The Melancholy I set off for my own outrageous fate beneath these dozen frustrate family passions. (Beware this I, barker of glooms.) I sound myself in the biographies of madmen. Their atoms—no, their very quarks—belong to me. Have no appetites. They left with the last of the cash. No needs on credit. No credit but the swineherd’s. My father may work till eighty. He says he hopes he will, although he’s just now sold his home. My wife can stumble in the dark with a crying child. Van Gogh’s wife would have, he imagined, as he begged her black veil to let him be a father to her son. Forget all that. I’ll steam for Tahiti with an icon of the Baptist buried in the softening ridges of my mind and make my indebted bed in Sheol. What ransom can’t be paid with dance and song?
The Mariner Goes Below To Sleep A slice of moon appears. A man descends. He bears his constellations to his berth. There, unveiled, they wheel and drive the shadows from his musings. He murmurs, tosses, mounts by dream up prick on prick of starlight. Still some sun must swim a million years before it bleeds the lidded flicker of his eyes. For half his life this man has fled the shore. He trembles at the sight of distant palms as though the coconuts were pirates’ skulls. His cloister is the sea, its suffering. His peace gleams in the twilight, in the net that trails behind the sun and draws the moon to blur the burning shore of all we know.
Daniel Fitzpatrick is the author of the novel Only the Lover Sings. His new translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, illustrated by sculptor Timothy Schmalz, is out this year in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. He lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his wife and three children.