Perhaps best known for the novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839), he is highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters’ psychology and considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism.

He formed a particular attachment to Italy, where he spent much of the remainder of his career, serving as French consul at Trieste and Civitavecchia. His novel The Charterhouse of Parma, written in 52 days, is set in Italy, which he considered a more sincere and passionate country than Restoration France. An aside in that novel, referring to a character who contemplates suicide after being jilted, speaks about his attitude towards his home country: “To make this course of action clear to my French readers, I must explain that in Italy, a country very far away from us, people are still driven to despair by love.”

Stendhal was a an inveterate womaniser. His genuine empathy towards women is evident in his books. Simone de Beauvoir spoke highly of him in The Second Sex. One of his early works is On Love, a rational analysis of romantic passion that was based on his unrequited love for Mathilde, Countess Dembowska, whom he met while living at Milan. In his writing he was able to fuse the tension between clear-headed analysis and romantic feeling. He could be considered a Romantic realist.

Stendhal suffered miserable physical disabilities in his final years as he continued to produce some of his most famous work. As he noted in his journal, he was taking iodide of potassium and quicksilver to treat his syphilis. Stendhal died a few hours after collapsing with a seizure on the streets of Paris. He is interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre.


  • Presque tous les malheurs de la vie viennent des fausses idées que nous avons sur ce qui nous arrive. Connaître à fond les hommes, juger sainement des événements, est donc un grand pas vers le bonheur.
    • Almost all our misfortunes in life come from the wrong notions we have about the things that happen to us. To know men thoroughly, to judge events sanely, is, therefore, a great step towards happiness.
      • Journal entry (10 December 1801)
  • Comme homme, j’ai le cœur 3 ou 4 fois moins sensible, parce que j’ai 3 ou 4 fois plus de raison et d’expérience du monde, ce que vous autres femmes appelez dureté de cœur.

    Comme homme, j’ai la ressource d’avoir des maîtresses. Plus j’en ai et plus le scandale est grand, plus j’acquiers de réputation et de brillant dans le monde.

    • Since I am a man, my heart is three or four times less sensitive, because I have three or four times as much power of reason and experience of the world — a thing which you women call hard-heartedness.
      As a man, I can take refuge in having mistresses. The more of them I have, and the greater the scandal, the more I acquire reputation and brilliance in society.
    • Letter to his sister Pauline (29 August 1804)
  • Je ne vois qu’une règle: être clair. Si je ne suis pas clair, tout mon monde est anéanti.
    • I see but one rule: to be clear. If I am not clear, all my world crumbles to nothing.
      • Letter to Honoré de Balzac, Civita Vecchia (30 October 1840)
  • Le même esprit ne dure que deux cents ans.
    • Wit lasts no more than two centuries.
      • Letter to Honoré de Balzac (30 October 1840)
  • Ce sera la noblesse de leur style qui, dans quarante ans, rendra illisibles nos écrivains de 1840.
    • It is the nobility of their style which will make our writers of 1840 unreadable forty years from now.
      • Marginalia note, first edition of La Chartreuse de Parme (1840)
  • L’amour a toujours été pour moi la plus grande des affaires ou plutôt la seule.
    • Love has always been the most important business in my life; I should say the only one.
      • La Vie d’Henri Brulard (1890)
    • Variant translation: Love has always been the most important business in my life, or rather the only one.

De L’Amour (On Love) (1822)

  • La beauté n’est que la promesse du bonheur.
    • Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness.
      • Ch. 17, footnote
  • On peut tout acquérir dans la solitude, hormis du caractère.
    • One can acquire everything in solitude — except character.
      • Fragments

Armance (1827)

  • Pourquoi ne pas en finir? se dit-il enfin; pourquoi cette obstination à lutter contre le destin qui m’accable? J’ai beau faire les plans de conduite les plus raisonnables en apparence, ma vie n’est qu’une suite de malheurs et de sensations amères. Ce mois-ci ne vaut pas mieux que le mois passé; cette année-ci ne vaut pas mieux que l’autre année; d’où vient cette obstination à vivre? Manquerais-je de fermeté? Qu’est-ce que la mort? se dit-il en ouvrant la caisse de ses pistolets et les considérant. Bien peu de chose en vérité; il faut être fou pour s’en passer.
    • “Why not make an end of it all?” he asked himself. “Why this obstinate resistance to the fate that is crushing me? It is all very well my forming what are apparently the most reasonable forms of conduct, my life is a succession of griefs and bitter feelings. This month is no better than the last; this year is no better than last year. Why this obstinate determination to go on living? Can I be wanting in firmness? What is death?” he asked himself, opening his case of pistols and examining them. “A very small matter, when all is said; only a fool would be concerned about it.”
      • Ch. 2
  • Cette manie des mères de ce siècle, d’être constamment à la chasse au mari.
    • This mania of the mothers of the period, to be constantly in pursuit of a son-in-law.
      • Ch. 5
  • Ce qui est fort beau est nécessairement toujours vrai.
    • What is really beautiful must always be true.
      • Ch. 6
  • Je ne suis plus si content de cette bonne compagnie par excellence, que j’ai tant aimée. Il me semble que sous des mots adroits elle proscrit toute énergie, toute originalité. Si l’on n’est copie, elle vous accuse de mauvaises manières. Et puis la bonne compagnie usurpe. Elle avait autrefois le privilège de juger de ce qui est bien; mais depuis qu’elle se croit attaquée, elle condamne, non plus ce qui est grossier et désagréable sans compensation, mais ce qu’elle croit nuisible à ses intérêts.
    • I no longer find such pleasure in that preeminently good society, of which I was once so fond. It seems to me that beneath a cloak of clever talk it proscribes all energy, all originality. If you are not a copy, people accuse you of being ill-mannered. And besides, good society usurps its privileges. It had in the past the privilege of judging what was proper, but now that it supposes itself to be attacked, it condemns not what is irredemably coarse and disagreeable, but what it thinks harmful to its interest.
      • Ch. 10
  • Depuis que la machine à vapeur est la reine du monde, un titre est une absurdité, mais enfin, je suis affublé de cette absurdité. Elle m’écrasera si je ne la soutiens. Ce titre attire l’attention sur moi.
    • Now that the steam engine rules the world, a title is an absurdity, still I am all dressed up in this title. It will crush me if I do not support it. The title attracts attention to myself.
      • Ch. 14

Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

  • Dans notre état, il faut opter; il s’agit de faire fortune dans ce monde ou dans l’autre, il n’y a pas de milieu.
    • In our calling, we have to choose; we must make our fortune either in this world or in the next, there is no middle way.
      • Vol. I, ch. VIII
  • Quitte-t-on sa maîtresse, on risque, hélas! d’être trompé deux ou trois fois par jour.
    • When a man leaves his mistress, he runs the risk of being betrayed two or three times daily.
    • Vol. I, ch. XII
  • Jamais il ne s’était trouvé aussi près de ces terribles instruments de l’artillerie féminine.
    • Never had he found himself so close to those terrible weapons of feminine artillery.
      • Vol. I, ch. XVI
  • Napoléon était bien l’homme envoyé de Dieu pour les jeunes Français! Qui le remplacera?
    • Napoleon was indeed the man sent by God to help the youth of France! Who is to take his place?
      • Vol. I, ch. XVII
  • Les vraies passions sont égoïstes.
    • Our true passions are selfish.
      • Vol. I, ch. XXI
  • C’est à coups de mépris public qu’un mari tue sa femme au XIXe siècle; c’est en lui fermant tous les salons.
    • It is with blows dealt by public contempt that a husband kills his wife in the nineteenth century; it is by shutting the doors of all the drawing-rooms in her face.
      • Vol. I, ch. XXI
  • Que ne sait-il choisir ses gens? La marche ordinaire du XIXe siècle est que, quand un être puissant et noble rencontre un homme de cœur, il le tue, l’exile, l’emprisonne ou l’humilie tellement, que l’autre a la sottise d’en mourir de douleur.
    • Why does he not know how to select servants? The ordinary procedure of the nineteenth century is that when a powerful and noble personage encounters a man of feeling, he kills, exiles, imprisons or so humiliates him that the other, like a fool, dies of grief.
      • Vol. I, ch. XXIII
  • Étrange effet du mariage, tel que l’a fait le XIXe siècle! L’ennui de la vie matrimoniale fait périr l’amour sûrement, quand l’amour a précédé le mariage. Et cependant, dirait un philosophe, il amène bientôt chez les gens assez riches pour ne pas travailler, l’ennui profond de toutes les jouissances tranquilles. Et ce n’est que les âmes sèches parmi les femmes qu’il ne prédispose pas à l’amour.
    • A strange effect of marriage, such as the nineteenth century has made it! The boredom of married life inevitably destroys love, when love has preceded marriage. And yet, as a philosopher has observed, it speedily brings about, among people who are rich enough not to have to work, an intense boredom with all quiet forms of enjoyment. And it is only dried up hearts, among women, that it does not predispose to love.
    • Vol. I, ch. XXIII
  • Les contemporains qui souffrent de certaines choses ne peuvent s’en souvenir qu’avec une horreur qui paralyse tout autre plaisir, même celui de lire un conte.
    • People who have been made to suffer by certain things cannot be reminded of them without a horror which paralyses every other pleasure, even that to be found in reading a story.
      • Vol. I, ch. XXVII
  • Les signes ne peuvent pas figurer, dans un rapport d’espion, aussi avantageusement que des paroles.
    • Signs cannot be represented, in a spy’s report, so damningly as words.
      • Vol. I, ch. XXVII
  • J.-J. Rousseau, répondit-il, n’est à mes yeux qu’un sot, lorsqu’il s’avise de juger le grand monde; il ne le comprenait pas, et y portait le cœur d’un laquais parvenu… Tout en prêchant la république et le renversement des dignités monarchiques, ce parvenu est ivre de bonheur, si un duc change la direction de sa promenade après dîner, pour accompagner un de ses amis.
    • “Jean Jacques Rousseau,” he answered, “is nothing but a fool in my eyes when he takes it upon himself to criticise society; he did not understand it, and approached it with the heart of an upstart flunkey…. For all his preaching a Republic and the overthrow of monarchical titles, the upstart is mad with joy if a Duke alters the course of his after-dinner stroll to accompany one of his friends.”
      • Vol. II, ch. VIII
  • Tel est le malheur de notre siècle, les plus étranges égarements même ne guérissent pas de l’ennui.
    • This is the curse of our age, even the strangest aberrations are no cure for boredom.
      • Vol. II, ch. XVII
  • Un roman est un miroir qui se promène sur une grande route. Tantôt il reflète à vos yeux l’azur des cieux, tantôt la fange des bourbiers de la route. Et l’homme qui porte le miroir dans sa hotte sera par vous accusé‚ d’être immoral ! Son miroir montre la fange, et vous accusez le miroir! Accusez bien plutôt le grand chemin où est le bourbier, et plus encore l’inspecteur des routes qui laisse l’eau croupir et le bourbier se former.
    • A novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.
      • Vol. II, ch. XIX
  • La politique au milieu des intérêts d’imagination, c’est un coup de pistolet au milieu d’un concert. Ce bruit est déchirant sans être énergique. Il ne s’accorde avec le son d’aucun instrument. Cette politique va offenser mortellement une moitié des lecteurs et ennuyer l’autre qui l’a trouvée bien autrement spéciale et énergique dans le journal du matin.
    • Politics in the middle of things of the imagination is like a pistol shot in the middle of a concert. The noise is loud without being forceful. It isn’t in harmony with the sound of any instrument. This political discussion will mortally offend half my readers and bore the others, who have found a much more precise and vigorous account of such matters in their morning newspapers.
      • Vol. II, ch. XXII
  • Les Russes copient les moeurs françaises, mais toujours à cinquante ans de distance.
    • The Russians imitate French ways, but always at a distance of fifty years.
      • Vol. II, ch. XXIV
  • Le dîner fut médiocre et la conversation impatientante C’est la table d’un mauvais livre, pensait Julien. Tous les plus grands sujets des pensées des hommes y sont fièrement abordés. Ecoute-t-on trois minutes, on se demande ce qui l’emporte de l’emphase du parleur ou de son abominable ignorance.
    • The dinner was indifferent and the conversation irritating. “It’s like the table of contents of a dull book,” thought Julien. “All the greatest subjects of human thought are proudly displayed in it. Listen to it for three minutes, and you ask yourself which is more striking, the emphasis of the speaker or his shocking ignorance.”
      • Vol. II, ch. XXVII
  • Il n’y a point de droit naturel: ce mot n’est qu’une antique niaiserie… Avant la loi il n’y a de naturel que la force du lion, ou le besoin de l’être qui a faim, qui a froid, le besoin en un mot.
    • There is no such thing as “natural law”: this expression is nothing but old nonsense… Prior to laws, what is natural is only the strength of the lion, or the need of the creature suffering from hunger or cold, in short, need.
      • Vol. II, ch. XLIV
    • Variant translation: There is no such thing as natural law, the expression is nothing more than a silly anachronism … There is no such thing as right, except when there is a law to forbid a certain thing under pain of punishment. Before law existed, the only natural thing was the strength of the lion, or the need of a creature who was cold or hungry, to put it in one word, need.
    • As translated by Horace B. Samuel (1916)

