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[sticky post] Stickie introductory post

Characters frequently appearing in this drama:

  • I - your humble narrator, sometime writer and poet (preferred pronoun: he/him/his)

  • Janni - spouse and writer (preferred pronoun: she/her/her)

  • TBD - nom de internet of our child, not yet a writer (preferred pronoun: they/them/their)


Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/632515.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Reading!

Finished since last report:

The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, Ursula K. Le Guin -- vacation reading, and Janni had dibs on A Wizard of Earthsea. It's always nice to return to formative books and remember that they are, in fact, Very Good. I still don't think the tension in Shore between the teen POV needed for a YA and the continuing adventures of a now middle-aged series protagonist is balanced entirely effectively. (It is telling that, in my teenage attempt to write a fantasy by filing off the serial numbers of Shore, I aged not!Ged down considerably.) But even with the shortcomings that Le Guin tried to later rectify, she is very wise, and these are still wonderful books.

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, The Byron. I'm torn. On the one hand, Canto 4 has a lot of the best pure poetry of the whole hodgepodge, plus the Harold character* is finally dropped leaving just The Byron's first person narrator. On the other hand, said narrator spends a lot more time looking at art than nature. Yes, thematic responses to past and recent history have been woven all through, and this continues and expands on that -- but it's nature that provokes the grandest passages, the ones that I most responded to this time through. Good stuff, overall -- and yet. I do wonder whether this work is the best introduction to either High Romanticism or the Byronic Hero.

Poems on Travel, ed. R. M. Leonard, dipped into because I wanted more travelogue poems (see previous). Much excellent stuff, including some new discoveries yay, although most of the selections ended up being descriptions of a place that happens to have been traveled to, rather than about the journey. This is in common with every other anthology of travel verse I've read, including my closest-to-gold standard, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Oxford Book of Travel Verse, so it can be argued it's part of the genre. If this isn't a barrier to you (ETA: nor the limitation to western Europe), this is a decent free anthology on the theme. (If you want an anthology that's just poems describing places, there's also Poems of Places, but that's much, much longer.)

In progress/continuing:

The Englishman in Italy, ed. George Wollaston, a 1909 anthology from Oxford University Press (oh ho!). A little heavy on Unification politics (which still weighed heavily on the mind and this is, after all, a collection about poets' responses to the country) but overall there's still a good selection of both travel poems and descriptions of places. Am ~1/3 through.

Plus more of World of Cultivation -- I wanted something mindless, and this fit the bill; I'm not even sure where the adventure is pointing these days, but the plethorizing of magic-systematics is entertaining enough -- and Way of Choices.


* Who wasn't even mentioned the second half of Canto 3.


---L.

Subject quote in honor of “The Farthest Shore” from “Christus: A Mystery,” Part III: The New England Tragedies, Act I, Henry Longfellow.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/668514.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Since we had Alfred the Tennyson for last week's Poetry Monday, how about an elegy for him?


Death and Burial of Lord Tennyson

Alas! England now mourns for her poet that’s gone—
The late and the good Lord Tennyson.
I hope his soul has fled to heaven above,
Where there is everlasting joy and love.

He was a man that didn’t care for company,
Because company interfered with his study,
And confused the bright ideas in his brain,
And for that reason from company he liked to abstain.

He has written some fine pieces of poetry in his time,
Especially the May Queen, which is really sublime;
Also the gallant charge of the Light Brigade
A most heroic poem, and beautifully made.

He believed in the Bible, also in Shakespeare,
Which he advised young men to read without any fear;
And by following the advice of both works therein,
They would seldom or never commit any sin.

Lord Tennyson’s works are full of the scenery of his boyhood,
And during his life all his actions were good;
And Lincolnshire was closely associated with his history,
And he has done what Wordsworth did for the Lake Country.

His remains now rest in Westminster Abbey,
And his funeral was very impressive to see;
It was a very touching sight, I must confess,
Every class, from the Queen, paying a tribute to the poet’s greatness.

The pall-bearers on the right of the coffin were Mr W. E. H. Lecky,
And Professor Butler, Master of Trinity, and the Earl of Rosebery;
And on the left were Mr J. A. Froude and the Marquis of Salisbury,
Also Lord Selborne, which was an imposing sight to see.

There were also on the left Professor Jowett,
Besides Mr Henry Whyte and Sir James Paget,
And the Marquis of Dufferin and the Duke of Argyll,
And Lord Salisbury, who seemed melancholy all the while.

The chief mourners were all of the Tennyson family,
Including the Hon. Mr and Mrs Hallam Tennyson, and Masters Lionel and Aubrey,
And Mr Arthur Tennyson, and Mr and Mrs Horatio Tennyson;
Also Sir Andrew Clark, who was looking woe begone.

