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The Howling Infinite

August 26, 2010



Ulysses’ heart now began to fail him, and he said despairingly to himself, “Alas, Zeus has let me see land after swimming so far that I had given up all hope, but I can find no landing place, for the coast is rocky and surf-beaten, the rocks are smooth and rise sheer from the sea, with deep water close under them so that I cannot climb out for want of foothold.”

– The Odyssey, Book V, trans. by Samuel Butler

…as in landlessness alone resides highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God–so better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land!

– from Chapter 23 – “The Lee Shore”, Moby Dick, Melville



Home is the hunted, home from the hills…and it’s raining–of course.

Far be it from me to compare myself to Ulysses [very far indeed, you pretentious fucking twerp-Ed.] For one thing, Poseidon has always been remarkably co-operative, what with sending me fish to catch and not drowning me in his wine-dark sea. But I, like Ulysses, have ‘…travelled far and wide… and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted;’ However, unlike that canny wanderer, I don’t have an Ithica.

That’s to say, I don’t have a place that I feel a deep and permanent connection to; a place above all others that I yearn to return to. I’m one of those not-at-all-unusual late 20th century people who are essentially rootless; or to be more precise, someone with a foot firmly planted in two very different cultures, neither of which I feel completely at home in.

In a way, I think it’s rather liberating. The concept of ‘patriotism’, of fealty to some geographical location or political entity strikes me as not merely absurd but completely baffling. Loyalty to family, to friends, to a cause, an idea, even to a dream–these I can understand. Loyalty to a place simply because I was born there or my family’s roots are there–this strikes me as beyond stupid: it’s bizarre.

But returning ‘home’ has got me thinking about what exactly constitutes ‘home’. The old saying has it that ‘home is where the heart is’; the Catalans have maintained, these many centuries past, that ‘home is where the hearth (llar de foc) is’.

Home, for me, is where my wife and children, my cat and dog, my books and music and assorted, accumulated knick-knackery are…I think.

What does ‘home’ mean to you? Is it an actual physical place? Or is it, as in my case, more a particular set of circumstances, the presence of those people and things which mean most to you?

Give us a poem on ‘home’, whatever it means (or doesn’t mean) to you.

  1. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 26, 2010 11:12 PM

    One of your holiday snaps? Lovely bracelet, but you could lose a few pounds round the hips.

  2. mishari permalink*
    August 26, 2010 11:29 PM

    That’ll be all the chestnut-fed pigs I’ve been stuffing into my gaping maw. A week or so of wind-sprints in pursuit of overly-ambitious bicycle thieves will take care of that. The beard’s going, though. Only the depraved, the degraded and the hygienically dysfunctional have beards…

    Home On The Firing Range

    Home is where the heart is
    Mine’s in a kitchen drawer
    The bloody awkward part is:
    Remembering what it’s for.

    It doesn’t pump the blood much
    My claret barely moves;
    It rarely gets a clutch, as such,
    Which I think nicely proves:
    I’m basically unshockable
    And hardly feel at all;
    But that small drawer’s unlockable
    Should ever duty call
    To feel something, oh, wild surmise:
    A thrill, a spill or some surprise.

    If QE 11 should abdicate
    Or Sting stop loving Sting
    Or Mowbray learns to fornicate
    Without that leather thing.

  3. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:01 AM

    Almonds, walnuts, chestnuts-it’s a nutter’s paradise.

    I think you’ve lost your blog roll.

  4. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:05 AM

    Thanks for pointing it out. I hadn’t noticed. I’ll sort that momentito. Hope all’s well with you and yours? And this new theme isn’t too hard on your ancient peepers?

  5. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:16 AM

    Yes, all well, thanks for asking. And you? It’s hard to believe you’re not tearing what remains of your hair out after several weeks in the wilderness, but your family is no doubt more civilised than mine has ever been.

    I’ve zoomed to 125%, which is OK.

  6. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:28 AM

    All in the pink (well, walnut-brown, actually) [bloody nuts again? Get a grip-Ed.]. I think I’m experiencing that brief and happy period wherein my children are quite fond of me and even accord me a modicum of respect. Soon, of course, I will become a combination of boredom personified/evil incarnate.

    That’s when I sell them all to the white (-ish) slave trade…

  7. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:30 AM

    Hello Mishari, nice to see you again.

    Ed, went to The Illusionist with my son tonight, sweet, sad, looked beautiful, but left me feeling a bit indifferent. More jelly tots, sorry MM. It’s nostalgia, building little towers with the different colours, a millefeuille of teeth-clinging chewiness.

    Sunday Mornings

    Waking to the sound
    of incessant tapping
    on his Royal typewriter
    My lovely luddite father

    Orienting myself to the pristine room
    Mother’s handiwork
    My eyesore luggage thrown on the other bed

    Donning an ill-fitting robe to preserve my modesty
    In case Uncle Lawrence calls
    To regale us with his too tall but topping tales

    Drinking coffee with my makers
    Talking politics with Dad
    While Mam rolls her eyes
    And wonders how long the lamb will take


  8. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:33 AM

    cover my …. preserve my modesty, sorry.

    I’m afraid my offering has no place beside yours Mish. I blame it on the new format.

  9. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:40 AM

    Thanks, sweetie…it’s nice to be back at the old on-line doss-house. You want ‘cover’ changed to ‘preserve’? Say the word. Your wish is my command, oh regal one…

  10. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:44 AM

    If you would please, feel free to rewrite the poem too!x

  11. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 12:51 AM

    Nonsense. I like it very much. Much better than my facetious doggerel. The ‘cover’ was a miniscule, late-night infelicity that you clocked instantly. You painted a charming miniature– at 1 in the morning, no less. Give yourself a Twirl. MM’s probably got one handy…

  12. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:59 AM

    Yes, but I haven’t got MM handy to tap for one. My last week off work so I am allowed to stay up late, sometimes even ’til two. Wild isn’t the word. Hanging out surfing with the boy child. We should probably talk to each other but the odd smile is being exchanged over the laptops.

  13. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 1:10 AM

    I’m at that ‘so-knackered-I-can’t sleep’ stage. Got home early this evening, earlier than I’d planned (was going to return next weekend) but Inez insisted that she needed to shop for the kids before school starts, so I bade farewell to my beloved Hispania with a heavy heart and even heavier luggage –walnuts, almonds, a neighbour’s home-made aguardiente (made from local plums and absolutely lethal stuff. I’m sipping at it now, just in case I should need to initiate a very large explosion) and olive oil…rakes of the stuff.

    So, reading through old posts, I see you came over while I was away. Did you have a good time?

  14. hic8ubique permalink
    August 27, 2010 5:50 AM

    Hmm. Still no Home tab, but an entire Home thread!
    So, that heel-clicking technique works, but not quite in the way I’d anticipated.

  15. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 6:01 AM

    hic, if you click on ‘Uncategorized’ in ‘Categories’ under ‘META’ directly to the right of the page, that takes you to the home page.

    I’ve also added a ‘HOME’ link to the blogroll. Best I can do for the moment. There must be a way to turn the PH title into a live link to home (as it usually is). The bastard themes are just so damned inconsistent…

  16. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 6:27 AM

    Never mind. I worked it out, as you can see if you glance to your left. This theme has a ‘secondary menu’ option that I hadn’t noticed and that you have to name and enable. Hurrah…

  17. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 27, 2010 9:36 AM


    Not here, in this ill-lit sous-sol,
    Nor trente-neuf rue des Batignolles
    The one a decade’s transience
    The next an evil ambience
    And home to some tenacious ghost
    Resentful of his role as host
    To me and mine and our best friend,
    Who, hackles raised, will not descend.

