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For Poetry Monday, another modern sonnet:

Partridges, John Masefield

Here they lie mottled to the ground unseen,
This covey linked together from the nest.
The nosing pointers put them from their rest,
The wings whirr, the guns flash and all has been.

The lucky crumple to the clod, shot clean,
The wounded drop and hurry and lie close;
The sportsmen praise the pointer and his nose,
Until he scents the hiders and is keen.

Tumbled in bag with rabbits, pigeons, hares,
The crumpled corpses have forgotten all
The covey’s joys of strong or gliding flight.

But when the planet lamps the coming night,
The few survivors seek those friends of theirs;
The twilight hears and darkness hears them call.

Masefield wrote this in 1936, when he was already Poet Laureate.


Subject quote from Laura, an Imitation of Petrarch, William Jones.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/712116.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


Okay, so it's been a while again since my last Reading Wednesday accounting ...


Mighty Jack and Mighty Jack and the Goblin King, story and art Ben Hatke, being both books of a duology in the same universe as Zita the Space Girl -- Read aloud to TBD, who snorked them down even more enthusiastically than Zita and demanded immediate rereads. Learning that Hatke's next book, Mighty Jack and Zita the Space Girl, will be published shortly before their birthday prompted squeals of delight. (NB: It has since been pushed out to next September, the same day as the next Hilda book.) Like Zita, there's a good blend of thematic meat with the adventure, here refracted through a folkloric lens instead of space opera. Note that Jack is in his early teens, instead of Zita's unspecified pre-teens -- though the age difference does not seem to have been a barrier.

The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, story and art Dav Pilkey -- Another read-aloud, snorked-and-reread graphic novel, this one a spinoff from Captain Underpants. Amusing potty humor abounds. Reread a few times.

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, story and art Nie Jun, tr. Edward Gauvin -- Another read-aloud and reread graphic novel (and TBD immediately started demanding bedtime stories about the characters). Four magic-realist stories about a young girl with mobility issues being raised by her grandfather in a Beijing hutong (traditional neighborhood). Lovely, lovely stuff, and the atmosphere reminds me of a certain manga (such as Aria). FWIW Yu'er's disability does cause issues but is not linked to any magic.

Monkey King volume 8, adaptation Wei Dongchen, art Chao Peng -- Another manhua read-aloud. This installment covers the adventure of the Gold- and Silver-Horn Kings (chapters 33-35 of Journey to the West), and treats Pigsy with all the dignity he deserves. (Yes, that's a joke.) Looking for more, yah.

The Magic Tree House volumes 1-2, Mary Pope Osborne -- Also, yes, read aloud to TBD. If these stick -- not a given, as there's some ambivalence -- this series should last us a while. Of course, it didn't hurt that they're already interested in the subjects of these two volumes, namely dinosaurs and medieval European knights. (I've not been noting down all the books about castles, knights, arms, and armor we've gotten through.)

Plus as part of Yuletide research, a few translations of Gilgamesh materials -- the ones of note being the two from Penguin Classics, the recent Andrew George version with All The Fragments and the older N. K. Sandars version synthesizing the fragments to date into a unified prose narrative. In fact, I didn't actually finish any other translations, as these two were clearly better for both reading and fic'ing purposes.

And bunches of Yuletide 2018 fics, to be partially noted in a recs post when I've digested more.

In progress:

My Disciple Died Yet Again (我家徒弟又挂了), You Qian (尤前) -- Comedy xianxia, in which a contemporary woman is reincarnated into a fantasy world ... several times over, each time as the disciple of the same cultivation master, one so old and detached from the world as to be an active danger to her. Genre-savvy gamer protagonist for the win, which means lots of skewering genre conventions. Entertaining popcorn. Up to chapter 36 (of 393).

On hold:

Genius Doctor: Black Belly Miss (絕世神醫:腹黑大小姐), North Night (夜北) -- LCD reincarnation xuanhuan with an amusing if overpowered female protagonist and an irritating if even more overpowered love interest. Very short chapters made for quick munching in times of little brain. Unfortunately, most characters are not very realized except as props for increasingly elaborate and unrealistic revenge fantasies, and the growing grimdark details have been leaving enough bad taste in my mental mouth that I switched at chapter 1225 (out of over 2000 translated, 3123 total) to ...

... Insanely Pampered Wife: Divine Doctor Fifth Young Miss (爆宠狂妻:神医五小姐), Shan Gumu (扇骨木), a reincarnation xianxia with an amazing number of identical story elements with Genius Doctor, remixed into more of a pure-fun adventure yarn. Would still be reading it (despite the sloppy translation) if I hadn't run out of chapters at 353. (ETA: At which point, the Fifth Young Miss is not only nowhere near close to being a wife, pampered or otherwise, but has been living the entire book disguised as a young man for Reasons, and even sometimes acting the beard for her best female friend to keep her from unwanted attentions.)

