Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

To Kipple

Interesting news: 50 previously unknown poems by Rudyard Kipling have been found. I look forward to their publication!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Dog Walk

Waning clipped fingernail crescent;
Rising low in eastern sky;
Snuggling under blanket of fog.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Morning Dog Walk

Night snow melting
Blue skies (no pain), hawks
Mid-winter, warm spell

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Collected Shorts of Arthur C. Clarke

I first encountered Arthur C. Clarke pretty early on in reading books beyond the "Dick and Jane" stage. My first "big kid" book was not science fiction (it actually was a mystery adventure and I wish I could find it!), but the second was (Rocket to Limbo by Alan E. Nourse). Arthur C. Clarke was soon after with Islands in the Sky (part of the wonderful John C. Winston Books "juvenile science fiction series"), Sands of Mars and Dolphin Island. That was all there was in the children's section of the library in my town. Then a friend told me about a movie that was coming out, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and how the book was written by Arthur C. Clarke. I went to the library and found it...in the adult section. There were science fiction books in the adult section? Off to the races!

His short stories were a pretty early encounter, mostly in the collections Tales from Ten Worlds and The Other Side of the Sky. Eventually, after moving, I found additional collections such as Expedition to Earth, Reach for Tomorrow, The Nine Billion Names of God, The Wind from the Sun and Tales from the 'White Hart'. Luckily, Clarke was pretty easy to find, given the popularity of 2001: A Space Odyssey (both the movie and the book), leading to a pretty steady series of reprints of all his fiction (and many of his non-fiction works).

With his death in 2008, his books fell out of print and became scarcer and scarcer in the bookstores. There had been some eBook editions, nowhere near a complete set, and even they were withdrawn as rights were lost and his estate seemed to retreat.

Luckily, that was only temporary. A few weeks ago came the announcement that his books were coming back into "print" as electronic editions. So far it appears to be only his fictional works (I hope that at least his essays come back into print as well!), including most (not quite all!) of his short work in a series of collections.

Most but not all, as I said above. There are a few later short works missing, but only a very few. On the plus side, several items that are rarely seen are included in these collections: the original shorter versions of Earthlight and The Deep Range and what became the first part of Childhood's End, as well as The Lion of Comarre, generally only found in a omnibus that the Science Fiction Book Club made extensive use of (containing also the similarly-themed Against the Fall of Night).

Volume 01: History Lesson (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795325045; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Introduction (author unknown); Foreword; Travel By Wire!; How We Went to Mars; Retreat from Earth; Reverie (not previously collected); The Awakening; Whacky; Loophole; Rescue Party; Technical Error; Castaway; The Fires Within; Inheritence; Nightfall; History Lesson; Transience; The Wall of Darkness; The Lion of Comarre (previously only available in a small omnibus of The Lion of Comarre/Against the Fall of Night); The Forgotten Enemy; Hide-and-Seek; Breaking Strain; Nemesis; Guardian Angel (later part of Childhood's End); Time's Arrow; A Walk in the Dark; Silence Please; Trouble with the Natives; The Road to the Sea.

Counts as twenty-nine (29) entries in 2012: The Year in Shorts.

With this collection of the early works by Clarke, it is clear to see how much H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon, two author's who are often cited, influenced him. What is also clear is a name that is not often as mentioned: John W. Campbell, Jr., especially when he was writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart. From Wells he got his style and from Stapledon he got his feeling for deep time. From "Stuart", I think he got a sense of loss, a feeling so clearly felt in stories

It's interesting here to see the genesis of some ideas that echo throughout his career. There are even some "retreads" of a sort: The Awakening and Nemesis both spring from the same root and even share the same passages at times, but have different endings. The same is true of Rescue Party and History Lesson, with the differences being wider. The stories that show the Stuart influence the most include the aforementioned The Lion of Comarre, The Wall of Darkness and Retreat from Earth. The earliest tales in the collection are the weakest (and only for a completist), but it is interesting to see how many stories that are known as Clarke's best were written so early on.

