Haydninvienna, 2024/1: more poetry please

É uma continuação do tópico Haydninvienna: Dunroamin' (or Villa Costa Lotta).

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Haydninvienna, 2024/1: more poetry please

Jan 1, 4:47 am

A year ago I made some foolish statements about how I intended to read more of the classics. We now know how that went — 2023 was one of my worst reading years ever, as to both quality and quantity. But things have settled down now, and maybe I can read with some hope of actually finishing a few more books. And perhaps including more poetry. While I was looking for a poem to add to jillmwo's piffle party, I found a few poems that weren't really suitable for the party, but that I liked. Here's one:

To the New Year
By W. S. Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

Jan 1, 8:56 am

That's a wonderful contribution, haydninvienna! You have a real gift for finding such gems and I mean it when I say I'm grateful to you for sharing the beauty.

Jan 1, 9:27 am

The road to Brisbane is paved with good intentions!

Jan 1, 10:36 am

Happy new thread!

>3 Bookmarque: You are killing it with these graphics!

Jan 1, 11:20 am

>1 haydninvienna: That suits my mood perfectly as I sat watching the sun rise this morning of the new year.

Jan 1, 11:43 am

>2 jillmwo: Thank you! I loved how it’s sort of like a jewel: you turn it around in your mind and little flashes of meaning coruscate from it.

>3 Bookmarque: Brilliant, and thank you. I think the kangaroo looks a trifle puzzled.

>4 Karlstar: Thanks Jim.

>5 MrsLee: No watching the sun rise here! It started raining about 9.30 pm on New Year’s Eve and it rained all through New Year’s Day.

Jan 1, 11:55 am

Happy Reading in 2024!

Jan 1, 8:27 pm

Happy New Year and New Thread. My all your reads be satisfying this year.

Jan 1, 8:43 pm

>1 haydninvienna: I love it. Happy new year!

Jan 2, 4:13 am

After the cultured beginning, things revert to normal: first read of the year is Kraken by China Miéville. A giant squid in a tank disappears (with the tank) from the Natural History Museum in London. After that, things get weird.

Jan 2, 6:58 am

>10 haydninvienna: I haven't read that much Mieville, but all I've have read has been weird.

Jan 2, 9:46 am

Happy New Year, Happy New Home, and Happy New Thread! I love W.S. Merwin, and hadn't come across that poem before so thank you for sharing.

Jan 2, 11:01 pm

And now back (briefly) to the usual piffle. I can't pretend to bookmarque's or hfglen's skills as a photographer, but I thought these might raise a small smile. The first is a sign outside a Chinese restaurant "(Xinjian cuisine. Halal") in Sunnybank*; the second is on a gate at the Willawong** animal rehoming centre, which has received some of our cast-offs.

*The establishment's name on the awning is "Silk Road".

**The pic was taken for Mrs H's delectation. She doesn't like snakes. No info on whether the rehoming centre rehouses snakes. Incidentally, see what I mean about Brisbane suburb names?

The third one is the view from our back patio at about 8.30 this morning, local time. I like Brisbane.

We hit up the library again this morning. I picked up the following:
An Open Book by David Malouf (a Brisbane boy like me) (poetry)
The Reading Life "by C S Lewis" (actually a collection of quotations)
The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry
Literary Wonderlands by Laura Miller (editor) (I thought her The Magician's Book, about Narnia, was terrific)
Jane Austen the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly (Jill, I see that you weren't impressed with this. I'll let you know).

I DNF'ed Kraken about a third of the way through, and will return Hide Me Among the Graves and Oligarchy unread. Nothing wrong with any of them; I've just had enough weird for a while.

Jan 2, 11:21 pm

Happy new year to you, way down there, and happy new reading thread.

Jan 3, 3:47 am

>14 Meredy: Thanks, and happy new year to you way down there too (if you hold the map correctly, that is).

Jan 3, 4:53 am

>12 Sakerfalcon: Thanks Claire. I recognised the name, but that's all. I'm going to try to find more, but American poets aren't necessarily easy to find here. Even worse, another poet I discovered in the same search was Margaret Avison, who is Canadian, and will be even harder to find.

Jan 3, 5:23 am

>13 haydninvienna: That looks like a Macadamia tree at your patio! Clearly you don't have a monkey problem.

Jan 3, 7:27 am

>17 hfglen: Yes it does, doesn’t it? Haven’t seen any flowers or fruit on it yet, of course. Similar-looking trees are pretty common as street trees around here.

Jan 3, 11:11 am

>13 haydninvienna: I'm with your wife when it comes to snakes. I hope they stay out of your garden. That is a nice view you have.

I own Literary Wonderlands but I bet you read it before I do!

Editado: Jan 4, 12:41 am

>19 Sakerfalcon: I did! See below.

I’ve now read both The Reading Life and Literary Wonderlands, having stayed up late. The first was easy: short book, large-ish type, and it’s all quotations, plus an introduction by the editors (who are not mentioned on the wrapper: nothing to prevent Lewis completists from buying it in the belief that it’s another book by Lewis rather than a selection of quotations). I’m a trifle puzzled as to what the point of owning it would be, but I suppose there’s some value in having this particular selection readily available. But yes, I am cynical about the Lewis-mining industry.

I’m also unsure about the purpose of Literary Wonderlands. Its subtitle is “A Journey through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created”. It’s actually a collection of 98 short essays (one to four pages long), with an introduction by Laura Miller, who is described as the general editor. Lots of illustrations. There’s a list of contributors (41 of them), most of whom I’ve never heard of, although John Clute, Lev Grossman, Adam Roberts, Tom Shippey and Lisa Tuttle are in there. The essays appear to be fine in themselves—the ones about books I know I don’t recall any problems with—but is it a reference book, a coffee-table book, or what? As to “greatest fictional worlds”, I’m curious to know who decided, and how. The obvious ones are there—the worlds of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey, Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, Lewis’s Narnia—but does The Hunger Games or Snow-Crash really belong in that company? I suppose someone thought so, and that’s enough. One minor oddity is that the world of Asimov’s robot stories is there, but that of the Foundation stories isn’t. One possible use is to suggest books that I’ve not encountered but might be worth finding, such as Vladimir Bartol and Bernardo Atxaga. I’ll be going through it again and taking some notes for the wishlist.

Another minor oddity is that both books mention William Empson’s description of Lewis as “the best-read man of his generation, who had read everything and remembered what he read”.

ETA >19 Sakerfalcon: Part of the point of that picture was that it was the first day for a week that we had had blue sky out there. It’s rained quite a bit here, and some of the small streams to the south of Brisbane are running very high.

Jan 3, 9:28 pm

>20 haydninvienna: Aren't Asimov's Robot novels and his Foundation novels set in the same universe? I thought one of the later Robot books tied them together, maybe Robots of Dawn?

Editado: Jan 3, 9:53 pm

>21 Karlstar: I don't know, but it's plausible. At any rate, the book's essay on Asimov doesn't mention the Foundation series (no longer a Trilogy, of course).

Another issue with Literary Wonderlands is the fictional worlds that aren't included. I wonder if anyone thought about including the world (several worlds in fact) of Olaf Stapleton's Last and First Men, or the really strange and surprisingly influential world of David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus? Yet Margaret Cavendish's book of 1666, The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing-World is in there. No doubt anyone who reads the book will have their own list of should be's and shouldn't be's. Sakerfalcon, over to you!

Editado: Jan 4, 1:12 am

From The Stars Like Sand I learned that New Zealand has had a Prime Minister who wrote a science fiction novel (as distinct from the fantasies that all Prime Ministers or other politicians write, or put their names to): Sir Julius Vogel, Prime Minister between 1873 and 1875, wrote Anno Domini 2000 Or A Woman's Destiny after he left office. It's available from Project Gutenberg; I wonder if it's any good.

Otherwise, The Stars Like Sand failed to move me. Its design didn't help; the type design looks amateurish and the title on the cover appears to be in Comic Sans. But it had one poem that I liked:

by Jan Owen
Droplets of siliceous glass
a mystery
tears of the moon?
space bilge?
devils' dice?
Territorial we stake our claim
black shapes of alien grief
or poker chips and tiddlywinks
a cosmic game
Compute compute
orbital disintegration pattern
Origin Copernicus B
Origin Clavius A
Origin Unknown
They stream past SETI's coded plea
Tell us we are not alone
little enigmas strewn
like fossil raindrops over
the Nullarbor Plain

(There's some foolery with the word spacing in some lines, which I can't reproduce here — LT strips what it thinks are unnecessary extra spaces — but you get the idea.)

Editado: Jan 4, 3:27 am

David Malouf, of course (An Open Book), is another matter. There are quite a few poems in this short book that I would like to quote, but I'll limit myself to this:

The New Loaf
by David Malouf

Each day delivers it
new risen like the sun
out of centuries
of homely experiment,
till it sits,
a knife beside it,
packed warm in its crust.

Each crumb
a point of enlightenment.
Some gruff old rustic
in us chuckles
with pride at the sour
-sweet of what we trade
of sunlight for its starch.

No grace to be said.
No prayerful
nod in any direction.
Field and flesh
were made one for the other
gratis. When we break it
all's mended. Kind are kin.

Jan 4, 7:05 am

>10 haydninvienna: I need to get to that book. I've had it for too long unread.

Jan 4, 8:31 am

>24 haydninvienna: I love this one.

Editado: Jan 4, 8:53 pm

Couple more of "Cyril Hare"'s whodunits: Tenant for Death and With a Bare Bodkin. The mountainous but awesomely smart Inspector Mallett appears in both; the latter is the second of the books with Francis Pettigrew, the ageing and not very successful barrister, as central character. I call him that because he is mostly there as an observer, and to act as a kind of smarter Watson to Inspector Mallett. I like the Pettigrew books for their knowledge of, and descriptions of, court and legal procedure, although the world of the Assizes that they often describe has now gone — the courts no longer go on circuit in England. I liked the second one particularly; it turns on a cunning application of what looks like a loophole in the procedure for getting a will admitted to probate in England in the 1930s.

ETA: the "bodkin" in the title plays a central role: it's hardly a spoiler to say that the murder was done with one. I remember "bodkins" from my days in the Australian civil service in the 1960s and 1970s: they still existed then, they were called "bodkins", and were used for exactly the purpose described in the book (at least the intended purpose: I never heard of anybody being murdered with one). And bless my soul, you can still buy them! Search "lawyer's bodkin" if you're curious.

Jan 4, 11:40 pm

>23 haydninvienna: "a Prime Minister who wrote a science fiction novel (as distinct from the fantasies that all Prime Ministers or other politicians write, or put their names to):" Cute!

>27 haydninvienna: I always thought those things were some kind of a screwdriver, I've seen them before but never in use and never in their natural setting. There may even be one in our 'toolbox' at work. I also thought, in fantasy novel terminology, that a bodkin was a dagger, which I guess is a little accurate.

Jan 5, 12:26 am

>27 haydninvienna: I've heard the term "odds bodkin" or something like that, and I know I have heard the word "bodkin" but somehow associated it with a piece of archaic clothing!

Jan 5, 5:37 am

>27 haydninvienna: Interesting. It used to be the name of a small dagger or stilleto, but now it's primarily a blunt sewing aide?

Jan 5, 6:09 am

>28 Karlstar: >29 MrsLee: >30 clamairy: In the novel they were used to put holes in the top left corner of a document so that it could be spiked into a file. Same in 1960s public service in Australia. A properly created file would have all its contents in chronological order starting from the bottom, and all of them would be numbered so that any document in a file could be referred to by its folio number. Each file of course was also numbered. The lawyers’ use was to punch 3 holes in the left margin of a document so that it could be bound together with pink tape. The large eye would then allow a strip of ribbon to be pulled through to sew the pages together.

>29 MrsLee: If you recall, Hamlet wondered whether one should make his quietus with a bare bodkin. For once Wikipedia isn’t helpful— the only kind of bodkin it knows is a needle.

Jan 5, 9:54 am

>31 haydninvienna: I found that quote, and I also found that the archaic meaning was a small knife with a straight sharp blade.

Jan 5, 6:37 pm

Practical news: I've managed to get the study sufficiently cleared to allow me to use my iMac (on which I am typing this). To my immense relief it booted up straight away after 3 months in a box and a 10,000-mile sea voyage.

Jan 5, 7:24 pm

Woo hoo! Glad that station is once again fully operational.

Jan 5, 8:25 pm

>34 Bookmarque: Thanks. Just by the bye, in #13 I posted a pic of a mis-spelled restaurant sign Since the place claims to be halal, I assume that its cuisine is Uighur, the Muslim minority in western China. I said this area was diverse, but the local shopping centre has an Uighur takeaway — the only one I've ever seen anywhere.