    Not Camden Town or Clapham South
    Or Nottingham or Staines or North
    Kensington, or West, or Earls Court,
    Toulouse was nice but it fell short
    Of being somewhere I’d call home.

    And Blackpool, scene of born and raised,
    Has cracked the cryogenic glaze
    And never more could house my soul.

    But anywhere I smoke a bowl
    Or light a candle, kiss the head
    Of someone dear tucked up in bed,
    And chat with friends into the night;
    Just somewhere I can read and write
    Will do for me. My home is far
    Removed; adrift; another star,
    Another shore, another bar;
    Some childhood Lakeland beauty spot;
    My home is ever where I’m not.

  18. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 10:18 AM

    Wonderful work, Hank, as is your Come And Have A Go On Jessie’s Lilo over at Poster Poems. It just goes to show: selling your soul to Satan is always a smart career move for a poet…

    Mowbray tried to sell his on Ebay; I don’t think he’s quite grasped this soul-selling lark…

  19. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 11:36 AM

    Really good work HLM.

    Yes, Mish, I was over but was staying with relatives in Wargrave or Warburg or some such place near Henley while my folks were at a wedding nearby. Had a lovely time but didn’t get into London town so, as I said, am determined to go solo for a good weekend when finances allow.

    My cousin and her husband, proud owners, nay parents, of Bertie the parrot were most genial hosts. Hers is a very indulgent lifestyle which incorporates a siesta in the middle of the day. So after a morning coffeeing and shopping in Henley and sightseeing roundabout, we went back to their house and she produced two long sleeved floor length winceyette nightdresses – mine black with red flowers, hers blue – for us to wear while we siestaed. It was a joke (kinda sorta)but we looked like two crazy cult members. Not being one for changing into nightwear or loungewear in the middle of the day, I went for a bath and accidentally on purpose splashed water on my winceyette so that I could get back into my day clothes.

    Alarmingly, the parrot took a shine to me and “high fived” me incessantly. No Dr. Doolittle me.

    Your plum wine sounds like our poitín. Lethal stuff. Good to have you back. Your response to Hic about your inestimable beauty was most amusing.

  20. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 11:53 AM

    There is an old Irish saying/seanfhocail meaning there’s no place like home which runs “Níl aon tinteáin mar do thinteáin féin”, literally translated as “there is no hearth like your own hearth”.

    For Hic .. phonetically, “kneel ayn thinchaun mor doh hinchaun feign”

  21. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:19 PM

    Ta, Reine, and backatcha inspades for Lorca, Mish.

    Talking of soul, here’s a slice of lowbrow (without acute accents) that’s bound to annoy….

  22. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:41 PM

    “Being in love with your ass ain’t cheap”, excellent. But I particularly love the “oooh oooh oooh” after “fuck you”, sort of takes the sting out of it. I’m going to try it.

  23. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:44 PM

    I think I’m getting snow blindness reading the page. Nice song, HLM. This was recommended to me:

  24. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 1:15 PM

    Is that better, MM? Actually, maybe a bit too dark. I’ll experiment…

  25. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 1:32 PM

    OK, I think that should do…yes? No?

  26. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 27, 2010 1:43 PM

    Definitely an improvement!

  27. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2010 2:10 PM

    Much better. I can take off my Ray-Bans now.

  28. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 5:53 PM

    Seeing as it’s video day and loosely covering the last and current topic:

    Don’t know whether any of you has seen this already. This trio’s appearance on Rural TV on the net went viral earlier in the year. They’ve been on the Ellen de Generes show and all sorts. The mother is particularly frightening. Saw them in town one day – she is even more frightening in the flesh. Still, fair play to them,they can afford a trip to London (and probably around the world) while I only dream…

  29. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 5:59 PM

    Sorry, Reine, I moved your link so that the video would embed as opposed to just showing the link. For some reason, a youtube link won’t embed unless it’s the last item in your post.

    BTW, terrific ‘the perils of romance’ poems from yourself and MM on PP…

    Sweet merciful fucking Jesus….’He drinks tequila, she talks dirty in Spanish…’ sung in the most paltry US honky-trash accent I’ve ever heard. Haven’t the Garda arrested these people? What the hell do you pay them for? The horror, the horror…

  30. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 6:04 PM

    Thanks M, wondered why that didn’t show up properly…and thanks for compliment, I only germinated his seed as it were. The lion’s share of the kudos is his.

  31. hic8ubique permalink
    August 27, 2010 6:11 PM

    The ingenues will not be dropping from the trees til that beard comes off, oh inestimably beautiful one. I wish I’d been left in blissful ignorance… still, not realising you’d actually come home, my greeting was a shoddy one. I hope you can tell how much you were missed. Please consider this a proper ‘Welcome Home’
    I’m relieved to hear your heart drawer is unlocked.

    A bristling of honeyed lip
    deserves the strongest condemnation.
    This truth could sink a battleship
    or resurrect a failing nation.

    My homing instinct so applied
    is of a fine and subtle taste,
    so when my wishes are denied
    I’ll pout, and keep my kisser chaste.

    I’m in great sympathy with yours, Moon. Well said.
    I’ll have to see whether I can make something real of the subject.

    Ulysses looks in good shape to me there, MM, apart from the foliage of course.
    Entertaining array of videos, yours in the worst way, Re.
    Seems I’d better visit PP…

  32. mishari permalink*
    August 27, 2010 6:13 PM

    Don’t sell yourself short, kiddo. It was a fine poem on its own, with or without the input of The Man Who Shagged Liberty Valance…

    hic, there was no ‘shoddy greeting’. I don’t believe you do ‘shoddy’. You’ve an over-active imagination.

  33. Reine permalink
    August 27, 2010 6:19 PM

    Off out with my extended dysfunctional family – my son, his Dad, his Dad’s partner and baby daughter and my husband for a meal and some beers – it is most amusing to see people try to work out the connections. Most assume David is his sister’s father as they both have the same colouring and they’re not quite sure where the rest of us come in. I think Ellen de G should have us on her show; it’s only a matter of time. Have a good evening all.

  34. hic8ubique permalink
    August 27, 2010 6:36 PM

    That sounds fairly miraculous, Re-knee; have fun.

    Yes, probably wildly overactive, my imagination, but it means well.

  35. hic8ubique permalink
    August 27, 2010 8:18 PM

    Here’s one from 2005, when a poem was still something that happened once a year, perhaps. I find I still like it.
    The free-verse and mysticism averse are welcome to scroll right past…

    Because I asked,
    ancient Grandmother
    took me to taste of the holy-well
    where my paths converge.
    She led me by way
    of green fields strewn
    with stones:
    the uncounted dead.
    We paused to notice graves
    cut into turf of hillsides
    where lost kin lie, blood shed
    yet moist beneath verdure.

    Then to that vast treeless cathedral
    came parakeets, love-birds,
    cardinals, and scarlet ibis
    in all their vivid hues;
    soon my sky swelled full of birds,
    messengers beyond veils,
    far as I could see.

    Over water now came black falcon.
    With arrow eye, she can discern
    gill quiver beneath rilling surface,
    then slash come her talons
    wresting a fish flash from its element;
    again she climbs aloft.

    Only she can shriek a keening
    to pierce my grief for all my dead,
    for those who lost this sight and fled.
    She fills my field of vision
    with gaping beak and I tumble
    down her black craw
    to dwell in her
    fierce unknown belly.
    Maybe these young will live.

  36. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2010 11:18 PM

    Dry at the moment (versewise, you understand) so I’m rerunning this ancient piece of dross (which has undergone some surgery, so it’s as new as a facelift).