La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma) (1839)

  • La guerre n’était donc plus ce noble et commun élan d’âmes amantes de la gloire qu’il s’était figuré d’après les proclamations de Napoléon!
    • War was then no longer this noble and unified outburst of souls in love with glory that he had imagined from Napoleon’s proclamations.
      • Ch. 3
  • Comme on craint peu de choquer la vanité, on arrive fort vite en Italie au ton de l’intimité, et à dire des choses personnelles.
    • Because one has little fear of shocking vanity in Italy, people adopt an intimate tone very quickly and discuss personal things.
      • Ch. 6
  • A la Scala, il est d’usage de ne faire durer qu’une vingtaine de minutes ces petites visites que l’on fait dans les loges.
    • At La Scala it is customary to take no more than twenty minutes for those little visits one pays to boxes.
      • Ch. 6
  • Le goût de la liberté, la mode et le culte du bonheur du plus grand nombre, dont le XIXe siècle s’est entiché, n’étaient à ses yeux qu’une hérésie qui passera comme les autres.
    • The taste for freedom, the fashion and cult of happiness of the majority that the nineteenth century is infatuated with, was only a heresy in his eyes that would pass like others.
      • Ch. 7
  • Les plaisirs et les soins de l’ambition la plus heureuse, même du pouvoir sans bornes, ne sont rien auprès du bonheur intime que donnent les relations de tendresse et d’amour. Je suis homme avant d’être prince, et, quand j’ai le bonheur d’aimer, ma maîtresse s’adresse à l’homme et non au prince.
    • The pleasures and the cares of the luckiest ambition, even of limitless power, are nothing next to the intimate happiness that tenderness and love give. I am a man before being a prince, and when I have the good fortune to be in love my mistress addresses a man and not a prince.
      • Ch. 7
  • Cette religion ôte le courage de penser aux choses inaccoutumées, et défend surtout l’examen personnel, comme le plus énorme des péchés; c’est un pas vers le protestantisme.
    • This religion takes away the courage of thinking of unusual things and prohibits self-examination above all as the most egregious of sins. It is one step away from protestantism.
      • Ch. 12
  • La vanité piquée peut mener loin un jeune homme riche et dès le berceau toujours environné de flatteurs.
    • Wounded pride can take a rich young man far who has been surrounded by flatterers since birth.
      • Ch. 13
  • De loin nous ne nous faisons pas d’idée de ce que c’est que l’autorité d’un despote qui connaît de vue tous ses sujets.
    • At a distance, we cannot conceive of the authority of a despot who knows all his subjects on sight.
      • Ch. 16
  • Quand je devrais acheter cette vie de délices et cette chance unique de bonheur par quelques petits dangers, où serait le mal? Et ne serait-ce pas encore un bonheur que de trouver ainsi une faible occasion de lui donner une preuve de mon amour?
    • Were I to buy this life of pleasure and this only chance at happiness with a few little dangers, where would be the harm? And wouldn’t it still be fortunate to find a weak excuse to give her proof of my love?
      • Ch. 20
  • Une femme de quarante ans n’est plus quelque chose que pour les hommes qui l’ont aimée dans sa jeunesse!
    • A forty-year-old woman is only something to men who have loved her in her youth!
      • Ch. 23
Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet-crop.jpg

portrait by Nadar, 1874

Today is the birthday of Édouard Manet (Paris; 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883 Paris); French painter.  He was one of the first 19th-century artists to paint modern life, and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

Born into an upper-class household with strong political connections, Manet rejected the future originally envisioned for him, and became engrossed in the world of painting.  His early masterworks, The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe) and Olympia, both 1863, caused great controversy and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism.  Today, these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.  The last 20 years of Manet’s life saw him form bonds with other great artists of the time, and develop his own style that would be heralded as innovative and serve as a major influence for future painters.