Jan 6, 10:25 am

>33 haydninvienna: Having one's devices back in place -- and positioned with a sense of permanent stability -- does help to establish a sense of normality!

Jan 7, 5:45 am

Still going on the vintage whodunits: The Wind Blows Death, That Yew Tree's Shade and Untimely Death, all by Cyril Hare; and Unexpected Night by Elizabeth Daly. The Cyril Hare ones all have Francis Pettigrew, the ageing and not very successful barrister, now happily married to the woman who was his secretary in With a Bare Bodkin, and retired from practice. I love the Cyril Hare books partly for the descriptions of legal procedure — in That Yew Tree's Shade, Pettigrew is temporarily plucked out of retirement to act as a deputy judge in the local County Court; in Untimely Death he is summoned* as a witness in an action in the Court of Chancery, and there is a positively lyrical exposition of an obscure** point of English land law, as it was 50-odd years ago. The last one is unusual in that the death which appears to have been murder turns out not to have been, and the real murder gets some page time only in the last few pages. I seem to recall that the author played a similar trick on us in Tragedy at Law, where there is a murder and a suicide in the last few pages.

*Yes, "summoned", not "summonsed". In the book, the document is referred to as a subpoena ad testificandum. In Australia we call it a witness summons.

**Obscure to me anyway. It involves an estate in fee tail, which was a way favoured by titled landowners to limit the inheritance of the landed estate in the male line. I don't believe it is now possible to create an estate in fee tail in England, and I don't think it ever was in Australia. There is or was a procedure called barring the entail by which a holder of the estate could make it possible for females to inherit, and the action deals with the consequences of barring the relevant entail. I don't understand it either (and nor does Pettigrew — he was a common-law practitioner and knew nothing of such matters).

Jan 7, 5:51 am

I haven't given up on the poetry — I've been reading Earth Hour, again by David Malouf, but haven't found anything it in that I feel like quoting to you.

Jan 7, 6:55 am

>37 haydninvienna: I have read and enjoyed three Cyril Hare novels; Tragedy At Law, When The Wind Blows and An English Murder. I believe it was Jillmwo who put me on to his works. I certainly see myself reading more of his books.

Jan 7, 10:08 am

>39 pgmcc: I certainly recommended An English Murder to you, Peter! Off-hand, I can't recall which of his other works I read. I know I enjoyed With a Bare Bodkin. Of those named by >37 haydninvienna:, I feel confident that I probably read Untimely Death, but not the other two.

Are you enjoying the Elizabeth Daly?

Jan 7, 10:30 am

>40 jillmwo:
Are you enjoying the Elizabeth Daly?

I think that question was for Richard.

Editado: Jan 7, 8:31 pm

>40 jillmwo: I thought it wasn't too bad, although I found the absurdly complex murder plot a bit hard to take. Also, I read whodunits far too fast, and sometimes find I lose the details. But I'll probably read more of them.

The Last Mrs Summers by Rhys Bowen. Not bad either, although a trifle on the gothic side with its creepy housekeeper. I wonder if you really can see the Houses of Parliament outlined against the morning sky from a train, as Georgie does at one point. Maybe on the Southern Line? It bothers me: all the other main railway lines into London terminate too far north.

I just discovered that Logan City's library service (Logan City is the local government area just to the south of me) allows any resident of Queensland to join. And they have Starter Villain by John Scalzi.

Jan 8, 12:29 am

I found one poem in Earth Hour that I'll post here:

Whistling in the Dark

by David Malouf
Seeking a mind in the machine, and in constellations, however
distant, a waft of breath. Re-reading space

shrapnel as chromosome bee-swarms, hauling infinity
in so that its silence, a stately contre-dance to numbers,

hums, and flashy glow-stones bare of wild-flower
or shrub, scent, bird-song, hoof-print, heartbeat,

or bones (ah, bones!) are no longer alien or lonely
out there in the airless cold as we prepare

to lie out beneath them. Even as children we know
what cold is, and aloneness, absence of touch. We seed

the night sky with stories like our own: snub-breasted
blond topless Lolitas laying out samples

of their charms beside dimpled ponds, barefoot un-bearded
striplings ready with bow and badinage, pursued

and lost and grieved over by inconsolable immortals
and set eternally adrift, a slow cascade

of luminary dust above the earth, with the companionable
creatures, bear, lion, swan, who share with us the upland

fells and meadow-flats of a rogue planet tossed
into space and by wild haphazard or amazing

grace sent spinning. Old consolations, only half
believed in, though like children we hold them dear, as if their names

on our tongue could bring them close and make,
like theirs, the bitter sweet-stuff of our story

to someone, somewhere out there,
remembered, and fondly, when we are gone.

"slow cascade of luminary dust" — I like that as a description of the Milky Way on a clear Australian night.

Jan 8, 1:02 am

I went to another one of the libraries this afternoon and picked up a copy of The 100 Best Poems of Les Murray, selected by the man himself. Watch this space. (I have a copy already, but of course it's in a box.) Unfortunately it doesn't seem to include "Vindaloo in Merthyr Tydfil" (https://www.librarything.com/topic/347067#8066203).

Jan 8, 10:25 am

>42 haydninvienna: You can see the HoP from trains going in and out of Charing Cross station as they cross the Thames. I think that's the only way it's possible.

Jan 10, 9:23 pm

>42 haydninvienna: I keep thinking Starter Villain might be a fun group read, but multiple people have read it already.

Jan 11, 3:21 am

>40 jillmwo: On further reflection, I must have decided that Elizabeth Daly and Henry Gamage were worth my time because I've now read 4 or 5 of her novels (they are fast reads). They seem to hit some kind of sweet spot for me — well enough written and literate enough; complex but not too complex; not too angst-ridden. Over the same period I've read 2 or 3 of Patricia Wentworth's "Miss Silver" novels. and I find them a bit over the top and dramatic, however well constructed they may be.

I started to read another classic whodunit from the Faded Page mysteries page, the Lake District Murders by John Bude. Gave up quickly — too many shriek-marks. Didn't Pterry say somewhere that insanity increased in direct ratio to the number of exclamation points?

Jan 11, 9:41 am

>43 haydninvienna: hauling infinity in so that its silence, a stately contre-dance to numbers, hums, I really like that.

>47 haydninvienna: I think you've hit nicely upon the appeal that Daly has -- most particularly the fact that she's not too angst-ridden, either in terms of her detective or in the social environment she renders on the page. If I may speak somewhat provincially, her writing style isn't quite as formalized as her British contemporaries and that can be a relief.

Jan 11, 3:26 pm

>48 jillmwo: The “author bio” on Faded Page puts it quite neatly:
Today the emphasis is on baring the darkest depths of psycho- and socio-pathology; contemporary readers raised on this style may find Ms. Daly both elitist and somewhat facile. But fans of classic movies and whodunits know that a focus on polished surfaces brings with it the possibility of hidden secrets and things unsaid; for those who disdain the obvious confessional style of today, the Gamadge books have much to recommend them.

Editado: Jan 16, 1:40 am

Havig now read all the Elizabeth Daly stories that are on the Faded Page website, I can only say that she really loved imposters. At least four of them have a thread that involves somebody impersonating somebody else, always for reasons of getting or hanging on to money. The stories are well written though, much better than most of the whodunits of the time. I'm not an expert, of course, but I've dipped into enough of them to establish that there are good (in my terms) writers, such as Dorothy Sayers, Michael Innes, Patricia Wentworth and Cyril Hare. They write cool, efficient prose. Too many of the others get all overheated and pompous. This sort of thing (from The Lake District Murder by John Bude):
But to his profound surprise the man made no answer. A trifle alarmed, Luke thrust his way round to the front of the car and flung the light of his torch full on to the face of the immobile figure. Then he had the shock of his life. The man had no face! Where his face should have been was a sort of inhuman, uniform blank!

It took old Perryman some few seconds to right this illusion and when he did he was horrified. Although somewhat slow of mind, he realized, at once, that he was face to face with tragedy and, what was more, tragedy in its starkest and most nerve-racking guise!

After that, we need some poetry. This is familiar enough but still magical in its own way:
by John Masefield
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rail, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

The short comment in the book I'm looking at (The 20th Century in Poetry, edited by Michael Hulse and Simon Rae) describes this poem as "deceptively simple", and it is.

Edited to close a parenthesis.
Edited again to correct the spelling of "moidores".

Jan 14, 11:15 pm

>50 haydninvienna: That quote reminds me of the elderly woman Lord Peter sometimes had help in his enquiries. It's missing about 10 exclamation marks and some italics, but the tone is right.

Love the poem. Talk about conjured images and thoughts

Jan 15, 3:55 am

>51 MrsLee: Miss Climpson.

As to the poem, it's the verbal music that gets me: "Sandalwood, cedar wood and sweet white wine".

Jan 15, 10:25 am

>52 haydninvienna: Thank you for helping my sad memory. :)

Jan 15, 9:16 pm

>50 haydninvienna: The Masefield is lovely. It's possible I have encountered it before, but I can't recall (for the moment) where that would have been. Yes, it is deceptively simple.

Just one question (and I did try to find it elsewhere), but what are modoires? That's a new word for me.

Jan 16, 1:41 am

>54 jillmwo: Easy explanation of "modoires" (sic): I mis-spelled it. Correctly "moidores". A moidore was an old Portuguese gold coin with a face value of 4000 reis. According to Wikipedia, they circulated widely not only in Portugal and its territories but in Britain and Ireland in the early 18th century. In Britain they were assigned a value of 13 shillings and fivepence halfpenny.

I wonder about Masefield's geography. "Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus": presumably of Panama. But what's cinnamon doing in Panama? And as noted, a moidore was a Portuguese coin, which implies Brazil, although there were probably plenty of gold moidores in the Spanish parts of South America too. I don't begrudge Masefield the geographical poetic licence given that the result was that gorgeous stanza.

I'm noticing a certain tendency to post poems that were in my high school poetry anthologies. I'm pretty sure this one was — at any rate I've know it for a long time. Fair to say that Masefield was and is better known in Britain and the Commonwealth than in the US. I don't think he was ever exactly fashionable, and he was Poet Laureate for more than 30 years from 1930.

Jan 16, 7:56 am

>55 haydninvienna: I took a little rabbit trail down the internet and found that the Portuguese discovered Ceylon cinnamon in the 1600s. Before that it was unclear to Europeans where it came from. It now grows in Brazil, but I couldn't find when it was taken there to grow. I don't know if this helps the integrity of your poem or not. As you say, with a good poem, one can give a lot of poetic license.

Jan 16, 8:58 am

>55 haydninvienna: Fair to say that Masefield was and is better known in Britain and the Commonwealth than in the US. While I'm sure he's more frequently recognized in the UK, I know I had early exposure to Masefield from a children's anthology my parents provided. I think the poem included there was entitled Sea Fever. "I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky. And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..." I haven't looked it up so I may not have that quote quite right but I remember learning the initial stanzas of that poem back in 4th or 5th grade.

And thank you for the explanation!

Editado: Jan 16, 6:02 pm

>57 jillmwo: Since you ask:

By John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
Masefield had been a merchant sailor, and knew a bit about it.

I've known both of the Masefield poems since my teenage, but you'd be hard pressed to find any other poem by him in an anthology today. He is classed as one of the Georgian poets, who went out of fashion when the new wave of modernist poetry arrived with T S Eliot.

You remembered the first 2 lines correctly. I hear them now in Bryn Terfel's voice singing them in John Ireland's musical setting — if this would float your boat (ahem), look out for Bryn Terfel's CD "The Vagabond", which also has settings by Ralph Vaughan Williams of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson.

ETA I'm playing it from YouTube now. This song (words by Stevenson, setting by Vaughan Williams), as BT sings it, is heartbreaking:
Whither Must I Wander

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?
Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;
Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust.
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.
The true word of welcome was spoken in the door -
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight,
Kind folks of old, you come again no more.

Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces,
Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child.
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland;
Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland,
Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed,
The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.

Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moorfowl,
Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers;
Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley,
Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours;
Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood -
Fair shine the day on the house with open door;
Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney -
But I go for ever and come again no more.

Jan 16, 6:09 pm

2wonderY should have posted this in the GD.

Jan 17, 5:53 am

>58 haydninvienna: You remembered the first 2 lines correctly. I hear them now in Bryn Terfel's voice singing them in John Ireland's musical setting

As soon as I read the lines, this is what I too heard in my inner ear!

Masefield is also, of course, well known for his children's fantasy classics The box of delights and The midnight folk. The former is a perfect Christmas read.

Jan 17, 7:00 am

Further re Masefield: there was a series of 5 anthologies called Georgian Poetry issued between 1911 and 1922 or thereabouts. The text of all is in the Project Gutenberg archive and I skimmed through them. Most of the poets are forgotten: Masefield is there, and some of the war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon (conspicuously not Wilfred Owen), but who now remembers Lascelles Abercrombie? One poet I expected to find because he fits the period, who wasn’t there, was Edward Thomas.

