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Showing posts from May, 2010

Wordsworth: As We Plunge Toward the Conclusion of Book III

Wordsworth continues his theme of proper education and elucidates how one should be instructed.

from The Prelude Book III
William Wordsworth

Majestic edifices, should not want
A corresponding dignity within.
The congregating temper that pervades
Our unripe years, not wasted, should be taught
To minister to works of high attempt—
Works which the enthusiast would perform with love.
Youth should be awed, religiously possessed
With a conviction of the power that waits
On knowledge, when sincerely sought and prized
For its own sake, on glory and on praise
If but by labour won, and fit to endure
The passing day; should learn to put aside
Her trappings here, should strip them off abashed
Before antiquity and stedfast truth
And strong book-mindedness; and over all
A healthy sound simplicity should reign,
A seemly plainness, name it what you will,
Republican or pious.
"Majestic edifices, should not want//a corresponding dignity within."  The phrase makes one think of "white-washed…

Dirda Reviews Robinson

Absence of Mind (via Books Inq.)

Sounds like a fascinating and engaging read.

Wordsworth the Slacker

Yesterday we witnessed Wordsworth partying with Milton's shade.  Today we see Wordsworth talking about the Cambridge experience:

from The Prelude Book III
William Wordsworth

The thirst of living praise,
Fit reverence for the glorious Dead, the sight
Of those long vistas, sacred catacombs,
Where mighty minds lie visibly entombed,
Have often stirred the heart of youth, and bred
A fervent love of rigorous discipline.—
Alas! such high emotion touched not me.
Look was there none within these walls to shame
My easy spirits, and discountenance
Their light composure, far less to instil
A calm resolve of mind, firmly addressed
To puissant efforts. Nor was this the blame
Of others, but my own; So--these things have inspired students in the past, but gosh, I was immune from them.  "Alas! such high emotion touched not me."  And for this, we should be eternally grateful, for if he had been so inspired, we might not have some very, very fine poetry.

In the notes on the page from which I…

Two Banville Moments

That may have something to say of the nature of the work:

from The Infinities
John Banville

Look at him now, unable even to know if his daughter-in-law, like Schrösteinberg's anxiously anticipant cat, is conscious or not, down there in her sealed chamber.

*****
She has had a shock, poor soul, though none here knows of it save she and I. It is said that she is a direct descendant of Charles Blount, eighth Lord Mountjoy and first Earl of Devonshire, that eccentric soldier whom Mary, Queen of Scots, great Gloriana, on her accession to the English throne after the beheading of her cousin, the upstart and treasonous Elizabeth Tudor, sent over at the dawn of the seventeenth century to pacify this most distressful country. In reviews I had not been led to expect what these passages entail.  I'll need to see if the conceit is unraveled as one continues through the book.

This constitutes the third of four possible reads in the realm of the Ancient Greek.  Let's see if I manage this o…

Dancing with the Stars

At Open Culture: Clouds, Stars, and Meteors over the Cotopaxi Volcano

And for true flat earthers evidence either of Earth's rotation or, more importantly the smooth and continuous, harmonious motion of the celestial sphere.

RAH--A Not Entirely Complemenatray Review

Ransom--David Malouf

Ransom is gorgeous.  From first carefully and lovingly crafted sentence to last.  So beautiful at moments that it made me want to cry, and even in the recollection of it and writing this. . . beauty, loveliness, and heart-depth.

from Ransom
David Malouf

The sea has many voices. The voice this man is listening for is the voice of his mother. He lifts his head, turns his face to the chill air that moves in across the gulf, and tastes it sharp salt on his lip. The sea surface bellies and glistens, a lustrous silver-blue--a membrane stretched to a fine transparency where once, for nine changes of the moon, he had hung curled in a dream of pre-existence and was rocked and comforted. He hunkers down now on the shelving pebbles at its edge, bunches his cloak between his thighs. Chin down, shoulders hunched, attentive.

The story is simple--after Achilles' ungodly rage and the death of Hector, after ten days of dragging the hero's body around the city of Troy, after the desecration of the…

The Armadillo and the Skunk

The written correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell

Electronic Literature Directly

Milton and Drinking--More College Life

I could sense that you've been longing for today's installment of Wordsworth and so I offer it.  Perhaps it is just my quirky reading, but I find something very wryly humorous in today's passages.  It is as though Wordsworth is paying homage to the King of the Puritans in his own late eighteenth century way--that is, entirely inappropriately.

