Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shadwell Stair

Shadwell is Thomas Jefferson's
father's estate, now notable as
a filling station at a glossy
planned unit development of er-
satz gentry fantasy. It is also 
the name of something important.

   I am the ghost of Shadwell Stair.
   Along the wharves by the water-house,
   And through the dripping slaughter-house,
   I am the shadow that walks there.

   Yet I have flesh both firm and cool,
   And eyes tumultuous as the gems
   Of moons and lamps in the lapping Thames
   When dusk sails wavering down the pool.

   Shuddering the purple street-arc burns
   Where I watch always; from the banks
   Dolorously the shipping clanks,
   And after me a strange tide turns.

   I walk till the stars of London wane
   And dawn creeps up the Shadwell Stair.
   But when the crowing sirens blare
   I wish another ghost am lain.

Wilfred Owen
The Collected Poems
  of Wilfred Owen
    Shadwell Stair
C. Day Lewis, editor
Chatto & Windus, 1963©

Horace at your back vii: only one thing

     You occupy the nest; I praise
     the brooks of the lovely coun-
     tryside, its woodland and rocks
     overgrown with moss. In short, 
     I know life and am a king of the
     moment, I leave behind those
     things you extol to the heavens
     with loud applause, and, like the
     slave who refuses the sacrificial
     cakes from his master the priest,
     it is bread I want and now prefer ..

     I am dictating these lines to
     you behind Vacuna's crumbling
     shrine, happy in everything
     else apart from not having 
     your company to share.

I like it, that one
studies pretty stren-
uously with this son
of a slave. I like it,
that there is always
more. I like it, that
so many of the minds
I admire, walk around
in his consciousness.
The rigor they accept
is infectious, a bond.

  Through the years, the 
  hexameters, flows an  
  uncanny demonstration. 
  The strain is nothing.  
  One is being imagined.

20 BC
John Davie
Satires and Epistles
  Epistles I, 10
op. cit.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Short conversations in July

     Pinkie and Gooey
     are giving us a
     dinner dance at
     Piping Rock, and 
     you're taking me.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Origins of Wednesday v: fortune's pivot point

    What turns its face too soon, too late.

Hazmat: Poems
  In the Valley
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004©

Arthur Devalbray
  photographer unknown

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New experiences

I enjoyed a salad of
day, right in front of
a guy who's always cit-
ing that line from Eliot
Meanwhile, I was feeling
slightly sorry for Apple.
It was warm, but not un-
comfortable, and readings
fell to hand without

ii  Lucas Plazón

Monday, July 21, 2014

Does anybody want the story on Gaza?

Should not a posting on the
eternal debaucheries in the
sacredly contested niche be-
tween good and evil, find a
way of furnishing fuller de-
tail? So one may think, un-
less it meant inconvenience
to the horses, much less to
the breakfast table. Yester-
day it must have been truly
awful to have been Mr Kerry,
and have to explain knowing
nothing and vouching for it
at the same time. He called
to mind the child starved on
propaganda, furiously reknot-
ting its drawstring in shame.

It was with gauze of excep-
tional dispensation, in that
gruesomely loaded slogan and
begging question we uncritic-
ally recite, right to exist.

     Yet in the fulness of his
     experience, if not of its
     utility, and holding the
     position that he does, as
     something of a custodian
     of a generation eligible
     now to be destroyed, one
     would assume he'd be wil-
     ling to dispense with sub-
     jecting listeners to apol-
     ogies preparing for it. We
     know, they study Orwell at
     St Paul's.

George Orwell
Politics and the
  English Language
op. cit.

Mortal open secrets written down

   Thus, in the choice of a
   Devil, it hath been the
   usual Method of Mankind,
   to single out some being,
   either in Act, of in Vi-
   sion, which was in most
   Antipathy to the God they
   had framed.. For I think
   it one of the greatest,
   and best of human Actions
   to remove Prejudices, and
   place Things in their tru-
   est and fairest Light..

   In the 18th Century this
   language went public, in
   an outpouring of satiric
   contests; its brilliants
   simmered somewhat merci-
   lessly, a mode unfortun-
   ately more imitable than
   their means. As Jonathan
   Swift retreated to Let-
   combe, his close allies
   looked in, to cheer him
   up: Dr Arbuthnot, Alex-
   ander Pope, a few others.

   Arbuthnot was attending
   the dying Queen, Pope
   was translating Homer,
   and Swift was readying
   an abdication to Dublin.
   They were losing a hard
   political struggle to-
   gether, but the language
   kept their relics close,
   almost as its conscience.

Never repeat that melancholy tender word, that you will endeavour to forget me. I am sure I can never forget you, till I meet with (what is impossible) another whose conversation I can delight so much in as Dr Swift's: and yet that is the smallest thing I ought to value you for. That hearty sincere friendship, that plain and open ingenuity, in all your commerce, is what I am sure I can never find in another, alas. I shall want often a faithful monitor, one that would vindicate me behind my back and tell me my faults to my face. God knows I write this with tears in my eyes.

Jonathan Swift
A Tale of a Tub
op. cit.

Arbuthnot to Swift
  August, 1714

Leo Damrosch

Jonathan Swift
  His Life and His World
Yale University Press, 2013©

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How does Putin differ from Reagan?

    With Putin, it
    was unintended.

   It would be unseemly now
   to enrich our umbrage by
   referencing the manifest
   of MH17. But hypocrisy's
   never stopped us before.
   Possibly HIV can serve a-
   gain to inflame loathing.

i     Alessio Pozzi
ii    Marc Frick
iii   Abel van Oeveren