I almost posted W J Turner’s poem “Romance” from Georgian Poetry 1916–1917, but it’s a bit long. (Also I should stop posting poems that I remember from high school.) It has the line “Chimborazo, Cotopaxi” as a sort of refrain. The Project Gutenberg text is here if you’re curious.

Jan 17, 9:22 pm

Now dipping into The 100 Best Poems of Les Murray. This is the real thing — the man was a great poet. A small taster:

They've had so many jobs:
boiling African porridge. Being printed on.
Sopping up malaria. Flying in Paris uprisings.
Supporting a stork's nest in Spain.

Their suits are neater abroad,
of denser drape, un-nibbled:
they've left their parasites at home.

They flower out of bullets
and, without any taproot,
draw water from way deep.
Blown down in high winds they reveal the black sun of that trick.

Standing around among shed limbs
and loose craquelure of bark is home-country stuff
but fire is ingrained.
They explode the mansions of Malibu
because to be eucalypts
they have to shower sometimes in Hell.

Their humans, meeting them abroad,
often grab and sniff their hands.

Loveable singly or unmarshalled
they are merciless in a gang.

Jan 18, 12:03 am

>62 haydninvienna: Well, that took a bit of research to understand, not knowing the word Eucalypts, but this is the only part I'm unsure of still;
"They flower out of bullets
and, without any taproot,
draw water from way deep.
Blown down in high winds they reveal the black sun of that trick."

I assume this means their seeds shoot out of the pod? And the last line?

Editado: Jan 18, 1:51 am

>63 MrsLee: I probably should have explained a bit. I think what he meant was that a eucalypt flower comes out of a gumnut (search "gumnuts", and look at the images, and you will see what he meant). After the flower falls, the remainder of the nut contains the seeds. I think the last line means that a tree tipped over by the wind shows a pattern of roots radiating from the trunk like a black sun. They are shallow rooting and blow over easily. The passage I liked most was this:
Their humans, meeting them abroad,
often grab and sniff their hands.
That's exactly right. We do. I loved meeting eucalypt trees in Santa Monica. I think there are some in Doha as well, although I never got the chance to grab and sniff there.

ETA Here's a pic from Wikimedia that makes the point pretty well:

The brown capsules are flower buds about to burst. The flowers have no petals, just a thick ring of stamens.

Jan 18, 5:25 am

That's a gorgeous poem. I love the scent of eucalyptus trees.

Editado: Jan 18, 6:13 am

>65 Sakerfalcon: Lots of stories about Australians abroad and eucalypts (“gum trees” in Australian vernacular). We used to have a small one in the back yard in Bicester, and yes, I used to crush and sniff the leaves. That’s Australia, mate.

ETA Here’s an example by Henry Lawson: https://www.australianculture.org/his-country-after-all-henry-lawson/.

Jan 18, 5:49 am

I loved Murray Bail's novel Eucalyptus when I read it years ago. I lent it to my then husband and then it got passed around his family!

Jan 18, 11:54 am

>64 haydninvienna: Thank you. I also love the smell of their leaves, although, I am unclear now whether I have smelled Eucalypts or Eucalyptus. The only reason I don't have one in my yard is their flammability. Not a great plant for California which burns in the summer. They are planted nearby, about 20-30 miles and south. People were experimenting trying to find a renewable source of lumber, but it never got going.

Editado: Jan 18, 6:13 pm

>68 MrsLee: "Eucalyptus" is the genus, and is also often used for the essential oil that is steam-distilled from the twigs and leaves; "a eucalypt" is a tree of the genus Eucalyptus. The leaves of most species smell quite strongly of the oil.

Wikipedia says "Eucalypts have been grown in plantations in many other countries because they are fast growing and have valuable timber, or can be used for pulpwood, for honey production or essential oils. In some countries, however, they have been removed because of the danger of forest fires due to their high flammability.", which is a lot of Les Murray's point, put rather less poetically.

ETA Wikipedia also reminds me that many eucalypt species have lignotubers — a woody swelling at and below ground level from which the trunk or stems emerge. This might have been the point of "... the black sun of that trick".

Jan 19, 4:14 am

Just as a matter of interest, not all eucalypts have the "family aroma"; E. citriodora smells of lemon. By the way, the oil of the very commonly cultivated E. camaldulensis is the finest cold cure I know. The monks of St. Paul-outside-the-walls in Rome distil it into a liqueur, but here it comes in little ampoules for squirting on one's pillow or handkerchief. Both work a treat.

Jan 19, 5:30 am

>70 hfglen: I actually know about E. citriodora: it’s called lemon-scented gum in Oz, but I don’t think it’s common around here. I was expecting you to chip me on there being at least 2 other genera (Wiki says 6 others) that get referred to as eucalypts. As to the liqueur, see https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/eucalittino-eucalyptus-liqueur-tre-fontane.

I grew up inhaling eucalyptus as a cold cure, but now it gives me a headache.

Jan 19, 11:24 am

>69 haydninvienna: In the mysterious ways of the internet, yesterday on Facebook I was presented with a time lapse video of an Eucalyptus blooming. :) Is it "a" or "an?" I don't have my grammar hat on, lost it years ago. The rule is an before a vowel word which sounds like a vowel, I think, but "an" sounds weird to me in the above sentence. Anyway, the video was great fun, and illustrated your poem beautifully. I would have copied the link, but it was an advertisement for something or other.

Editado: Jan 19, 11:54 am

We planted a eucalyptus in our garden when me moved in in 1992. It was a great tree and it grew to over 40ft. With the increasing frequency and violence of storms we started experiencing the tree demonstrated its similarity to the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter. Before it crashed down on our neighbour's garage we had it taken down. We were sorry to see it go, but we are glad we are not going to be responsible for rebuilding a ruined garage.

E.T.A.: I could relate to many of the comments in the poem.

Jan 25, 1:34 am

As I said in the weekends thread, we've been to Canberra to meet our new grandson Xavier. Here is Xavier with David his dad:

and with Dad and Uncle Phil:

and a couple of bonus pictures. First, remember the discussion a while back about the "democracy sausage"? I can't manage an election-day democracy sausage sizzle at the moment but here is an actual one taking place in the covered carpark of a local Bunnings hardware store:

and here is the extremely little free library in the cafe in Wauchope where we had breakfast this morning:
. Note the small sign with the "bad joke of the day".

Editado: Jan 25, 2:30 am

In the course of Tuesday, I managed to squeeze in a visit to Book Lore, my favourite Canberra secondhand books shop, and bought a couple of small books of Les Murray's poetry: The Biplane Houses and Learning Human, and a general anthology, Scanning the Century.

Here's another poem. It may need some explanation, but I'll save that for now. (I will say though that we've driven through part of "the banana zone" today, and this poem describes quite a few of the houses we saw.)


by Les Murray

In the banana zone, in the poinciana tropics
reality is stacked on handsbreadth shelving,
open and shut, it is ruled across with lines as in a gleaming gritty exercise book.

The world is seen through a cranked or levered
weatherboarding of explosive glass
angled floor-to-ceiling. Horizons which metre
the dazzling outdoors into green-edged couplets.

In the louvred latitudes
children fly to sleep in triplanes, and
cool nights are eerie with retracting flaps.

Their houses stand aloft among bougainvillea,
covered bridges that lead down a shining hall
from love to mystery to breakfast,
from babyhood to moving-out day

and visitors shimmer up in columnar gauges
to touch lives lived behind gauze
in a lantern of inventory,
slick vector geometries glossing the months of rain.

There, nudity is dizzily cubist, and directions
have to include: stage left, add an inch of breeze
or: enter a glistening tendril.

Every building of jinked and slatted ledges
is at times a squadron of inside-out helicopters,
humming with rotor fans.

For drinkers under cyclonic pressure, such
a house can be a bridge of scythes —
groundlings scuffing by stop only for dénouements.

But everyone comes out on platforms of command
to survey cloudy flame-trees, the plain of streets, the future:
only then descending to the level of affairs

and if these things are done in the green season
what to do in the crystalline dry? Well
below in the struts of laundry is the four-wheel drive

vehicle in which to make an expedition
to the bush, or. as to we now say the Land,
the three quarters of our continent
set aside for mystic poetry.

Jan 25, 10:59 am

>74 haydninvienna:. Oooh, the adorable baby pix!! (Their expressions so clearly reveal amazement at what's going on around them.)

Editado: Jan 25, 12:06 pm

>74 haydninvienna: Wonderful photos! I'm so glad you're close enough to visit family more frequently now.

Jan 25, 12:06 pm

>74 haydninvienna: The photos are adorable!

Jan 25, 1:03 pm

>74 haydninvienna: Brilliant pictures. Thank you for sharing.

Jan 25, 10:22 pm

>74 haydninvienna: Great pictures, so nice to see family pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Jan 26, 12:47 am

Thanks all.

Another vintage whodunit, for a change of pace: Seven Dead by Jefferson Farjeon. This is different: a petty thief breaks into an empty house and finds, along with the silverware, seven corpses. A passing yachtsman gets involved and helps the police of England and France in the inquiry, and the trail ends at a remote rocky islet in the South Atlantic. Not bad, although the denouément beggars belief just a little.

Jan 29, 4:51 am

I mentioned Jefferson Farjeon in #81 and also in a previous thread. He was one of the writers of whodunits in the Golden Age, and is now less known than the greats like Sayers, Christie and Michael Innes. But he had his moments. Of the ones I've read, I think the best is Back to Victoria, which I wrote a little about here. A few of his titles have been republished as British Library Crime Classics, but most of the others are now hard to find and seem to go for quite high prices ($30-$40, maybe?). Fortunately some of them are on Faded Page, and a few more in the Internet Archive. I was pleased to find one, End of an Author, in the Archive, so opened it eagerly despite the rubble of annotations on the library book that had been imaged. Then disappointment struck. I have a bad habit of skipping to the end to read the last few pages. In this case the last few pages weren't there. Yup. The scanned copy was incomplete, and the text breaks off in the middle of a sentence.

Incidentally, Farjeon has one called At the Green Dragon. It's in the Archive, and appears to be complete, but I'm not sure I'm game to read it.

Jan 29, 9:18 am

>82 haydninvienna: Well, that would send me off in a huff! How utterly aggravating. Drop the Archive a line about it. (They'd want to know for any variety of reasons!) Let me know if you want a specific name rather than sending it to some general info email address.

Jan 29, 10:02 am

>82 haydninvienna: In this case, it's a good thing you did skip to the end!

Jan 30, 6:53 am

>82 haydninvienna: The ending will forever remain a mystery!

Jan 30, 11:37 pm

Back to poetry for a bit. I found this in Biplane Houses, one of the books by Les Murray mentioned in #75:
A Dialect History of Australia

Bralgu. Kata Tjuta. Lutana.

Cape Leeuwin Abrolhos Groote Eylandt.

Botany Bay Cook Banksia Kangaroo Ground
Sydney Cove Broad Arrow Neutral Bay China Walls
Sodwalls Hungerford Cedar Party Tailem Bend
Jackadgery Loveday Darwin Kilmany. Come-byChance
Lower Plenty Eureka Darling Downs Dinner Plain
Telegraph Point Alice Maryfarms Diamantina
Combo Waterhole Delegate Federal Spion Kop
Hermannsburg Floreat Emu Heights. Pozieres
Monash Diggers Rest. Longreach The Gabba Hollow Tree
Perisher Police Point. Hawker Kuttabul Owens Gap
Greenslopes Repat. Red Bluff Curl Curl Charmhaven
Cracow York Kalimna Howrah. Wave Hill.
Beenleigh Yea Boort Iron Baron Long Pocket
Grange Nowhere Else Patho Tullamarine. Timor.
All the words except the last are Australian place names. The poem's cleverness is in the fact that the names are grouped into paragraphs according to their date, and therefore also to some extent by origin: the first paragraph are Indigenous; the second, Dutch; the rest mainly British-derived, in rough chronological sequence. I have to admit that I'm not sure what "Spion Kop" is doing there: there are a few places in Australia called that, and there was a battle by that name during the Second Boer War, but I'm not aware of any Australian involvement. "Pozieres" is a small town in Queensland whose name comes from the involvement of Australian troops in the First World War. "The Gabba" is the cricket ground in Wolloongabba, Brisbane. "Greenslopes Repat" is short for "Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital", a hospital in Brisbane formerly operated by the Commonwealth Government to treat ex-servicemen (exactly equivalent to the VA hospitals in the US). "Grange" is the name of a Brisbane suburb, but also of a very celebrated Australian red wine.