    So which one of my homes shall I describe?
    The flat in Paris on the Place Vendome,
    my luxury villa at Cap d’Antibes
    or the Bernini palazzo in Rome?

    Tough choice. My vast estates in Limerick
    (NB: must evict that poet chappie,
    can’t bear free verse) are an investment trick,
    designed to keep HRMC happy,

    while those apartments in New York City,
    Moscow, London (various addresses),
    Dakar, Damascus, Dubai and Delhi
    are quarters for my troop of mistresses.

    This grey-slated place has to be my choice,
    despite the horrible blotches it shows
    on its creviced and sagging facade
    and its unlighted, grimy old windows.

    Behind them, most of the rooms are vacant now:
    in some, stacks of ancient furniture moulders:
    some are locked, where it’s better not to go.
    This is the home that’s between my shoulders.

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 27, 2010 11:29 PM

    Saw Blackpool on the news last night: one of the town’s lovely ladies, caught on CCTV urinating on the town’s war memorial and then performing a sex act (love that phrase: sounds like an erotic circus) on an unidentified ‘straggly-haired man’. My alibi is cast-iron.

  38. InvisibleJack permalink
    August 27, 2010 11:29 PM

    Hi Mish and fellow homicidals,

    After some time away I see that you’ve moved the furniture around and added a lick of paint. I came here earlier this afternoon and thought I’d attempt a poem on Home; as it turns out, this happily coincided with an idea I was toying with for PP; in short, an attempt at the poem that led to Ezra Pound’s famous “River-Merchant’s Wife”. I do hope you’ll forgive the cheat of killing two birds with one stone and supplying the same poem here as I’ve just posted to PP. Anyways, here’s payment for my current lodging:

    Your Wife for Dust and Ashes
    after Li Bai

    When first my hair grew lush to my forehead
    I broke flowers in play before the gate;
    and there you came riding your bamboo horse:
    a circled path your kingdom, greengages a game.
    And here we grew up in Changgan county,
    two children too young for grown-up guile.
    At fourteen I became your wife,
    so shy I kept my face a secret,
    bowing my head towards the shadowed corner;
    when called even a thousand times, not once I turned.
    At fifteen I began to lift my head
    and swore to be your wife for dust and ashes.
    Your faithfulness was a stone pillar;
    no need had I to climb the lookout hill.
    At sixteen you went far away to Yanyudui,
    far away to the Qutang gorge.
    In the fifth month I prayed that you had not run aground,
    and from the sky the monkeys shrieked my weeping.
    Before the gate my back and forth had bared a patch,
    and little by little the green mosses took hold.
    Now the moss is too deep for the broom
    and the leaves fall at the first Autumn breeze.
    This eighth month the butterflies are yellow
    and a pair fly over the western meadow.
    I feel they have flown straight through my heart;
    from worrying my face is lined and russet.
    If one day you come downriver from Sanba,
    send first a letter to me here.
    We’ll meet each other. Without declaring distance
    I’ll come up as far as Changfengsha.

    version, Jack Brae Curtingstall

  39. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 12:14 AM

    You know how it is, Jack–the natives were getting restless and Melton Methuselah was bleating about the horrors of all-white and his impending blindness…so I got the decorators in (Julian and Sandy).

    Fine poem, though I never expect anything less from you.

    Equally fine one from hic, if grimmer. You Viking types…when you go berserk, even the birds fall dead from the sky.

    I liked that poem the first time around, MM. It’s even better after a bit of a steep…

    I’m attempting one myself but am just a bit frazzled at the moment–soon come…

  40. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 4:30 AM

    Well, better a grim poem than a grim me, I suppose.

    ‘For Julie’ is a scorcher, Mishari. Well done.
    Reading your ‘sports bike’ analogy, I had the wrong sort of bike in mind, thinking: ‘wait, there were no shocks then!’
    It nearly reads either way… ‘better carbs’; I’m thinking brown rice…ok, I’m for bed.

  41. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 9:57 AM

    Yeah, sorry about the clumsy bike analogy–boy stuff…

  42. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 2:46 PM

    Not at all, it reads either way, ie motorised or not, until the exhaust and sound at the end.
    I read your Lorca trans. again and, though I don’t know the originals, I can’t help saying: This is something you should be doing, Mishari.
    It’s strikingly evident that you have the particular constellation of abilities, including the initial selection of material, and the power of perceptive interpretation, the linguistic ear, and the poetic craft to make inaccessible works available in English. You also need your ‘damn the cannons/canons’ force of will to withstand the wide open invitation to critics.
    I’m not just being speciously flattering; it’s pull-me-up-short electrifying to see someone in his element and in the zone. That’s something I can recognise even without translation creds myself.
    Do you recognise it in yourself, I wonder? (Rhetorical, just think about it.)
    No kidding, I hope you’ll keep with it- translating your choices, and keep posting your work here when the PP is over. You might develop a fine collection, and here we are ready to receive it.

  43. freep permalink
    August 28, 2010 3:21 PM

    Spot on, hic. There is serious talent here, and mine host has been excelling his self. Is it the almonds?

  44. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 4:03 PM

    You’re too kind, hic, freep. I do really enjoy translating poems. It’s a bit like (clumsy analogy time again, folks) being given a cunningly wrought music-box that plays a delightful tune–and then losing the key needed to wind it up.

    Translating a poem is like trying to find a way to wind the music box up again so others can hear the tune. God knows the amount of work out there deserving of a more sympatico translation is legion…

  45. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 6:16 PM

    I do appreciate your validation, freep. It’s easy to wave me off as a starry-eyed light-weight, but not you. Would that it were in the almonds; we could all be doing it, yes?

    Not wishing to belabour my point, M, it is however pretty clear that few who ‘enjoy’ translation have your uniquely felicitous facility for all facets of the task ;)
    I’m not about being kind here.
    ‘Sympatico’ really is that key, isn’t it. There’s an art even to stripping down and tuning a … bike. But a poem may have human breath, and a bike never will.
    If I really knew anything about it, I might venture to say your analogies fail only in being too Cartesian.

  46. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 6:48 PM

    It’s easy to wave me off as a starry-eyed light-weight…

    I decided to test this thesis but Pongo thought we were playing a new game and attacked my arm (he’s been very frisky since we got back–maybe it is the almonds). I doubt you’re right, though, hic…

    There’s approval and then there’s ‘approval’
    There’s Oscar and there’s Simon Cowell
    Simon’s frown will lead to removal
    Oscar’s aperçus lead to a howl.

    But Cowell is really a sounding brass
    And Oscar’s a bit of a cat;
    The first, a colossal and world-spanning arse;
    The second is rather old hat.

    But Freep of The North is the real acid-test
    If you’re going to be scorned, hell,
    Be scorned by the best;
    When Freep tips his hat
    Or just gives you the nod
    It’s rather like getting
    The thumbs-up from God.

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 28, 2010 6:56 PM

    I still think you’re crap.

  48. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 7:23 PM

    That’s because my sophistication isn’t accessible to country bumpkins.

  49. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 7:34 PM

    Oh, BTW, I’ve got a film that you might enjoy, MM. Called ‘Centurion’, it’s set in Roman Britain and stars Dominic West (McNulty) as a Roman General battling the Picts. Low-budget but they made good use of what they had. Shot in Scotland in winter. I’ll pass it along if you haven’t already seen it…

  50. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 7:58 PM

    Dominic West could redeem anything he stars in. Swoon, sigh etc.

