The Mirrors (part forty-six)

Posted by ractrose on 2 Jun 2023 in Fiction, Novels
Oil painting of Luna moth with female figure




The Mirrors
(part forty-six)



Ships come into harbor. Ships want doctors. Countries on the world’s other side want…

Everything of the west, so they say. I am forty-two. I won’t be the father of a child. Might I not marry?

He can, at this, think only of his misery in love—the only love he wants, ever has. A cruelty of birth which is somehow in the Plan, outside earthly bounds.

Earthly bounds.

As a young man, Charleton had done what the desperate do, written rhyming verse, riddled with set phrases. In extreme mundanity, he had disguised Carolee as Cybele. One day he’d discovered red-penciled commentary, in the margin of his opus…

A quote from Croker, on Keats:


Here Apollo’s fire produces a pyre, a silvery pyre of clouds, wherein a spirit might win oblivion and melt his essence fine, and scented eglantine gives sweets to the sun, and cold springs had run into the grass, and then the pulse of the mass pulsed tenfold to feel the glories old of the newborn day, etc.


The critic’s point being (a fair one, however harsh on the youngster) that a word must not, chosen only for having the proper sound, drive the storyline. The greater poet tells his vision, and through his gift draws his language.

And nutshelled here was the undefeatable pith of Grandfather. He diagnosed with more acuity than the mass of his rivals, the less talented.

But the premise is false.

Is it? In that, Charleton decides, faults pass. I have not harmed anyone that I know of. I have tried when I could to help. My bad poetry I carry to the grave, with all my errors. I am foolish and believe that Carolee, as a soul detached, might on some other plane meet with mine…

That that love would have no wrong in it.

But I carry this thought to the grave.

He stands, a slow and difficult thing of late. He has the impulse to read one of her novels.


You are in by the front door. You will leave by the front door.

You hadn’t done it for a reason, dear curious public. Clyde’s going off will have been his luck—

If it ends up a matter of killing.

Days now, you’ve left the angel in her niche, come back and wept to see her there. Your body deceives at times, says it wants food. Food gives aches in the sides and guts, but on sober early mornings you steal milk from porches.

Pursued at times, beaten with broomsticks.

If the angel were gone, Grandfather would give you lunch. He has that pity in him.







The Quarterly Review (1809-1967) was an influential literary magazine in the Romantic era, the age of John Keats. Keats’s “Endymion”, meant to be a classically-inspired epic, was famously taken down by the critic John W. Croker. To Lord Byron, the death of Keats was attributable to the Quarterly’s bad review (“Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle/Should let itself by snuffed out by an Article”). The poem and review are both available to readers, who can judge for themselves whether Croker’s opinions are reasonable.


The Mirrors

Oil painting of Luna moth with female figureThe Mirrors (part forty-seven)

















(2020, Stephanie Foster)




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