If there is one irritation in this collection (and the others that follow) it is that the person who wrote the introduction is not credited! What the heck, Rosetta?

Volume 02: The Sentinel (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795329050; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Introduction (author unknown); The Sentinel; Holiday on the Moon; Earthlight (original novelette version); Second Dawn; Superiority; "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth..."; All the Time in the World; The Nine Billion Names of God; The Possessed; The Parasite; Jupiter Five; Encounter in the Dawn; The Other Tiger; Publicity Campaign; Armaments Race; The Deep Range (original novelette version); No Morning After; Big Game Hunt; Patent Pending; Refugee.

Counts as twenty-one (21) entries in 2013: The Year in Shorts.

The quality of the stories improves in this collection, with only Holiday on the Moon being weak (probably the reason I never encountered it before). Clarke moves into Twilight Zone territory with a couple of these stories such as The Parasite, Publicity Campaign and Armaments Race. And we've got the genesis of two of my favorite novels by him: Earthlight and The Deep Range.

Volume 03: The Star (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795329081; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Introduction (author unknown); The Star; What Goes Up...; Venture to the Moon (made up of: The Starting Line, Robin Hood F.R.S., Green Fingers, All That Glitters, Watch This Space, A Question of Residence); The Pacifist; The Reluctant Orchid; Moving Spirit; The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch; The Ultimate Melody; The Next Tenants; Cold War; Sleeping Beauty; Security Check; The Man Who Ploughed the Sea; Critical Mass; The Other Side of the Sky (made up of: Special Delivery, Feathered Friend, Take a Deep Breath, Freedom of Space, Passer-By, The Call of the Stars); Let There Be Light; Out of the Sun; Cosmic Casanova; The Songs of Distant Earth (original short story version); A Slight Case of Sunstroke; Who's There?; Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Orbiting...; I Remember Babylon; Trouble With Time; Into the Comet; Summertime on Icarus; Saturn Rising; Death and the Senator.

Counts as twenty-nine (29) entries in 2013: The Year in Shorts.

The last of Clarke's pre-space age stories. Most of these are set in the White Hart, Clarke's fictional bar (much like Gavagan's Bar of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt or Lord Dunsany's tales told by Jorkens in the Billiards Club), where Harry Purvis spun tales which may or may not have been true to an audience that included various science and science fictional characters, including Clarke himself (both named and as "Charles Willis). Venture to the Moon and The Other Side of the Sky are a series of linked shorter works written for the popular (non SFnal) audience. Some of the best here include Out of the Sun (shows very clearly the effect of Olaf Stapledon on Clarke), The Songs of Distant Earth (which later was expanded into novel length), I Remember Babylon (marred in this edition by some very annoying typographical errors), Into the Comet and Saturn Rising. I especially recommend the later to those who say that Clarke never could write about a character or with emotion!

Volume 04: A Meeting With Medusa (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795329111; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Introduction (author unknown); Before Eden; Hate; Love That Universe; Dog Star; Maelstrom II; An Ape Around the House; The Shining Ones; The Secret; Dial F for Frankenstein; The Wind from the Sun; The Food of the Gods; The Last Command; Light of Darkness; The Longest Science Fiction Story Ever Told; Playback; The Cruel Sky; Herbert George Morley Robert Wells, Esq.; Crusade; Neutron Tide; Reunion; Transit of Earth; A Meeting with Medusa; Quarantine; siseneG; The Steam-Powered Word Processor); Old Golden Seas; The Hammer of God (original short story version); The Wire Continuum (w/Stephen Baxter); Improving the Neighborhood.

And with this volume, except for a few scattered stories (one, for example, included in an out-of-print collection of otherwise non-fiction essays), we come to the final installment of Clarke's shorter work. This volume was a real mixed bag of the good and the bad. Stories like The Wind from the Sun, The Cruel Sky, Transit of Earth and A Meeting with Medusa show Clarke at the height of his abilities as a author of short works. On the other hand, during this period he received a lot of requests for short stories and would often dash off bits of "humour" that have not really stood the test of tme (The Longest Science Fiction Story Ever Told). More than worth it for those gems, though.