After a brief litany of previous poets including Chaucer and Spenser, Wordsworth gives us Milton:

from The Prelude Book III
William Wordsworth

Yea, our blind Poet, who, in his later day,
Stood almost single; uttering odious truth—
Darkness before, and danger's voice behind,
Soul awful—if the earth has ever lodged
An awful soul—I seemed to see him here
Familiarly, and in his scholar's dress
Bounding before me, yet a stripling youth—
A boy, no better, with his rosy cheeks
Angelical, keen eye, courageous look,
And conscious step of purity and pride.
It is one of those impossible images, rather as a child we wondered whether our own…

Martha McPhee

An Older Blog

It's a shame that The Wondering Minstrels appears to no longer be kept by the blogkeeper.  A Poem a day with commentary and if the numbers are any indications there are on the site something on the order of 2000 poems discussed.  So I can see the link as a kind of annotated anthology.  Go, enjoy.

Poetry by Heart

Memorizing poetry is the subject of this short article.  And it is a task to be taken seriously.  You'd be surprised how often it comes in handy.  Pardon a chauvinist moment as I explain.  Son and Father are sitting around waiting as Mother is doing whatever it is that women do that necessitates a nearly complete halt in the proceedings for a protracted period of time.  At that time, when the high, fruity voice emerges from the chamber announcing she is nearly ready to emerge, both son and father have recourse to Andrew Marvell--"Vaster than empires and more slow."

On other occasions, at parties where entirely too much nothing is being said about entirely too many people, and there are far too many poseurs standing about exhibiting everything they don't know, one can simply remember, "In the room women come and go//talking of Michelangelo."  The cautionary tales of Spoon River and "Miniver Cheevy" (among others) cannot be overlooked.  And how many…

After a Century of Silence

No Man is an Island

On the College Front

Now a few words from Wordsworth on the college experience.  To start he tells us about the transformation from country bumpkin to college lad and all that entailed.

from The Prelude Book III
William Wordsworth

It hath been told, that when the first delight
That flashed upon me from this novel show
Had failed, the mind returned into herself;
Yet true it is, that I had made a change
In climate, and my nature's outward coat
Changed also slowly and insensibly.
Full oft the quiet and exalted thoughts
Of loneliness gave way to empty noise
And superficial pastimes; now and then
Forced labour, and more frequently forced hopes;
And, worst of all, a treasonable growth
Of indecisive judgments, that impaired
And shook the mind's simplicity.
Simply enough--when the novelty of the sights and sounds of the Cambridge campus wore off, Wordsworth found himself a fish out of water--quiet thoughts now churning with new noise--meditation and deep thinking giving was to frivolous pastimes that slowly…

Short Note re: Reading

Reading The Prelude has inspired me to consider other lengthy works of poetry that through boredom, neglect, lack of opportunity or interest, I have failed to read in the past.  The first of this panoply to introduce itself for my consideration is Browning's "The Ring and the Book," a novel in poetry written in twelve dramatic monologues--a form at which Browning excelled.

Also, I noted a few days ago the convergence this year of titles dealing with Greek myth.  I have reviewed one below and am presently reading David Malouf's Ransom hard and harsh and not nearly so easily enjoyable as The Lost Books of the Odyssey.  John Banville's The Infinities waits in the wings as a possibility and while perusing the local library shelves I came upon Katharine Beutner's Alcestis, a work I fear may come packed with agenda, but the first few pages of which were quite enjoyable.

"Let me count the ways. . . "

If you have never given it serious consideration, you owe to it yourself to read this week's poem of the week--Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese No. 43. Too often we leave it at its first line and think of it as a mawkish , love-sick paean to late-found romance (if we know enough to think anything at all about it).  But the power, beauty and stirring nature of this poem deserve a protracted consideration, because what is said is said well and truly and perhaps better than anyone of the 19th Century.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey--Zachary Mason

Starting to read this book, I didn't want to like it.  Indeed, I didn't like it--more cutesy postmodern turns on a phrase.  Another in an endless line of redactions and revisions expropriating the literature and culture of another time to our own twisted vision of self and society. No thank you.  I could do without that.

And yet as I read, the book gradually won me over.  The sheer cleverness of the scenarios presented one after another--their interconnections and disparities began to build a kind of mythic reality in itself.  The stories of Odysseus, Hector, Agamemnon, Achilles, Penelope, and all of those we had come to know and love from the Odyssey (and for that matter the Iliad) was appealing.  The view of the Iliad as an ancient manual for a chess-like game which required strict recitation for entry into the guild of chess-players was appealing.  But even more appealing were the cross-walks that Mr Mason built for us.  We meet all the characters of the Odyssey and more--T…

The Tiramisu of the Classical World

My wife discovered Son up extremely early this morning, in bed, and listening to Vivaldi.  His comment:
"Vivaldi is good to listen to because it's like tiramisu because it's light and fluffy and it won't fill you up."