Manet’s portrait painted by Fantin-Latour

Music in the Tuileries, 1862

The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe), 1863

Olympia, 1863

Berthe Morisot with a Bouquet of Violets, 1872

Manet married Suzanne Leenhoff in 1863.  Leenhoff was a Dutch-born piano teacher of Manet’s age with whom he had been romantically involved for approximately ten years. Leenhoff initially had been employed by Manet’s father, Auguste, to teach Manet and his younger brother piano.  She also may have been Auguste’s mistress.  Manet painted his wife in The Reading, among other paintings.

Self-Portrait with Palette, 1879

The Cafe Concert, 1878. Scene set in the Cabaret de Reichshoffen on the Boulevard Rochechouart, where women on the fringes of society freely intermingled with well-heeled gentlemen. The Walters Art Museum.

The Races at Longchamp, 1864

The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The least finished of three large canvases devoted to the execution of Maximilian I of Mexico.

The Barricade (Civil War), 1871, ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper, Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest)

The Railway, 1873

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère), 1882, Courtauld Gallery, London

In April 1883, his left foot was amputated because of gangrene, and he died eleven days later in Paris. He is buried in the Passy Cemetery in the city.

The grave of Manet at Passy

Manet, Le Christ Jardinier

 The Christ as a Gardener, c. 1858/59, Private Collection
Luisa Casati

Portrait of Marchesa Luisa Casati by Adolf de Meyer

Today is the birthday of Luisa, Marchesa Casati Stampa di Soncino (Milan 23 January 1881 – 1 June 1957 Knightsbridge, London), also known as Luisa Casati; Italian heiress, muse, and patroness of the arts in early 20th-century Europe known for her eccentricities.  As the concept of quaintrelle was re-developed, Marchesa Casati fitted the utmost example by saying: “I want to be a living work of art”.

In 1900, she married Camillo, Marchese Casati Stampa di Soncino (Muggiò, 12 August 1877 – Roma, 18 September 1946).  The Casatis maintained separate residences for the duration of their marriage.  They were legally separated in 1914.  They remained married until Marchese Casati’s death in 1946.

A celebrity and femme fatale, the Marchesa’s famous eccentricities dominated and delighted European society for nearly three decades.  The beautiful and extravagant hostess to the Ballets Russes was something of a legend among her contemporaries.  She astonished society by parading with a pair of leashed cheetahs and wearing live snakes as jewellery.

Marchesa Luisa Casati (1881–1957) with a greyhound by Giovanni Boldini

She captivated artists and literary figures such as Robert de Montesquiou, Romain de Tirtoff (Erté), Jean Cocteau, and Cecil Beaton.  She had a long term affair with the author Gabriele d’Annunzio, who is said to have based on her the character of Isabella Inghirami in Forse che si forse che no (Maybe yes, maybe no) (1910).  The character of La Casinelle, who appeared in two novels by Michel Georges-Michel, Dans la fete de Venise (1922) and Nouvelle Riviera (1924), was also inspired by her.

In 1910, Casati took up residence at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on Grand Canal in Venice (now the home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection).  Her soirées there would become legendary.  Casati collected a menagerie of exotic animals, and patronized fashion designers such as Fortuny and Poiret.  From 1919 to 1920 she lived at Villa San Michele in Capri, the tenant of the unwilling Axel Munthe.  Her time on the Italian island, tolerant home to a wide collection of artists, gay men, and lesbians in exile, was described by British author Compton Mackenzie in his diaries.

Her numerous portraits were painted and sculpted by artists as various as Giovanni Boldini, Paolo Troubetzkoy, Romaine Brooks (with whom she had an affair), Kees van Dongen, and Man Ray; many of them she paid for, as a wish to “commission her own immortality”.  She was muse to Italian Futurists such as F. T. Marinetti, Fortunato Depero, and Umberto Boccioni.  Augustus John’s portrait of her is one of the most popular paintings at the Art Gallery of Ontario; Jack Kerouac wrote poems about it and Robert Fulford was impressed by it as a schoolboy.

Gravestone for Luisa Casati (2004)

Epitaph on Luisa Casati’s Gravestone (2004)

By 1930, Casati had amassed a personal debt of $25 million.  Unable to pay her creditors, her personal possessions were auctioned off.  Designer Coco Chanel was reportedly one of the bidders.

Casati fled to London where she lived in comparative poverty in a one-room flat.  She was rumoured to be seen rummaging in bins searching for feathers to decorate her hair.  On 1 June 1957, Marchesa Casati died of a stroke at her last residence at 32 Beaufort Gardens in Knightsbridge, aged 76.  Following a requiem mass at Brompton Oratory, the Marchesa was interred in Brompton Cemetery.

She was buried wearing her black and leopard skin finery and a pair of false eyelashes.  She was also interred with one of her beloved stuffed pekinese dogs.  Her tombstone is a small grave marker in the shape of an urn draped in cloth with a swag of flowers to the front.  The inscription on the tombstone, which misspells her “Louisa” rather than “Luisa”, is inscribed with the quote, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety”, from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.

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The Lovers’ Almanac 22 January – Without You, reprise IV – verse by Lord Byron – art by Francis Picabia

Dear Zazie,  Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge.  Are you without someone?  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

blizzard comin’ on
plenty wood, food
now just waitin’
and creatin’

the song of you
still matters most
with or without you
still have not much more
than a song to offer
and a promise
to not shy away
from the highest highs
and the lowest lows
and to do all i can
to explore all aspects
of beauty and sorrow
and take you along

© copyright 2018 mac tab/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

came to the Dakotas,
to the solitude,
the faraway
came out here
with not much more
than a song of you
to sustain me

this is how it is
without you…

open range, miles
from the nearest comfort
campfire, moonlit night
my journals, sketch book
my thoughts,
my visions of you

this is how it is
without you

from sunup
to sundown
and in my dreams
matters not
where i ride or roam
there is but one constant
you on my mind

this is how it is…

© copyright 2017 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved
The Song of the Day is “Without You” by the Dixie Chicks.  We do not own the rights to this song.  No copyright infringement intended.  All rights reserved by the producer/artist.