The bottom of the grave was thickly strewn with white roses,
And for such a grave kings will sigh where the poet now reposes;
And many of the wreaths were much observed and commented upon,
And conspicuous amongst them was one from Mrs Gladstone.

The Gordon boys were there looking solemn and serene,
Also Sir Henry Ponsonby to represent the Queen;
Likewise Henry Irving, the great tragedian,
With a solemn aspect, and driving his brougham.

And, in conclusion, I most earnestly pray,
That the people will erect a monument for him without delay,
To commemorate the good work he has done,
And his name in gold letters written thereon!
—William McGonagall



Okay, I jest, in the sense that a sucker punch is a joke. That's not an elegy — it's newspaper verse, in the sense that the poetaster, per his standard operating procedure, ripped his material from the headlines, versifying (I use the term advisedly) the newspaper article in hand as he went. If anyone here actually read all the way through that — and yes, I say this as a challenge — give yourself a pat on the back and/or a stiff drink. I have to admit, though, that what bugs me the most about this … production … is the missing article at the start of the title.

(Why pick out "The May Queen" of all poems? -- It's decidedly minor Tennyson. I'm guessing the tragical sentimentality was pitched right at McGonagall's level.)

—L.

Subject quote from "Late Leaves," Walter Landor.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/668259.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Tags:


Is this an orbital art installation or astronomic grafitti? I'm interested in your thoughts here. (via)

Via Poetry Atlas* ("mapping the world in poetry"), a verse record of journey from Dover to Munich published 1862.

Why Paper Jams Persist. Pull quote: “Printers are essentially paper torture chambers”


* Which would be an actually excellent site if the by-location search results weren't broken.


---L.

Subject quote from "Night Mail," W.H. Audent.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/668022.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday, something that is, again, longer than my 50-line rule-of-thumb -- thus a cut.


The Daisy, Alfred the Tennyson

O love, what hours were thine and mine
In lands of palm and southern pine,—
    In lands of palm, of orange-blossom,
Of olive, aloe, and maize and vine.

What Roman strength Turbìa showed
In ruin, by the mountain road;
    How like a gem, beneath, the city
Of little Monaco, basking, glowed.

How richly down the rocky dell
The torrent vineyard streaming fell
    To meet the sun and sunny waters,
That only heaved with a summer swell.

What slender campanili grew
By bays, the peacock’s neck in hue;
    Where, here and there, on sandy beaches
A milky-belled amaryllis blew.

How young Columbus seemed to rove,
Yet present in his natal grove,
    Now watching high on mountain cornice,
And steering, now, from a purple cove,

Now pacing mute by ocean’s rim
Till, in a narrow street and dim,
    I stayed the wheels at Cogoletto,
And drank, and loyally drank to him.

Nor knew we well what pleased us most,
Not the clipt palm of which they boast;
    But distant color, happy hamlet,
A mouldered citadel on the coast,

Or tower, or high hill-convent, seen
A light amid its olives green;
    Or olive-hoary cape in ocean;
Or rosy blossom in hot ravine,

Where oleanders flushed the bed ... My fancy fled to the South again.Collapse )


This was written in 1853 while his wife was recovering from some pretty serious surgery; they took the described Italian tour in 1851, the year after they finally married. (Emily Tennyson was, btw, the niece of arctic explorer John Franklin.) In 2015, the first draft manuscript was sold for £12,500.)

---L.

Subject quote from "Come down, O maid," from "The Princess," by Alfred the Tennyson.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/667858.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Tags:


“... We must make it our own. We are in this very like him, who having need of fire, went to a neighbour’s house to fetch it, and finding a very good one there, sat down to warm himself without remembering to carry any with him home.”

So here's some more fires:

Quantum entanglement is possible not only for spatially separated particles, which is weird enough, but also temporally separated particles. That … ow. I can grasp how weird spatial entanglement is, even if I can't explain it, but this, I need think it through a few dozen more times before I'll be able to conceive it. (via?)

Roundup of the current status of the lead-crime hypothesis. Tl;dr: Unless you have a pet sociological theory you are unwilling to give up, it's pretty well proven across multiple studies using multiple methodologies, which are rarely contradicted. (via?)

“We are good at reading the unreadable”, the motto of a transcription service for old handwriting. (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "Of Pedantry," Michel de Montaigne.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/667466.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

And sharing owls:

Superb owls. (via)

Also:

Fun with statistics.

Europa Flyover, created from imagery from two Galileo passes back in 1998. (via)

Owl flying over sand dune
Thanks SelimBT / Shutterstock!