  51. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 9:14 PM

    Views from the Homefront

    In the garden three oak trees
    Planted for their girls
    The straight haired one, the befringed one
    and the one with all the curls

    Only two have prospered
    The trees I mean to say
    The other one has wilted, in the corner, far away

    Thankfully they never said
    Which tree matched whom you see
    Lest one of us anticipate some great catastrophe

    A blue hydrangea from a friend
    Is in a fit of bloom
    But a wildflower garden ’round the side is stunted in the gloom

    The ivy inches skywards
    Up the walls around the house
    And a pheasant trips across the lawn in pursuit of a mouse

    This garden will not win awards
    a triumph of great love over art,
    but to see its lustrous lunacy always pierces my heart

  52. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 9:36 PM

    Fine poem with one very small reservation, Reine:

    ‘I find I often pine’

    Nothing wrong with that…

    except, what instantlv popped into my head was ‘fir yew I pine…’. Perhaps it’s just me, but ‘I pine’ in any poem even remotely concerning matters arboreal leads to this kind of (unwanted, I think) facetiousness.

    I think I’d have written:

    A triumph of love over art
    But to see its lustrous lunacy can still pierce my heart’

    …or something like that.

    Sorry. I’m being unforgivably rude and presumptuous. Repeat after me: “Fuck off, Mishari…”

  53. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 9:46 PM

    Oh, get you, the transmogrification king! Thank you for your suggestion – I’d settle for this compromise as it better preserves the rhythm in my humble opinion:

    … “a triumph of great love over art,
    but to see its lustrous lunacy always pierces my heart”

    Bowing, geisha-like, to your highness. Fancy a cuppa? R

  54. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 9:50 PM

    Did you just change your “good poem” to “fine poem”??

    • mishari permalink*
      August 28, 2010 10:00 PM

      I did. Precision is important in these matters. Did you think you were hallucinating?

  55. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 9:58 PM

    Shall I change it, then? I do think your new lines are better…although, perhaps it’s just me who’s provoked into recalling unfunny jokes. Maybe wait for a consensus? Or at least see what your co-female hic thinks.

    Tea? No, no…by 10 in the evening, I’m on the ardent water.

  56. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 10:07 PM

    I did think I was hallucinating momentarily but I have an (occupational) eye for detail so felt I had noticed a change. Do, change it, you’ve put me off the “pine” now anyway!

    On the water, though not ardent, myself. Wicked hangover, exacerbated by having to spend an hour in IKEA earlier buying a desk, being herded along the arrowed path. Torture.

  57. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 10:27 PM

    Thank you Monsieur Collaborateur

  58. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 28, 2010 10:53 PM


    Our first place cost us twenty thousand quid,
    sitting tenant, which could have been a drag,
    but it only took a grand to get rid
    of the bloody miserable old bag.

    She’d lived there all her life, or so she said,
    made a right sodding mess of it as well,
    I didn’t say, looked like a garden shed,
    but we got forty when we came to sell.

    Moved to a semi, flogged that in a year,
    made ten thousand notes, got another place,
    and so on, always making a few grand clear,
    until we arrived at our present base.

    Bought it for six hundred two years ago,
    now it’s valued at well over a mil,
    big grounds, eight bedrooms, marble portico,
    nice sound system, CCTV, it’s brill.

    No-one comes in here bar me and the wife,
    we do like to keep the place looking good,
    spill your coffee and it’ll cost you your life,
    this floor’s a very expensive hardwood.

    We dumped the kids’ dog when it pissed a rug,
    a DIY job, of course, bloody vet,
    who needs him, a jacketed .22 slug
    in the back of the skull and goodbye pet.

    The kids live in a shed behind those trees,
    totally their decision, let’s be clear,
    we were happy, they can do what they please,
    we don’t want their dirty footwear in here.

    We’ll be moving on when we see something new,
    it’s not just the money, we’re not flash,
    it’s an investment and a hobby too,
    my ideal home is made from bricks of cash.

  59. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 10:58 PM

    ‘co-female’…?! you seldom strike a sour note, M, but that is undeniably insalubrious.
    I believe I’m the *ahem* elder sister.
    But the mind-fuck appears to be that I go to-ing
    & fro-ing and the prior version is not longer extant!
    I’ve utterly missed the boat/lost the plot, but despite that…
    I’ve read everything you two have posted for a year, and dear Reine, if there’s anyone to accept free poetic advice from…you’re in clover.

    My grandfather (the Bethnal Green one who generously called us the ‘three graces’) planted three royal-palm trees in a similar spirit. No, he didn’t plant them in London.

    I’m not so wave-offable in every area, M, but in this one I call upon my solid credentials as enthusiastic applause expert from the front-row mezzanine; big grin, no extra charge.

  60. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:02 PM

    I hope you all caught Jim Shelley’s fine tribute to The Bill in the paper Guardian (I don’t know if it’s online). The final episode (the 2,400th) airs on Tuesday. A sad moment for the 6,000,000 people who watch it. A programme which only has 6 million viewers must die. That’s obvious.

    I noticed freep and ET in the Review. Time they started paying us.

  61. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:04 PM

    Hic, dearest (only slightly older) sister, prior to the Svengalian intervention, the last verse read:

    This garden will not win awards
    a triumph of love over design
    but to see its lustrous lunacy, I find I often pine

    I could not have turned down the advice of the translation titan.

    • mishari permalink*
      August 28, 2010 11:09 PM

      Of course you could…and should, if you think I’m out of order. Jesus, now you’re making me feel guilty. I should have kept my mouth shut…

    • Reine permalink
      August 28, 2010 11:11 PM

      Ah, you misunderstand me Mish. I feel it is an improved piece with your amendment. Never keep your mouth shut on my account.

  62. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 11:07 PM

    Great stuff, MM. About 20-odd years ago, I was living with a girl from Ennis (County Clare). Although she was a relatively recent arrival, large numbers of her relatives had settled in London and done very well for themselves.

    They’d made a great deal of money and spent accordingly on large houses in London’s leafier outer suburbs. Going to visit them was torture but I was always dragged along. “That’s love, darlin’: suffering together”, she’d tell me.

    It wasn’t that her relatives were unpleasant or anything–far from it. But every one of them, in addition to being house-proud to a point that verged on insanity, had insisted on decorating their houses in white.

    Yes…fucking white. And I mean the lot–carpets, drapes, furniture, walls. It was a fucking nightmare for a fellow like me, who, in addition to smoking heavily, has a tendency to trip over things, drop things and spill things. Every minute in one of their homes was like a lifetime. Houseproud…bah.

  63. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:13 PM

    My first roommate at uni had parents like that, MM, and it rubbed off. She said she’d have a car with white leather seats and her children wouldn’t be allowed to eat anything while riding in it. We were 18. I remember thinking:’just don’t have kids’.

    If you are still in a lake mood… on bingmaps go to Bangor, Maine usa and veer east towards Holden. When you get in close enough, ‘Mountainy Pond’ will be labelled. It’s sort of finger-shaped. We head there tomorrow after a brim-full week.

  64. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:18 PM

    Now cross-posting on ‘white’?!

    ‘Never keep your mouth shut on my account.’
    classic Reine.

  65. hic8ubique permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:27 PM

    (Already fixed!)
    You did well, I believe, to submit to Svengalian intervention. Now that’s a good epithet, work that in somewhere…

  66. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:40 PM

    A Svengalian intervention’s
    not a matter of contention
    When so kindly proffered
    No opposition’s offered
    His mouth opens to opine
    Not to make me close mine
    But to make me sing the louder
    Of my ramblings be the prouder
    So, Svengali, intervene
    I’m thy grateful pupil, Reen.

  67. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:41 PM

    Bloody big pond. I’ll have a dekko tomorrow and see if I can spot you.

