Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Rupert Brooke

Brooke is one of those poets to whom audiences of his own day paid the damaging compliment of overappreciation. Consequently he has been largely forgotten, with the exception of the sonnet beggining "If I should die think only this of me," which invariably turns up in anthologies of all sorts. Regardless of his lack of critical esteem, he had appreciable abilities as a writer of short lyrics and his is one of the era's few accomplished hands with the sonnet. If he had any crippling fault it was trying to out-Byron Byron, who did the job admirably the first time round.


Down the blue night the unending columns press
In noiseless tumult, break and wave and flow,
Now tread the far South, or lift rounds of snow
Up to the white moon's hidden loveliness.
Some pause in their grave wandering comradeless,
And turn with profound gesture vague and slow,
As who would pray good for the world, but know
Their benediction empty as they bless.

They say the Dead lie not, but remain
Near to the rich heirs of their grief and mirth.
I think they ride the calm mid-heaven, as these,
And watch the moon, and the still-raging seas,
And men, coming and going on the earth.


All night the ways of Heaven were desolate,
Long roads across a gleaming empty sky.
Outcast and doomed and driven, you and I,
Alone serene beyond all love or hate,
Terror or triumph, were content to wait,
We silent and all-knowing. Suddenly
Swept through the heaven low-crouching from on high,
One horseman, downward to the earth's low gate.
Oh, perfect from the ultimate height of living,
Lightly we turned, through wet woods blossom hung,
Into the open. Down the supernal roads,
With plumes a-tossing, purple flags far flung,
Rank upon rank, unbridled, unforgiving,
Thundered the black battalions of the gods.


In your arms was still delight,
Quiet as a street at night;
And thoughts of you, I do remember,
Were green leaves of a darkened chamber,
Were dark clouds in a moonless sky.
Love, in you, went passing by,
Penetrative, remote, and rare,
Like a bird in the wide air,
And, as the bird, it left no trace
In the heaven of your face.
In your stupidity I found
The sweet hush after a sweet sound.
All about you was the light
That dims the greying end of night;
Desire was the unrisen sun,
Joy the day not yet begun,
With tree whispering to tree,
Without wind, quietly.
Wisdom slept within your hair,
And Long-Suffering was there,
And, in the flowing of your dress,
Undiscerning Tenderness.
And when you thought, it seemed to me,
Infinitely, and like the sea,
About the slight world you had known
Your vast subconciousness was thrown.

O haven without wave or tide!
Silence, in which all songs have died!
Holy book, where hearts are still!
And home at length under the hill!
O mother quiet, breasts of peace,
Where love itself would faint and cease!
O infinite deep I never knew,
I would come back, come back to you,
Find you, as a pool unstirred,
Kneel down by you, and never a word,
Lay my head, and nothing said,
In your hands, ungarlanded.
And a long watch you should keep;
And I should sleep, and I should sleep!

Friday, March 28, 2008

I saw the new "Macbeth" this afternoon chez Gibbs. It got the Guy Ritchie Gangster Flick treatment through and through. There were a number of people blown away whom I do not recall receiving said treatment in Shakespeare's text, Lady Macbeth has a cocaine addiction, and the witches look like Hogwarts dropouts after a shopping spree at Hot Topic.

I am glad this movie was made. It justifies my thinking that Macbeth is the original Mob Guy's Rise and Fall Movie. Listening to the actual play being read on CD while watching Scarface produces an effect similar to that Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz thing that potheads are always on about.

Look Down About Five Posts

I finished off the first part in a short series of essays on charisma I've been kicking around. For whatever reason though, Blogger chose to paste it as having been published March 1st. So go down about five posts and give me your thoughts/condemnations/accolades (I list them in order of their likelihood).

Love and do what you will,


Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Favorite of C.S. Lewis', I Hear Tell

The Listeners

'Is there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champ'd the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
'Is there anybody there?' he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Lean'd over and look'd into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplex'd and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirr'd and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starr'd and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:-
'Tell them I came, and no one answer'd,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hooves were gone.

-Walter De La Mare-

Movie Recommendation

"Atonement" was good, if you're willing to forgive it its last five minutes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

They Don't Even Know

If you see an Irishman today, make sure to point out to him that Saint Patrick was actually English.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Some Mixed Wisdom from "Le Comedie Humaine"

"The duration of a passion is proportionate with the original resistance of the woman."

"First love is a kind of vaccination which saves a man from catching the complaint a second time."

"Behind every fortune there is a crime."

"No man should marry before he has studied anatomy and dissected the body of a woman."

"Everything is bilateral in the domain of thought. Ideas are binary. Janus is the myth of criticism as well as genius. Only God is triangular."

-Honore de Balzac-

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Three Epitaphs

I strove with none, for none was worth my strife.
Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art:
I warm'd both hands before the fire of life;
It sinks, and I am ready to depart.

-W.S. Landor-

Cast a cold eye
On life, on death:
Horseman, pass by!

-W.B. Yeats-

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

-R.L. Stevenson-

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Birth of Cool

To attempt any comprehensive definition of Coolness is much like trying to gather sunlight in a sieve, and even less likely to shower any reflective credit on the person that attempts it. Even success in this effort makes us at most secretaries to unmindful savants; we make a science of their unconcious gestures and unstrategized charisma, all so that we may seperate the chimeras from the substance of their perfect magnetism.

A friend and I created what I believe was the formal Science of the Cool a few years ago. We arrived at a useful Trinity of Criteria out of which Coolness was variously constituted; namely, talent, the subject's level of awareness of the former, and the level of value at which society estimated the same. We employed our method of evaluation to the satisfaction of our curiosity. In retrospect though, I feel as if a more fruitful inquiry would have begun with the question, "Whence does Coolness originate?" Certainly the Greeks cannot claim the honor of paternity. Each of their foremost heroes, seizing after whatever desire for excellence most consumes him, never quite covers himself in this one. Achilles sees his end, and invites it valiantly, never pausing to allow himself to look to anything other than the consumation of his own arete. He is not cool simply because he is too purposeful, and even when Agamemnon deprives him of his purpose, his spirit and his nerves are drawn too tensely for him to look for any other fascination; he doesn't fall casually in love or take up a thoughtless hobby; probably the moment in which he stands closest to entering the Sanctum of Coolness comes in his initial meeting of the embassage, and his monologue of self justification quickly closes the door to him. Achilles is not Cool, and there is no blaming him for it. He sees the close of his horizons, and no other vista lies open to him. He does not meet the end in stoic morbidity, but with a strange, closed jawed extravagance, an exagerated acceptance of a dismal exit. This may be the truest form of masculinity for those that cannot hope for heaven, or blow smoke rings at hell.

And what of the other heroes? Aeneas falls even farther from the mark. He has a greater reason to stroke his own ego, and less of one to overrate his signifigance. He stands shorter than Achilles, but he stands nearer to history's midday, and so casts a longer shadow. He knows of the harvest of which he is the sower, and which he will not taste. His reward is only peace in a home he has not himself chosen. . .

More Later.