Which seems to describe some of the appeal of Vivaldi quite aptly.

A Day Without Wordsworth is like . . .

well, a day without Wordsworth.  There simply isn't a comparison.  And some of you--I'm not pointing any fingers here, would probably heave an enormous sign of relief if I were to grant you one.  But alas for you, there is to be no reprieve, because what I enjoy, I share in the hopes that I may bring others into the fold to enjoy it as well.

It is germane to start today's journey with a piece of Wordsworth's preface from the Lyrical Ballads.

from the Preface to Lyrical Ballads
William Wordsworth

I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. In this mood successful composition generally begins,
This is germane because otherwise the power…

Always wanted to read Proust? . . .

but never found the time for the complete thing?  Visit Interpolations where a reader's map for condensing In Search of Lost Time is given.  Then expand by going to other reviews of the work of Proust.  Personally, I don't quite understand why one would wish to abridge the experience.  But then chacun á son goût.

An Appreciation of the Magnificent Sigrid Undset

via Books Inq.  An Appreciation of Sigrid Undset

Not enough good can be said.  And now that there is a one-volume updated and modern translation of Kristin Lavaransdatter, there's no excuse not to be in the know.  (The older translation is passable, but tedious and unfortunately, I suspect that much of the readership of Sigrid Undset has been disoriented by some of the odd choices made in that previous translation.  Beautiful, evocative prose.  I suspect my relative coolness toward Hilary Mantel's book is in part a result of my affection for the rich (and necessary) detail and profound sense of place that Sigrid Undset offers in all of her work.  (Mantel's book is great, but it doesn't "remake the historical novel" as so many have claimed for it. So, spend a little time in Medieval Norway and get to know what another great historical novel is all about.

Another Writing Workshop

Wordsworth in Cambridge

The transition from book 2 to book 3 of The Prelude is a little difficult.  Not that the poetry is any less wonderful, but the setting had changed so dramatically that there is a kind of withdrawal into more abstract considerations--certainly worthy of those college years when the carefree days of youth begin to undergo greater codification and abstraction. 

But as I said, the quality of the poetry does not diminish, as in this excerpt that begins the transition from country life to town/city life.:

from The Prelude Book III
William Wordsworth

I was the Dreamer, they the Dream; I roamed
Delighted through the motley spectacle;
Gowns, grave, or gaudy, doctors, students, streets,
Courts, cloisters, flocks of churches, gateways, towers:
Migration strange for a stripling of the hills,
A northern villager.What is intriguing here is the introduction of a kind of solipsism or early separation of Wordsworth from those with whom he will be associating.  "I was the Dreamer, they the Dream. . …

Convergent Publications

Nearly every year it seems that there are subjects, unlikely in books of fiction, which are represented by two or more major publications.  The one I think of off-hand (and about which one of the participants, David Lodge, has written a book) is the publication of two or three major novels concerning the career of Henry James a couple years back (most notably Colm Toibin's The Master and David Lodge's Author, Author--I don't know the timing of Cynthia Ozick's Dictation).  This year it seems that it is the Greek Mythological Cycle that is getting the major attention.  I'm presently reading Zachary Mason's The Lost Books of the Odyssey with David Malouf's Ransom and John Banville's The Infinities on deck.  Mason reflects on incidents in both the Iliad and the Odyssey while Malouf meditates on the ransoming of Hector's body from vengeful Achilles.

I wonder how this thing happens.  Perhaps it is inevitable with so many books published, but it does seem …

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

Listening to "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," we hear from the back seat, "I don't want to rule the world: people would expect me to do stuff."

While coyly calculating, it was still extremely amsuing.

A Lovely Literary Consideration

How We Decide--Jonah Lehrer

One of the few pleasures of traveling away from family is the fact that much reading can be done.  So on the plane flights to and from Chicago, I completed two books.  The first I've already reported on.  The second is for discussion here.

Jonah Lehrer is the keeper of The Frontal Cortex blog and the author of one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books Proust Was a Neuroscientist.  This book has joined the ranks of that and both Sway and Click, as an enjoyable, fascinating, and enlightening read. 