Jan 31, 5:54 am

>86 haydninvienna: AFAIK without checking, there were many thousands of Australians in the British forces here 1899-1901, and an Australian contingent at Spioenkop wouldn't surprise me. If you can find a copy, Breaker Morant and the Bushveldt Carbineers is a classic, but not necessarily the best, account of the activities of some Australians in this conflict.

Fev 1, 3:45 pm

Not poetry related, I came across an article about the Bristol Brabazon in Air & Space Smithsonian today, essentially the same as this wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_Brabazon

Editado: Fev 1, 5:30 pm

>88 Karlstar: The Brabazon is fascinating. Technically advanced for its time, but applied to exploring what proved to be a blind alley. It's interesting to compare it with the A380, which is roughly the same size but is capable of lifting over 800 passengers in the highest-density seating configurations. With reserves, the Brab would just about have been capable of flying between London and New York, but would have taken about 14 hours to do it against the 7 or so for the A380. The A380 could then have flown back again without refuelling, if it had taken on a full fuel load in London, whereas the Brab would have been dry. OTOH "full fuel" for the A380 means about 300,000 litres, compared to 60,000 or so for the Brab.

Of course there are now plenty of "small" airliners capable of flying London to New York — BA was even flying 100-passenger A318s from London City Airport to New York, with an intermediate stop at Shannon in Ireland to take on fuel (because the runway at LCY is too short to allow an A318 with a full fuel load to take off — the journey back with a tailwind was non-stop).

And with 8 Bristol Centaurus radial piston engines, I bet the Brab was noisier. I've never flown on a piston-engnd airliner, but I gather it gets pretty noisy.

Editado: Fev 1, 8:14 pm

Back to poetry, and today you get two! The first is one that I've been resisting for weeks because it was in that high school poetry book (but it's also in The 20th Century in Poetry, from the library):
by Gwen Harwood

Professor Eisenbart, asked to attend
a girls’ school speech night as an honoured guest
and give the prizes out, rudely declined;
but from indifference agreed, when pressed
with dry scholastic jokes, to change his mind,
to grace their humble platform, and to lend

distinction (of a kind not specified)
to the occasion. Academic dress
became him, as he knew. When he appeared
the girls whirred with an insect nervousness,
the Head in humbler black flapped round and steered
her guest, superb in silk and fur, with pride

to the best seat beneath half-hearted blooms
tortured to form the school’s elaborate crest.
Eisenbart scowled with violent distaste,
then recomposed his features to their best
advantage: deep in thought, with one hand placed
like Rodin’s Thinker. So he watched the room’s

mosaic of young heads. Blonde, black, mouse-brown
they bent for their Headmistress’ opening prayer.
But underneath a light (no accident
of seating, he felt sure), with titian hair
one girl sat grinning at him, her hand bent
under her chin in mockery of his own.

Speeches were made and prizes given. He shook
indifferently a host of virgin hands.
“Music!” The girl with titian hair stood up,
hitched at a stocking, winked at near-by friends,
and stood before him to receive a cup
of silver chased with curious harps. He took

her hand, and felt its voltage fling his hold
from his calm age and power; suffered her strange
eyes, against reason dark, to take his stare
with her to the piano, there to swap
her casual schoolgirl’s for a master’s air.
He forged his rose-hot dream as Mozart told

the fullness of all passion or despair
summoned by arrogant hands. The music ended,
Eisenbart teased his gown while others clapped,
and peered into a trophy which suspended
his image upside down: a sage fool trapped
by music in a copper net of hair.

"There is a distinct possibility this is drawn from Harwood’s personal experience, the evidence relying on the fact that as a child she played the piano and had red (titian) hair. She enjoys sending up the vaunted pomposity of pretentious people - professors of universities including from the literary world and its cast of hyper-inflated egos." (from here). Gwen Harwood was born in Brisbane but moved to Hobart when her husband was appointed as a professor at the University of Tasmania.

The second is an unusually straightforward poem by David Malouf, from his collection Revolving Days, also from the library:
Like Our First Paintbox
Like our first paintbox: colour
in graduated rows more various even than the rainbow,
encouraging the eye
and the small adventurous hand to try for others, cloud-
castles of a sky more Disney-gaudy
than the azure overhead, as if mineral
dust and breath could reach alchemical midday
on a planet further off
than the one they taste and smell of. Bruise
violet and viridian a threat
of storms I could conduct with an index finger wet
from the cup, catching a hint of what God
felt, trying for this, then that; learning to see the earth
as it is from failed experiments - and even those we give
our hearts to and can't forget.
When sleep has unsealed
our eyes, we walk in the pink woods of that other world our hands
imagine - lost, like all angels,
in the flesh. Mauve grass, red weather,
the fruit gift-wrapped in its blue peel, O so edible!
>87 hfglen: I knew that there were Australians involved in the Boer Wars, but I'm not sure about Spion Kop specifically. From my brief and non-glorious career in Australia's reserve army, I know that the Royal New South Wales Regiment has a battle honour, inherited from some of its predecessor units, for the "South African Wars, 1899-1902".

Fev 1, 11:32 pm

>89 haydninvienna: But the amenities in the Brabazon! They must have been thinking to compete with the flying boats of the time, or maybe even the Zepplins. A cinema, a bar, practically individual cabins. It would have been quite the experience.

Fev 2, 1:10 am

>91 Karlstar: Well, there was talk of individual cabins on the A380, and Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways have almost done it. I flew in First on a Qatar A380 once (lucky upgrade), and it was very nice, but it wasn't a cabin. The Qatar Airways Qsuite now is almost a cabin, and it is available on A350s, B777s and B787s as well as the A380.

Fev 2, 2:54 am

>89 haydninvienna: Yes! My first-ever flight was on a DC4 JNB-PLZ and DC3 PLZ-GRJ, when I was still knee-high to a grasshopper. Port Elizabeth is known for wind, and being small I needed help up the DC3 stairs. Much later I had the doubtful pleasure of flying in a BAe748 from Windhoek to JNB via Keetmanshoop, Upington and Kimberley -- I was deafened for days afterwards!

Fev 2, 4:26 am

>93 hfglen:
Kimberley, famous for its diamond mine and the naming of Kimberlite.

Fev 2, 5:53 am

I've mentioned Adam Liaw earlier in the thread. I'm streaming his earlier shows at present and have just seen one of his guests making pulled pork by cooking a slab of pork in a slow cooker in 1.25 litres of Coca-Cola*. Adam and the other guest were surprised. I wasn't — Nigella Lawson had a recipe in her very first book for cooking a ham in Coke. I have done it at least once and can confirm that it's good. After all, as she points out, pork is often cooked in other sugary liquids such as fruit juice.

*Has to be old-fashioned Coke sweetened with sugar, not Diet Coke or Coke Zero or any other those newfangled variations.

Next up was a recipe for spaghettini carbonara with five eggs (three whole eggs and two yolks) for 250 grams of pasta, to serve 2 people. If they have a cardiologist on speed-dial, maybe?

Fev 2, 6:48 am

>95 haydninvienna:
Cooking pork in Coca-Cola is something my offspring have advocated. I believe we did it once, making pulled pork. My diet now prohibits my indulging in any sugary such enterprise. I am to avoid red meat and am not even allowed to be tempted by bacon or ham. :-( Boiled eggs are ok, however. A small amount of pastais permitted.

Pulled pork became a ubiquitous product here about fifteen years ago. No one seems to know how that happened, but it is well appreciated, regardless of where it came from.

Fev 2, 1:02 pm

>95 haydninvienna: I've made a pork roast (shoulder) with a cola/ginger glaze and it came out great. It has to cook down forever though to get it to the right consistency. I recently watched a food show about a restaurant that cooks pork shoulder/butt in Dr. Pepper, but they just used it as the braising liquid.

Fev 2, 3:34 pm

Gentlemen, please. What is your thinking on barbecue sauce?

Fev 3, 12:04 am

>98 jillmwo: Assuming that I'm included in "gentlemen", I'm not a big fan of barbecue sauce. Most of them seem to me to be too sweet. But something seems to happen to sugar if it gets cooked for a good while — caramelisation, perhaps? I've tried one of Adam Liaw's simple recipes for cooking chicken drumsticks: mix a quarter-cup each of light and dark soy sauce and apple cider vinegar and half a cup of brown sugar; bake the drumsticks in this for 40 minutes in a 200℃ (fan-forced) oven; after that reduce the liquid with 6 roughly chopped cloves of garlic and a couple of tablespoons of butter; serve the drumsticks coated with the glaze — and it doesn't taste particularly sweet.

Back to reading. Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the golden age of science fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee (from the library). The title describes it exactly. It amounts to the story of the magazine and the careers of its most famous editor and his three most celebrated writers in the period from the late thirties to the late sixties. It occurs to me that many younger people now might not be aware that Hubbard had been a science fiction writer before WW2 (although Battlefield Earth and its sequels are from very late in his life).

I was a subscriber to Analog between about 1965 and 1972, so got a full dose of the late Campbell personality: how it kind of swept over you. At that time, as a very green adolescent, I had few defences. By that stage Heinlein and Asimov* had moved on and so in his different way had Hubbard. Dear me, what an unpleasant nutcase Hubbard was! I have a copy somewhere of the extremely unauthorised biography Bare-Faced Messiah, but haven't read it.

*I actually wrote Asimov a fan letter once, and actually got an answer. Wish I still had it.

Fev 3, 10:06 am

>99 haydninvienna: How could you possibly doubt that I'd include you in the general grouping of "gentlemen"? Silly human!

At any rate, I only mentioned the barbecue sauce because as a treatment of pork, it's just a sidestep away in discussions of cooking. I'm not a big fan of most BBQ sauce myself, but it's part of the American food culture.

The glaze you describe sounds good.

And as a quick follow-up, I have met Isaac Asimov and have his autograph somewhere on a script that featured him as a character somewhere in this house. On stage at a SF con, he was both outrageous as well as charming.

Fev 3, 4:34 pm

>98 jillmwo: Apologies for the late reply, we took a night away with no computers yesterday.

I like BBQ sauce in limited applications, mainly on St. Louis/baby-back ribs, though I'll happily eat them with only a good rub on them. I prefer my pulled pork seasoned and only lightly sauced. I've stopped buying most of the store brand sauces, as almost all of them have corn syrup as the first ingredient. Many of the BBQ sauces though that aren't from national brands (I love the Dinosaur BBQ sauces) don't have that problem and aren't too sweet. The obsession with BBQ sauce on everything (chicken wings, chicken nuggets, pizza, etc), I don't really like at all.

For us at home though, if I make ribs, I usually make grilled country style pork ribs in a mustard-based sauce, braised in the oven then grilled lightly.

>99 haydninvienna: Sounds like a great book.

Editado: Fev 4, 4:29 am

>100 jillmwo: The glaze recipe, such as it is, is here.

>101 Karlstar: The Astounding book was a fine read. Definitely a warts-and-all portrayal of Campbell, Heinlein and Asimov, and especially of Hubbard, and of a number of other less well known writers who have walk-on parts, such as Randall Garrett. I would have liked some discussion of the writers who became Campbell's stable later in his career, such as "Christopher Anvil", if only because they were such an expression of the later Campbell's attitudes, but of course the book was long enough already.

ETA Van Vogt appears from time to time, but IIRC we learn little about him as a human being. We learn that Randall Garrett was a drunk and a sexual predator, but then we already knew that.

Fev 4, 7:33 am

>102 haydninvienna: Thanks, I was hoping it was an honest portrayal. I don't have any interest in Hubbard, but that wouldn't spoil the book.

Fev 7, 6:15 pm

>103 Karlstar: I assume it's honest — Hubbard was almost the epitome of an unreliable narrator, and I assume the source of a lot of what is said is Bare-Faced Messiah, mentioned above.

I've been reading New Selected Poems 1988-2013 by Seamus Heaney. Although the man was clearly a great poet, and worthy of his Nobel, I haven't yet found anything I want to quote at you. Also halfway through Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, by Salman Rushdie. The only other Rushdie I've read was Grimus, and that long ago.

I must be engaged in a search for classic whodunits without realising it. I sort of knew about H C Bailey and his "Mr Fortune" stories, and found some of them on Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive. Mr Fortune is a surgeon who more or less accidentally becomes a scientific adviser to the Metropolitan Police. Bailey wrote several books of longish short stories about the adventures of Fortune, Lomas (the head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Metropolitan Police) and Lomas's staff. I believe there are a few full-length novels too, but so far I haven't encountered them.

Anyway: Fortune, although his background is solidly middle-class, moves easily in high social circles and appears to be at least comfortably off, with a large house somewhere salubrious in the west of London, and an interest in good food and wine. The relationship between Fortune and Lomas is somewhat like that between Lord Peter Wimsey and Chief Inspector Parker, in that Lomas isn't stupid by any means but needs Fortune's intellect and ability to see things sideways. (Last night Mr Fortune solved the murder of a woman whose body was found in a park by beginning with the presence in her handbag of two small twigs of rare species of plants.)