    At university I was invited to stay with a chap whose parents were very well-off self-made types. The house was new, huge and embarrassingly opulent, everything manically tidy and spick and span. They were obsessive about hygiene as well. The chap was working in a bar, so I spent the day and evening there drinking. Then there was a lock-in till 3am. We got back and I fell into bed and sound asleep. A few hours later I woke up thinking, bloody hell, I’m sweating a lot. Of course I’d pissed myself. The walk into their bright new kitchen, carrying my crushing hangover, to confess my crime, was one of the longest I’d taken (up to that point). Unaccountably they never asked me back.

  68. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:50 PM

    Oh, sorry, just noticed the Centurion. Thanks, I’d like to see it, though I don’t share Reine’s enthusiasm for Dominic. Too tall for me. My new-found expertise in Hadrian’s Wall studies should be useful.

    Finished Southland now. A truly brilliant show.

  69. Reine permalink
    August 28, 2010 11:52 PM

    I may regret telling you this but as a 19 year old, staying for my first visit in my then boyfriend’s house, having had rather a night of it, I woke in need of a wee and, probably still drunk and not fully awake, mistook his locker for the toilet. He woke in the nick of time (my arse having displaced the bedside lamp) and prevented an unseemly accident. He laughed all night long and told his parents the following day! I was utterly mortified, principally because I was supposed to be sleeping in a different room. I have never repeated the mistake and am now a most refined (sometimes) lady with excellent bladder control and acute night vision.

  70. mishari permalink*
    August 28, 2010 11:59 PM

    Glad you liked Southland. I thought it was very good; a look at LAPD’s darker side. Not The Shield of beloved memory but what is?. A new season starts in Jan. and I’ll keep you posted. I’ll pass along the rest of Justified, as well. I think I’m right in recalling that you’ve only got half the series?

    I am not going to go into unfortunate urination incidents…

  71. hic8ubique permalink
    August 29, 2010 12:06 AM

    I could tell one…
    At 17, I was the driver for an unruly group of post-rehearsal thespians late at night, and we spotted a discarded toilet in someone’s side-yard.
    We pinched it, and placed it prominently in the centre of the town square, then drove around the block to approach and appreciate our presentation.
    You guessed it: someone had already stopped his van, and was availing himself of the new facilities.

  72. Reine permalink
    August 29, 2010 7:59 AM

    Love your Mallarmé Mish.

    Well I’m off to a flea market to sell my wares, wish me luck. Me and Del Boy and Rodney…

  73. mishari permalink*
    August 29, 2010 8:10 AM

    Break a leg…and if they still don’t pay up, break both legs…what are you flogging, you naughty colleen, you? Knock-off Gucci bags? Smuggled Gold Virginia? Pirated Cliff Richard CDs?

  74. hic8ubique permalink
    August 29, 2010 3:20 PM

    Driftwood benches I expect. Be the calm in the eye, Re and thanks for mentioning…

    I might otherwise have missed ‘Sea Breeze’, and am delighted to have that last one, M; it’s powerful.
    Another astonishing choice and with substantial compass.
    Do be done with apologising!

    ‘To feel something, oh, wild surmise’
    I see that.

    I propose a link on the mast-head thingy over there… =>
    with your collected translations thus far, for our convenience in enjoying them, please. x

    Yes, Vicar, that bingmaps is a live web-cam trained on Mountainy Pond.
    Keep a close watch on it, and you’ll see me diving off the dock in me alltogether. I’m the really pale one.

    It’s hot here, good to be heading Downeast for the pine-woods.
    Have a beautiful late-summer week…
    Wood eye knot pine fir yew awl, hearts of oak?

  75. mishari permalink*
    August 29, 2010 4:40 PM

    I like that idea, hic. I even have a blog handy that’s just been sitting there doing nothing for the last couple of years. I was going to use it specifically to gut and fillet writers I don’t like…you know, ‘we name the guilty men (and women)’– but I guess I’m getting mellow with age–I just couldn’t be bothered. The 3rd rate are with us always: best get used to it.

    Click on ‘perp walk’ in the blogroll or:

    I posted a Borges poem that I translated. Not very good but you have to start somewhere. I guess I’ll retrieve the Lorca, Mallarmé and de Musset and post them with appropriate pics.

    Of course, I expect you lot to do your bit. Translating is not only enjoyable but good discipline. I suppose HLM will be less keen because it’s what he does for a living (not that that’s an acceptable excuse, mind).

    So get a project in mind and when it’s done, I’ll choose a suitable image and post it at @perp walk…

  76. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 29, 2010 5:06 PM

    Great idea, Mish. Je suis la moutarde personnifiée. Though currently wrestling with the rasp of Louis Jouvet. I like the idea of tackling poetry written in languages I haven’t mastered. It only takes a bit of sandpaper and inspiration to smooth even the most Babelfish comprehension into something presentable.

    And maybe I’ll learn how to do italics one of these days.

  77. mishari permalink*
    August 29, 2010 5:53 PM

    Exactly, Hank. Kind of a lyrical Scrabble–you get a bag filled with words and phrases, a schematic of the original structure for reference and away you go.

    Pound, lacking a single word of any Chinese language produced some cracking ‘Chinese’ translations…and Edward Fitzgerald (of the Rubbiyat fame) spoke piss-poor Persian (according to Dick Burton, whose own translation of Khayamm is far superior to Fitzgerald’s, in my opinion. Of course, Burton, one of the finest linguists in history, spoke Persian rather better than some natives).

    I’m pretty sure I recently came across a volume of Russian poetry ‘translated’ by Craig Raine, who cheerfully admitted to not speaking a word of Russian. It’s Art, boy…not mechanics.

    And speaking of Russians, I came across this wonderful line in one of Nabokov’s letters to Edmund Wilson; Nabokov describes Lenin as “…a pail of the milk of human kindness with a dead rat at the bottom.”

  78. InvisibleJack permalink
    August 29, 2010 6:45 PM

    Lovely stuff over on PP, Mish.

  79. mishari permalink*
    August 29, 2010 7:17 PM

    Thanks, Jack. I hope you’ll add to the expected riches over at ‘Perp Walk’ with a few translations of your own…when you’ve got time, of course.

  80. Reine permalink
    August 29, 2010 8:29 PM

    I think I’ve breached protocol. Posted a translation from PP on perp walk but seems to have come up as a reply to one of yours Mish. Apologies.

    Turns out I am no Pauline Fowler. Still, I wooed those with a discerning eye for my antique and other jewellery, bags (one real Gucci Mr. Mishari!)and scarves and won the unofficial competition with my dearest kinfolk who were flogging CDs, books (I won’t part with mine) and DVDs. The Wire box set received much interest but there was no budging on price so it came home again. You’d think he had given birth to it. We were several hundred squid the richer coming home, a drop at least in the debt ocean. I’m exhausted, don’t know how people do this all the time.

  81. mishari permalink*
    August 29, 2010 8:36 PM

    There is no protocol, honey. If anyone has a translation, post it on a thread at @perp walk and I’ll post it properly with a picture–anything you post will show as a ‘comment’…only the blog-owner (me) can post stuff above the line. I’ll get on that now.

    I’ve just noticed that Parisa has accused me of hating her because she’s a Jew. It’s a measure of just how toxic and irrational Israel’s US cheerleaders have become that she could post such a remark and feel no shame. Deeply depressing…

    OK, done, Reine…check it out and if you don’t like the image (the result of a fast search and more of a ‘placeholder, really) perhaps you have one you prefer? That goes for everyone, BTW. I’m more than happy to use an image you’ve chosen yourself…

    • Reine permalink
      August 29, 2010 8:58 PM

      That’s absolutely perfect, thank you Mishari.

