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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)

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

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

Are these art or science? You decide.

Transient 2: a mix of stormcloud timelapses and lightning slomo. (via)

Plate tectonics, geologists are learning, is more complicated than the simple model you learned in school. (via)

People Matching Artworks. (via)


Subject quote from A Channel Crossing, Algernon Swinburne.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/737559.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday, more Millay -- because Millay.

Love Is Not All, Edna St. Vincent Millay (again)

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.


Subject quote from Afterglow, Genesis.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/737394.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


For Poetry Monday:

“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,” Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.


Subject quote from Isaiah 38:12.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/737188.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Links, links.

Poems William Carlos Williams Revised After Being Told By His Agent To Do More Plums Content. Bonus: I Will Alarm Islamic Owls. (via, which has more goodies in comments)

The story of the infortuante dictionary scam. (via)

More Sumerian proverbs. (via, where a comment corrects the grammar of one of the obscure translations)
The dog understands: "Take it!" It does not understand: "Put it down!"
The quick one hid, the strong one fled; the voluble one succeeded in getting into the palace.


Subject quote from UET 6/2 306.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/736659.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Current household earworm:

How many
Jewish holidays
Have you heard
On one foot
In three words?

Rosh Hashana
World was born
World was born
Toot the horn


Subject quote from Lochinvar, Walter Scott.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/736318.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday, something not exactly appropriate for the new year, but it’s next on my list:

“Is my team ploughing,” A.E. Housman

“Is my team ploughing,
    That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
    When I was man alive?”

Ay, the horses trample,
    The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
    The land you used to plough.

“Is football playing
    Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
    Now I stand up no more?”

Ay the ball is flying,
    The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
    Stands up to keep the goal.

“Is my girl happy,
    That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
    As she lies down at eve?”

Ay, she lies down lightly,
    She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
    Be still, my lad, and sleep.

“Is my friend hearty,
    Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
    A better bed than mine?”

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
    I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
    Never ask me whose.

Ah, Housman …


Subject quote from America a Prophecy, William Blake.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/736124.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Eaglet’s Chinese name has surprisingly a complicated history. Their records use two spellings: 冰璇 and 冰旋, both read as Bīngxuán in Mandarin.* Given they are both acceptable as personal names,** one can see how the former with its uncommon character (which was intended by their namers***) got typo’d as the latter (which is on the official IDs). Lemme blow those up a bit:

璇 ≠ 旋

If you omit the skinny 王 from the left side of the former, you get the latter, which changes “fine jade” and a highfalutin’ name for 𝛽 Ursae Majoris into “revolve/loop around/return.” The 冰 in both cases means “ice.” We have sometimes joked that somewhere along the way, someone mistook an icy star (冰璇) for a comet (冰旋).

Anyway, for official purposes, we spell it 冰旋 as per official papers, but prefer 冰璇, which feels more accurate to their personality.

Though out loud among family, we usually use Bīngbing (when not using $Englishname).

* Pronounced roughly /beeng-shüen/, with a high-steady pitch and then start-middle-and-rise pitch. That the part rendered as -a- in pinyin comes out closer to /eh/ than /ah/ used to trip me up, but if you get the /ü/ correct that part mostly autocorrects.

** The former comes across to native speakers I’ve talked with as refined in a literary way and the latter as somewhat common.

*** One of whom told us some of this history.


Subject quote from Bright Ideas, Greg Laswell.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/735962.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday:

Deer, John Drinkwater

Shy in their herding dwell the fallow deer.
They are spirits of wild sense. Nobody near
Comes upon their pastures. There a life they live,
Of sufficient beauty, phantom, fugitive,
Treading as in jungles free leopards do,
Printless as evelight, instant as dew.
The great kine are patient, and home-coming sheep
Know our bidding. The fallow deer keep
Delicate and far their counsels wild,
Never to be folded reconciled
To the spoiling hand as the poor flocks are;
Lightfoot, and swift, and unfamiliar,
These you may not hinder, unconfined
Beautiful flocks of the mind.


Subject quote from Flare, Mary Oliver.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/735589.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Reading Wednesday, yays, and sponges are indeed on the menu.

Read aloud to Eaglet:

Monkey King volumes 9-11, adaptation Wei Dongchen, art Chao Peng -- As Janni noted, the story’s over-the-top-ness is entertaining, and it just keeps growing. And we’re just over halfway through. Eaglet, of course, enjoys the pee jokes (and has decided to be Sun Wukong for Halloween). More volumes soon.

A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology</i>, stories Heather Alexander, art Meredith Hamilton -- More of the same as the previous mythology story book, with a wider range of sources and actual explainers about the setting and scenarios. Have not actually read every single story, but many have been both multiply read and personally retold.