Which means Phoenix Destiny remains the only xianxia I've been keeping up with chapters as they release, currently chapter 193. Best female protagonist Chinese fantasy I've found yet. ETA Annnnd a couple more chapters just dropped --- with a freaking Monkey King joke YESSSS FTW.


Subject quote from anyone lived in a pretty how town, e.e. cummings.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/711547.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Art, art, goose music:

Ivan Aivazovsky's stunning seascapes. (via)

Wacław Szpakowski's linear art. (via, which has more links)

The Hu's folk-metal on traditional Mongolian instruments with throat-singing. Wolf Totem is especially metal.


Subject quote from 1999, Prince and The Revolution.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/711180.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


For Poetry Monday, a sonnet on the same subject, in its way, as Farjeon's Peace:

Epic, Patrick Kavanagh

I have lived in important places, times
When great events were decided; who owned
That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land
Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.
I heard the Duffys shouting ‘Damn your soul!’
And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
Step the plot defying blue cast-steel—
‘Here is the march along these iron stones’
That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
Was more important? I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer’s ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.

Kavanagh (1904–1967) was an Irish poet and novelist. A rood is about a quarter acre. I cannot decide whether the last sentence is the ghost or the poet speaking. (Admittedly, this matters less for interpretation than Keats versus the Grecian urn.)


Subject quote from Safe in Your Arms, Beth Orton.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/710947.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


For Poetry Monday, more modern sonnets:

Peace, Eleanor Farjeon


I am as awful as my brother War,
I am the sudden silence after clamour.
I am the face that shows the seamy scar
When blood and frenzy has lost its glamour.
Men in my pause shall know the cost at last
That is not to be paid in triumphs or tears,
Men will begin to judge the thing that’s past
As men will judge it in a hundred years.

Nations! whose ravenous engines must be fed
Endlessly with the father and the son,
My naked light upon your darkness, dread!—
By which ye shall behold what ye have done:
Whereon, more like a vulture than a dove,
Ye set my seal in hatred, not in love.


Let no man call me good. I am not blest.
My single virtue is the end of crimes,
I only am the period of unrest,
The ceasing of horrors of the times;
My good is but the negative of ill,
Such ill as bends the spirit with despair,
Such ill as makes the nations’ soul stand still
And freeze to stone beneath a Gorgon glare.

Be blunt, and say that peace is but a state
Wherein the active soul is free to move,
And nations only show as mean or great
According to the spirit then they prove.—
O which of ye whose battle-cry is Hate
Will first in peace dare shout the name of Love?

Farjeon (1881-1965) was a writer and poet known especially for her children's stories (she won both the Carnegie and Hans Christian Andersen medals). Her best-known lyric is the hymn "Morning Has Broken," largely because of the Cat Stevens recording. This appeared in a 1918 collection.


Subject quote from 32 Flavors, Ani DiFranco.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/710838.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


What Is Glitter? subtitled "a strange journey to the glitter factory."

Life-sized cut-out paper octopus. (via)

How to measure the size of the earth from your backyard using a stopwatch, a tape measure, and a wall with a view of the horizon: part 1, part 2, part 3. (via)


Subject quote from After dark vapours have oppressed our plains, John Keats.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/710527.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

Yuletide reveal -- I wrote She Who Saw the Deep for [archiveofourown.org profile] Rubynye for the Epic of Gilgamesh, featuring Gilgamesh/Enkidu/Shamhat. If you're scratching your head over that last name,* she's the woman who "civilized" the wild man Enkidu with six days and seven nights of continuous sex. This is a story of their next meeting, after Gilgamesh and Enkidu have one of those off-stage adventures that happen between the Cedar Raid and the Bull-slaying, showing the reward Shamhat received for introducing the king to a blood brother who embraces him as a wife.

Tags include Unexpected Visitors, Poetry, Ritual Sex, Okay So They Skip the Ritual Part of the Sex, Theophany, Everyone's Hot for Enkidu, and Thick Beer. You shouldn't need deep canon knowledge, beyond who the main characters are.

The detail I'm most pleased with is that every sentence spoken** by Enkidu longer than four words is a Sumerian proverb. The detail I most regret is that I didn't manage to rationalize and include a hierarchy, with distinct roles, for priestly titles of qadishtu, naditu, entu, harmitu, et cetera -- nor work out plausibly which actually had ritual duties that include sex. There is, to put it mildly, too much we don't know. My handwave is that this is a branch temple in a small village that cannot support all of them (especially any known-to-be high-ranked qadishtu).

(I am also tickled at the idea of claiming yet another of Heracles's adventures is an echo of a Mesopotamian original.)

