Saturday, December 28, 2013

Come to year's end


 The duties of living
 wear a face visibly,
 and yet when it goes
 the other way, a vis-
 age is companionship
 I find, sight unseen. 


Saturday commute xcviii: foraging abroad

   I was in great health and 
   and spirits, and fully ab-
   le to enter into the ideas
   of the brave, rude men whom 
   I found in all quarters.


      It was just being
      for a little while
      one of the prisca
      gens mortalium,
      who ran about in
      the woods eating
      acorns and drink-
      ing water.                         

James Boswell
The Yale Editions of
  the Private Papers
  of James Boswell
Frank Brady and
  Frederick A. Pottle, editors
Boswell on the Grand Tour
  Italy, Corsica, and France
  1765 - 1766
McGraw-Hill, 1955©

 ii, 2

Hamish Quigley
Max Motta

Friday, December 27, 2013

Suppose it were Friday lxxxix: Daybreak

  are willing to go any-
  where on earth except 

It is a portrait not of Marian Evans the woman but of George Eliot the artist, and one is not surprised to learn that Lewes rejected it. The face is sad, the eyes are cold and weary, the expression superior, the mouth is sensual and cruel: not the cruelty of a torturer, but the cruelty of a judge. Why should it not be? No charge of hypocrisy laid at her door could compare with the double-dealing of the society which condemned her .. Human beings, particularly when they are artists, are too valuable, too disparate, too contradictory to be left in the hands of the critics or the psychoanalysts. Their poignancy rests in the peculiar force with which each spurns the ideal.

Janet Flanner
The New Yorker©
October 30, 1948

Walking Since Daybreak
  A Story of Eastern Europe,
  World War II, and the Heart
  of our Century
Houghton Mifflin, 1999©

Noel Annan
  A review of
  George Eliot
  Gordon Haight, 1968
The New York Review©
January 2, 1969

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not leaving without her

   Why is Tatiana, then, more guilty?
   Is it because in dear simplicity
   she does not know deceit
   and in her chosen dream believes?
   Is it because she loves without art,
   obedient to the bent of feeling?
   Because she is so trustful,
   because by heaven is endowed
   with a restless imagination,
   intelligence, and live will,
   and headstrongness,
   and a flaming and tender heart?
   Can it be that you won't forgive her
   the thoughtlessness of passions?

Aleksandr Pushkin
Eugene Onegin
  A Novel in Verse
  Chapter three, xxiv
Vladimir Nabokov
Bollingen Series LXXII
Princeton University Press, 1975©

"Then there are these accidents to consider .."

To learn hunger, if
well fed, would give
us Flaubert, I think.
Not a bad idea. But
it also gives us what
claims to be called,
taste. How to hunger,
as if unfed, gives us

was one generation re-
moved from slavery, by
his father's manumis-
sion; and spent a wary 
life in the munificent 
patronage of Maecenas.

say, another taste to 
everything. We see a
clean white shirt and
accept it as a custom.

Horace saw white and
knew his hunger. At
Nasiedienus' feast,
the tapestries all
fell with black vol-
canic dust. Off we ran, 
taking our revenge on 
him by tasting nothing


Satires and Epistles
  Satires II, viii
John Davie, translation
op. cit.

Monday, December 23, 2013

How would one know?

Our correspondent landed in
Grenada as I was born; this
he tells us merrily, in his
first published travels. It
would be some 21 years be-
fore I got there, not know-
ing at the time that our
footsteps were so much as
intersecting, walking Grand
Anse toward St George's, as
the children played in the
silent sea. Some of my fav-
ourite, sweetest pictures,
I took with my earliest M,
of their splashing in the
tide as if to wake it up;
and it's my guess that he
did, too, with probably a
iii-f model. But he was in
Grenada as a landfall in a
Leeward Islands checklist
in his post-war travels in
the Caribbean; and I was
there because a rowing mate
in freshman crew had plant-
ed dreams of the island in
my mind, as we would haul
back up to Commons for our
dinner after dark. Travels
follow from affections al-
most as bananas succeeding
themselves upon the branch,
re-enacting flowerings. 

Did I know what to expect?

Yes, but what's it like?

Well, it's light, like con-
fetti. It falls out of the
sky and blows about in the
wind. It's terribly cold,
and when it settles it re-
sembles cassava or mashed
potatoes. Your feet leave
marks on it as though you
were treading on sand, and
you can make balls of it,
or even snowmen. It is so
heavy it sometimes breaks
the branches of trees. It's
deep and crisp and even ...

I'm sorry. I don't get it,
maan. I don't get it at all.
Not what it's really like.

Sir Patrick Leigh-Fermor, DSO, OBE
The Traveller's Tree
  A Journey through the Caribbean Islands
New York Review Books, 2011©

i - iii  Tom Barker

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oh, hurt me no more, PG

In the interest of gossip,
I know, I really shouldn't
confide that the addressee
of this plea is not that
the page's endless fledge-
lingness. It would be so
much more amusing, very
possibly, if this weren't
so; but in fact I suffer
mortally from humour's aw-
ful torments, much as my
poor parents did, who
might read aloud during
cocktails, from mid-cen-
tury English malefactors
of the pen. So, you know,
whom I mean: the fellow
with whom Duff Cooper and
his boy were trapped in a
lift at the Bristol, soon
after a sad unpleasantness
he'd stirred. But, just
yesterday, foraging for a
lighter text, to charm my
English Cocker on a first
birthday, I ran into an
exchange which must live
in the extremest echelons
of humour's infamy in print.
Dear reader, avert thy gaze;
discard thy shirt, risk not
the hurt of bursting collar

    You mean Barmy's cousin Egbert from Harrow?
    That's right. The one who shoots Brazil nuts.

    Lord Ickenham was intrigued ..
    Shoots Brazil nuts, does he? You stir me strangely.
    In my time I have shot many things - grouse, pheasants,
    partridges, tigers, gnus and once, when a boy, an aunt
    by marriage in the seat of her sensible tweed dress
    with an airgun - but I have never shot a Brazil nut...
    Not sitting Brazil nuts, I trust?

    It was apparent to the Egg that the old gentleman
    had missed the gist.
    He shoots things with Brazil nuts, he explained.

My very nice little dog, not heretofore known for undue biting of the ankle or hurt-ling into a hearth to chill out against eruptively ex-purgative convulsions from the diaphragm on up, col-lapses from synapses to the toey-tip that tapses, took umbrage also at this waste of scavengeable snackery, for yet another sordid re-port of idle clubmen firing with slingshots at top hats from their windows on the Mall. A truce ceded to him the right to rule on the admissibility of any wit in our relations, in exchange for my not having to share from my libations. I fear condemning laughter to a spontaneous estate, ever an imponderable bliss.


P.G. Wodehouse
Cocktail Time
Simon & Schuster, 1958©

Listening at the Monteleone iv: McClatchy en passant

  The poet, J.D. McClatchy,
  gives pictures which, one
  could say, are blasphemed
  by illustration. At best,
  corrupted. But we know as
  many students of pictures
  who believe they can hear
  them. McClatchy writes to
  be audited by every sense.
  He was here for our first


       .. Angels in his veins
  Weep for their empty sabbath
  and loot his sorrows.
  Stalls in the Market of  
  Silence open next door ..

J.D. McClatchy
Hazmat: Poems
    Rimbaud dying
Knopf, 2004©