Youth, beauty & Keats

diors-tulle-ballgown-on-the-grand-staircase-at-the-paris-opera-photo-clifford-coffin-1948You should have seen us darling, Baker, Butcher, Proust and I; along with Eduardo del Mar, the woman who hides her smiles with her scarves and the rest of the villagers, climbing the wide staircase of the library.

We wore our sheer gowns, us women, with our trails skimming the marbled stairs, and the men in their suits and unbuttoned shirts, listening to the distant violins of the skeletal maestro’s orchestra.

We found the librarian at the top of the steps, in front of two large doors which led to the main hall of the library, nodding to each one of us despite his weak sight and shaking hands with Proust as the latter walked in.

The hall was as it has always been, brimming with books from floor to ceiling, except on this night, the reading lamps on the table were switched off, while projectors placed all over the hall were showing excerpts from the letters of the man we had come to celebrate.

We stood in the middle of the hall as sentences written to John Hamilton Reynolds, Charles Wentworth Dilke, and Fanny Keats; letters to Georgiana Keats and the “sweetest” Fanny Brawne were projected on the shelves, on the large windows and on our couture.

I am a coward. I cannot bear the pain of being happy: ‘tis out of the question: I must admit no thought of it…*

I have asked myself so often why I should be a poet more than other men…

All my thoughts, my unhappiest days and nights, have I find not at all cured me of my love of Beauty, but made it so intense that I am miserable that you are not with me: or rather breathe in that dull sort of patience that cannot be called life…

I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I would fill with more delight than fifty common years would ever contain…

I feel more and more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do not live in this world alone but in a thousand worlds…

Nothing startles me beyond the moment…

I find I cannot exist without Poetry—without eternal Poetry—half the day will not do—the whole of it­—I began with a little, but habit has made me a Leviathan…

What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be Truth…

Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact or reason…

You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest…

We were there to recite the poetry of the immortal youth and I was the first to start. I stood on the velvet carpet while the others sat on wooden chairs.

None of us would need to use a book to recite his poetry. I could see the flower hoarder peaking behind the large door of the main hall; she would only come out for this and nothing else.

Story credits: Image by Clifford Coffin for Dior (1948); *Quotes via The Letters of John Keats.


Daydreaming about…

Capes & dining in the woods…

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Read The story of Proust and I


The Backless dress

Backless dressEvery time I wear a backless dress I am reminded of Poe darling — Edgar Allen, that is.

I was putting one on yesterday to head out to dinner in the woods when I felt the cold tips of someone’s fingers resting on my back, moving down and skimming my spine.

I turned around to find a pale face and that dark, wispy moustache.

“What brings you here Mr Poe?”

“This dress Madeliene Rose, you are asking for the chills.”

“Ah, Mr Poe, you and your ideas. Teeth are not just teeth for you and a cat is not just a cat, aren’t they? You are the only man I know who will be weary of a young girl crossing the road alone in the twilight or at the sight of a backless dress.”

“Forgive me, it is the way I see the world.”

“I know, and thank you for doing so, but this here is just a dress and a good one too. Now that you are here darling, come join me for dinner with Proust, hmm?”


“Oh, you have never met him, have you? Oh darling, come, I think you are going to like him!”

Story credit: Image credit and the dress via BySun.

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On another note…I could spend the rest of my life in this stunning dress!


The imperial march

vogue nippon cathedral veil blackLately darling, I have been spending my mornings with the skeletal maestro at the Cathedral, listening to him play the organ.

Taking off my shoes before I go inside the Cathedral, to feel the cold of the tombs lying under the marbled floor, I pass the wooden benches and the gold encrusted altar; I pass under chandeliers and climb stairs to arrive at the small door of the organ room.

The maestro spends his free time playing the instrument. He is always there before me, his thin frame taking up a mere quarter of the stool and his bony hands resting on the keys as he warms up the instrument.

He never looks up at me when I arrive; he never says good morning and he never smiles but his playing becomes stronger as I sit on the other end of the stool, looking down over the balcony at the aisle, at the wooden benches and the velvet damask.

I wore a black gown yesterday, together with a black lace veil around my face because I knew the Queen who had mourned her love for almost forty years would be marching down the aisle of the Cathedral — the woman who had worn black for the rest of her days after the one she fell in love with died.

The maestro played the first notes of the Imperial March, at which the Queen herself, worn down by age and loss, and adorned in black lace, appeared at the door of the Cathedral. Oh darling, I wish I could have a drop of her confidence and grandeur as she stood there all alone, waiting for those decisive notes that would initiate her march.

When the marbled walls of the cathedral and the frescoes drawn on the cupola reverberated with the strong sound of the organ, the Queen started her march, slowly, followed by her black cathedral veil, while her black lace dress skimmed the marbled floor carved with Latin prayers.

I wanted it to be a long march and an even longer melody. The maestro played and the queen marched for an immeasurable time while I sat there, heeding to nothing else except to the woman and to this melody…

Story credits: Image via Vogue Nippon.


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