Fortune reads like a clone of Lord Peter Wimsey, but I'm often reminded of Father Brown, although there's no explicit Christian subtext. The piffle is well up to Dorothy Sayers' standard:
On the day of the inquest Reggie* went down to Prior’s Colney, but the inquest he did not attend. The Hon. Stanley Lomas noticed that, and remarked on it with surprise to Donald Gordon**. It was the one thing in a successful day which gave Mr. Lomas concern. But at the close of that day Mr. Lomas, going back to the inn for his car and his tea, found Reggie eating buttered toast. “I envy you. Fortune, don’t you know.” Lomas sat down beside him.

“Oh, Mr. Lomas, sir,” Reggie mumbled. “Go along with you.”

“I envy your stomach,” Lomas explained, put up his eyeglass and surveyed the buttered toast more closely. “O Lord! And after a bad day too! You’ve heard the verdict. What? Wilful murder against Cranford.”

“And all is gas and gaiters. And hooroar for Scotland Yard. And you shall pay for my tea.”

“It was the pistol did for him you know.” Lomas smiled as a man who can afford to smile.

“Childhood’s years are passing o’er us, Lomas,” Reggie murmured. “Soon our schooldays will be done. Cares and sorrows lie before us, Lomas. Hidden dangers, snares unknown. I’ve found the real pistol, old thing. Good-bye.”

Lomas caught him up outside. “I say, Fortune. Without prejudice—what’s your line?”

“Seek not to proticipate***,” Reggie smiled. “This gentleman is paying for my tea, Mary. You would be so hasty, you know.”
*Mr Fortune's given name is Reginald.

**A solicitor, described as "a little Jew". But Fortune later recommends him as a solicitor to a person whom Mr Fortune wishes to ensure is properly represented.

*** The quotation is from Project Gutenberg, and this looks like a transcription error, but I don't think it is. Either the printer of the text that was scanned made a fairly unlikely printer's literal, or this is really what Bailey wrote. I can't find any occurrences of it in either Oxford on line or Cambridge on line, and I suspect Bailey invented it.

Mr Fortune's mannerisms get wearisome at times — did any human being ever talk like that for more than a few seconds together? Maybe they did — the common-ness of the style in British fiction of the period suggests that there may be something real behind it. The already-noted Lord Peter Wimsey, half of P G Wodehouse's characters, W E Johns's Lord Bertie Lissie, "Frank Richards"'s Lord Mauleverer .... P G Wodehouse's Psmith is the earliest example that I know of. The model for him is supposed to have been Rupert D'Oyley-Carte (although this has been doubted), so maybe there is something in it. I recall that Wodehouse wrote somewhere about the class of young men of the day called "knuts", but don't have it to hand.

Fev 13, 5:41 pm

Had an interesting morning yesterday. I had to take the Camry to the dealer I bought it from to have a new key fob programmed. (You're supposed to get two key fobs and they had only one, the previous owner having lost the other.) Programming the fob and cutting a spare mechanical key takes about four hours, so I left the car with them and took the train into Brisbane.

First job was to go to the Sheriff's office. Yes, Queensland still has a sheriff. No six-gun and tin star though. The Sheriff is the Court officer responsible for, inter alia, maintaining the jury lists. I got a notice a couple of weeks ago that I had been selected for jury service but it wouldn't be practicable for me to serve because I couldn't leave Mrs H all day. I'm entitled to be exempted anyway because of being over 70. So I went in there and explained the position to a nice young lady and she said, no problem. I am now permanently exempt from service as a juror. The Courts building at 9:45 am was quite a sight though: barristers in robes flapping about everywhere going in for the start of the court sittings at ten o'clock.

Then I went down to the main city council library which is just down the street, and found there a surprise: a collection of stories by Italo Calvino, Numbers in the Dark. I thought I was fairly well up on Calvino but I've never even heard of this. Details to follow.

Fev 13, 5:51 pm

>105 haydninvienna:
You have me hooked on Calvino and I have plenty of his books on my shelves patiently awaiting their turn to baffle and amuse me.

Fev 13, 7:20 pm

Here's a minor oddity that I came upon just now accidentally. There was a surveyor named Robert Dixon, who was associated with the early settlement of what is now Brisbane. He was born in Cockfield, County Durham, in the north of England, in 1800. You may be aware of another Dixon: "I am Jeremiah Dixon, I am a Geordie boy", as Mark Knopfler puts it. Turns out that Jeremiah and Robert were both born in Cockfield, 67 years apart. Wonder if they were related?

Fev 13, 11:14 pm

>107 haydninvienna: I am not familiar with that song, I am semi-familiar with Knopfler's work, but I don't think I've heard it before.

That is an oddity, how likely is it that they were related?

Fev 14, 5:49 am

>107 haydninvienna: In a similar vein, I discovered recently that a collateral (i.e. distant) 19th-century relative married a lass called Johanna Catharina Ferreira, who came from Eastern Cape farming stock. Having grown up in Johannesburg, I was aware that one of the oldest parts of the CBD is called Ferreirastown. Turns out that both go back to one Ignácio Ferreira, born 1690, who came from Lisbon and went farming not far from Paarl in the very early 18th century. He married a local girl and had a gazillion kids. The third, a son, gave rise to the line that produced Ignatius of Ferreirastown, and the sixth (another son) produced the line giving rise to Johanna Catharina. I still need to find out who is commemorated in the Afrikaans folksong "Vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira"; that one was evidently an itinerant trader with a gammy leg.

Fev 14, 8:18 am

>107 haydninvienna: Sailing to Philadelphia is a terrific record even with the unfortunate inclusion of James Taylor. For Knopfler I can overlook it. The man can play. What a tone.

Fev 14, 12:21 pm

>110 Bookmarque: Agreed! I will have to check out that album, thanks, the last solo album of his that I have is The Ragpicker's Dream.

Editado: Fev 17, 10:01 pm

Poetry ahead. I opened Imaginary Numbers: An anthology of Marvellous Mathematical Stories, Diversions,Poems and Musings at its contents and spotted the name Piet Hein. This is the poem:
To Martin Gardner
"Lines that are parallel
meet at Infinity!"
Euclid repeatedly, heatedly,
Until he died.
and so reached that vicinity:
in it he
found that the damned things diverged.
The book has bits by most of the usual suspects: Gardner, Stanislaw Lem, Rudy Rucker and Douglas Hofstadter, and "The Library of Babel", by Jorge Luis Borges (inevitable but welcome). The first story in the book is "The Form of Space" by our good friend Italo Calvino. But there are some less likely pieces: stories by Joe Haldeman, Philip K Dick and Connie Willis, and "the Garden of Time", by J G Ballard, which is one of those stories that haunts you.

ETA that the second story "A New Golden Age", by Rudy Rucker, rang a few bells. Suppose there were a way of allowing a non-mathematician to "feel" mathematics in the same way as a non-musician enjoys music. What would happen? The same thing as happened with, for example, FM radio. I remember back in the 50s and 60s in Australia when the people who were interested in electronics were agitating for the introduction of FM broadcasting, and assuming that the airwaves would then automatically fill with beautiful Beethoven and whatever. Well, they got their FM broadcasting. They got mostly rubbish music. (When the narrator first tries the machine, it's been loaded with a program on measurable cardinals. He finds that he is rapt in the beauty of the mathematics, but after the machine is turned off, he still can't understand the relevant paper. Having read Rucker's Infinity and the Mind, or tried to, I know exactly how he felt.)

Editado: Fev 20, 8:28 pm

Books Promiscuously Read by Heather Cass White. I found this in the Brisbane Square Library last week. Lots of good stuff: one of the reader's quotations on the back cover describes it as "An elegantly constructed meditation on the vital relation between reading and the everyday self ...animates the experience with wit, brilliance and affection". There can't be too many other books that cite C S Lewis*, J B S Haldane, James P Carse**, Nietzsche, Mary Shelley and Frederick Douglass. There's quite a bit on how reading is an act of self-assertion against oppression:
We read to enter a place that is unpoliced and private, to step away from boundaries as we usually experience them. In this way, reading is a form of self-claiming. To the extent that our selves belong to others, it robs those others of their entitlement to us, so our reading is a self-theft, a crime in two senses. First, it asserts the existence of an independent self. Second, it removes that self from circulation, from its possible use as the property of others. The greater the claims a social system makes on an individual, the graver the transgression of reading will be. Where a threat to a system exists, volunteers will appear spontaneously to monitor and minimize it.
This is in the course of pointing out the similarities between Frankenstein's Creature and Frederick Douglass learning to read.

*An Experiment in Criticism, of course.

**In particular, his Finite and Infinite Games, which I read a while ago. In brief, there are at leat two kinds of games: finite games, in which the objective is to win, and infinite games, in which the objective is to continue playing.

In relation to the threat to a social system: There is an organisation called Article 19, referring to that article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 19's basic premise is that not all tyrants torture, but all tyrants censor.

Fev 20, 8:58 pm

>113 haydninvienna: Okay, on the basis of that single post, I took a direct hit. Definitely getting that one ordered.

Fev 20, 10:20 pm

>114 jillmwo: Wasn't aimed at you, honest. I've ordered it as well.

Fev 28, 11:17 pm

I gave up on the Calvino short stories (see >105 haydninvienna: ). I'm not greatly interested in the early realistic Calvino anyway, and that's the first half of the book. But of the later stories I actually read only "Beheading the Heads" (a kind of riff on the idea that the best form of government is despotism tempered by assassination, or, as a colleague put it many years ago, that a dictator is the best government as long as you shoot the b*****d every so often); "World Memory", about a project to record all of human life (a kind of dark counterpart to R A Lafferty's short story "What's the Name of that Town", about the discovery of a significant matter that had been forgotten by examining the gaps in the available information); and "The Burning of the Abominable House", about the possibilities of computer prediction of crime.

For Calvino completists only, I think.

Mar 3, 5:44 pm

>113 haydninvienna: Hit that whole segment in Books Promiscuously Read as I was reading today. But there is another one that has been ricocheting around in my head this past week as well.

Morning work is an expenditure of the self at the moment it is most concentrated...Of all his impractical proposals, Thoreau's suggestion that we "consecrate morning hours" to our reading is simultaneously one of his easiest, and the one most calculated to encounter resistance among readers themselves.

It's true and I even understand the practical reasons behind the resistance underscored in the statement, but it is indeed hard to allow one's self to enjoy that reading time in the early part of the day.

Editado: Mar 5, 10:20 pm

And here I am in the middle of a reading slump. Beside this chair at present there are 4 books that I have started and not finished:
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus — "the 200th anniversary edition", supposedly
Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood
Everyone on This Train is a Suspect (!)
An Astronomer in Love by Antoine Laurain.

Frankenstein is lavishly illustrated, in both senses: that is, there's a lot of illustration, and it's in colour. But the book pretends to be an Edition. It doesn't qualify as a scholarly edition. There's no notes, nothing about where the text came from — it doesn't even tell you whether it's based on the 1818 text or the 1823 one, which I know from Books Promiscuously Read to have been significantly different. As to the work itself, I find it heavy going: I don't care for first-person narration, and the Romantic period isn't my favourite period of English lit.

Cooking the Books is another of the Corinna Chapman bakery mysteries. These are not bad and I love the Melbourne setting, even though I'm pretty sure that there isn't an apartment building in Melbourne as congenial as Insula, where Corinna has both her home and her bakery.

An Astronomer in Love has a recommendation on the cover attributed to no less an authority than Her Majesty the Queen Consort. I don't think that makes much difference for me. I have had Lauraine's The Red Notebook on the TBR since forever.

As for Everyone on this Train ... , I suspect I'm having some of the same issues mid-book as jillmwo did, and at the moment don't have the fortitude to push on.

The dreaded slump has happened more than once recently, and I turned to "Golden Age mysteries". I think I'm coming to the end of the really good ones available from Gutenberg or Faded Page.

