Author's Note: This past October, toward Halloween, I had the opportunity to visit Tarrytown and the "Sunnyside" home of Washington Irving. I suspect most writers have a place of creative prosperity, perhaps something similar to Irving's piazza of which he wrote: "My own place has never been so beautiful as at present. I have made more openings by pruning and cutting down trees, so that from the piazza, I have several charming views of the Tappan Zee, [the Dutch for the indigenous Tappen, a 'sub-tribe' of the Lenape, and the widest section of the Hudson, a 'sea,' thus the Tappan's sea,] and the hills beyond; all set as it were in verdant frames, and I am never tired of sitting there in my old Voltaire chair, on a long summer morning with a book in my hand, sometimes reading, sometimes musing on the landscape, and sometimes dozing and mixing it all up in a pleasant dream."
On the 200th anniversary of “The Mutability of Literature”
Not much more than a columned porch really, the Hudson framed in ivies, wisteria, centuries of hemlocks, but it was here he mixed reverie with reverie, reverie with desire, until he became the cause of every affection, breath of former beings, dead shore birds, dust of leaves and once their trees, dark inhalations. * * * Far now from the Tappen Zee, I missed The Grand Tour by a century at least, and by a notable lack of affluence. I have returned to my home in the Sonoran Desert, to a second-story back deck overlooking a deep arroyo, and centuries of saguaros, and in the far distance the mountain ranges of the Tortolitas, and at night, the moon’s lost delirium embraces the memory of casual sylphs, enchanted poets; Juan de la Cruz, Granada, Respighi, the pines of Rome.
©2020 Michael Gessner
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