Counts as thirty (30) entries in 2013: The Year in Shorts.

Addendum: In addition to these new collections, a couple of Clarke's older collections came back into (electronic) print. I'm not sure why these were published and not others (or not all others), but here they are. I'll be reading only the introductory materials (if any) for these collections, given they are all part of the other (newer) collections).

Expedition to Earth (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795325373; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Second Dawn; "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth..."; Breaking Strain; History Lesson; Superiority; Exile of the Eons; Hide and Seek; Expedition to Earth; Loophole; Inheritance; The Sentinel.

Reach for Tomorrow (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795325731; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Preface; Rescue Party; A Walk in the Dark; The Forgotten Enemy; Techical Error; The Parasite; The Fires Within; The Awakening; Trouble with the Natives; The Curse; Time's Arrow; Jupiter Five; The Possessed

Counts as one (01) entry in 2013: The Year in Shorts.

Tales from the "White Hart" (Rosetta eBooks; 2012; ISBN 9780795325885; cover artist not indicated).

Made up of: Preface; Silence Please; Big Game Hunt; Patent Pending; Armaments Race; Critical Mass; The Ultimate Melody; The Pacifist; The Next Tenants; Moving Spirit; The Man Who Ploughed the Sea; The Reluctant Orchid; Cold War; What Goes Up; Sleeping Beauty; The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch.

Counts as one (01) entry in 2013: The Year in Shorts.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

We're Gonna Party Like It's 1984

Samuel R. Delany; 1984: Selected Letters (Voyant Publishing; 2000; ISBN 0-9665998-1-0; cover by Sang Y. Lee and Greg Frux).

Made up of: Introduction by Kenneth R. James; letters from 1983 to 1985 and written to: Robert S. Bravard; Camilla Decarnin; Iva Hacker Delany; Ron Drummond; Victor Gonzales; Marilyn Holt and J.T. Stewart; Gerald Jonas; Tom LeClair; Mrs. Joseph P. Marshall; John P. Mueller; Michael W. Peplow; Joanna Russ; Tom Zummer; Michael W. Peplow; David N. Samuelson; Greg Tate; Bill Thompson; and containing the pieces Breaking the Realist Teacup; A John's Story; Locus Review; In The Once Upon A Time City.

My recent purchases (the wallet has cringed) of books by Samuel R. Delany continues with this collection of letters and essays, covering the period late in 1983, all of 1984, and into the start of 1985. Here we see Delany at the height of his writing (working on the Neveryon cycle), holding forth on music, art, poetry, criticism and crashing against personal matters and the deep pit of financial despair.

There's a lot here, ranging from discussions of books (the wallet cringes as I consider purchase), troubles with publishers, sexual encounters and more. No subject stands by itself in an individual letter, Delany jumps from thought to thought and keeps you entertained throughout. There are occasional style oddities. For example, most names are named in full. If it appears that Delany wants to hide the identity of a person, due to the sensitivity of the comments, he'll hide the name by doing something along the lines of naming a person as A----- B-----. However, this breaks down on occasion, for example when he names Lou Aronica, then at Bantam Spectra, and the problems with Neveryon, the industry, being paid, etc.

A interesting, fun and deep read of a strange and strained period. Recommended.

And occasionally surprising. Given the hoo-hah over Orson Scott Card, and given who Samuel R. Delany "is" (and if you aren't aware of the first and how it relates to the second, do some research!), this was a surprise.

Found your comments on A Woman of Destiny interesting. Orson Scott Card (called Scott by his friends) is an awfully interesting (and good!) man. I overlapped with him by a day or two at the last Clarion I taught. I saw A Woman of Destiny—a whole lot of copies of it—in a large dump at the front of Shakespeare & Co. some months back, and felt happy for him and for the distribution; read a page, and thought, well, maybe, someday, if I have time..."


