As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins
God, I seriously have the weirdest dreams. Last night, it was about the Council of Elrond. While the Council was deciding what to do with the Ring, the Auditors from Discworld showed up and decided to break up the Council (in some way that was never really explained) so that the Ring and everyone else would stay put in Rivendell and give up all this heroic-journeying nonsense. Tom Bombadil, who was there for some reason, had to call on a "higher power" (Iluvatar?) to stop the Auditors from ruining everything.
Yeah, I'm... having dreams about Tom Bombadil. >_> At least he didn't sing. But he was very huge and his boots were, indeed, yellow.
Say, it appears to be April Poetry Month. ( Have some Ogden Nash.Collapse )
by Stephen Crane
A man saw a ball of gold in the sky;
He climbed for it,
And eventually he achieved it--
It was clay.
Now this is the strange part:
When the man went to the earth
And looked again,
Lo, there was the ball of gold.
Now this is the strange part:
It was a ball of gold.
Aye, by the heavens, it was a ball of gold.
(untitled, from This Side of Paradise)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The last light fades and drifts across the land--the low, long land, the sunny land of spires; the ghosts of evening tune again their lyres and wander singing in a plaintive band down the long corridors of trees; pale fires echo the night from tower top to tower: Oh, sleep that dreams, and dream that never tires, press from the petals of the lotus flower something of this to keep, the essence of an hour.
No more to wait the twilight of the moon in this sequestered vale of star and spire, for one eternal morning of desire passes to time and earthy afternoon. Here, Heraclitus, did you find in fire and shifting things the prophecy you hurled down the dead years; this midnight my desire will see, shadowed among the embers, furled in flame, the splendor and the sadness of the world.
(I read this novel last year, and had some criticisms it overall, but this I liked. It's a bit overwrought, intentionally I presume, but very pretty.)
April Poetry month. Stephen Crane themed this year, because I like him and because his poems are short. Later I may throw in some other poetry as well, if I'm not too lazy.
by Stephen Crane
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial
Who, squatting upon the ground
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
All right, well, having survived yet another Chemistry exam and yet another Russian exam, I'm back to have another go at April Poetry Month... and having, on a whim prompted by hamsterwoman
, mocked the Millay poem I posted a few days ago
, I now bring you another Millay poem, this one concerning Euclid
, along with a humorous riposte-poem by Roger Zelazny, concerning Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky
(who developed non-Euclidean geometry). Always falling in with the Russians, that Zelazny, isn't he? ;)
So, for you lovers of mathematics -- behold, poems of geekery. Actually, the first is quite chastely magnificent, and the second, quite roguishly fun. Have a look. I, meanwhile, am off to sleep.
( Euclid Alone Has Looked On Beauty BareCollapse )
And in reply:
( Lobachevsky's EyesCollapse )
Dirge Without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
( Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you...Collapse )
I don't remember when or how I first stumbled across Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Dirge Without Music," but it's one of the most beautiful poems I've ever read, and the sentiment behind it, or at least the light in which that sentiment is expressed, is one that ( I haven't quite seen anywhere else before.Collapse )
All right, so I failed to put up any poetry yesterday -- but I'll make up for it later, and in the meantime, here's that frightfully ambitious post I mentioned a couple of days ago. (I suppose it would be fair to say that his post sets up the context for all the rest of my Poetry Month posts, and, heck, probably for every other literature post I've ever made.)
Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism
is a very long poem, so I won't produce the text here in full; but have a link
, and with it my most ardent encouragement to read it through. It's amazing how precisely Pope, three hundred years dead, can still find out all the flaws and stupidities of literature and literary criticism -- and how much aspiring writers (and critical readers) of the present day can still learn from him. His poem is a bit like The Elements of Style
in verse, only broader, wittier, and more subjective. I've read it a number of times, always with the same amaze and delight, and basked in every damnably clever line of it. Really, I cannot possibly overstate how much I adore this poem. Yes, I know, it's an essay
-- on criticism
, of all prosaic things -- but nonetheless, I tell you, it is fucking beautiful.
Behind the cut: ( some of my favorite parts of the poem, with commentary and, occasionally, squeeing.Collapse )
(...Whew. Can you believe this is the sort of thing I look forward to doing with my spare time? o_O)
I do love this poem, but I have no energy to comment on it at the moment. Fortunately, unlike most of the other poems I enjoy, it doesn't really need much commenting on; hence my posting it now rather than something else. I'll make up for it with something very ambitious tomorrow (which, consequently, no one will read... but whatever).
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Do I have time for this? Heck no. But I'm doing it anyway.
So. Today's selection isn't actually a poem at all, but rather the last six stanzas from Magnyfycence
, a morality play written by John Skelton sometime around 1515. Of course, morality plays, as a rule, are rather ridiculous, even if you leave Pierre Gringoire out of the question; but still there's something quaintly and naively charming about them, I find. The cast of incarnate human conditions in Magnyfycence
include the ever-popular Lyberte, Felycyte, Poverte, Dyspare, Myschefe, and so on, along with a few more obscure characters such as Cyrcumspeccyon, Perseveraunce, Frantic Fansy Service (whatever that
is), Crafty Conveyaunce (er?), Courtly Abusyon, and Counterfet Countenaunce.
...All right, yes, I have to admit, imagining a troupe of anachronistically French players lumbering about in pasteboard signs that say "Dyspare" and "Courtly Abusyon," while Pierre Gringoire runs around in his threadbare surcoat directing them importantly, is most of the fun of reading morality plays. But.
In any case, there are a few interesting moments in this particular morality play; or at least, I rather enjoy its medieval melodramatic proselytyzing, its archaisms, and its surprising modern moments. The meter and rhymes have survived improbably intact, too, which delights me for some reason. My favorite bit is the ending (well, rather, a part very closely preceding the ending; not the actual "Jhesus preserve you frome endlesse wo and shame, Amen" part o_O), and so this I present, transcribed for your convenience into legible English, because otherwise my keyboard's letter Y myght overtyre and nevere woryk agayne.( Suddenly thus fortune can both smile and frown: /
Suddenly set up; and suddenly cast down.Collapse )
And here, because it really is more fun this way, is the original version, copy-pasted
in all its inscrutable pre-dictionarian glory:( This treatyse deuysyd to make you dysporte /
Shewyth nowe adayes howe the worlde comberyd isCollapse )
I'd say more about the play, and probably also about Pierre Gringoire, if I didn't have to be in class with my homework done within the hour, but for now, I guess I'll leave off here. Feel free to mock -- you can be sure that my Marlowe icon is, characteristically, doing likewise. ;)
If that's the word I'm after.
A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP
Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.
So. Attempting to participate in April Poetry Month just now, when I barely have enough extra minutes in the day to even look at LJ as it is, is possibly the stupidest idea I've ever had. But at least I'm off to a recantable start: if I fail to post any more poems for the whole rest of the month, I can always just say, "April Fools!"
As to the above, it is, I think, my favorite of Piet Hein's grooks, at least from the collection
to which hamsterwoman
introduced me (they're all brilliant -- go have a look). I must have died laughing the first time I read it, because oh, how frequently guilty I am of pretending to let chance have its way, and really doing exactly what I didn't know I intended to do all along. "Was that a fair flip?" "I think this coin is topheavy." "How about two out of three?"
A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith, if in nothing else at least in the law of probability...