The Right Honourable
The Lord Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron by Richard Westall (2).jpg

Portrait of Lord Byron by Richard Westall

Today is the birthday of George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (London 22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824 Missolonghi, Aetolia, Ottoman Empire (present-day Aetolia-Acarnania, Greece)), commonly known simply as Lord Byron; Anglo-Scottish poet, politician, and a leading figure in the Romantic movement.  Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems, Don Juan and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and the short lyric poem, “She Walks in Beauty”.

In my opinion, Byron is as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential.  He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years.  Later in his brief life, Byron joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which many Greeks revere him as a national hero.

He died in 1824 at the age of 36 from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi.  Often described as the most flamboyant and notorious of the major Romantics, Byron was both celebrated and castigated in life for his aristocratic excesses, including huge debts, numerous love affairs – with men as well as women, as well as rumours of a scandalous liaison with his half-sister – and self-imposed exile.

Byron fell in love with Mary Chaworth, whom he met while at school, and she was the reason he refused to return to Harrow in September 1803.  His mother wrote, “He has no indisposition that I know of but love, desperate love, the worst of all maladies in my opinion. In short, the boy is distractedly in love with Miss Chaworth.”  In Byron’s later memoirs, “Mary Chaworth is portrayed as the first object of his adult sexual feelings.”

Ah! Sure some stronger impulse vibrates here,
Which whispers friendship will be doubly dear
To one, who thus for kindred hearts must roam,
And seek abroad, the love denied at home.

Lord Byron by Henry Pierce Bone

Byron left England in April 1816— forever as it turned out.  (Despite his dying wishes, however, his body was returned for burial in England.)  He journeyed through Belgium and continued up the Rhine river.  In the summer of 1816 he settled at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with his personal physician, the young, brilliant and handsome John William Polidori.  There Byron befriended the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley’s future wife Mary Godwin.  He was also joined by Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont, with whom he had had an affair in London.

Frontispiece to a c. 1825 edition of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Kept indoors at the Villa Diodati by the “incessant rain” of “that wet, ungenial summer” over three days in June, the five turned to reading fantastical stories, including Fantasmagoriana, and then devising their own tales.  Mary Shelley produced what would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron’s, Fragment of a Novel, to produce The Vampyre, the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre.

Byron’s story fragment was published as a postscript to Mazeppa; he also wrote the third canto of Childe Harold.  Byron wintered in Venice, pausing his travels when he fell in love with Marianna Segati, in whose Venice house he was lodging, and who was soon replaced by 22-year-old Margarita Cogni; both women were married.  Cogni could not read or write, and she left her husband to move into Byron’s Venice house.  Their fighting often caused Byron to spend the night in his gondola; when he asked her to leave the house, she threw herself into the Venetian canal.


Byron’s visit to San Lazzaro as depicted by Ivan Aivazovsky (1899)

In 1817, he journeyed to Rome.  On returning to Venice, he wrote the fourth canto of Childe Harold.  About the same time, he sold Newstead and published Manfred, Cain and The Deformed Transformed.  The first five cantos of Don Juan were written between 1818 and 1820, during which period he made the acquaintance of the 18 year old Countess Guiccioli, who found her first love in Byron, who in turn asked her to elope with him.

Led by the love for this local aristocratic and married young Teresa Guiccioli, Byron lived in Ravenna between 1819 and 1821.  Here he continued Don Juan and wrote the Ravenna Diary and My Dictionary and Recollections.  Of Byron’s lifestyle in Ravenna we know more from Shelley, who documented some of its more colourful aspects in a letter: “Lord Byron gets up at two. I get up, quite contrary to my usual custom … at 12. After breakfast we sit talking till six. From six to eight we gallop through the pine forest which divide Ravenna from the sea; we then come home and dine, and sit up gossiping till six in the morning. I don’t suppose this will kill me in a week or fortnight, but I shall not try it longer. Lord B.’s establishment consists, besides servants, of ten horses, eight enormous dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a crow, and a falcon; and all these, except the horses, walk about the house, which every now and then resounds with their unarbitrated quarrels, as if they were the masters of it… . [P.S.] I find that my enumeration of the animals in this Circean Palace was defective … . I have just met on the grand staircase five peacocks, two guinea hens, and an Egyptian crane. I wonder who all these animals were before they were changed into these shapes.”

“Byron’s Grotto” in Porto Venere, Italy, named in his honour, because according to a local legend he meditated here and drew inspiration from this place for his literary works.

Byron attended the funeral of Shelley, which was orchestrated by Trelawney after Williams and Shelley drowned in a boating accident on 8 July 1822.  His last Italian home was Genoa, where he was still accompanied by the Countess Guiccioli, and the Blessingtons, providing the material for Lady Blessington’s work: Conversations with Lord Byron, an important text in the reception of Byron in the period immediately after his death.

Lord Byron in Albanian dress painted by Thomas Phillips in 1813. Venizelos Mansion, Athens (the British Ambassador’s residence)

Byron was living in Genoa when, in 1823 he accepted overtures for his support from representatives of the movement for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire.  At first, Byron did not wish to abandon his twenty-two year old mistress Countess Teresa Guiccioli who had abandoned her husband to live with him; ultimately Guiccioli’s father, Count Gamba was allowed to leave his exile in the Romagna under the condition that his daughter return to him, without Byron.  On 16 July, Byron left Genoa arriving at Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands on 4 August.