In other words, OWLS!

---L.

Subject quote from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - OT.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/667344.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Posting Wednesday, meet Reading Wednesday. Oh, you've met already? Must be a meme going round, then.

Finished since last report:

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl volume 6. Was I disappointed to learn, after Spiderman left the scene with a "Stay thwippy, my friends," that this was said by a fake Spiderman? Yes, I was. Ryan North needs to write an issue of actual Spiderman just to introduce that as a canonical catchphrase. Was I disappointed by the other stories? No, I was not. North needs to keep writing this series for, well, not -ever, but as long as his invention holds out. Especially for the shorter stories he's best at.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl, Faith Erin Hicks, reprint of a webcomic. Went down quickly, but didn't leave much of an impression, aside from "coming of age is hard enough without also being a superhero."

The Blue Poetry Book, ed. Andrew Lang, who apparently published this as the potential start of an anthology series a la the colored fairy books. His taste isn't bad, but the last, oh, third or so was a bit of a slog, there being several ballads of the tedious battle sort (not to mention a gratuitous piece of blood libel).

Eight Treasures Trousseau (八宝妆), Yue Xia Die Ying (月下蝶影, literally Butterfly Shadow Beneath the Moon*), a "historical" romance set in an analog of the Han Dynasty, or possibly (as the female lead seems to think**) Tang Dynasty.*** Said female lead was a contemporary actress in a past life, now reincarnated with memories intact as the daughter of a mid-level noble being married by imperial fiat to a nephew of the Emperor -- apparently to make it harder for him to challenge the current Crown Prince for the throne when succession time comes, though just who is plotting what against whom is big part of the, well, plot. Underhanded imperial politics ahoy. I especially enjoy the moments where the female lead compares her current reality to the tropes of historical dramas she once acted in, and the slowly, carefully revealed network of family relationships and how they get used. I also appreciate that, for all her flaws, the lead treats this as a (full-time) acting job, one she is determined to handle professionally. One advantage of this over the fantasies: at "only" 108 chapters, it is Much Shorter. Content warnings: lead is 16 when she marries, though mentally older thanks to previous-life memories; offstage torture; offstage rape; imperial politics as usual.

In progress at the moment:

I'm still reading Way of Choices, but a bit more slowly, given the previous.

Also, as bedtime reading, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage by The Byron. I've also been poking at various samples of travelogue poetry, of which this one caught hold the strongest -- for this is vivid writing braced with grandeur. The last time I read this, I was in Switzerland, where I read the descriptions of Lake Geneva while riding a train along its shore. No such consonance is available now, but I do have a little more historical knowledge to background some previously obscure passages. One thing that does strike me is that the manner of Don Juan was not a big stretch for the author of this stuff**** -- all he needed was a more ironic pose, instead of just world-weary. Am late in canto 3, at Lake Geneva in fact. Content warnings: high-Romantic Weltschmerz.


* Chinese romance writers have the BEST pen-names.

** She's glad it's not a Qing Dynasty analogue, given the status of women then.

*** So, roughly as related to actual history as Nirvana on Fire, if that helps. FWIW, literary references have been largely to older works (Han poets and The Book of Songs) but a Song Dynasty poem does get quoted.

**** I note that both works are structural messes, albeit for different reasons.


---L.

Subject quote from "Hymn before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouni," Samuel Coleridge -- speaking of high-Romantic stuff.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/667093.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


For Poetry Monday:


Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me prov’d,
    I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.


Yes, I know it's not as good a poem as, say, "That time of year thou mayst in me behold," but this was the first poem I ever memorized and I still love it as an ever-fixed mark.

---L.

Subject quote from Sonnet XIV from "Astrophil and Stella," Philip Sidney.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/666505.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Tags:


I’m not sure which is more startling, that Thomas Hardy wrote a sonnet addressed to the Matterhorn (ETA: link fixed), or that he wrote a sonnet.

—L.

Subject quote from “To the Muses,” William Blake.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/666304.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Link, link, link:

German surfer rides a 35m (115ft) wave off Nazaré, Portugal. A more accurate, if less informative, link text would be !!!!!. (via)

Tracking the lost domesticated crops of woodland North America. (via)

Random archival pictures from In Focus. Come for the tourists watching the sunset on top of the Great Pyramid of Gaza, stay for Amelia Earhart on the roof of the Hyde Park Hotel. (via)

Linky!

---L.

Subject quote from "Buffalo Gals," traditional (adapted from "Lubly Fan," John "Cool White" Hodges).

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/665897.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

... a place for posting bits of fluff caught in my filters. Warning: I list "very bad poetry" among my interests.

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