The first was Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne, from Faded Page Canada, first published in 1931. I know that murder mysteries with amateur sleuths have a basic credibility problem, which we generally cheerfully overlook, but in this one the credibility issues come thick and fast. The setting is a Scottish castle overlooking Loch Fyne on the west coast of Scotland. The cast includes the laird, who is impoverished despite owning the castle and the lands surrounding it; his sister, who has a private income and supports the castle and its inhabitants; various retainers (the laird is a Highland clan chieftain); the laird's daughter in law, who is Irish (this is considered a failing); and her son, the laird's grandson. The laird's son, the child's father, is in the Army and is on a posting. The laird's sister is regarded as a saint, greatly charitable, by all who speak of her. However, she dies violently one night under extremely mysterious circumstances, and a rather different picture of her emerges: eventually she comes to seem very like a monster. Our amateur detective is a doctor. There are two police inspectors sent from Glasgow: one is relatively conventional; the second is not, to the point where I cannot imagine his even being recruited into the Glasgow police of the 1930s, let alone rising to the rank of Inspector. But the two Inspectors are successively murdered, seemingly in the same way as the laird's sister. There is apparently some spooky stuff going on involving the loch. The solution involves a method of murder that is marginally credible in principle, but is not in its specific application to the sister. The three were murdered by dropping blocks of ice on them from upstairs windows. I remember the blocks of ice that used to be sold for home iceboxes before the days of refrigerators: such a block, dropped from an upstairs window onto someone's head, would probably be enough to kill them. First credibility problem: dropping something accurately from a height isn't as easy as it looks. Second credibility problem: even on a hot Scottish summer night (they do have them), such a block would take quite a while to melt, and a big block of ice on the ground near a body would tend to give the game away. Third (and for me biggest) credibility problem: the "violence" left the sister with a deep wound on her shoulder, thought to have been inflicted with an axe. This was explained as being due to "her" block of ice hitting an obstruction on the way down and being "... shattered into several jagged daggers". Sorry, not buying it. As I see it, a big block of ice that hit an obstruction hard would break into chunks, not "daggers". I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise.

ETA: I was a small child then, but I reckon those blocks contained a cubic foot or so of ice. A cubic foot of ice weighs about 57 pounds — quite enough, if dropped from a height, to cause significant damage.

A few years later, Michael Innes did "murder in a Highland castle with a loony laird" much better, in Lament for a Maker.

Project Gutenberg supplied The Layton Court Mystery by Anthony Berkeley. This was "Berkeley"'s first published novel. It shows how far the "amateur detective" model had come by 1925, in that it amounts to a parody. Country house party, with the usual group of suspects who all turn out to be hiding dark secrets, and their genial host, who is hiding the biggest, darkest secret of all, and apparently commits suicide. The detective, Roger Sheringham, finally arrives at the correct solution after a few misfires, but literally allows the perpetrator of what was in fact a murder to get away with it. Better done than Murder of a Lady, and doesn't present any credibility problems other than that of the police accepting a pretty clear murder as a suicide after an extremely cursory investigation. One issue which is not a credibility one: the sentence "It was not until the necessity for consuming a large plateful of prunes and tapioca pudding, the two things besides Jews that he detested most in the world ...". Oh dear.

Mar 5, 10:16 pm

>118 haydninvienna: Not an expert, but I've watched them beat on blocks of ice many times on the Forged in Fire show and while the impact isn't quite the same, they don't break into anything like daggers.

Editado: Mar 5, 10:23 pm

>119 Karlstar: Exactly my point. I found another Youtube video of a bloke chopping ice with a hatchet: the ice broke into big chunks.

Mar 5, 10:25 pm

>121 haydninvienna: I agree with your other objection as well.

Mar 6, 7:40 pm

>118 haydninvienna: Reading slumps arrive at the most inopportune times! All my sympathies. Check any near-by, over-stuffed bookshelves. Sometimes the best reading material can be re-discovered that way.

Mar 7, 12:08 am

>123 jillmwo: As I said on jillmwo's thread, good advice.

A propos of which, I read another Golden Age mystery this morning (that is, skipped through it rapidly): The Murders in Praed Street, by John Rhode. It would have been just about intolerable to read properly. It's a somewhat melodramatic tale of a Criminal Mastermind and a series of murders connected only by the fact that most of the victims lived in or near Praed Street in London. (This is the street in which Paddington Station is located, and the story had a slight interest for me from that alone. One small incident even turns on an internal detail of the station (the back way out to the taxi rank) which is still there, although it had a different purpose then. But oh my, most of the characters and the authorial voice talk like they had swallowed a dictionary, never using one word when three would do. The actual story is a competent enough puzzle if you're prepared to accept the basic premise: a doctor convicted (in his view unjustly) for murder is taking revenge on the jury who brought in the verdict, after having served a long sentence of imprisonment. Most of the jury members lived in or around Praed Street; seven of them survive to be murdered. The Genius Detective figures out the connection because he was the foreman of the jury.

Then we turn to Agatha Christie (The Man in the Brown Suit), who for some reason I have never read much of, and we are immediately in a different world. At least the woman could write!

Mar 8, 3:05 am

I finished The Man in the Brown Suit, and then went on with The Secret Adversary, the first of the "Tommy and Tuppence" books. (I don't think I'm quite ready for Poirot or Miss Marple.) As I said, the woman could write! Interesting though how The Secret Adversary evokes English middle-class society in the early 1920s, with demobbed soldiers now being unable to find work, and women who had worked during the war having broken out of their pre-war roles.

I found Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter by John McWhorter in the library this morning. Fun and a fast read, about exactly what it says. After that I wonder how we ever manage to speak English or any other language, and how we ever learn a second one!

Mar 8, 6:21 pm

>124 haydninvienna: I recall enjoying Death at Breakfast by John Rhode, but I can't seem to summon up memory as to why.

Mar 15, 9:52 pm

Prompted by Books Promiscuously Read, I've been reading The Man Who Invented Fiction. That Man is Miguel de Cervantes, and of course the book is Don Quixote, although it turns out that Cervantes wrote quite a bit of poetry and drama as well as fiction. Egginton discusses "fiction" as a separate concept from "story" — what distinguishes them is that we can treat fiction as being "true" in some sense even when we know it isn't. A story might or might not be true, and we might or might not know which, but fiction has the power of being both at once, in some sense. The book proved to be unexpectedly interesting otherwise — for the discussion of Cervantes' life (and what a life he had!), for the discussion of Spanish society in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and the innovations in fiction and drama of the time. The latter discussion made an interesting counterpart to the contemporary state of things in England. It seems to me that a number of innovations in drama and poetry were made simultaneously in Spain and in England. I've seen it suggested that the innovations by Shakespeare and his contemporaries were in some way connected with a new freedom in English society at the time, but Egginton's discussion made me doubt that because somewhat similar innovations were happening in the rigid, class-stratified society of Spain at the time.

As I said in the weekends thread, we had local government elections today. Mrs H and I did our civic duty at the local community college after some initial difficulty in finding the right place. No democracy sausages, unfortunately. Turns out that the community college is a large campus with several entrances and we had picked the wrong one, but the polling place will probably also be used for the State election later this year, so we will know next time.

Then on a whim down to one of the Logan City libraries. Logan City is one of the adjoining local government areas — we live close to the boundary. I originally joined Logan because I noticed that they had Starter Villain available as an ebook, although I still haven't borrowed it. But they had the Penguin Don Quixote on the shelf at Logan West Library, which is even the closest one to home. So I went and found the Don, and near it saw The Kingdom of Copper (but not The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, unfortunately), and a couple of others. I also have a couple more to read from the Brisbane system. I may just have outdone myself ...

Mar 15, 10:20 pm

Something I saw on Atlas Obscura just now: The Respected Oxford Professors Who Say They Time Traveled. The book is available on Project Gutenberg: An Adventure by Eleanor F. Jourdain and C. A. E. Moberly

Also, see "He Walked Around the Horses" by H Beam Piper, which is also available on Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18807.

Mar 15, 11:42 pm

I'd like to quote a lot from The Man Who Invented Fiction, but these will do:
[The lesson of Exemplary Novels] — the book in whose preface Cervantes famously wrote that they are united by a mystery and that the careful reader is sure to reap some benefit from them if he reads them as a whole — is that the benefit of fiction comes to those who learn not to subject it to the standard of truth and falsity that we apply to statements about the world. We ask of fiction not whether it is true, but what would it be like for us if it were true. For fiction is not a picture of the world; it is a picture of how we, and others, picture the world; the truths it tells are not the factual ones of history, or the more philosophical ones of poetry, but the subjective truths that can be revealed only when we suspend our disbelief and imagine ourselves as someone completely different.
Cervantes was using the powerful vitality of his new form of writing to invite his readers to experience the world through the eyes of others, and then allowing that perspective to draw attention to the hypocritical policies of the early modern Spanish state. This was the surprising verdict of someone who was simultaneously a great reader of literature and himself a fascist ideologue: Ernesto Giménez Caballero, who aspired to be Francisco Franco's cultural minister. Prior to the war that brought Franco to power, Giménez Caballero published a book called Genius of Spain: Exaltations for a National and World Uprising, in which he lambasts Don Quixote as a dangerous book, "the spiritual equivalent of the fall of the Spanish Empire."

The reasons he gives are extraordinary in their insight and honesty: an empire requires blind pride, and Cervantes's irony was his "weapon against stupor." Essential to Cervantes's irony is something Giménez Caballero astutely recognizes as "excessive orthodoxy." The ideologue saw in Ricote's* support of Spain's genocidal attack on his own people a subversion that generations of professional critics of novel failed to see: in appearing to agree so fervently with the ideology, Cervantes deliberately pushed his agreement too far, a space in which the brutality and absurdity of that ideology show through.
*Ricote was a Morisco, one of the Spanish people of Moorish antecedents who were expelled, with attendant suffering, by Philip III.

Mar 16, 12:20 am

>127 haydninvienna:
Those two books about books sound very intriguing.

Don Quixote is a book I have been planning to read for decades. I even went in search of a copy in German when in Germany to help me with my learning German. The shop did not have Don Quixote so I came away with a copy of Moby Dick in German.

I do have an English language copy of Don Quixote, so I might get around to reading it soon.

Another aspect of Don Quixote that interests me is Maturin’s use of the book as the source for his descriptions of Spanish landscapes in his book Melmoth the Wanderer.

Mar 16, 3:10 am

Last time in the Sunnybank Hills library (yesterday!) I picked up a doorstop entitled The Translations of Seamus Heaney. I have Heaney's translation of Beowulf, and I knew he had done other translating, but 14 languages, including Romanian? Anyway, here's a little poem by Anonymous, translated by Heaney:
Columcille's Derry
Why I love Derry:
it is calm, it is clear,
transparent angels in every
breath of air.
The first piece in the book is a translation of one of Horace's Odes:
To a Wine Jar

When Manlius was consul you were filled,
Venerable pitcher, and I was born.
Now we meet. For what? Regrets or laughter?
Rows or old maudlin loves or boozy sleep?

No matter. The rare Massic that you store
Is only to be savoured on a day
Like this: Corvinus is insisting on
A wine that is a wine. So down you come.

Corvinus will appreciate you, though he looks
The real ascetic and sounds so terribly
Socratic. Anyhow, even Old Cato's
Frosty precepts thawed in the heat of wine.

You are a sugared poison to the souls
Of puritans, a sweet forbidden fruit.
The canny man relaxes when you smile,
Unloads his worst fears, leaks his secret plans.

You'll flush a worried wretch with sudden hope
And boost the small man up into heroics:
Who will go brazen into royal courts
Or face the firing line after a glass.

Join us, then, to-night. Here's company! Bacchus
And the jealous Graces. Venus too.
The lamps flicker. Down you come. We'll drink
Till Phoebus, returning, routs the morning star.

Mar 16, 4:22 am

>129 haydninvienna: It sounds like a really fascinating book! Thank you for writing about it.
I've read Don Quixote, but at a too young an age to understand it and truly appreciate it. I found it weird. But you live and learn, so I might tackle it again some day.

Mar 16, 4:23 am

>131 haydninvienna: Thank you for sharing! To a Wine Jar was a delight to read.

Mar 16, 6:51 am

>130 pgmcc: >132 Alexandra_book_life: you might find The Man Who Invented Fiction to be a good introduction.

>133 Alexandra_book_life: It was rather, wasn’t it? I don’t read Latin, unfortunately, but the tone seems absolutely right. Heaney may have translated one or two other poems by Horace, but I don’t see any more than that. Pity.

My feelings about Horace are influenced by memories of the interminable debate between Mr Quelch and another Greyfriars master over a single pronoun in the volume of Horace’s Odes. (Did anybody catch the reference?)

Mar 16, 5:21 pm

>127 haydninvienna: and >131 haydninvienna: You've had a couple of good reading experiences, I see. I am intrigued by both, although I think I'd be in a better space for the Seamus Heaney than the other -- at least for the moment. (I never did do anything about his Beowulf.)

Mar 16, 5:58 pm

>135 jillmwo: I'm thinking about buying the Heaney, but it's a chunk (xviii + 685 pp). Being his complete translations, it includes Beowulf, his celebrated translation of Book VI of the Aeneid, and three cantos of the The Divine Comedy.