Dinosaur Empire!, story and art Abby Howard — A dense (and as Eaglet noted, rather talky) explainer about the evolution of dinosaurs and allied reptiles of the mesozoic, with lots of nods to smaller and cuter species. I learned a lot myself from this, and I’m still cracking over the idea of a paleontologist keeping her time-and-space machine in her streetside recycling bin (and her blithe handwaving that the travelings are all "Science Magic"). We’ve started the sequel, Ocean Renegades!, covering the paleozoic, but progress has been slowed by other books, such as ...

Mighty Jack & Zita the Space Girl, story and art Ben Hatke -- Yes, the conclusion of this trilogy is a crossover. A good story well threaded, though Zita’s presence did have unfortunate effect of diluting Lily and generally weakening the emotional impact of her and Jack’s arcs. I continue to rec both this and Zita’s series. :grabs collars: Read this stuff!

Cleopatra in Space volume 1, story and art Mike Maihack -- I’m not yet clear why it was necessary to make the destined savior of the galaxy a fifteen-year-old Cleopatra VII mysteriously time-traveled to the far future (where she is, to her disgust, still made to study algebra) aside from giving the book a vaguely retro-Egyptian art style, but the results are cool so I’m rolling with it. Eaglet gobbled it up like pancakes fresh out of the pan, and is demanding more. Fortunately, four more are out and available through the library.

In progress silent:

Chaotic Sword God (混沌剑神), Xinxing Xiaoyao (心星逍遥, "Heart-Star Free and Unfettered") -- Since my current mindless Chinese fantasy adventure reading is currently limited to the translator's speed, I settled on this to scratch the extended itch. Not as well-written (the repetitive overwriting is redundantly annoying) and by-the-numbers, but so far nothing actively offensive enough to make me drop it. Up to chapter 240.

Chinese Lyricism, Burton Watson -- Another slow thinky chapter.

Plus keeping current with the five Chinese webnovel fantasies mentioned last time. And a handful of early readers in Mandarin.

On hold:

Assassin Farmer, Xi Zhen -- Caught up with translation at chapter 102. Remains a fluffy romance sweet enough to induce diabetes, even though his former sect of assassins and her body's former family have shown up to complicate things. More please?


Subject quote from SpongeBob SquarePants Theme Song.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/735325.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday, more self-indulgence.

Shangguan Wan’er (664?-710) was at various times a palace slave, personal secretary, concubine to two emperors, and right-hand woman and prime minister to Empress Wu Zetian. She was noted in her time for both her poetry and the elegant prose she used when drafting edicts. Back when I wrote RPF about her and her poems, I knew basically no Chinese and relied on others’ translations. Now I can do my own. FWIW, thirty-odd poems of hers survive, including these three.

The third month of the winter season, in the Jinglong Reign:
Ten-thousand chariots as sentry guards, departing from Ba River.
I see afar the lightnings frolic, dragons as their steeds—
I turn to stare at the frosty plains, the fields seemingly jade.

The phoenix banners are trailing out, shaking off the sky;
Black cavalry horses’ feathered hooves tread upon beams of light.
Hidden, hidden, Mount Li rises high above the clouds;
Far, far away, the imperial tent is open to the sun.

Emerald tent with gemstone sides—an open moonlit camp;
Golden wine-jar and jade wine-cup—a floating orchid petal.
Year after year, age after age, always his escort makes way;
For long and long, for ever and ever, music ascends harmonious.





The emperor in question is Zhongzong, during his second reign (707-710), and the outing began on 16 January 709. The palace was in the foothills of Mt. Li, a few days from Chang’an by slow imperial procession, and the springs made it a popular imperial retreat in winter. To stand sentry on lookout is literally “watch the wind.” The Ba River (now called Bahe River) ran past the eastern wall of Chang’an (if not inside: it’s hard to tell on old maps).

When she wrote these, Shangguan Wan’er was a high-but-not-highest rank imperial concubine, and in alliance with Empress Wei was one of the powers running the government, in particular controlling the Secretariat. She’s writing courtier poetry, designed to celebrate the occasion and flatter her in-practice nearly powerless husband. There’s a lot of technical virtuosity on display, including multiple synonyms and increasing piles of reduplicative words.

Which makes them notably different in style and manner from, for example, random samples from 300 Tang Poems. This is partly because they’re courtier poems (a genre omitted from that anthology because Confucian moralism) but partly because they’re old-fashioned. The style we think of as “Tang Poetry” was still jelling almost a century into the dynasty, and Shangguan Wan’er grew up reading and writing poetry more like that of the Six Dynasties period: ornate, elaborated, with more figurative language than direct images. She was, at this point in her life, a leading literary figure—one about to be eclipsed by changing fashions and politics (she would die in a year and a half in the succession struggle following Zhongzong’s death).

(I suspect not much damage would be done by wrestling these literal translations into rhyme, thus giving them appropriate ornamentation.)


Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/735130.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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