Counts as fifty-eight (58) entries in the 2012 Year In Shorts.

The post-reading summing up: Delany meets with Umberto Eco, learns that Thomas Pynchon is a "big fan", discourses on language, science fiction, relationships and more. The non-letter installments varied a bit, particularly of interest was the In The Once Upon A Time City piece, which outlined how difficult it was to correct old typographical errors in Dhalgren while preventing new ones from creeping in. The highlight (emotional, informational) was the thirty-eighth letter (to a friend, Camilla DeCarnin) which included a rundown on those friends who stated they could no longer read his books after one certain point or the other because he, get this, changed as a writer.

Highly recommended if you have read other works by Delany; not a good place to start if you never have read Delany.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Best in One

Gene Wolfe; The Very Best of Gene Wolfe (PS Publishing Ltd.; 2009; ISBN 978-1-848630-27-7; cover art by J.K. Potter).

I first encountered Gene Wolfe between the pages of Damon Knight's annual Orbit series, in which I first encountered other life-long jewels such as Kate Wilhelm, Samuel R. Delany and Harlan Ellison. Wolfe and Delany were both more "out there", at least to my very young reading eyes, than Ellison and Wilhelm (and others).

The next encounter with Wolfe came when I first started dating the woman who would later become my wife. She gave me the paperback editions of Wolfe's (arguably) most famous work, Timescape Books paperbacks of The Book of the New Sun (The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator, The Sword of the Lictor, The Citadel of the Autarch). Inspired by Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance and relative to the works of another Timescape-published author, M. John Harrison (the Viriconium stories), it was an amazing read.

Time went by, occasionally Wolfe would come out with something and I would pick it up. Eventually I joined the Urth Mailing List, where a small(ish) group of fans spend an amazing time picking the tales apart and finding stuff that I've never noticed (it goes, for the most part, above me; I have not read these books and stories to the same depth!).

(Here's the thing about Wolfe. He works on many levels. I read the New Sun books as a straightforward science fictin or fantasy series set on a dying planet, like the Jack Vance Dying Earth tales. But, visit again and like a jewell that is rotating, you see a new face, you notice new details. Wolfe is a writer that pays for the attention you give him. Eventually you get to be like the folks on the Urth Mailing List.)

One list member suggested a read of Wolfe's shorter works in May. Wolfe's Shorts? In any case, as I probably will need a running start to get through a month of Wolfe in that period of time, I'm starting earlier, with this volume.

(Caveat time: there is a similarly named volume from Tor which has all but one of the stories that this volume has plus it is missing the introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson. You'll find it easier to buy, as this edition that I have, from PS Publishing, was a limited edition. Signed by the author. Take that!)

The introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson is interesting, but I have a feeling that he is not operating at the same depth as some members of the Urth Mailing List. Hints are dropped of a second volume. Count me in.

The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories: I recall reading this in Orbit, but other than the title nothing stuck with me. What was reality here? Did Edgar Rice Burroughs collide with William Faulkner?

The Toy Theater: A nice little story about puppets and puppeteers. This reminded me strongly of Alfred Bester in terms of plot and character. A good thing.

Made up of: Introduction: "A Story" (Kim Stanley Robinson); The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories; The Toy Theater; The Fifth Head of Cerberus; Beech Hill; The Recording; Hour of Trust; The Death of Dr. Island; La Befana; Forlessen; Westwind; The Hero as Werwolf; The Marvelous Brass Chessplaying Automation; Straw; The Eyeflash Miracles; Seven American Nights; The Detective of Dreams; Kevin Malone; The God and His Man; On the Train; From the Desk of Gilmer C. Merton; Death of Dr. Island; Redbeard; The Boy Who Hooked the Sun; Parkroads—a Review; Game in the Pope's Head; And When They Appear; Bed and Breakfast; Petting Zoo; The Tree Is My Hat; Has Anybody Seen Julie Moon?; A Cabin on the Coast; Christmas Inn.

