After an Eighth Reading of À la recherche du temps perdu.

Proust’s notes for “Swann’s Way”

This reality, far from which we live,…that is life itself.
-M. Proust, Le temps retrouvé

The past that was ever past is here to stay,
outlasting all those former present moments passed,
not something that was simply here and then was not,

but another country altogether, where lost time loiters
close beside our every here and now
to far outstay its welcome in our thought.

It is the misplaced object mind will always find
but never grasp, a tale each book must either tell
or fail to tell, the vivid product of desire,

the object always far too near to seize and too remote
for capture, the monstrous residue of lives misspent,
the patient urgencies of living’s wasted hour.

Behind us lie the bright anticipations of a past
that living sees as future, the not-yet-here in every threat
and every prospect we await, the breathless

haste of thought’s arrival always just a moment late,
its genius for selecting, unerringly, the unavailable,
for endlessly pursuing only, unfailingly, the inaccessible.

Enthralled by the special spectacle of her escape,
in hot pursuit of she who breathes another atmosphere
and seems to summon us from her forbidden lair

we all abide, susceptible to thought and captive
of her flight, forever lost in time’s old game again,
transfixed by the vagrant gaze that’s not aware

that I exist, this I I am, forever seeking recognition
in her unseeing eye but finding only what’s long since fled
into the immensity of night, the depthless blue ahead.