The reception of Lord Byron at Missolonghi

On 15 February 1824, Byron fell ill, and the usual remedy of bloodletting weakened him further.  He made a partial recovery, but in early April he caught a violent cold which therapeutic bleeding, insisted on by his doctors, aggravated.  It is suspected this treatment, carried out with unsterilised medical instruments, may have caused him to develop sepsis. He developed a violent fever, and died in Missolonghi on 19 April.

Lord Byron on His Deathbed, by Joseph Denis Odevaere (c. 1826). Oil on canvas, 166 × 234.5 cm Groeningemuseum, Bruges. (Note the sheet covering his misshapen right foot.)
Alfred Tennyson would later recall the shocked reaction in Britain when word was received of Byron’s death.  The Greeks mourned Lord Byron deeply, and he became a hero.  The national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, wrote a poem about the unexpected loss, named To the Death of Lord Byron.  Βύρων (“Vyron”), the Greek form of “Byron”, continues in popularity as a masculine name in Greece, and a town near Athens is called Vyronas in his honour.

Byron’s body was embalmed, but the Greeks wanted some part of their hero to stay with them.  According to some sources, his heart remained at Missolonghi.  His other remains were sent to England (accompanied by his faithful manservant, “Tita”) for burial in Westminster Abbey, but the Abbey refused for reason of “questionable morality”.  Huge crowds viewed his coffin as he lay in state for two days in London.  He is buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.  A marble slab given by the King of Greece is laid directly above Byron’s grave.

In 1969, 145 years after Byron’s death, a memorial to him was finally placed in Westminster Abbey.  The memorial had been lobbied for since 1907: The New York Times wrote, “People are beginning to ask whether this ignoring of Byron is not a thing of which England should be ashamed … a bust or a tablet might be put in the Poets’ Corner and England be relieved of ingratitude toward one of her really great sons.”

In 1812, Byron embarked on a well-publicised affair with the married Lady Caroline Lamb that shocked the British public.  She had spurned the attention of the poet on their first meeting, subsequently giving Byron what became his lasting epitaph when she famously described him as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.  This did not prevent him from pursuing her.

Byron eventually broke off the relationship, and moved swiftly on to others (such as that with Lady Oxford), but Lamb never entirely recovered, pursuing him even after he tired of her. She was emotionally disturbed, and lost so much weight that Byron sarcastically commented to her mother-in-law, his friend Lady Melbourne, that he was “haunted by a skeleton”.  She began to call on him at home, sometimes dressed in disguise as a pageboy, at a time when such an act could ruin both of them socially.  One day, during such a visit, she wrote on a book at his desk, “Remember me!”  As a retort, Byron wrote a poem entitled Remember Thee! Remember Thee! which concludes with the line “Thou false to him, thou fiend to me”.

Eventually Byron began to court Lady Caroline’s cousin Anne Isabella Milbanke (“Annabella”), who refused his first proposal of marriage but later accepted him.  Milbanke was a highly moral woman, intelligent and mathematically gifted; she was also an heiress.  They married at Seaham Hall, County Durham, on 2 January 1815.

The marriage proved unhappy.  He treated her poorly.  On 16 January 1816, Lady Byron left him.  On 21 April, Byron signed the Deed of Separation.  Rumours of marital violence, adultery with actresses, incest with Augusta Leigh, and sodomy were circulated, assisted by a jealous Lady Caroline.  In a letter, Augusta quoted him as saying: “Even to have such a thing said is utter destruction and ruin to a man from which he can never recover.”  That same year Lady Caroline published her popular novel Glenarvon, wherein Lord Byron was portrayed as the seedy character Lord Ruthven.

Reproduction of Portrait of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips

The Bride of Abydos or Selim and Zuleika. Painting, 1857, by Eugène Delacroix depicting Lord Byron’s work.

The Dream (1816)

She was his life,
The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
Which terminated all.
  • And both were young, and one was beautiful.
    • Stanza 2.
  • And to his eye
    There was but one beloved face on earth,
    And that was shining on him.

    • Stanza 2.
  • She was his life,
    The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
    Which terminated all.

    • Stanza 2; this can be compared to: “She floats upon the river of his thoughts”, Henry W. Longfellow, The Spanish Student, act ii, scene 3.
  • A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    • Stanza 3.
  • And they were canopied by the blue sky,
    So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful
    That God alone was to be seen in heaven.

    • Stanza 4.
Francis Picabia
Francis Picabia, 1919, Danse de Saint-Guy, The Little Review, Picabia number, Autumn 1922.jpg

Francis Picabia, 1919,
inside Danse de Saint-Guy

Today is the birthday of Francis Picabia (Paris; born Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia, 22 January 1879 – 30 November 1953 Paris); French avant-garde painter, poet and typographist.  After experimenting with Impressionism and Pointillism, Picabia became associated with Cubism.  His highly abstract planar compositions were colourful and rich in contrasts.  He was one of the early major figures of the Dada movement in the United States and in France.  He was later briefly associated with Surrealism, but would soon turn his back on the art establishment.