  82. Reine permalink
    August 29, 2010 9:10 PM

    Hicsterina, pining for you already… would sit on my driftwood bench if I had one and write you a letter. Have a lovely time cooling down. x R

  83. Reine permalink
    August 30, 2010 12:30 AM

    Another excellent pic choice and thank you for noticing; it was like a little present to find it posted.

  84. mishari permalink*
    August 30, 2010 1:00 AM

    I just changed the logo a bit, too. Hope you like it…

  85. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:38 AM

    Top poem, Reine, and a good picture. My struggle is with English. Translation is a step too far.

    I thought I spotted hic on Bingmaps, but it turned out to be a dead catfish.

  86. Reine permalink
    August 30, 2010 12:34 PM

    Thanks MM, it was a much more difficult one to translate than Ó’Díreáin’s, which I have longwindedly tried to explain on PP.

    As for your struggle with English, don’t make me laugh. You’re only to going to reel in a big compliment with that fishing, ya old divil.

  87. Reine permalink
    August 30, 2010 12:53 PM

    I find the new logo most in keeping Mish but, allow me, if you will kind Ed who always and so obligingly corrects my typos and errors to point out in the nicest way that “translated” should be capped following the colon.

    • mishari permalink*
      August 30, 2010 4:05 PM

      Undoubtedly, grammatically speaking, you’re correct. I made an aesthetic decision–the small ‘t’ is more attractive than its over-bearing sibling…

    • Reine permalink
      August 30, 2010 6:45 PM

      Yes, teacher. I apologise for my impertinence.

  88. InvisibleJack permalink
    August 30, 2010 1:53 PM

    Mish, I have rather nervously attempted a version of a dead poet’s poem as initiation into your gang of perpetrators. I’ll post it over at the new link in a mo. If it doesn’t make the grade then I’ll do another one, so no worries.

    Jack Brae

    • mishari permalink*
      August 30, 2010 4:08 PM

      It’s up now. I hope you approve of the picture of Mehmet II (conqueror of Constantinople) sniffing a flower that’s probably not a crocus…

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      August 30, 2010 4:41 PM

      Going over there for a look now, but you won’t find me arguing with Mehmet II anyway.

      One favour, if I may be so bold? Any chance of changing “white-bearded” to “bright-bearded” in the final stanza? The first phrase is in the original but in that the dervishes aren’t so closely coupled in a single phrase to the crocus as was necessary to do in the English.

      Jack Brae

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      August 30, 2010 4:56 PM

      Love the illustration. Thankyou.

  89. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 30, 2010 3:52 PM

    You see through my pathetic stratagems so quickly, Reine.

    I’m surprised Zeph hasn’t contributed to the translations. I think she’s a linguist.

  90. August 30, 2010 7:44 PM

    Call me an old horse not long for the knackers
    Or a firework display lacking rockets and crackers

    Call me a tightrope walker afraid of the view
    A contemporary artist who doesn’t like the new

    Call me a fuddy-duddy, a stick in the mud
    A vampire who loathes the sight of blood

    Call me someone who loves to moan,
    When you call me, about how you never phone.

    Call me a Battersea home with out its dogs
    A tree with out its wooden clogs

    Call me a pack of those missing dogs
    Who preferred the font of your earlier blogs

    • August 31, 2010 9:37 AM

      Dear Ed

      Can you change contemoporary to its correct spelling and with out (line 9 ) to without?

  91. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    August 30, 2010 8:02 PM

    Arial Ultra
    the biological way
    to get rid of grey

  92. Reine permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:00 PM

    Home Birds

    The pigeon comes to mind
    as the king of the home birds
    Give it a message, tap its bum
    And miles away your message’s heard

    Some consider a budgerigar
    An easy bird to keep
    In a house or in a garage
    But it’s dreary, talk is cheep

    What about a parakeet?
    A limited vocabulary
    Not to be confused with paraclete
    Of Holy God’s constabulary

    In the end, we prob’ly all are
    A motley flock of tweeting birds
    The tabernacles of our hearts
    Ill described by pretty words

  93. Zeph permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:40 PM

    Sorry to be non-contributing lately, being forced to leave the East End (once famously the home of poor people)because the rents are too high, I’ve been trying to find another home for weeks, while developing a not-so-politely homicidal hatred for the managing agent of my present gaff. Shortly things will resolve themselves one way or another and I’ll try to compose a translation or two from my bench in Victoria Park.

  94. Reine permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:08 AM

    Hi Zeph, that must be very stressful. Hope you find somewhere nice and settle in peacefully soon. R

  95. mishari permalink*
    August 31, 2010 10:31 AM

    Sorry to hear of your travails, Zeph. Perhaps these, culled from a piece about bizarre sports quotes, might cheer you up a little:

    “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.” -American football commentator and former player Joe Theismann

    “I want all the kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I want all the kids to copulate me.” -Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model

    “Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.” -Charles Shackleford

    “I would have given my right arm to be a pianist.” -Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson

    “I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.” -Australian golfer Greg Norman

    “This is really a lovely horse and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother.” -Ted Walsh, horse racing commentator

    “The lead car is absolutely, truly unique, except for the one behind it which is exactly identical to the one in front of the similar one in back.” -Grand Prix race announcer

  96. August 31, 2010 10:45 AM

    Zeph Hope you aren’t one of the many being turfed out of their homes due to the changes in housing benefit by our new “We’re all in this together except we aren’t really and some of our advisers certainly aren’t” government.

    Reine. Your view of “The Illusionist” pretty much tallied with mine.

  97. mishari permalink*
    August 31, 2010 12:41 PM

    From the Cliff Richard website comes news of Cliff’s new scent, Miss You Nights; but let the great waxwork speak for himself:

    I chose Miss You Nights as the name for my first fragrance because the song is a particular favourite of mine and has personal memories. One of them is of my mother fanning herself in the tropical heat with a sandalwood fan. To recapture this I have included some beautiful sandalwood in the formula. The heart of the perfume is intensely floral and the scent of jasmine immediately transports me to my home in Barbados where I spend so many happy times.

    This is the fragrance of which Eamonn Holmes, reknowned TV fatty and recipient of a recent humour-bypass, once said “if you can’t get close to Cliff, this is the next best thing“.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m prepared to settle for ‘…the next best thing’.
    I want Cliff-flesh…and I don’t care how it’s cooked. Come to think of it, Cliff’s a bit long in the tooth and elderly animals are notoriously tough so perhaps simmered in a stew for a few hours would be best.

    But what to drink with braised loin of Cliff? What else but a bottle of Vida Nova Espumante? Made, as Cliff’s website helpfully explains:

    …in the time-honoured traditional method from 100% Syrah grapes.

    As opposed to modern methods that involve sneering at tradition, and lots of artificial ingredients. Cliff’s site goes on:

    Made to enjoy on any occasion, this wine celebrates Sir Cliff Richard’s half-century in music, and opens a new chapter in the story of a winery that he helped to create.

    According to the winemaker’s website:

    Sir Cliff has known and loved the Algarve for over 40 years. His idea to plant a vineyard at his property Quinta do Moinho provided the genesis point for the Vida Nova range of wines.

    Sir Cliff is very much involved in producing the wine. When in Portugal he is often seen getting his hands dirty in the vineyard or indeed his feet dirty in the winery.

    Never mind. Perhaps I’ll just stick to water…

  98. August 31, 2010 1:30 PM

    Braising will be the first thing that’s ever happened to Cliff’s loin won’t it?

  99. mishari permalink*
    August 31, 2010 1:45 PM

    If Sir Clit hasn’t had brawny Portugese farm lads down there snuffling the truffle, I’ll eat my hat (well, I’ll buy a hat and eat it).