Counts as three (3) entries in the 2012 Year in Shorts.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Poem 01

Dead skunk in road
Black white and red smear
What a stench!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday, December 09, 2011

Lycidas

Is the poem Lycidas by John Milton the source of titles for several important works of science fiction?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

(William Butler Yeats)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

...and Later?

"We've left blood in the dirt of twenty-five worlds,
we've built roads on a dozen more,
and all that we have at the end our hitch,
buys a night with a second-class whore.

"The Senate decrees, the Grand Admiral calls,
the orders come down from on high,
It's 'On Full Kits' and sound 'Board Ships,'
We're sending you where you can die.

"The lands that we take, the Senate gives back,
rather more often than not,
so the more that are killed, the less share the loot,
and we won't be back to this spot.

"We'll break the hearts of your women and girls,
we may break your arse as well,
Then the Line Marines with their banners unfurled,
will follow those banners to Hell.

"We know the devil, his pomps and his works,
Ah yes! we know them well!
When we've served out our hitch as Line Marines,
we can bugger the Senate of Hell!

"Then we'll drink with our comrades and lay down our packs,
we'll rest ten years on the flat of our backs,
then it's 'On Full Kits' and 'Out of Your Racks,'
you must build a new road through Hell!

"The Fleet is our country, we sleep with a rifle,
no one ever begot a son on his rifle,
they pay us in gin and curse when we sin,
there's not one that can stand us unless we're down wind,
we're shot when we lose and turned out when we win,
but we bury our comrades wherever they fall,
and there's none that can face us though we've nothing at all."
...and Now...

When you’re lying alone in your Afghan bivvy,
And your life it depends on some MOD civvie
When the body armour’s shared (one set between three),
And the firefight’s not like it is on TV,
Then you’ll look to your oppo, your gun and your God,
As you follow that path all Tommies have trod.

When the gimpy has jammed and you’re down to one round,
And the faith that you’d lost is suddenly found.
When the Taliban horde is close up to the fort,
And you pray that the arty don’t drop a round short.
Stick to your sergeant like a good squaddie should,
And fight them like satan or one of his brood

Your pay it won’t cover your needs or your wants,
So just stand there and take all the Taliban’s taunts
Nor generals nor civvies can do aught to amend it,
Except make sure you’re kept in a place you can’t spend it.
Three fifty an hour in your Afghani cage,
Not nearly as much as the minimum wage.

Your missus at home in a foul married quarter
With damp on the walls and a roof leaking water
Your kids miss their mate, their hero, their dad;
They’re missing the childhood that they should have had
One day it will be different, one day by and by,
As you all stand there and watch, to see the pigs fly

Just like your forebears in mud, dust and ditch
You’ll march and you’ll fight, and you’ll drink and you’ll bitch
Whether Froggy or Zulu, or Jerry, or Boer
The Brits will fight on ‘til the battle is over.
You may treat him like dirt, but nowt will unnerve him
But I wonder sometimes, if the country deserves him.
Then...

When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!

Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of one of those favorite Fall/Winter objects: the Pleiades (also known as The Seven Sisters). What did the poet have to say?

Locksley Hall (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)


COMRADES, leave me here a little, while as yet 't is early morn:
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn.

'T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call,
Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall;

Locksley Hall, that in the distance overlooks the sandy tracts,
And the hollow ocean-ridges roaring into cataracts.

Many a night from yonder ivied casement, ere I went to rest,
Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly to the West.

Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.

Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When the centuries behind me like a fruitful land reposed;
When I clung to all the present for the promise that it closed:

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.--

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Then her cheek was pale and thinner than should be for one so young,
And her eyes on all my motions with a mute observance hung.

And I said, "My cousin Amy, speak, and speak the truth to me,
Trust me, cousin, all the current of my being sets to thee."

On her pallid cheek and forehead came a colour and a light,
As I have seen the rosy red flushing in the northern night.