Francis Picabia, 1912, La Source (The Spring), oil on canvas, 249.6 x 249.3 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Exhibited at the 1912 Salon d’Automne, Paris

Machine Turn Quickly, 1916-1918, tempera on paper, National Gallery of Art

Francis Picabia, 1913, Udnie (Young American Girl, The Dance), oil on canvas, 290 x 300 cm, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

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The Lovers’ Almanac 21 January – Missin’ You (Still) – Love Letter to Virginia Woolf – Birth of Henri Duparc

Dear Zazie,  Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge.  Are you without the one you want?  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

the open plains
blanketed in snow
and thoughts of one
always near

composin’ this verse
to you in the sleepless
hours of the night

seems kinda lame
yet so essential
to say i miss you

do you feel it
if only i could
adorn this space
with somethin’
more becomin’ of you

remains quite stark
more than I imagined
prepared or not
so now, this plea
how essential,
memories have become

givin’ myself away
you have no idea
bein’ a pretender
brought it to a fine art
but i cannot with you
please forgive me
for this desperateness

just followin’ the words

this mornin’ found me
as they each do,
with a certain sort
of acceptance
of what lies ahead

i do want you
height of desire,
but wantin’
is nothin’
up against
not meant to be

and that is no excuse
for lackin’ a zest for life
there will be none of that
just might have to be done solo

supposin’ you are gittin’ bored
my goin’ on and on like this

only here is the thing
you keep comin’ back
in my dreams
and the words
are determined
to come as well

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

Now love story…


Vita Sackville-West

On this day in 1926, 33-year-old novelist Vita Sackville-West wrote an impassioned love letter to 43-year-old novelist Virginia Woolf.  Vita was a distinguished English writer, had been married for more than a decade, loved her husband, and was attracted to other women.  All things she had in common with Woolf.

The two women had met through the Bloomsbury Group of London, which gathered to discuss things like philosophy, literature, and art.  Their romance started cautiously, but by the time Vita composed this letter four years after they had met, she was deeply smitten, languishin’ and lovesick.  She was on a bumpy train ride from Milan to Trieste 85 years ago today when she wrote:

I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this — But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it. However I won’t bore you with any more.

We have re-started, and the train is shaky again. I shall have to write at the stations — which are fortunately many across the Lombard plain. …The waterfalls in Switzerland were frozen into solid iridescent curtains of ice, hanging over the rock; so lovely. And Italy all blanketed in snow.

We’re going to start again. I shall have to wait till Trieste tomorrow morning. Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.


Virginia Woolf 1927

The following January, a year later, Vita wrote to Virginia:

My darling, I hoped I should wake up less depressed this morning, but I didn’t. I went to bed last night as black as a sweep. The awful dreariness of Westphalia makes it worse: factory towns, mounds of slag, flat country, and some patches of dirty snow. … Why aren’t you with me? Oh, why? I do want you so frightfully.  I want more than ever to travel with you; it seems to me now the height of my desire, and I get into despair wondering how it can ever be realised. Can it, do you think? Oh my lovely Virginia, it is dreadful how I miss you, and everything that everybody says seems flat and stupid.

I do hope more and more that you won’t go to America, I am sure it would be too tiring for you, and anyway I am sure you wouldn’t like it. …   So we bundle along over Germany, and very dull it is — Surely I haven’t lost my zest for travel? No, it is not that; it is simply that I want to be with you and not with anybody else — But you will get bored if I go on saying this, only it comes back and back till it drips off my pen — Do you realise that I shall have to wait for over a fortnight before I can hear from you? poor me. I hadn’t thought of that before leaving, but now it bulks very large and horrible. What may not happen to you in the course of a fortnight? you may get ill, fall in love, Heaven knows what.

I shall work so hard, partly to please you, partly to please myself, partly to make the time go and have something to show for it. I treasure your sudden discourse on literature yesterday morning, — a send-off to me, rather like Polonius to Laertes. It is quite true that you have had infinitely more influence on me intellectually than anyone, and for this alone I love you.”

Shortly after she received this letter, Virginia Woolf came up with the idea for a new novel, inspired by Vita, who often liked to dress up in men’s clothes.  That novel was Orlando: A Biography (1928), about a transgender writer who lives for hundreds of years.  Vita’s son Nigel wrote, “The effect of Vita on Virginia is all contained in “Orlando” … in which she explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her.”  He calls Orlando “the longest and most charming love letter in literature.”

The two ended their affair in the late 1920s but stayed friends until Virginia Woolf’s death by suicide in 1941.  There is a book out from Oxford University Press that chronicles their relationship: Vita and Virginia: The Work and Friendship of V. Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf (1993), written by Suzanne Raitt.

Missin’ You (Still)

Inspired by Vita Sackville-West
And train rides on the open plains
Blanketed in snow, so lovely
And thoughts of one that never fade

Reduced to a thing that wants you
Composed a beautiful letter
To you in the sleepless, darkest
Hours of the night, but it is gone

I just miss you, in many ways
In desperate and human ways
You would never paint such a phrase
As elementary as that

Perhaps you would not quite feel it
I could adorn it with a phrase
So exquisite, but it might lose
A bit of its reality

For with me, it remains quite stark
I miss you ever more and more
More than I could have imagined
And I was prepared to miss you
So badly each and every day
So this poem is a squeal of pain
Hard to conceive how essential,
Memories of you have become

Supposin’ you are accustomed
To hearin’ these things from people
Damn you, you beautiful creature;
I cannot make you love me by
Givin’ myself away like this
But I cannot pretend with you
Nor be clever and stand-offish
I love you too truly for that

You have no idea how I
Pretend with those I do not love
I have brought it to a fine art
But you broke down my defences
And I don’t really resent it
Please do forgive me for writin’
Such a miserable letter
I am just followin’ the words

Hopin’ this mornin’ would find me
Less depressed but no, it did not
Went to bed as black as can be
Why are you not with me, oh, why

I do want you so frightfully
I want you now more than ever
You are the height of my desire,
And I am sent into despair
Wonderin’ how it can ever
Be realised, can it, ever
It is dreadful how I miss you
The Dark Muse directs all my thoughts

Everything that everybody
Says seems silly and insipid
Surely lackin’ a zest for life
Sisters of sorrow sigh and sigh

Comes down to this; to be with you
And not with anybody else
Supposin’ you will get so bored,
My goin’ on and on like this

Only here is the thing; it comes back
And back till it drips off my pen,
Words determined on the page
It is quite true that you have had
Infinitely more influence
On me intellectually,
In every way, than anyone,
And for this alone I love you

© copyright 2013 mac tag/Cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved
The Song of the Day is John Waite and Alison Krauss “Missing You”.  We do not own the rights to this song.  No copyright infringement intended.  All rights reserved by the artist/producer.