The title says it all--the book is about how different parts of the brain contribute to decision making and how we must allow them to do so.  It enters into the question of how to make extremely complex decisions and how to make simple ones--and it turns out that the means of making those decisions might be counter-intuitive.  Equally counter-intuitive to divided Western Man is Mr. Lehrer's reference to the emotions and emotional center as the brain's "super computer."…

One Last Wordsworthian Word

I promise not to belabor the point, nor to make the reading of this blog a labor by my enthusiasm for a poet who has come to my attention as though for the first time.  That is what most intrigues me.  I've said in my ruminations before that while in college I forced myself through at least part of The Prelude and didn't much enjoy it.  But truth to tell, college courses are largely designed to enforce dislike of the subject matter--you have to read a hundred books in a semester and none of them are given the time that they are really worth.  A whole semester could be devoted to a careful and proper reading of Wordsworth's poem--and probably should have been.  To have it thrown in among a hundred other poems scarcely does the work justice.  In defense of the poor teachers, though, one needs to provide a broad sense of things before diving in deep and so this is a necessary risk in our reading.

College was then, this is now, and I find that Wordsworth speaks to me in the no…

The Three Weissmanns of Westport--Cathleen Schine

Coming off of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and finding mention of this book in the same set of reviews, and seeing that Schine had contributed a laudatory review blurb for the former book, I really wanted to love this book. Described as a modern reworking of the themes of Sense and Sensibility, it certainly seemed promising ground.

And for the first three-quarters of the book or so, it rambles along quite nicely, telling the story of a woman whose 78-year old husband asks her for a divorce after 50 years of marriage and throws her out of her Manhattan apartment to dwell in a small sea-side suburban house with two older daughters who come to join her.  The writing is light and engaging as are the characters and the story rolls along quite nicely.  However, it just doesn't seem ever to jell very well.  One finds oneself tiring of the self-indulgent mother who buys things from home shopping networks and the alternately virago/manipulative sister who bullies everyone.

There are t…

The Dark Night of the Poet?

Book Two of The Prelude has what is referred to by the editor as a notoriously difficult passage for Wordsworth himself and for the reader.  But I think the difficulty of this passage is exacerbated by trying to interpret it in the traditional Wordsworthian framework and not making allowances for vision that exceeds rational grasp.  That is, what is recorded in what follows sounds very, very familiar if you are acquainted with the via negativa.

from The Prelude: Book II
William Wordsworth

For now a trouble came into my mind
From unknown causes. I was left alone
Seeking the visible world, nor knowing why.
The props of my affections were removed,
And yet the building stood, as if sustained
By its own spirit!All that I beheld
Was dear, and hence to finer influxes
The mind lay open to a more exact
And close communion. Many are our joys
In youth, but oh! what happiness to live
When every hour brings palpable access
Of knowledge, when all knowledge is delight,
And sorrow is not there!
What is …

Son's Birthday--Little Blogging

We go to celebrate--at Sea World and then with a tea-party at one of his favorite places of eat.  He'll be able to sit in "special seating" area and drink from the Alice in Wonderland Tea Set.  But first he must try to get Daddy to ride Manta with him.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand--Helen Simonson

In one word--magnificent.  But you will need more than one word.  So--it is beyond comprehension that this is a first book.  The elements of story, character, setting are so tightly bound, so perfectly intertwined, and so absolutely in-tune with one another.  It is as if one had taken the fine-tuned sensibility of a Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer and wedded it to the intricate series of incident and entanglement (but NOT coincidence) that makes up a Dickens plot.

Major Pettrigrew experiences the trauma of losing his younger brother.  In the moment of realization he is receiving a visit from Mrs. Ali who has come to collect the back-pay for the newspaper subscription.  This encounter sparks the action, such as it is of the book. which includes Lords of the manor, at least four romantic entanglements, a golf club party, a raid in Scotland, and a harrowing battle to save a life  But.  Don't look for sword fights and duels and chase scenes and surprises of that sort.  The surprises in…

Wordsworth--Completing the Thought

Yesterday, I kept the excerpt short and to the point.  So short and to the point, that indeed, the point wasn't even there.  And so today, the point.

from The Prelude: Book II
William Wordsworth

Thus were my sympathies enlarged, and thus
Daily the common range of visible things
Grew dear to me: already I began
To love the sun; a boy I loved the sun,
Not as I since have loved him, as a pledge
And surety of our earthly life, a light
Which we behold and feel we are alive;
Nor for his bounty to so many worlds—
But for this cause, that I had seen him lay
His beauty on the morning hills, had seen
The western mountain touch his setting orb,
In many a thoughtless hour, when, from excess
Of happiness, my blood appeared to flow
For its own pleasure, and I breathed with joy. In his ecstasy of auto-mythmaking, Wordsworth recalls not merely his youthful relationship with all things natural, but that relationship as it was changed by aging and by a more materialistic view of the world.  He will g…

Neglected Books

Neglected Books links us to lost classics of the early 20th century

Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others name good books nearly no one has read.  I was gratified to see John Cowper Powys's A Glastonbury Romance on one of the lists.

