The Wine and the Night, Brain Music

March 24, 2010 § 3 Comments

Last night my friend Jocelyn and I went to a play, Equivocation, and then a late supper. The play has King James commissioning Shakespeare to write a play about Guy Fawkes and friends’ attempt to blow up Parliament; Shakespeare, becoming intimate with the politics of the event, including the torture of the conspirators and evidence of royal manipulation, ends up writing Macbeth. It had some good bits, but was mostly kind of awful, full of clichés about writers, ham-handed efforts to evoke Iraq, sentimental father-son, father-daughter themes gumming up the story; lots of blather. It did make me want to see Macbeth, though. I’ve only ever read the play, and seen parts of a filmed version on TV.

But the supper was lovely, cozy and relaxing—a giant coil of roasted octopus; a bowl of fritti; a cheese sampling; two glasses of delicious, licorice-and-cherry Dolcetta D’Alba; and Jocelyn’s invitation to a weekend in the country with her new horse, her pretty chickens and her whippet. Afterward I walked down Broadway, wine lighting up my brain as the neon lit the sky, and all the books I want to write were layered like those signs, pulsing in green and pink, purple and blue, competing loudly yet most beautiful in concert: the children’s book starring my cats (based loosely on a poem I write when I was a child myself, about the nighttime adventures of my hairbrush and comb); the fantasy about the boy from the underground tribe and the teenage wife buried alive with the dead king; the non-fiction book about designer animals.

And if you gave me a few minutes, I could come up with several more I’d like to write. But since I have other things I need to do today, I’m writing this instead. Later I’ll take a walk and buy vegetables. Maybe I’ll make the salad I had in Venice 17 years ago: romaine lettuce, red onion, sweet corn, thin slices of Parmesan, strawberries and mint. I’ve made it several times and it never approaches the original but is very good just the same.

Sonnet 56

Sweet love renew thy force, be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but to-day by feeding is allayed,
To-morrow sharpened in his former might.
So love be thou, although to-day thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fulness,
To-morrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love, with a perpetual dulness:
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new,
Come daily to the banks, that when they see:
Return of love, more blest may be the view.
Or call it winter, which being full of care,
Makes summer’s welcome, thrice more wished, more rare.

William Shakespeare


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