Henri Duparc in 1880

Today is the birthday of Eugène Marie Henri Fouques Duparc (21 January 1848 – 12 February 1933) was a French composer of the late Romantic period.  Following military service in the Franco-Prussian War, he married Ellen MacSwinney, from Scotland, on 9 November 1871.  In the same year, he joined Saint-Saëns and Romain Bussine to found the Société Nationale de Musique Moderne.  Perhaps best known for his 17 mélodies (“art songs”), with texts by poets such as Baudelaire, Gautier, Leconte de Lisle and Goethe.

A mental illness, diagnosed at the time as “neurasthenia”, caused him abruptly to cease composing at age 37, in 1885. He devoted himself to his family and his other passions, drawing and painting. But increasing vision loss after the turn of the century eventually led to total blindness. He destroyed most of his music, leaving fewer than 40 works to posterity. In a poignant letter about the destruction of his incomplete opera, dated 19 January 1922, to the composer Jean Cras, his close friend, Duparc wrote:

Après avoir vécu 25 ans dans un splendide rêve, toute idée de représentation m’était – je vous le répète – devenue odieuse. L’autre motif de cette destruction, que je ne regrette pas, c’est la complète transformation morale que Dieu a opéré en moi il y a 20 ans et qui en une seule minute a abolie toute ma vie passée. Dès lors, la Roussalka n’ayant aucun rapport avec ma vie nouvelle ne devait plus exister.
(Having lived for 25 years in a splendid dream, the whole idea of [musical] representation has become – I repeat to you – repugnant. The other reason for this destruction, which I do not regret, was the complete moral transformation that God imposed on me 20 years ago and which, in a single minute, obliterated all of my past life. Since then, [my opera] Roussalka, not having any connection with my new life, should no longer exist.)

He spent most of the rest of his life in La Tour-de-Peilz, near Vevey, Switzerland, and died in Mont-de-Marsan, in southwestern France, at age 85.

Duparc is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. A square in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, near the rue de Levis, is named in his honor.

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The Lovers’ Almanac 20 January – gittin’ it right – sketchin’ memories – Birth of Yvette Guilbert

Dear Zazie,   Here is today’s Lovers’ Almanac from Mac Tag dedicated to his muse.  Follow us on twitter @cowboycoleridge.  Rhett

The Lovers’ Almanac

Dear Muse,

Thanks for inspiration for this one goes to you, the Van Halen song, “Best of Both Worlds” and the novel “Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates. A must read book, in my opinion.

i will never forget
the first time i saw you
you were different
than all the others
you were special
you still are

i will keep writin’ that
till you understand…

each day, time spent
reflectin’ on choices
made and not made
where it all went wrong
or was gittin’ it wrong
just what had to happen
to finally git it right

i want to be alive
i want to feel

i knew what i was livin’ on
and it was not enough
“i need more than just words can say
i need everything this life can give me”

knowin’ what you have
knowin’ what you need
knowin’ what
you can do without

most want in
i just wanted out
to live again
i saw another other future
and i could not stop seein’ it

years spent runnin’
from the hopeless

a friend says
i am runnin’ towards
a different kinda

but i know what lies
in this emptiness

to live life as if it matters
is that too much to ask
to plumb the depths
of every emotion
to chase the light
and the voices
and the visions
of the past
to at least try
to understand

© copyright 2018 mac tag/cowboy coleridge all rights reserved

end of a long hard week
plenty work, not enough sleep
and missin’ what cannot be had
pain wellin’ up inside
just one way
to make it go away


lookin’ for…
for somethin’
i knew not what
i found,
more than I could
have imagined


you, my canvas
upon which
i will sketch a love
for you unlike
you have ever known

© copyright 2016 mac tag/cowboy Coleridge all rights reserved

Yvette Guilbert
Yvette Guilbert.jpg

Yvette Guilbert in 1913

Today is the birthday of Yvette Guilbert (Paris; 20 January 1865 – 3 February 1944 in Aix-en-Provence); French cabaret singer and actress of the Belle Époque.  Guilbert debuted at the Variette Theatre in 1888.  She eventually sang at the popular Eldorado club, then at the Jardin de Paris before headlining in Montmartre at the Moulin Rouge in 1890.  The English painter William Rothenstein described this performance in his first volume of memoirs:

Yvette Guilbert, by Théophile Steinlen

“One evening Lautrec came up to the rue Ravignan to tell us about a new singer, a friend of Xanrof, who was to appear at the Moulin Rouge for the first time… We went; a young girl appeared, of virginal aspect, slender, pale, without rouge. Her songs were not virginal – on the contrary; but the frequenters of the Moulin were not easily frightened; they stared bewildered at this novel association of innocence with Xanrof’s horrific double entente; stared, stayed and broke into delighted applause.”

She was a favorite subject of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who made many portraits and caricatures of Guilbert and dedicated his second album of sketches to her.  Sigmund Freud attended performances, including one in Vienna, and called her a favorite singer.  George Bernard Shaw wrote a review highlighting her novelty.

In 1895 she married Dr M. Schiller.  Guilbert made successful tours of England and Germany, and the United States in 1895–1896.  She performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

In later years, Guilbert turned to writing about the Belle Époque and in 1902 two of her novels (La Vedette and Les Demi-vieilles) were published.  Guilbert became a respected authority on her country’s medieval folklore and on 9 July 1932 was awarded the Legion of Honor as the Ambassadress of French Song.

Yvette Guilbert died in 1944, aged 79. She was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Twenty years later her biography, That Was Yvette: The Biography of a Great Diseuse by Bettina Knapp and Myra Chipman (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964) was released.


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