Editor’s Note

October 26, 2019
Dear Reader,

    It is raining in St Louis as we prepare this issue for the press. It seems appropriate weather for All Saints’ Day, when the year turns dark and inward, but, independently of seasonal associations, I like rain for its own sake. It often happens, as it did to me this morning, that walking along under an umbrella one suddenly awakens to the sound of the rain spacking against the fabric. One notices the reflections on the wet brick of the sidewalk, the iron railing glistens, and the robin perched in the holly seems full of scruffy significance.

    Why is it rain that wakes me up? I couldn’t say. I think I’ve made that walk a hundred times for every once I’ve lived it. I remind myself of the man in Martial’s epigram - tomorrow, he says, always tomorrow, that he’ll start to live. It seems such a simple lesson - that the wise have lived now - and so it seems silly that one needs to be reminded of it as often as one does. But I forget easily; I’m led on by the slightest distraction. And I’m presumptuous enough to say it’s not only my problem. Eight hundred years ago in Cologne we hear the complaint ‘similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.’ We’re all of us hoping to stay awake, and we’re all of us surprised, each time we awaken, that we had slept so readily or so long.

    The Alembick, whether or not beneath its superficial frivolity and high-spiritedness you can believe it, is a serious project. Its goal - our goal - is to remember to live, and to live the only time we can, which is now. You’ll notice this issue is particularly full of light verse. It’s what we happened to have on hand, and perhaps you’ll say that it cuts against the grain of what ought to be our seasonal theme of inwardness and reflection. Maybe so, but even play requires presence of mind. It takes as much composure, as much discipline, as much attentive quiet to sit down to write a bathic ode or epigram as it does to sit down to anything more wholly serious. The mind waiting for words is like the mind at prayer.

    A. Pinguis (ED.)