Editado: Mar 19, 1:12 am

Just for variety: Island of the Mad by Laurie R King. This is of course one of the Mary Russell novels. Set mostly in Venice, with Cole Porter as a major character. Holmes rarely left England before His Last Bow, but after taking Mary Russell as an apprentice and then marrying her he seems to have got the travel bug in earnest. I have to keep reminding myself that these are not "Sherlock Holmes" stories. But the language jars occasionally, and I have to remember that they were supposedly written by Mary herself, late in life — she was born in 1900, so might just possibly have made it into this century. The only anachronism that jerked was a reference in another one of the novels to a ship rounding the tip of "Malaysia", in 1927. In 1927 the territory at the southern end of that peninsula was the Colony of Malaya. The word Malaysia seems to have been invented in about 1963, as a bname for the independent federation of the Malay States, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo.

I'm continually amazed at the sheer volume of Holmes pastiche and Holmes-adjacent fiction, but "Mary Russell" must be among the best of them.

ETA: and it has a great line not quite at the end:
"You know, Holmes", I said as I slid the two prints into an envelope, "I never realised how satisfying blackmail could be."

Mar 19, 4:55 am

>137 haydninvienna:
I have an aversion to reading books that carry on someone else's characters. For example, I am reluctant to read a Poirot story that has not been written by Agatha Christie. I cannot justify this aversion but I am just left with the feeling that such a story is not the real thing.

Of course, my reading will throw up examples where I have read such stories. I did read The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr. I had started reading it before realising it was a Sherlock Holmes story. It was not great.

Mar 19, 7:37 am

>138 pgmcc: I agree up to a point. A literal continuation is frequently a case of knowing the words but not the tune: my least favourite example is Eoin Colfer’s continuation of the Hitchhiker’s Guide. But I think the Mary Russell stories succeed at least partly because they aren’t “Sherlock Holmes” stories and don’t try to be. Of course there are cases that justify your point too: I vaguely remember posting about a couple of “Sherlock Holmes” stories that I couldn’t finish—one of which I gave up on on about page 6.

But also, how about works of fiction that use real people as characters? As I said in #137, Cole Porter is a significant character in Island of the Mad. I’ve just finished another Mary Russell book, Dreaming Spies, in which Emperor Hirohito (at the time still the Crown Prince) of Japan is a character. (In that book, Holmes has to explain to the Emperor the existence of the “fictional” character “Sherlock Holmes” as an attempt to hide from his growing fame by deliberately constructing a fictional persona.)

Incidentally, I omitted to notice that Sunday was St Patrick’s Day. Belated good wishes!

Mar 19, 10:10 am

>139 haydninvienna:
Thank you for the St Patrick's Day greetings. I hope your weekend was good.

I was thinking of Eoin Colfer's continuation of Hitchhiker's Guide when I was leaving my last post. I understand Douglas Adams's wife was eager for Eoin Colfer to write the continuation. My experience of Colfer's work is that his works for younger readers is excellent but any of his adult oriented work did not quite make the grade. I read one "adult" story and I got the impression he was still writing for teenagers.

I have see Colfer with younger readers at book launches and other events. My son was very keen on his Artemis Fowl books. colfer took time with every person who was getting a book signed. He came across as a lovely person and very sincere.

One book I am looking forward to which is being written by someone other than the original author of the characters involved is Karla's Choice by Nick Harkaway. Why am I not irritated by someone else writing a story about John Le Carré's George Smiley?

Nick Harkaway is John Le Carré's son and accompanied him on many of his travels to areas where the father's novels are based. He is also very familiar with his father's writing methods and how his mother helped knock the stories into shape. Nick is a very talented writer and can write in many different styles. If anyone is in a position to write another story in John Le Carré's world, it is Nick. I know he is very nervous about it, but I have every faith in his ability to produce an excellent story.

In terms of books with real people in them, I do have similar reservations, but I also have read books in which the author pulled it off with aplomb and it did not appear like he was just using the real people's names to sell the book. An author who has pulled this off successfully for me is Dan Simmons. There are several of his books with real characters and I was trepidatious about reading them, but which proved interesting and convincing. One example is Drood. I know you did not like The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but I loved it. I read the Dickens book, albeit incomplete, in readiness for reading Drood. It proved not necessary as Simmons's book was a totally different story to The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Simmons borrow a couple of characters but little else. His book was more about the relationship between Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. This book encouraged me to research the biographies of these two writers.

I have read other books with real people in them and have found them poor with the characters being included simply to sell books.

Mar 19, 1:09 pm

>140 pgmcc: Dammit. I had a long and careful post with lots of touchstones for you and I hit the wrong button. Aaaaargh!

What it amounted to is that some are more successful than others at pastiche. The two that come to mind who are very successful are Anne Hillerman with her father's characters, because she focuses on one of his minor characters, and Laurie R. King with Holmes, because she created an alternate universe and the focus is on Mary Russell. Both of these authors get the intent and voice of the original author but also have their own intent and voice and they have things to say, not just repeat.

The two authors which come to mind which did not satisfy me are Robert Goldsborough with the Nero Wolfe series andJill Paton Walsh with the Lord Peter Wimsey series. They have the setting down, but the voices do not sparkle.

Mar 19, 1:11 pm

>137 haydninvienna: >138 pgmcc: I'm conflicted about authors writing someone else's characters. Sometimes, there's no choice, like Sanderson finishing the Wheel of Time series and Game of Thrones. Oh, wait, that second one hasn't happened yet.

Sometimes it works well, sometimes not at all. I didn't care for Jordan's version of Conan.

Mar 19, 1:47 pm

>141 MrsLee:
I hate when I lose a big post. I was doing it a lot a while back and took to writing my posts in a Word file so I would not lose them. Then I would copy it into the thread. I have not done that in a while so yes, I have lost more posts.

Mar 20, 3:59 am

>140 pgmcc: One novel that I think we have both enjoyed that centres around a historical character was Imprimatur. The central figure, Atto Melani, was a real person. (Imprimatur also presents the interesting case of a real piece of music, the keyboard piece "Les Barricades Mystérieuses " by François Couperin, being given a significance that I doubt it ever had in reality.) >141 MrsLee: >142 Karlstar: Really, we are all saying that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. MrsLee and I agree that the "Mary Russell" stories are a case in which it works. pgmcc and I agree that Eoin Colfer's continuation of the Hitchhiker's Guide doesn't.

Mar 20, 4:07 am

Another book I picked up at the Logan West library: The Essential Paradise Lost, by John Carey. This is Paradise Lost abridged by Professor Carey to about the same length as Animal Farm, Carey provides an introduction, footnotes and summaries of the omitted passages. There's a list of further reading, which includes A Preface to Paradise Lost by C S Lewis. Anyone in the Pub who is still hesitating about whether to undertake the fairly large task of reading Paradise Lost might find Carey's abridgement helpful. And if you haven't read the Lewis book, you should.

Mar 20, 4:40 am

>144 haydninvienna:
Unfortunately they have not issued an English translation of the fourth book in the Atto Melani series, Mysterium.

Editado: Mar 20, 12:48 pm

>145 haydninvienna: Paradise Lost is sitting here beside my chair, tapping it's covers, waiting for me to finish the very long book by Washington Irving that I am trudging through.

Mar 21, 8:35 am

>145 haydninvienna: You keep coming up with intriguing reads, I may have to pick up The Essential Paradise Lost.

Mar 21, 2:22 pm

>145 haydninvienna:. Okay, I see you have borrowed from the library the book by John Carey. As it happens, I ordered a copy of this myself day just the other day. When did we establish this peculiar Vulcan mind-meld kind of link?

Mar 21, 6:21 pm

>149 jillmwo: Live long and prosper! Carey is someone I pick up whenever I see a book by him. Not an insta-buy, but certainly an insta-borrow.

Mar 22, 3:13 am

Things You Can Sometimes Get Away With, number 155756: a little while ago I was waiting at the pharmacy counter to pick up another month's worth of prescription drugs, and a woman of about Mrs H's age walked in wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Reading is Dreaming with Your Eyes Open". Naturally I asked her where she had got it: and I've forgotten the answer. Doesn't really matter though, there's a lot of them on the net, including some on Etsy. But we had a little discussion about reading and what we like to read and I gave her the LibraryThing plug, specifically mentioning the Green Dragon (she is a fantasy reader). Spread the word, people.

Mar 22, 8:54 am

>151 haydninvienna: I'm in a couple of FB book groups and I try to get a plug in for LT when I can, the vast majority seem to be Goodreads users, if they log/track their reading.

Mar 22, 9:04 am

If you can encourage 11,002 new members, LT will hit 3,000,000!

Mar 23, 12:59 am

>153 Karlstar: I suspect I'd end up being regarded as That Creepy Old Guy Who Hangs Around the Library if I tried. But I give the occasional plug in a bookshop.

A while back I posted about the magnolia that I planted in a pot. We lost the first bud in the heat during January, but as of now with the advent of slightly cooler weather:

Mar 23, 4:10 am

>154 haydninvienna: This looks lovely!

Mar 23, 11:20 am

>154 haydninvienna: Lovely! My tree is so tall I rarely get to see the flowers up close.

Editado: Mar 23, 1:08 pm

>154 haydninvienna: Yes, talking to strangers, even about books, is hazardous. Love the picture.

Mar 23, 7:19 pm

>155 Alexandra_book_life: >156 MrsLee: I posted the photo simply because, as I said, when I bought the plant a couple of people tried to tell me how hard they were to grow here. As you can see from the damaged leaves, it suffered in the heat of summer, but it’s doing better now.

I’ve actually never caught a flower in the process of opening.
For those who do not own a plant it is a great treat to be given a bud that is on the point of opening. It must be at this advanced stage, otherwise it generally fails to open in water.

This expansion from bud to open flower is as rapid and almost as dramatic as in a night-blowing cactus. The petals unfold in a series of jerks, until in a matter of two or three hours the blossom has fully expanded into a cream-coloured bowl, 9 inches/23 cm across. The stamens are creamy, too, but as they fall, they reveal crimson bases and look like doll’s matchsticks.
(From The Well-Tempered Garden by Christopher Lloyd, p 181 in my kindle version.)

Mar 24, 12:46 am

>158 haydninvienna: I also find that the open flowers do not last more than a day when cut from the tree.

Mar 25, 7:32 am

>154 haydninvienna: Lovely! Magnolias bloom for such a short time but they bring so much joy while they do so.

Mar 25, 6:54 pm

The nearer bud is half open this morning.

Mar 26, 9:27 pm

Now fully open (in the rain):

Nothing especially original about a Magnolia grandiflora flower, of course, but I'm proud of it and it's beautiful.

Mar 27, 1:18 am

Mar 27, 5:15 am

>162 haydninvienna: It is beautiful!

Mar 27, 6:27 am

>162 haydninvienna: What a beauty!

Mar 27, 7:13 am

Thank you all. Note that Christopher Lloyd was exactly right in describing the stamens as like doll’s matchsticks.

I’ll look at it again in the morning, but it will probably be done by tomorrow night. The other bud is still to come though.

Mar 27, 8:37 am

>162 haydninvienna: That's gorgeous. Does it smell as good as it looks?

Mar 27, 10:27 am

>162 haydninvienna: A fleeting beauty, worth the wait.

Mar 27, 6:42 pm

>168 MrsLee: Next morning the flower is already falling apart. >167 clamairy: The perfume isn't strong, but it's there. Lloyd describes it as "lemon": well, yes, but a floral, sweet kind of lemon.

Mar 28, 10:30 pm

>162 haydninvienna: Awesome, and congratulations. Thanks for the picture.

Mar 29, 6:05 pm

>170 Karlstar: Thanks Jim.

Just a reflection. I'm watching one of Adam Liaw's cooking shows. His guests are a South Sudanese woman who is a former player for one of the major Australian Women's Football League clubs, and a comedian of Ethiopian origin. Liaw himself is, as I've noticed before, of Malaysian Chinese origin. Indeed this is a very different Australia than the country I was born into. About time too.

Incidentally, if anyone's curious, Adam apparently has a YouTube channel.

Editado: Mar 30, 5:22 am

The second bud is now opening. That will be all for this flowering season.

Seeing as how it's my birthday soon, I went down to The Really Good Bookshop at Highfields, south of me. I haven't been there before, but will definitely be going back. Today's haul was Don Quixote (in the much-praised Edith Grossman translation); The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman; and On Bunyah by Les Murray.

ETA Nothing to do with the above, but cop this: Lunar haloes over Michigan.

Mar 30, 5:51 am

>172 haydninvienna: Congratulations on your wonderful new books!

The lunar haloes were cool :)

Mar 30, 11:50 am

>172 haydninvienna: Which title of today's haul will you begin with? I would imagine that Don Quixote is a more lively read than Tristram Shandy but I have no familiarity with Sterne's novel.

Mar 31, 2:24 am

>174 jillmwo: Tristram Shandy is surprisingly lively, and I'll probably start with it. I have a vague memory of reading it back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but the only memory of it I have is the famous incident in which, "at the moment that Tristram is about to be conceived" (eh?), his mother asked his father whether he remembered to wind the clock.