    • September 1, 2010 6:14 AM

      As Sir Clip’s solicitor, I feel duty bound to warn you that some of these comments may be actionable. Any more allusions to my client’s entirely platonic relationships with his sweaty, smouldering farm hands will be met with very strong consideration of further action.

      P.S. I am to inform you that ‘Fizzy New Life’ will be the title of Sir Blip’s forthcoming Christmas album. Enjoy it with a glass of Portguese plonk while the family sings along.

  100. August 31, 2010 1:50 PM

    Surely even brawny Portuguese farm lad truffle-snufflers have standards.

  101. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 31, 2010 2:07 PM

    If they’re responsible for Mateus Rose, then I think not.

  102. August 31, 2010 3:07 PM

    I thought Mateus Rose was made in Swindon.

  103. MeltonMowbray permalink
    August 31, 2010 3:40 PM

    That’s Meatus Rose. Matured for literally hours before being sprayed anywhere.

  104. Reine permalink
    August 31, 2010 5:48 PM

    You’d have to be famished or very well paid to sniff that particular truffle or shave it over your pasta.

  105. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 1, 2010 12:11 AM

    Sorry, missed the bit about Justified. That would be very welcome, thanks. I read Layer Cake. I had a bitta trouble wiv the mockney geezerisms-the same objection I’ve got to dialect poetry-no shortage of swearing, but the absence of casual racism and the horror expressed when the top gangster indulged in a spot of it seemed a bit unlikely. However, there’s no denying that it held my interest to the end. I’m already struggling with Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage.

    My feeling, completely unsupported by evidence, is that Cliff would meet with Ruskin’s hearty approval. I visualise the skin of his lower stomach stretching down over the pubic bone and between his thighs smooth and ungendered.

  106. September 1, 2010 7:12 AM

    Oops, sorry, that last comment has barged into the queue like a Beijing bus traveller.

  107. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 12:47 PM

    I dunno, MM. Perhaps it’s a function of geography. Down your way, in the milieu of ox-teams, seed-drills and hay-wains, where the most exciting thing to happen all year is when your neighbour Jethro grows a turnip shaped like a penis, the language of London crooks sounds impossibly exotic and therefore, implausible.

    But I’ve known people like these–ambitious London wide-boys, cockney psychopaths and hopeless criminal fuck-ups. The London underworld, especially the drug-dealing London underworld, is more like Layer Cake than The Bill...

    Simon, aren’t you going to give us a translated poem for perpwalk?

  108. MeltonMowbray permalink
    September 1, 2010 1:53 PM

    It’s not what they actually say, it’s the way that it’s rendered which I object to, ie phonetically. Not just because to my ear it’s always inaccurate, but also because those spellings are wrong, wrong, wrong. Grammatically wrong, of course, and to my mind they turn something which might be acceptable into a clumsy joke. I feel eggzakly the same way about William Barnes. It zeems completely unnecessary to me.

    Turnips aren’t in season at the moment, but Jethro has supplied me with a large courgette which looks just like a prick. I’ve called it Des. Ratatouille tonight, I think.

  109. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 1, 2010 2:25 PM

    Phonetic transcription of accent is always dodgy ground. It fails in ninety percent of cases. Many a first-rate novelist has resorted to this, often for totally laudable reasons, but the suspension of disbelief in a book is more precarious than that in a film, and unless it’s syllable-perfect, it’s deflating.

    Unlike yer man MassProduced over on the POTW thread. He gives a very plausible rendition of a deranged lunatic, while the other posters actively conceal that facet of their personality. Anyway, nobody noticed my acrostics, so I’ve left in a huff. They don’t deserve me. The pain in my ear and jaw is still such that I’m considering thrusting my head up my own arsehole. That way I’d fit right in, in every sense.

    You want vulgarity, we got it…

  110. September 1, 2010 2:46 PM

    Yes, of course I will, Mish. I’ve just knocked off 8,000 exciting words on “Vowel Quadrilaterals in Mandarin L1 speakers of English”, so a translation is probably just what I need. Tomorrow.

  111. September 1, 2010 3:14 PM

    HLM is that “I’ve left” a la Des Swords i.e “I’ll see you all next week” or have you left for good? Hope it’s the former.

    I think I’ve had my fill.

  112. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 3:25 PM

    I look forward to it, Simon.

    Yeah, I’m amazed at Carol’s forbearance. The incessant weekly sniping and insults from Des and atf, the return of the boor par excellence Phil Hall, the leaden ‘humour’ of Mass Rush For the Exits–how she tolerates it with such equanimity is a mystery to me. Much as I loathe the idea of ‘pre-moderation’, I would actually have some sympathy with Carol if she insisted on it.

    Getcha head outta yer arse, Hank: we’ve got company…

  113. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 1, 2010 3:31 PM

    I don’t blame you, Ed. No, just joking, I’ll be back as long as they’ll have me. Though perhaps my crime of lèse majesté towards the poet of the week was an early polarizing influence. Certainly we’ve been swept up into a vortex of slagging off this, that and the other after only two days. Good to see Carol trading punches this time, although it’s a shame that it’s come to this. It makes you wonder how some of these people survive in the real world. Maybe that’s the point: they don’t.

  114. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 3:52 PM

    Well, I think you’ve nailed it there, Hank. All the bitterness, the sense of injustice, of being hard done by, of being utterly powerless, of not being in the right clique, of being thwarted by powers that they can’t come at–it’s all there in posts from the usual suspects. Why they think Carol’s POTW thread is a suitable venue to spout their venom is a mystery…perhaps because she is so tolerant…but, soft! Here’s another unfortunate citizen who feels vaguely hard done by:

    In his book, A Journey, Mr Blair recalls bumping into Prince Charles after his first meeting with the deputy PM.

    “Does he ever do that thing with you?” asked the Prince. “When he’s sitting opposite you, he slides down the seat with his legs apart, his crotch pointing a little menacingly, and balances his teacup and saucer on his tummy. It’s very odd. I’ve never seen someone do that before. What do you think it means?”

    Mr Blair says he replied: “I don’t think it means anything, really.”

    Charles continued: “Hmm. You don’t think it’s a sort of gesture or sign of hostility or class enmity or something?”

    No, Charles. Class emnity is when we burn down all of your palaces and hang you and your gang of Kraut parasites from lamp-posts, never mind menacing crotch-pointing…

  115. September 1, 2010 4:02 PM

    PotW reminds me of that Mike Leigh TV film “Grown Ups” where a young married couple, fresh out of school, move into a house and find that they live next door to their old headmaster. They cannot leave the past behind or behave as adults towards him.

  116. Reine permalink
    September 1, 2010 6:07 PM

    God, it’s exhausting. Do I get a badge or a scarf or a bottle of Chanel for being in your harem M?

  117. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 1, 2010 6:30 PM

    I left POTW months ago because I thought I’d go insane, and now I discover that I’ve not only missed a punch-up, but mysterious acrostics. Perhaps I should have shown more forebearance and stayed.

    I think Prince Charlie missed a classic come-on by the sounds of it: the old tea-cup on the crotch signal.

  118. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 6:34 PM

    Why certainly, my pet. Mowbray got a 3-pack of Marks & Spencer posing pouches ‘support you can believe in’. I’ll think of something suitably decadent for you.

    Let me guess…(I haven’t looked at POTW since my last comment–arguing with those poor, spittle-flecked loons is as worthwhile as explaining Kant to Pongo)… @anytimefrantic has accused you of being one of my creatures, a mere cat’s paw, in short: a compromised and undoubtedly scarlet woman, intent on my bidding.

    Serves you right for being so forward, you hussy…

  119. September 1, 2010 6:57 PM

    Jack – there’s a punch up at PotW almost every week it seems no matter what the poem.