Michael Dirda on Noir

Gresham's Nightmare Alley reviewed

On the basis of this review--obviously one that I'm gonna hafta read. 

Oh, and note the six-degrees-of-separation from C.S. Lewis.

The Discrete Charm of the Surrealiste

Images from the Codex Seraphinianus

and a longer article referenced in the above:

The Codex Seraphinianus

Bret Easton Ellils

An interview with Bret Easton Ellis--a writer whose work I have both admired and reviled.

Nature and Poetry: More Wordsworth

Made explicit a million times a million times, but so far in nothing so lovely as what follows:

from The Prelude: Book II
William Wordsworth

The garden lay
Upon a slope surmounted by a plain
Of a small bowling-green; beneath us stood
A grove, with gleams of water through the trees
And over the tree-tops; nor did we want
Refreshment, strawberries and mellow cream.
There, while through half an afternoon we played
On the smooth platform, whether skill prevailed
Or happy blunder triumphed, bursts of glee
Made all the mountains ring. But, ere night-fall,
When in our pinnace we returned at leisure
Over the shadowy lake, and to the beach
Of some small island steered our course with one,
The Minstrel of the Troop, and left him there,
And rowed off gently, while he blew his flute
Alone upon the rock—oh, then, the calm
And dead still water lay upon my mind
Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky,
Never before so beautiful, sank down
Into my heart, and held me like a dream!

What then--the idea…

No Reason for it: Wordsworth Again

Other than the fact that I thought it a profoundly lovely moment in the poem:

from The Prelude: Book II
William Wordsworth

When summer came,
Our pastime was, on bright half-holidays,
To sweep, along the plain of Windermere
With rival oars; and the selected bourne
Was now an Island musical with birds
That sang and ceased not; now a Sister Isle
Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown
With lilies of the valley like a field;
And now a third small Island, where survived
In solitude the ruins of a shrine
Once to Our Lady dedicate, and served
Daily with chaunted rites.
To refer to the lake as "the plain of Windermere" is just enough off that it makes for a profoundly stirring image (pardon the pun).  One can see the rowboats moving across the silvered water, and stopping here and there around the lake at little islands encased in trees: "Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert."  Oh, how I wish that modern speech would allow me use of a word as delicate, as lovely, an…

What Goes on in College Dorms

An Interview via The Literary Saloon

Our Daily Sojourn with Wordsworth

Image
I am not a Wordsworth partisan.  If truth be told, I've always found him to be the wimpiest of the romantics, with a couple of good lines in a sprinkling of OK poems.  And now I find myself touting him.  And there is a certain pleasure in having been wrong and being able to discover it at this late date.

from The Prelude--Book II
William Wordsworth

A rude mass
Of native rock, left midway in the square
Of our small market village, was the goal
Or centre of these sports; and when, returned
After long absence, thither I repaired,
Gone was the old grey stone, and in its place
A smart Assembly-room usurped the ground
That had been ours. There let the fiddle scream,
And be ye happy! Yet, my Friends! I know
That more than one of you will think with me
Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame
From whom the stone was named, who there had sate,
And watched her table with its huckster's wares
Assiduous, through the length of sixty years.
I'm told, by the notes on the Gutenberg Edi…

Found at The Little Professor

It does embed, but only poorly, so if you'd like to see it in full wide-screen action, try this.

Reading Finnegans Wake

Finnegans Wake treasure map

I have said before and reaffirm that I do not recommend Finnegans Wake to everyone; but neither do I not recommend it.  That is to say that I will evangelize for Ulysses but I will only sit in the sidelines and cheer when someone proposes to touch the Wake.  I do this because I recognize that the work of the Wake is not to everyone's taste.  I don't think it is outside of any literate person's ability, but I do think it is outside of most literate persons' scopes.  And so, while I don't recommend it aggressively, I am quietly encouraging anyone who has had a hankering for it to read the article referenced and perhaps a few sentences of the story itself.  You'll find yourself enjoying it before you know it.

