Friday, March 05, 2010

As if you had made your life

1) Final lines of “The Exile’s Return,” by Robert Lowell (1946)

…You will not see
Strutting children or meet
The peg-leg and reproachful chancellor
With a forget-me-not in his button-hole
When the unseasoned liberators roll
Into the Market Square, ground arms before
The Rathaus; but already lily-stands
Burgeon the risen Rhineland, and a rough
Cathedral lifts its eye. Pleasant enough,
Voi ch’entrate, and your life is in your hands.

2) Final paragraph of “The Happiest I’ve Been,” by John Updike (January 3, 1959)

“When we came into the tunnel country, the flicker and hollow amplification stirred Neil awake. He sat up, the mackinaw dropping to his lap, and lit a cigarette. A second after the scratch of his match the moment occurred of which each following moment was a slight diminution, as we made the long irregular descent toward Pittsburgh. There were many reasons for my feeling so happy. We were on our way. I had seen a dawn. This far, Neil could appreciate, I had brought us safely. Ahead, a girl waited who, if I asked, would marry me, but first there was a long trip; many hours and towns interceded between me and that encounter. There was the quality of the 10 a.m. sunlight as it existed in the air ahead of the windshield, filtered by the thin overcast, blessing irresponsibility — you felt you could slice forever through such a cool pure element — and springing, by implying how high these hills had become, a wide spreading pride: Pennsylvania, your state - as if you had made your life. And there was knowing that twice since midnight a person had trusted me enough to fall asleep beside me.”

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