    I don’t really know a lot of actors but from my experience the acting world, normally seen as the epitome of catty backstabbing seems as nothing when compared to the poetry world.

    In an early exchange Des once accused me of being a luvvie but I’m tempted to think that with his endless name-calling and poetry-world gossip it is he who merits that title more than I do.

  120. September 1, 2010 6:59 PM

    Know I’m a bit dim like, but I can’t see how to post on Perpwalk. is this where you tell me I can’t; that I have to post it here first? [Simon’s poem is now posted at @perpwalk-Ed]

  121. Reine permalink
    September 1, 2010 7:01 PM

    No, you’re last comment was deleted before I had a chance to read it. I do not stand openly accused of harem membership but am listed in the cheerleader inventory. I am being quite calm over beyond – practising for the UN job that is bound to be offered one of the days.

    A photo of MM in one of those pouches would do nicely!
    Not the first or last time I have been accused of being a hussy; often preceded by “brazen”.

  122. Reine permalink
    September 1, 2010 7:41 PM

    you’re? Jesus. And I had the temerity to lecture you..

  123. Reine permalink
    September 1, 2010 7:57 PM

    Are you Jesus?

  124. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 7:59 PM

    Actually, Simon, you could have posted it as a comment over there and I transfer it above the line but this is just as good. Let’s see if those Chinese ideograms will cut and paste…

    OK, it’s up. Just a few quick points, Simon: what’s the title of the poem, if it has one; what author name would you like to use (SimonMH or ? and what language was it originally (Cantonese? Mandarin? etc)…

  125. InvisibleJack permalink
    September 1, 2010 8:34 PM


    Marvellous version of Du Fu’s Beautiful Woman.

  126. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 10:19 PM

    Are those the title and author, Jack? Beautiful Woman by Du Fu? Well, I’ll use them for the time being…

  127. Reine permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:39 PM

    It is a lovely piece of work Simon. As is the yellow crocus Jack.

  128. mishari permalink*
    September 1, 2010 10:50 PM

    Sorry, I was being dense. Obviously, the name and title were the translated ideograms.

  129. September 2, 2010 9:38 AM

    Thanks for the kind comments, Jack and Reine and thanks for putting it up, Mish. Just one thing: could you put the ‘a’ in ‘beautiful’ please? Failing that just change the title to ‘Bootifl burd’.

  130. September 2, 2010 9:48 AM

    Oh, the language is Chinese; although Cantonese is a completely different spoken language it uses (more or less) the same characters, as do all Chinese languages. You can thus have the odd (to us) situation of a native of Shandong being unable to talk to a native of Changsha, but if they pass each other notes they will communicate perfectly.

  131. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 9:50 AM

    Fixed. Sorry I missed that. Tired, long day and all that. Is ‘translated by Simon MH alright or would you prefer something like ‘translated from the Mandarin (or whatever) by Simon (your real name)?

  132. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 9:51 AM

    Cross posted. About the name, then?

  133. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 10:20 AM

    I still love you Mephisto.

  134. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 10:44 AM

    That’s because you’re under my spell…Mwahahahahahaha..

  135. September 2, 2010 11:07 AM

    Simon M Hunter? I don’t really mind to be honest: Simon MH, SCFMH, Simon, Simon M… One girlfriend called me Si, another Sim (she was Brazilian; it means ‘yes’ there). I’m rambling.

  136. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 11:22 AM

    Clearly I am as proclaimed by my “art is all” in ideogram tattoo.

  137. September 2, 2010 11:51 AM

    God, the drivel that Paris Rose spouts! What on earth does she do all day? I have a ghastly picture of some kept-at-home stockbroker’s wife who instead of driving him bonkers with incessant phone calls inflicts her stream of dysentery on the rest of us.

  138. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 2, 2010 11:54 AM

    I’m watching this girl as I’m whittling
    “Nice day!” down the pier she’s a-skittling
    Then: “whee!” devil-dare
    She’s gasping for air
    And sucking salt water and spittle in.

    Cute commentators, crunching Ritalin
    Then Prozac to stave off committal in
    Psychiatric wards
    Hold up their scorecards
    Braving the begrudgers’ belittling

    PS. where’s the ideogram tattoo, Reine?

  139. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 11:56 AM

    Our friend freep once actually counted all the posts on a POTW. Of some 300 posts, over 100 of them from Parisa. The woman’s a bloody industry. She’s like some mutated Reader’s Digest article come to life: Poetry–The Secret of Successful Hostesses.

  140. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 11:57 AM

    Hank, send me £5 and I’ll send you a photo…

  141. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 11:58 AM

    Lower back Henry, just centred and above the “MM” emblazoned on my left cheek and the crescent moon on my right!

    “whittling” isn’t a metaphor is it??

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      September 2, 2010 10:06 PM

      It’s a pleasure to sit down with you.

    • Reine permalink
      September 2, 2010 11:08 PM

      The pleasure is mine, I apologise if you feel crushed.

  142. September 2, 2010 12:00 PM

    Counting Parisa’s posts? As long as he didn’t spend time actually reading the bloody things…

  143. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:00 PM

    Five quid? You tight bastard. I charge that to shake hands.

  144. September 2, 2010 12:04 PM

    The comment thread has just closed. Perhaps some radical pruning is about to happen? We can but hope.

  145. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:05 PM

    No, just something an idle fisherman would do.

    Is “shake hands” a metaphor?

  146. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:06 PM

    I’ll be surprised if it reopens this week.

  147. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 12:08 PM

    The photo’s a bit blurred and that’s reflected in the price. BTW, thanks for the kind words on POTW, Reine (now closed down. I guess Carol had enough and who can blame her?).

    Of course, you realise that you’ve now entered atf’s Gallery of Villainy? Look at poor old Mills. Pays me a mild compliment on my Lorca poem and finds himself accused of being my factotum (or worse) and a lover of hatred and cruelty. Still, I suppose he’s used to it by now: he’s been getting that deranged crap from atf for years…

  148. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:10 PM

    No, it’s just something I do when I meet new people. Always with my gloved hand, for hygiene reasons you understand, some people find it very exciting and volunteer the fiver, in other cases I have to invoice them. Mishari paid me fifty to shake his.

  149. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 12:13 PM

    …and cheap at twice the price, acushla. It’s all in the wrist, you know…

  150. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:14 PM

    You’re welcome, I meant it. You’ve brainwashed me well. No better place for me than in a GofV. Just hope she uses a good photo of me.

  151. Reine permalink
    September 2, 2010 1:17 PM

    Open for business again – PotW, not me.

  152. Zeph permalink
    September 2, 2010 2:30 PM

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Carol Rumens keeps doing POTW because some psychologist friend of hers is using it as a case study of internet behaviour. It is quite bizarre, some of the ‘regulars’ seem to have lost any concept that it’s a public space with potentially thousands or even millions of readers, they seem to think there’s nobody there but themselves – an understandable feeling on a private blog such as this or OtherStuff, but of course mistaken even here.

  153. mishari permalink*
    September 2, 2010 2:37 PM

    It’s true, Zeph and I suppose I’m as guilty of it as anyone. After a while, one just seems to develop a proprietary feeling towards a blog that one’s been a long-time contributor to, imagining it to be like one’s local pub.

    Christ, I shudder to think what newcomers or occasional readers must think: that they’ve wandered into Charenton in the time of De Sade, I expect…

  154. September 3, 2010 10:52 PM

    I’d only say ( and have done ) that moderating comments helps foster the self-martyrdom/us versus them/establishment and outsider self-image of some on the PotW to the degree we have seen this week.

    Far better to leave them up and let us be the judge of how idiotic ( or not ) they are.

Comments are closed.