The Silliness of the Vinylists

How do you listen to a short story

It has been shown the the world's greatest wine critics simply cannot distinguish between an ordinary, off the shelf wine and the greatest of vintages in a blind test.  The great vintage is great by virtue of the hypnotism of labels.

I have listened to the various audiophile arguments about "depth" and "warmth" of sound from vinyl--how it differs not merely in qualitative ways, but the difference can be quantified.  I have owned (for a long time) music from both sources and can say, that I have striven with all due diligence to hear the difference between the two, and the only difference I do here is the lack of static, blips, and creaks in the vinyl, and the introduction of new skips, blips, and creaks in the CD.

A person can convince themselves of anything whatsoever on the slenderest of evidence--and if it gives one great pleasure to think that one is hearing something better, I suppose there's no harm in it.  And recor…

Piano Stairs

Lovely, Vaguely Asian Neo-Classical

Via Books Inq.

On Travelling by Boat at Night

Another passage of The Prelude reaches out and touches me.  Through this whole section I am hearing the poetry of St. John of the Cross (perhaps more about this later)--but then this image strikes and at once as I am thinking St. John of the Cross, I am also thinking of one of China's premier poets--Li Po.

from The Prelude: Book 1
William Wordsworth

Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. It is, at once, lovely and too lovely, perfect in the way that it conveys the sense of motion and the way one perceives that movement.  It is an imagist poem all to itself in the midst of a myth of considerable proportion.

Compare it to these moments from Li Po:


Autumn River Song
Li Po
The moon shimmers in green water.
White herons fly through the moonlight.

The young man hears a girl gathering water-chestnuts:
into the night, singing, they paddle home together.
*****
Alone and Drinking Under the Moon
Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot…

A Borgesian Tale

How to Hold a Mughal Feast

After sampling the wares of the caterer who would supply the feast for the Golf Club dance, Grace remains hesitant.

from Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Helen Simonson

"I wonder if it might be a little spicy for the main course," said Grace, cupping her hand around her mouth as if making a small megaphone. "What do you think major?"

"Anyone who doesn't find this delicious is a fool," said the Major. He nodded his head fiercely at Mrs. Rasool and Mrs. Ali. "However. . . ." He was not sure how to express his firm conviction that the golf club crowd would throw a fit if served a rice-based main course instead of a hearty slab of congealing meat. Mrs. Rasool raised an eyebrow at him.

"However, it is perhaps not foolproof, so to speak?" she asked. The Major could only smile in vague apology.

"I understand perfectly," said Mrs. Rasool. She waved her hand and a waiter hurried into the kitchen. The band stopped abruptly as if the …

At the (Profound) Risk of Boring You

Harold Bloom cites The Prelude as one of the great works of poetry.  And it is.  It is by no means easy--a book-length poem that is semi-autobiographical but not in anything like a confessional sense.  One walks away with a feeling that one knows less about Wordsworth the person than one knows about what Wordsworth thinks about Wordsworth--the myth of Wordsworth as thought by Wordsworth.  And in knowing this, one comes to know better the act of creating a work of art, and wh

Be that as it may--the poem has many wonderful passages that spring upon one unawares.  One's eye travels down the page absorbing more or less standard romantic poetry and imagery and then the standard is shattered and the poem becomes something more.  As in this passage in which the poet laments his own ability to express the interior world that is so rich and so meaningful.

from The Prelude: Book I
William Wordsworth

Ah! better far than this, to stray about
Voluptuously through fields and rural walks,
And ask …

Perhaps the Best Tribute. . .

to the passing of a great lady--Lena Horne sings Stormy Weather

A Bit More Wordsworth

An excerpt from this morning's reading
from The Prelude: Book I William Wordsworth
And now it would content me to yield up Those lofty hopes awhile, for present gifts Of humbler industry. But, oh, dear Friend! The Poet, gentle creature as he is, hath, like the Lover, his unruly times;His fits when he is neither sick nor well, Though no distress be near him but his own Unmanageable thoughts: his mind, best pleased While she as duteous as the mother dove Sits brooding, lives not always to that end, But like the innocent bird, hath goadings on That drive her as in trouble through the groves; With me is now such passion, to be blamed No otherwise than as it lasts too long. When, as becomes a man who would prepareFor such an arduous work, I through myselfMake rigorous inquisition, the reportIs often cheering; for I neither seemTo lack that first great gift, the vital soul,Nor general Truths, which are themselves a sortOf Elements and Agents, Under-powers,Subordinate helpers of the li…