Diary of the Plague Year: Day 15 30 March 2020: A thing worth doing …

It is a bitterly cold day with a freezing wind. Just finished writing a proposal for an AIR at UCD. I probably don’t stand a hope in hell but feel I have nothing to lose.

Watching the film on Vermeer was curiously sustaining considering he is such a magician. You should really feel like giving up in the face of such mastery but curiously it has the opposite effect.

There have been times when I have just felt like throwing in the towel. Sometimes it feels like too hard a life, full of petty frustrations. So it is important to keep reading about artists/watching films like this – for one thing Vermeer himself died in debt and was more-or-less forgotten about for years. And for another, because had I ever given up and had afterwards seen that film, I think I would have had a nervous breakdown at the realisation of what I had lost.

What I mean is, and to put it simply, I want to live in a world where how light falls and how you put down a small blob of paint or a brushstroke really matters. And what is exciting and really important is the juxtaposition and relationship between two colours. However badly you do it. Because a thing worth doing is worth doing badly.

Off to the studio which in weather like this is the only warm room in the house.


Diary of the Plague Year: Day 15 30 March 2020: Quotidian Poetry Anna Akhmatova – some words


And the marsh rusalka,
Mistress of those parts,
Gazes, sighing, up at
The bell-tower cross.

Rusalka: In Slavic folklore, the rusalka is a female entity, often malicious toward mankind and frequently associated with water. Folklorists have proposed a variety of origins for the entity, including that they may originally stem from Slavic paganism, where they may have been seen as benevolent spirits.


Sun baked the well’s depths
Grilled scolopendras on stone, …

Scolopendra: Scolopendra is a species-rich genus of large tropical centipedes of the family Scolopendridae.

From: By the Seashore (1914)

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 15 30 March 2020: Quotidian Poetry Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)


The reading light is on. Today’s poet is Anna Akhmatova.

Anna Akhmatova

Selected Poems
Penguin Twentieth Century Classics

I won’t beg for your love: it’s laid
Safely to rest, let the earth settle …
Don’t expect my jealous letters
But let me nevertheless advise you:
Give her my poems to read in bed,
Give her my portraits to keep – it’s wise to
Be kind like that when newly-wed.
For it’s more needful to such geese
To know that they have won completely
Than to have converse light and sweet or
Honeymoons of remembered bliss …
When you have spent your kopeck’s worth
Of happiness with your new friend,
And like a taste that sates in the mouth
Your soul has recognized the end –
Don’t come crawling like a whelp
Into my bed of loneliness.
I don’t know you. Nor could I help.
I’m not yet cured of happiness.