Abr 2, 3:00 am

Given the number of Pub denizens that are getting bad health news, I count myself lucky that I've had 2 pieces of good health news in the last week or so: first, I probably don't have bowel cancer; second, I'm fit to drive.

As to the first, the Australian Government runs a free screening program. I got the notice and the sample kit in the post a few weeks ago, and dithered a bit at first. I was expecting it to be a rather long wait, but I put the package containing the samples into the post the Saturday before last and got a text from my doctor the following Wednesday that they had received the results and no action was necessary. As to the second, in Queensland after you turn 75 you have to get a certificate from your doctor every year that you're fit to drive. Not just eyesight, but whether you have any other relevant medical condition (including, from some of the tests, dementia). I'm pleased to say that I passed without any problems.

Abr 2, 4:38 am

>176 haydninvienna:
That is great news, and reassuring too.

Abr 2, 1:05 pm

>176 haydninvienna: We love to hear good health news!

Abr 2, 3:39 pm

>176 haydninvienna: Congrats! Good news is always welcome.

Abr 2, 4:00 pm

>176 haydninvienna: This is great news!

Abr 2, 6:55 pm

>176 haydninvienna: Yay! Grab those little jollies when they appear in your email!

Abr 3, 4:57 am

Thanks all. I didn't mention above that there is one small cloud on the health horizon: I'm seeing a colorectal surgeon tomorrow about a hernia repair (said he, blushing slightly). Still pretty small beer compared to what some people here are dealing with.

Abr 3, 5:00 am

>182 haydninvienna:
Best wishes for your consultation and any follow-up.

Editado: Abr 3, 5:29 am

I know what the followup will be! A surgical attendance at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. (Brisbane hospitals tend to be named after members of the Royal family.) But I'm not too worried about it. But thanks for the good wishes.

Abr 3, 12:36 pm

>184 haydninvienna: Good luck, hope it goes well.

Abr 3, 4:01 pm

>184 haydninvienna: May it all come out well in the end.

Abr 3, 4:10 pm

>186 MrsLee: I was biting my tongue trying to avoid using that pun. It took me a lot of restraint.

Abr 3, 4:14 pm

>187 pgmcc: I have no restraint. I plead the medication I'm on.

Abr 3, 4:23 pm

Thanks all. >188 MrsLee: No apology needed.

Abr 4, 1:40 am

Back to Les Murray. I went to my appointment this morning by bus rather than try to navigate the parking in the hospital grounds, and took On Bunyah with me. Bunyah is the locality in country New South Wales where he grew up. When he was born it was dairy country, and before that timber-getting, but he says now that it's horse-breeding (and we have friends who do just that near there), and raising Australian native flowers for export as cut flowers. In his introduction he says "Bunyah has been my refuge and my home place all my life, though I did live away for 29 years." I was thinking about that, looking at Brisbane out of a bus window. The advantage of that over driving is that you're higher up, and are not distracted by the attention needs of driving. I kind of feel like Brisbane has always really been my home, although I lived out of it for 54 years.

One poem from the book:
Angophora Floribunda

That country seemed one great park
in which stood big bridal trees
raining nectar and white thread
as native things ate their blossom
like hills of wheaten bread
and we called them Apple trees
our homesickness being sore
if you took up land where they grew
it kept your descendants half poor ...

but farmers rarely cut them down.
They survive from the Eden of the country
because the wood's useless and rots fast
and because they're the Eden of the country.

Slashed leaves feed stock in a drought
and the tree, in its dirt-coloured bark
and snakes-and-laddery branchage
often grows aslant, heeled over
like an apple-pie schooner aground
on the shores of a North Coast pig farm.

Aged ones get cancerous
with humps of termite nest.
They shed their rotted limbs
to lie around them like junk
which only decay can burn.
A chewed-paper termite city
set alight in an Apple trunk
will rage all night and never
ignite its crucible of wood.

A veteran may drop most of itself
In one crash autumn, and re-grow from its boot.
Uselessness, sprawl and resurrection
are this apple’s fruit.

Abr 4, 7:02 pm

Oh, and I'm calling the appointment a success. There is definitely an operation in my reasonably near future, and I can get it done in the public system. In the course of the discussion the surgeon said that I looked like I'd be around for a while, so it needed to be fixed. He meant, I'm assuming, that I seem likely to live a good while yet. That's 3 doctors this year that have told me I'm doing decently well for my age.

Abr 4, 7:05 pm

>191 haydninvienna: That's really good to hear because I love reading the poetry you post here. Well, most of it. Your company is much appreciated.

Abr 4, 7:15 pm

>191 haydninvienna: Thank you! Yours too. I'm awed by your energy (see your wild onions post).

As to poetry, when I saw my GP* recently I wrote out this gem on a sheet of notepaper donated by the medical student who was also in the room**):

There once was a man with a hernia
Who said to his doctor "Goldurn ya,
While improving my middle
Be sure you don't fiddle
With matters that do not concern ya."

* US: primary care physician
** A second year medical student who was being introduced to the dark arts of talking to patients.

Not original. I can't remember where I read it.

Abr 4, 7:35 pm

>191 haydninvienna: Great news over all even with the upcoming surgery

Abr 4, 9:30 pm

>193 haydninvienna: Seriously, I am a fan of the limerick. Glad the doctor appointment had so much positive information associated with the impending hospital stay!

Abr 4, 11:11 pm

Abr 5, 12:08 am

>192 MrsLee:
His in person company is very pleasant too.

>191 haydninvienna: I am glad to hear the positive news.

Abr 5, 1:01 am

>191 haydninvienna: That's really good news! :)

Abr 5, 4:00 am

>197 pgmcc: Seconded, in both parts!

Abr 7, 3:03 am

David Malouf has appeared in this thread as poet; now he appears as novelist. An Imaginary Life is presented as a memoir by the Roman poet Ovid of his life in the frontier town of Tomis, on the Black Sea (whence he had been banished by the Emperor Augustus for some offence that remains obscure). Not going to say much about it for fear of making a fool of myself, except that the description of the bleak countryside during winter put me in mind of Eliot's poem "Little Gidding", and there might be value in thinking about other similarities.

Abr 7, 6:27 am

>200 haydninvienna: I know Ovid hated the place. The fact that it is now Constanta, Romania's premier seaside resort, has from time to time made me wonder how the climate there compares with Rome's.

Abr 7, 6:56 am

>201 hfglen: Going on Ovid/Malouf’s description of it, it’s an implausible seaside resort. But Malouf warns us in an endnote that he has been very free with his source material. In fact, a major part of the novel turns on an incident for which there’s no historical foundation at all, in Ovid’s own writings or anywhere else.

Abr 8, 8:46 am

>191 haydninvienna: I'm glad to hear the positive outlook!

Abr 9, 4:49 am

Back to poetry! I had some business in the city this morning and took advantage of the opportunity to go to Archives Fine Books (the only secondhand bookshop left in the CBD — there used to be several). For poetry this is the mother lode. I bought The Vixen, by W S Merwin; The Faber Book of Beasts, edited by Paul Muldoon; and Poems to Read*, edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz. The latter two are anthologies. From Poems to Read:
First Sight

by Philip Larkin

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

*Odd title. If a poem isn't to read, what on earth is it for? Good collection though. Some familiar pieces (for, example "Frost at Midnight"); lots of unfamiliar ones, but the Larkin was a surprise.

Editado: Abr 12, 12:59 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Abr 12, 2:08 am

Another small bookshop raid this morning, on the Mount Gravatt Bookshop (that's its name). Bought a big, fat Complete Novels of Jane Austen, published in hardback by Penguin; Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes by Billy Collins; The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations, edited by Peter Kemp; Collected Poems by Les Murray; and Collected Poems by C P Cavafy (the touchstone gives "Complete Poems", but it appears to be the same book). The Complete Novels is a handsome volume; perhaps the type is a tiny bit small bit it's still nicely done. I have only two minor complaints: the paper has deckle on the fore-edge, which looks a tiny bit too precious (but it is a Penguin Deluxe Edition, after all); and the detail of a painting on the cover, by one G Baldry (who is obscure enough that there is no Wikipedia entry for him) which appears to be too late in time (Pre-Raphaelite rather than Regency) and a trifle too erotic. But a nice copy all the same.

Here's a little bit of Billy Collins:
Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,

then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?

This is the best —
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso —

maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins —
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,

dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,

and, if necessary, the windows —
trees fifty, a hundred years old
out there,
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.

Abr 12, 10:03 am

>206 haydninvienna:. I was startled by the title of the Billy Collins collection (and perhaps a bit outraged on Emily's behalf) but having read the poem you included here, I think I may understand where he's coming from.

Abr 13, 8:42 pm

>207 jillmwo: Yes, it is a tiny bit confronting, isn't it? But having read the actual poem by that title, I can feel confident that it's only a metaphorical undressing he has in mind, if you see what I mean.

American poetry isn't easy to find here. I bought some (Theodore Roethke, and, yes, Emily Dickinson) in England (TBF, poetry in general is easier to find there), but I bought the Merwin and the Billy Collins at least partly because I've never found anything else by either one in the bookshops here (although I like both poets)*. You can find recent Australian poetry without too much trouble (Les Murray, Clive James, David Malouf) but not the mid-20th century ones like Gwen Harwood and Kenneth Slessor.

*How's that — 3 parentheses in one sentence!

Editado: Abr 14, 2:28 am

Finally finished The Essential Paradise Lost. I got stuck a while ago at the end of book 4, partly because the Temptation was coming up (in fact it doesn't happen till book 9) and I rather shrank from it. But I read the whole of books 5 to 12 in the course of a Sunday afternoon.

I found it very much worth reading, partly as a counterpoint to Lewis's Preface to Paradise Lost. Professor Carey points out, as Lewis does not, that Milton's theology was heretical, then and now, in that Milton did not fully believe in the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity (Milton believed in the Three Persons, but not that they were equal and co-eternal). This has some consequences for the poem, in that it explains some features that look odd otherwise.

Paradise Lost is pretty severe stuff (despite the gorgeous poetry), but I had a small wry smile at the end of book 9, where Adam and Eve have their first quarrel, blaming each other for Eve having allowed herself to be beguiled by the serpent.

Abr 22, 3:29 am

Reverting to the discussion above about magnolias: when I was buying mine, a couple of people asserted that they were hard to grow here. This morning I noticed a house a couple of streets away that has six plants, all taller than a single-storey house. There are some flowers, but all up near the top, and I can't get close enough to take a decent picture.

Editado: Abr 22, 7:58 am

Magnolias are rather inclined to do that. One year a kind friend gave me a champac magnolia (Magnolia (= Michelia) champaca), which has small yellow flowers with a heavenly scent. I planted it with some other magnolias, rather ill-advisedly on the soak-away for the septic tank. The flowers are now way up in the sky, above what would be the roof-line of a double-storey house!

Edited for spelling.

Ontem, 9:29 pm

>211 hfglen: In Canberra I had not only a grandiflora, but a Magnolia x soulangeana and a Magnolia figo, the so called port wine magnolia. Loved all of them, but that was quite enough for a rather small front yard.

Ontem, 9:42 pm

What an adventurous week it's been. Took Mrs H for a medical appointment on Tuesday; yesterday got threatened by email* with the publication of embarrassing images (which don't exist, I assure you) — this jackass warned me not to go to the police so of course I did just that; today spent virtually all of my frequent-flier credit to book a trip to Australia for my younger daughter, who lives in England.

*I get a steady trickle of phishing emails, all of which at least get flicked to the British Government authority that looks after cyber security. Just maybe some of these creeps get taken out as a result. (If anyone's interested, forward the email to report@phishing.gov.uk. They don't seem to mind getting emails from outside the UK. Also, if you have an Apple ID, you can forward them to reportphishing@apple.com, although it's less clear what result that might have.) Apparently the police services of Europe (including the Metropolitan Police in England) have just taken down one of the big phishing rings, so maybe it does some good.

Ontem, 9:56 pm

>213 haydninvienna: Sorry you had to put up with that. Scammers suck.

Ontem, 10:58 pm

>215 haydninvienna: Indeed. It was the aggressiveness of this jerk's tone that got to me. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered dobbing him in.

OTOH for anyone who needs a lift in their belief in the future of the human race, try this: Voyager 1 is talking to us again, from 15 billion miles away. The mission was originally intended to last for four years. It has now lasted more than 40, and most of the probe is still working. Stupid we might be, but we can build some great stuff.

Ontem, 11:23 pm

>215 haydninvienna: Or we could build some great stuff 40 years ago. I still have appliances that old and have been told not to replace them unless I have to because most new appliances lasts longer than 5 years.