city of health

city of health

Erased from Hygeia: A City of Health (1876) by Benjamin Ward Richardson [click image to enlarge]

We meet to study and exchange thought on every-day life.
Our existence in pain
what means for removal of conditions?

What methods of making known conditions control?
Mental serenity exist with animal poverty
shadow of disease, shadow of health.

These objects, our suffering,
our happiness to trust another object.
Not to be, we may become known,
but we never know, who are ourselves,
unseen to ourselves—our mission.

We, more than any, yet foresee
the results of labour may extend unborn.
A few writing the day
sang self to immortal rest.
A few might see living
work was triumphant.
The momentum, the masses,
crude and selfish,
have no such intent.

Let us die!
That has been the password with them.
We of modern thought have knowledge that we never die,
that no one has ever died,
that our change into motion is our own.
Transitoriness, that we are the waves-
motion made on the shore.

Thus we feel this object, our exertions fit those
who extend advantage to those live,
that thousands wafted by
life represent ultimate life.

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2 Comments

  1. There’s another more recent book which does this erasure and of course I’m bggered if I can remember who it’s by — but he bought a book at random and circled the bits he wanted people to nread and erased the rest, making a narrative entirely different from that which exists in the original book. Did you do the erasing here?

    Reply
    • Yes, but I did it the lazier electronic way by working with the document in Microsoft Paint. Same idea, though. I got interested in it by way of the poet Mary Ruefle, who was inspired by the artist Tom Phillips. He started doing this work in the 1960s, and continues to make erasures from the same novel. He’s done multiple variations of single pages. Ruefle talks about it in this interview. It’s a fascinating story.

      Reply

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