And she turn'd--her bosom shaken with a sudden storm of sighs--
All the spirit deeply dawning in the dark of hazel eyes--

Saying, "I have hid my feelings, fearing they should do me wrong";
Saying, "Dost thou love me, cousin?" weeping, "I have loved thee long."

Love took up the glass of Time, and turn'd it in his glowing hands;
Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might;
Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring,
And her whisper throng'd my pulses with the fullness of the Spring.

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships,
And our spirits rush'd together at the touching of the lips.

O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!
O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren, barren shore!

Falser than all fancy fathoms, falser than all songs have sung,
Puppet to a father's threat, and servile to a shrewish tongue!

Is it well to wish thee happy?--having known me--to decline
On a range of lower feelings and a narrower heart than mine!

Yet it shall be; thou shalt lower to his level day by day,
What is fine within thee growing coarse to sympathize with clay.

As the husband is, the wife is: thou art mated with a clown,
And the grossness of his nature will have weight to drag thee down.

He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,
Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.

What is this? his eyes are heavy; think not they are glazed with wine.
Go to him, it is thy duty, kiss him, take his hand in thine.

It may be my lord is weary, that his brain is overwrought:
Soothe him with thy finer fancies, touch him with thy lighter thought.

He will answer to the purpose, easy things to understand--
Better thou wert dead before me, tho' I slew thee with my hand!

Better thou and I were lying, hidden from the heart's disgrace,
Roll'd in one another's arms, and silent in a last embrace.

Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth!
Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!

Cursed be the sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule!
Cursed be the gold that gilds the straiten'd forehead of the fool!

Well--'t is well that I should bluster!--Hadst thou less unworthy proved--
Would to God--for I had loved thee more than ever wife was loved.

Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears but bitter fruit?
I will pluck it from my bosom, tho' my heart be at the root.

Never, tho' my mortal summers to such length of years should come
As the many-winter'd crow that leads the clanging rookery home.

Where is comfort? in division of the records of the mind?
Can I part her from herself, and love her, as I knew her, kind?

I remember one that perish'd; sweetly did she speak and move;
Such a one do I remember, whom to look at was to love.

Can I think of her as dead, and love her for the love she bore?
No--she never loved me truly; love is love for evermore.

Comfort? comfort scorn'd of devils! this is truth the poet sings,
That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.

Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof,
In the dead unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof.

Like a dog, he hunts in dreams, and thou art staring at the wall,
Where the dying night-lamp flickers, and the shadows rise and fall.

Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to his drunken sleep,
To thy widow'd marriage-pillows, to the tears that thou wilt weep.

Thou shalt hear the "Never, never," whisper'd by the phantom years,
And a song from out the distance in the ringing of thine ears;

And an eye shall vex thee, looking ancient kindness on thy pain.
Turn thee, turn thee on thy pillow; get thee to thy rest again.

Nay, but Nature brings thee solace; for a tender voice will cry.
'T is a purer life than thine, a lip to drain thy trouble dry.

Baby lips will laugh me down; my latest rival brings thee rest.
Baby fingers, waxen touches, press me from the mother's breast.

O, the child too clothes the father with a dearness not his due.
Half is thine and half is his: it will be worthy of the two.

O, I see thee old and formal, fitted to thy petty part,
With a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter's heart.

"They were dangerous guides the feelings--she herself was not exempt--
Truly, she herself had suffer'd"--Perish in thy self-contempt!

Overlive it--lower yet--be happy! wherefore should I care?
I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by despair.

What is that which I should turn to, lighting upon days like these?
Every door is barr'd with gold, and opens but to golden keys.

Every gate is throng'd with suitors, all the markets overflow.
I have but an angry fancy; what is that which I should do?

I had been content to perish, falling on the foeman's ground,
When the ranks are roll'd in vapour, and the winds are laid with sound.

But the jingling of the guinea helps the hurt that Honour feels,
And the nations do but murmur, snarling at each other's heels.

Can I but relive in sadness? I will turn that earlier page.
Hide me from my deep emotion, O thou wondrous Mother-Age!