It was fun to write and the recipient seems pleased, so I call it a success.

* No shame in this -- some translations don't even name her.

** As opposed to sung, natch.


Subject quote from Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802, William Wordsworth.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/710093.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

For Poetry Monday, another modern sonnet:

Bookmarks, Thomas Hornsby Ferril

A bookmark for an album such as this
Should be a ribbon with a cross-stitched phrase
Pressed neatly into Milton's hymns of praise,
Yet here is none, but in this book of his
That crossed the prairies with him long ago,
I find pale blades of buffalo grass to tell
Sweet pages where he could love Philomel,
And Phyllida and Cynthia and Chloe.
Here is a wedding song, stained by a leaf
Of mountain aspen, plucked when June was ripe;
If he marked other verse, I find no more,
But on one page, attuned to death and grief,
Are ashes from the embers of his pipe,
That must have spilled and did not reach the floor.

Ferril was a Denver-based journalist and poet. His first collection was the 1926 winner of Yale Younger Poets Competition, and he served as Colorado's poet laureate 1979-1988. I found this in an anthology of poems of the American west.


Subject quote from In Memoriam A.H.H., section 67, Alfred the Tennyson.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/709855.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


I received a lot of Yuletide gifts this year — seven (7!), in three of my four requested fandoms, including one crossover and several in verse. I am stocked in Squee for the next several weeks.

The disconnected one first, fulfilling a prompt I’ve requested before:

The Way, being Tang Dynasty RPF with Li Bai and Du Fu as, well, not exactly the wandering swordsman of wuxia (there’s no martial-arts battles) but it plays quite nicely with many wuxia tropes. That is very Li Bai behavior. I am very pleased.

The other two fandoms are both poems, McGonagall’s “The Tay Bridge Disaster” and Housman’s “Hell Gate.” (They’re short. You have time to refresh your memory of canon.)

My Yulemouse was assigned the latter, and wrote an excellent backstory fic: A Life, a Death, on how the narrator got where to the literal gates of Hell. Well told, and dovetails neatly into canon.

Yulemouse then turned around and retold “Hell Gate” in the manner of William McGonagall: The Gate Of Hell, Or, On The Redemption Of Souls. It is glorious. Content warnings: period-typical moralizing, crashing rhymes. Has such classic lines as “And he was visible because he was on fire” and “Our soldier recognised her too / Because at one time they had lived in the same avenue.” This is my favorite gift of the season. Go — read it, and be amazed.

Something about requesting “The Tay Bridge Disaster” struck a chord, because the rest of my gifts are for it:

The most astonishing is De Tavi Pontis Clade Carminis Fragmenta: Newly Discovered Fragments, which provides the “original Latin” of the opening and closing lines, with the “traditional translation” and a more literal rendition for comparison. So, yes, it’s McGonagall in Virgilian hexameters. Sample is in the subject line, literally “of which we will be mindful through many centuries.”

(My Latin is not good enough to evaluate the verse style - can anyone comment on how McGonagallian it is?)

Seven Views of the Tay Bridge Disaster retells the events of the disaster as seen by seven, er, entities involved — in regular (i.e. not McGonagallian) verse. Excellent interpolations, ending on a stunning note.

Fifteen Ways to Die Horribly at Wormit Bay on 28 December, 1879, is another retelling, in the style of Daphne Gottlieb’s “Fifteen Ways to Stay Alive”. “Wear chapstick when kissing the Tay Bridge.”

Finally, William MacGonagall Was His Own Disaster is not directly a fic on the canon but rather, well, the main relationship tag is an accurate summary: William MacGonagall/the massacre of the English language. His life, told in McGonagallian verse.

Eeeeeeee! I say.

FWIW, I wrote one story, one that probably looks very like a My Kind Of Story, but since Yuletide is a large haystack I suspect few will actually find it before the reveal. Recipient squee’d well, which is the important thing.


Subject quote from De Tavi Pontis Clade, Gulielmus McGonagall.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/709430.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.


For Poetry Monday, how about a self-conscious sonnet:

Shakespearean Sonnet, R.S. Gwynn

A man is haunted by his father's ghost.
A boy and girl love while their families fight.
A Scottish king is murdered by his host.
Two couples get lost on a summer night.
A hunchback murders all who block his way.
A ruler's rivals plot against his life.
A fat man and a prince make rebels pay.
A noble Moor has doubts about his wife.
An English king decides to conquer France.
A duke learns that his best friend is a she.
A forest sets the scene for this romance.
An old man and his daughters disagree.
A Roman leader makes a big mistake.
A sexy queen is bitten by a snake.

Gwynn is a contemporary New Formalist, if you didn't know.


Subject quote from The Life of King Henry the Fifth, Prologue, William Shakespeare.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/709132.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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