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Archive for November, 2008

To Some Ladies

What though while the wonders of nature exploring,
    I cannot your light, mazy footsteps attend;
Nor listen to accents, that almost adoring,
    Bless Cynthia’s face, the enthusiast’s friend:

Yet over the steep, whence the mountain stream rushes,
    With you, kindest friends, in idea I rove;
Mark the clear tumbling crystal, its passionate gushes,
    Its spray that the wild flower kindly bedews.

Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?
    Why breathless, unable your bliss to declare?
Ah! you list to the nightingale’s tender condoling,
    Responsive to sylphs, in the moon beamy air.

’Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping,
    I see you are treading the verge of the sea:
And now! ah, I see it—you just now are stooping
    To pick up the keep-sake intended for me.

If a cherub, on pinions of silver descending,
    Had brought me a gem from the fret-work of heaven;
And smiles, with his star-cheering voice sweetly blending,
    The blessings of Tighe had melodiously given;

It had not created a warmer emotion
    Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you
Than the shell, from the bright golden sands of the ocean
    Which the emerald waves at your feet gladly threw.

For, indeed, ’tis a sweet and peculiar pleasure,
    (And blissful is he who such happiness finds,)
To possess but a span of the hour of leisure,
    In elegant, pure, and aerial minds.

 

John Keats (1795-1821)

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En Francais>Le Ventre de Paris

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/8vntr10.txt in French.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=32NomB4ADC4C&dq=the+belly+of+paris&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=fC-oP15_AU&sig=bNGfeYYBxos2WcWQ47HVhHGVi_M&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA248,M1 in English.

 

This episode in the Rougon-Macquart series is one of the better books I have read from Zola.  It centers on Les Halles, the central food market in Paris at the time.  It is highly class-conscious, though extremely engaging and enjoyable.  There is a brief review of it at the food blog Chocolate and Zucchini which can be seen with this link: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2004/05/the_belly_of_paris.php

I would implore you to read this book, if only for your inner gourmand.

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This little gem was written for the entertaiment of the G.I.’s in World War Deux.  It involves some bums, prostitutes, some down-and-out people, and an incarnation of Steinbeck’s friend Ed Ricketts.Ed Ricketts, courtesy Pat Hathaway,  *www.caviews.com

Seen above^   >

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Ricketts

The inhabitants/outcasts of Cannery Row have succumbed to the tourist trade and been gentrified. Oh well, all good things must come to an end. 

The book disburses a type of realism tinged with sentimentality that is unique to Steinbeck.  For instance when Richard Frost is with Doc, Richard Frost says “I think they’re just like anyone else. They just haven’t any money.”  Doc counters with “They could get it…They could ruin their lives and get money.  Mack has the qualities of genius.  They’re very clever if they want something.  They just know the nature of things too well to be caught in that wanting.”  From the first we find the crew of bums and lag-a-bouts headed by Mack to be the “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men” that Steinbeck makes them out to be throughout the novel.  Always meaning well, these men are almost shallow and pathetic characters that graze the earth of Monterey, California. Their salvation comes when their reputation is at its’ lowest in the Row.  After the first party Mack attempts to explain his existence to Doc: “She got out of hand,’ said Mack. ‘It don’t do no good to say I’m sorry. I been sorry all my life. This ain’t no new thing. It’s always like this…I had a wife…Same thing. Ever’thing I done turned sour. She couldn’t stand it any more. If I done a good thing it got poisoned up some way…I don’t do nothin’ but clown no more. Try to make the boys laugh.” Only when Mack proffers this attempt at a pardon, and he does speak for all the boys, does the darkness fall away and we can see a clear human, one who’s tried and tried and he and only he clearly sees how the cards lay and where he exactly fits in. It is a marvel of observation to read Chapter 21 of Cannery Row.

But as with all good things this book is over very quickly and one must re-read it in order to better appreciate it.  The eminent Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw, whom I consult through her writings on all things Steinbeck, has this to say of the book: “In 1945, however, few reviewers recognized that the book’s central metaphor, the tide pool, suggested a way to read this non-teleological novel that examined the “specimens” who lived on Monterey’s Cannery Row, the street Steinbeck knew so well.”  Here we have a great summation of the novel, Doc’s tireless collecting and the collection of characters that inhabit the Row are merely ornaments of the Day/Night terrestrial tide pool that Steinbeck so lovingly inspected.

 

Some links for further reading:

http://www.steinbeck.sjsu.edu/pdf/Brief_Biography.pdf

http://books.google.com/books?id=CQmjRCj-LNsC&dq=susan+shillinglaw&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=MUpmpEooH_&sig=BnWv3dp4wAN5s4FpsqKJteVVXp8&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result#PPR7,M1

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Heydeguye-a kind of country dance.

From Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender, in June;

But frendly Faeries, met with many Graces,

And lightfote Nymphes can chace the lingring night,

With Heydeguyes, and trimly trodden traces,

Whilst systers nyne, which dwell on Parnasse hight,

Doe make them musick, for their more delight:

 

 If you like English Country Dance Music may I suggest this publication:

http://www.elderly.com/books/items/449-1.htm

 

Or for some aural/visual stimulation check out these contradancers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnQNMi3skus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sbW0fSAX-4&feature=related

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Here a few divergences from your daily routine, I hope you enjoy:

Auctioneer, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.

 

Fiddle, n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse’s tail on the entrails of a cat.

 

Grapeshot, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism.

 

Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.

Don’t fret the entire Dictionary is free from copyright!

Here are the corresponding links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrose_bierce

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Dictionary

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/972

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This spectacular little book encompasses French Poetry from 1950-70. The superb introduction features critic/scholar Edward Lucie-Smith expounding the History of French Poetry from Nerval and Baudelaire to 1970.  The book presents the poetry in its’ original French and with English translation.  The introduction constantly contrasts American/English Poetry and the evolution of French Poetry. While admitting that at some points in their history they have been “tangential” the clear sway of the introduction is that “English Poets had consistently chosen ‘nature’ as opposed to ‘vision’.” You see the French poet today “…is the direct heir of a tradition of visionary revolt that stretches back in an unbroken line to Rimbaud, Lautreamont, Baudelaire and Nerval. Such a tradition cannot be created ad hoc.”  So the French are steeped in Modernism and the English/Americans are always going all pastoral on us. Therefore the time that this book represents is definitely one of uncertainty, as is the moment we are living in now and basically the last 58 years.  What broad definition can we give this time, historically speaking? The parameters for inclusion seem to be what poem is translatable  and, well, the book was published too close to the time the poems were written so there isn’t really a movement identified in the introduction.

By the way Edward Lucie-Smith is fast becoming my favorite critic/scholar/anthologist.

French Poetry Today

Schocken Books

New York, New York

copyright 1971

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From AskOxford.com:

varlet

/vaarlit/

  • noun 1 archaic an unprincipled rogue. 2 historical a male attendant or servant.

  — ORIGIN Old French, variant of valet (see VALET).

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