|Sapho à Leucate, Antoine-Jean Gros, huile sur toile, musée Baron-Gérard, 1801, (source)
This painting, presented at the 1801 Salon, depicts Sappho, Greek poetess from Lesbos, who, according to legend, jumped off the Leucadian cliffs to be either cured from her unrequited love for Phaon or drown. Moreau and Chassériau both painted a version of Sappho’s « jump ».
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The little strength that sat in me, unbidden, has gone. It hasn’t disappeared by itself. I begged it to leave me and all that harassment will leave you simultaneously. I promised I would never talk to you again, though talk is inaccurate. I couldn’t even talk to you – as a normal person would, that is. I’ve made this promise to myself twice before. One was last December. I was disappointed at the disappointment you then represented to me. The second time not long ago : I wished to get better and I swore on John Keats I would be strong. I was not. You tricked me into speaking to you again. You persuaded me. With words. It was so easy – even easier since I was so weak – to manipulate me with words. I would sell my soul for words and it makes sense that I am now writing these pages to you. To a fictional you. Perhaps it will act as therapy.
At this moment, I’m feeling the loss, the hole in my chest, in my legs : it has hit me, a bullet piercing through my skin, leaving a swirling hole. It has hit me you’ll never have the decency to give me news again. In my whole existence. A whole existence without you. You’ve had enough of my – I don’t even know why I’m trying to search for an excuse in my character or illnesses. You grew tired of me. My being. I’m exhausting and I’m demanding and I can’t blame you. I can only blame myself for that lack of modernity. I know I’m human, oh yes. Too much, too much for this world that is a stranger to me. I’m an old soul and I don’t understand it. I swore on John Keats again. I couldn’t deceive John twice and I pray everyday, I chant sometimes and it’s a trance because I repeat the same phrase so many times : « Oh, John Keats, give me the strength and the courage ». I wonder what he would have done. Like me he thought himself a failure. He would have written poetry, maybe not his best. His best poems arose from light, not from darkness and you left me in darkness and an ancient silence.
I’m sorry. The past few days, maybe it’s been weeks, I couldn’t tell, have been a lot hectic. I’ve been at such a pain and loss. I’ve sent you so many texts and I’ve demonstrated obsessive behaviour towards you, like I had never before to anyone. I usually give up. I’m no fighter or I wouldn’t be what I am today but this very time I don’t want to be weak, I have got fortitude in my heart. I want to strive for you. I think you are worth fighting for. I need some passion to lift me up again. I used to be a passionate person – it’s a good quality – but all that came out of this was obsession. Same mechanisms, different results.
I’m sorry for what I’ve done : perhaps this havoc hasn’t moved you in the slightlest way (then let me tell you that you are very unlucky indeed not to feel anything). I’m sorry because I think I like pain but if this has done to you the most minor harm, then my heart is shivering at this very moment for having hurt you. I am safe in my writing and I can write as truthfully and sincerely and honestly as I would in my journal. I’ll try not to be a mess in the letter. My journals are chaotic. I am chaos, I will fix on a beautiful thread a memory, uncertain but still to linger on the dream of years, tremulously, hither an tither, clothed, sighing.