The Drifting Immortality

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Jean-Honoré Fragonard: The Swing (detail), 1767. The Wallace Collection, London.

I was presented with news of that strange, foreign couple somewhere in my life so far unknown to memories. It was perhaps in one of the Wallace Collection rooms, around Manchester Square, most likely that one in which a Fragonard masterpiece is shyly displayed. As dawn grew old, a man and a woman, each and every day, would stroll from the European Bookshop on Gloucester Road towards the slightly boisterous Richoux on Cromwell and an unmentioned corner. As the afternoon ripened, they were seen ambling from Piccadilly’s Waterstone’s to the joyous depth of the Oscar Wilde within the Café Royal. How old they were, it matters not; what they looked liked, it never changed. Inevitably, they were talked about as ghosts.

I was (and still am) faithless, but that wizened man who gently burdened me with his recalling speech besieged some of my certainties, as he went on: Do not think me, I pray Your Grace, a gullible or maniac fool. I shall only say that those lovers, of which nothing is nowadays noted, neither name, nor position, nor abode, still roam around this shining, warlike London. Does Your Grace wish to know what they were? I turned towards him, he might have craved a score of pennies or a place at the table the staff were setting for me. He shook his head. No, no. Do not believe me a gossiper or a coveter. I would just like to share my secret: that man and that woman who wandered about Gloucester and Cromwell Road, Piccadilly and the unfathomable Oscar Wilde at the Café Royal were the everlasting wake of  the charm that long ago the passion they felt for each other left. They would utter no words, for everything there was to be said had been said, all promises had been made and they had all been kept. All that remained were the shadows of such amorous glory we are allowed only to glimpse. I beseech Your Grace to seek, in the long and prosperous years Your Grace has yet to live, that companion who will bestow upon Your Grace, and Your Grace upon her, the drifting immortality only possessed by those whose hands have never parted.

HB

Me fueron referidas noticias de esa pareja extraña, extranjera, en alguna parte de mi vida que la memoria se niega a reconocer. Quizás fuese en algún salón de la Wallace Collection, en Manchester Square, probablemente aquél que tímidamente exhibe cierta obra maestra de Fragonard. Cuando el alba envejecía, una mujer y un hombre, jornada tras jornada, caminaban desde la European Bookshop en Gloucester Road hasta el ligeramente bullicioso Richoux en Cromwell y una esquina imprecisa. En la madurez de la tarde, alguien los veía deslizarse desde Waterstone’s en Piccadilly hasta la gozosa profundidad del Oscar Wilde en el Café Royal. Sus edades no importan; sus apariencias eran invariables. No faltó quien mumurara que eran espectros.

Yo era (aún lo soy) incrédulo, pero aquel hombre ceniciento que me abrumaba gentilmente con ese monólogo memorioso derrumbó en mí algunas certezas: No me imagine, ruego a su Gracia, devorado por la superstición o la manía. Sólo diré que aquellos dos amantes, de quienes hoy nada se sabe, ni nombre, ni oficio, ni hogar, aún merodean este Londres brillante e inhóspito. Quiere su Gracia saber qué eran? Giré mí vista hacia él, quizás quisiera unos céntimos o un lugar en la mesa que la servidumbre preparaba para mí. Sacudió la cabeza. No, no. No me crea un inoportuno, un ambicioso. Sólo quiero compartir mi secreto: aquel hombre y aquella mujer que habitaban Gloucester y Cromwell Road, Piccadilly y el profundo Oscar Wilde en el Café Royal, eran el perenne rastro del encanto que alguna vez la pasión que se dispensaron el uno al otro dejó. Ya no cambiaban palabra, porque todo se habían dicho, todo se habían jurado, y todas las promesas habían sido cumplidas. Sólo permanecía la sombra de esa gloria amorosa, que a nosotros nos es permitido sólo entrever. Imploro a su Gracia que en los largos y prósperos años de vida que le restan se esfuerce en hallar a esa compañera que le obsequiará, y Usted a ella, la peregrina inmortalidad de aquéllos cuyas manos no se han separado nunca.

Categories: Impurezas

Hadrian Bagration

Hadrian Bagration is a humble and avid reader and perhaps an author. He pleads guilty to a few titles. He is also an enthusiastic but somewhat negligent follower of such intellects as those of the early Sartre, Albert Camus, Harold Bloom, Jorge Luis Borges, the French encyclopaedists, epistemologist Mario Bunge, Richard Dawkins and the insufferable (in today's ludicrous politically correct view) paleontologist Peter Ward. Beyond the above, and besides a vague vital skepticism and abhorrence of the cult of zeal, he is known for being unremarkably collected.

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