Make me feel the wild pulsation that I felt before the strife,
When I heard my days before me, and the tumult of my life;

Yearning for the large excitement that the coming years would yield,
Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's field,

And at night along the dusky highway near and nearer drawn,
Sees in heaven the light of London flaring like a dreary dawn;

And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
Underneath the light he looks at, in among the throngs of men:

Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do:

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.

There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.

So I triumph'd ere my passion sweeping thro' me left me dry,
Left me with the palsied heart, and left me with the jaundiced eye;

Eye, to which all order festers, all things here are out of joint:
Science moves, but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point:

Slowly comes a hungry people, as a lion, creeping nigher,
Glares at one that nods and winks behind a slowly-dying fire.

Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns.

What is that to him that reaps not harvest of his youthful joys,
Tho' the deep heart of existence beat for ever like a boy's?

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and I linger on the shore,
And the individual withers, and the world is more and more.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers, and he bears a laden breast,
Full of sad experience, moving toward the stillness of his rest.

Hark, my merry comrades call me, sounding on the bugle-horn,
They to whom my foolish passion were a target for their scorn:

Shall it not be scorn to me to harp on such a moulder'd string?
I am shamed thro' all my nature to have loved so slight a thing.

Weakness to be wroth with weakness! woman's pleasure, woman's pain--
Nature made them blinder motions bounded in a shallower brain:

Woman is the lesser man, and all thy passions, match'd with mine,
Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine--

Here at least, where nature sickens, nothing. Ah, for some retreat
Deep in yonder shining Orient, where my life began to beat;

Where in wild Mahratta-battle fell my father evil-starr'd,--
I was left a trampled orphan, and a selfish uncle's ward.

Or to burst all links of habit--there to wander far away,
On from island unto island at the gateways of the day.

Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
Breadths of tropic shade and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise.

Never comes the trader, never floats an European flag,
Slides the bird o'er lustrous woodland, swings the trailer from the crag;

Droops the heavy-blossom'd bower, hangs the heavy-fruited tree--
Summer isles of Eden lying in dark-purple spheres of sea.

There methinks would be enjoyment more than in this march of mind,
In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake mankind.

There the passions cramp'd no longer shall have scope and breathing space;
I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.

Iron-jointed, supple-sinew'd, they shall dive, and they shall run,
Catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl their lances in the sun;

Whistle back the parrot's call, and leap the rainbows of the brooks,
Not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books--

Fool, again the dream, the fancy! but I know my words are wild,
But I count the gray barbarian lower than the Christian child.

I, to herd with narrow foreheads, vacant of our glorious gains,
Like a beast with lower pleasures, like a beast with lower pains!

Mated with a squalid savage--what to me were sun or clime?
I the heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time--

I that rather held it better men should perish one by one,
Than that earth should stand at gaze like Joshua's moon in Ajalon!

Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.

Thro' the shadow of the globe we sweep into the younger day;
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay.

Mother-Age (for mine I knew not) help me as when life begun:
Rift the hills, and roll the waters, flash the lightnings, weigh the Sun.

O, I see the crescent promise of my spirit hath not set.
Ancient founts of inspiration well thro' all my fancy yet.

Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall!
Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof-tree fall.

Comes a vapour from the margin, blackening over heath and holt,
Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt.

Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail, or fire or snow;
For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beauty

Lobachevsky alone has looked on Beauty bare.
She curves in here, she curves in here.
She curves out there.

Her parallel clefts come together to tease
In un-callipygianous-wise;
With fewer than one hundred eighty degrees
Her glorious triangle lies.

Her double-trumpet symmetry Riemann did not court-
His tastes to simpler-curvedness, the buxom Teuton sort!
An ellipse is fine for as far as it goes,
But modesty, away!
If I'm going to see Beauty without her clothes
Give me hyperbolas any old day.

The world is curves, I've heard it said,
And straightway in it nothing lies.
This then my wish, before I'm dead:
To look through Lobachevsky's eyes.


(Roger Zelazny, Doorways in the Sand)