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Perhaps A Great Age

March 18, 2012



A great age of literature is perhaps always a great age of translations.Ezra Pound

The ever-wise Inez, seeing that I’m in a near-fluent frame of mind at the moment, urged me to return to the practice of encouraging you all to try your hands at translations again. More fodder for Perp Walk.

So here’s one from me:

Brise Marine

La chair est triste, hélas! et j’ai lu tous les livres.
Fuir! là-bas fuir! Je sens que des oiseaux sont ivres
D’être parmi l’écume inconnue et les cieux!
Rien, ni les vieux jardins reflétés par les yeux
Ne retiendra ce coeur qui dans la mer se trempe
O nuits! ni la clarté déserte de ma lampe
Sur le vide papier que la blancheur défend
Et ni la jeune femme allaitant son enfant.
Je partirai! Steamer balançant ta mâture,
Lève l’ancre pour une exotique nature!
Un Ennui, désolé par les cruels espoirs,
Croit encore à l’adieu suprême des mouchoirs!
Et, peut-être, les mâts, invitant les orages
Sont-ils de ceux qu’un vent penche sur les naufrages
Perdus, sans mâts, sans mâts, ni fertiles îlots…
Mais, ô mon coeur, entends le chant des matelots!

— Stéphane Mallarmé

…and from the sublime to:

Sea Breeze

The flesh, alas, is sad, and I’ve read too many books.
I should flee, break-out, escape somewhere far away.
To be as sky-intoxicated as the birds, quite at home
amidst strange clouds and foam and craggy nooks.
Not even old gardens, reflected in my eyes, I see,
shall keep me from soaking my arid heart at sea.
Nor the dimming lights of lamps on empty paper,
guarded against me by their virginal white,
nor the feeding child and the young wife.
I will depart, masts swaying, the singing of rope;
the anchor weighed and taut with hope
for strange lands and stranger lives.

Only ingrained tedium believes in the sadness
of the farewell handkerchief waved; and perhaps madness
in seeking storm and gale, masts down and vessel sunk…
But, oh, how the song of the sailor makes me drunk.

What the hell: beats doing crossword puzzles or counting the lies politicians tell in a single day.

Anyway, anything’s better than driving you all into politely bored (albeit doubtless genuine) concern with my personal problems. We must all try to choose to be brave or into doing a passable impersonation of bravery.

Go to it, my dears…

  1. March 18, 2012 9:14 PM

    that’s a brilliantly acute translation of a potent poem

  2. March 18, 2012 11:03 PM

    Thank you, Georgina. A very generous and kind remark to make. I actually translated this poem (an old favourite) before, about two years ago:

    They are very different, no? But I was in a very different frame of mind then. If translating poetry interests you, I hope you’ll join in. It was what the Perp Walk blog was set up for.

    Regards, Mishari

  3. henrylloydmoon permalink
    March 19, 2012 8:49 AM

    La Vie antérieure

    J’ai longtemps habité sous de vastes portiques
    Que les soleils marins teignaient de mille feux,
    Et que leurs grands piliers, droits et majestueux,
    Rendaient pareils, le soir, aux grottes basaltiques.

    Les houles, en roulant les images des cieux,
    Mêlaient d’une façon solennelle et mystique
    Les tout-puissants accords de leur riche musique
    Aux couleurs du couchant reflété par mes yeux.

    C’est là que j’ai vécu dans les voluptés calmes,
    Au milieu de l’azur, des vagues, des splendeurs
    Et des esclaves nus, tout imprégnés d’odeurs,

    Qui me rafraîchissaient le front avec des palmes,
    Et dont l’unique soin était d’approfondir
    Le secret douloureux qui me faisait languir.

    — Chuck Baudelaire


    Long did I lodge under vast porticoes
    That ocean suns tinged with a thousand lights;
    Majestic pillars, mirrored in the nights
    By sparkling stalactites glist’ning in rows.

    The swells heaved with such images of skies
    And mingled in a solemn, mystic way
    The shudd’ring power chords played by green day
    With painful yellow ochres in my eyes.

    Such was my dwelling place: voluptuous calm
    Amid blues waves and splendors, with a trio
    Of naked manchot eunuch slaves with B.O.

    Who slapped me ’bout the forehead with their palm
    And whose sole brief was not to tell a soul
    About the piles that martyred my arsehole.

  4. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 19, 2012 12:58 PM

    My French is perfectly serviceable but certainly not good enough to translate poetry.

    Here however is:-

    Whispers of Immortality by TS Eliot
    ( translated into something that normal people can understand )

    If Webster spent much more time working
    With far far less time spent thinking
    ( In office hours that’s known as 9-5 shirking )
    He wouldn’t sound like he’s been drinking.

    Now he stares long and hard at himself
    The lap-top screen has a good reflection
    At his age he’s not yet on the shelf
    Despite his last girlfriend’s cruel rejection.

    Donne also had too much time on his hands
    Thinking hard about things and stuff
    Till it twisted him up like rubber bands
    I’ve read one of his books, it’s enough.

    He appeared to have trouble with his lunch
    Cold veg? a dissappointing gravy ?
    Poet philosophers are a peculiar bunch
    My understanding of this bit is somewhat wavy.


    Grishkin is a bit of Russian allright
    Ex-girlfriend of a Georgian oil tycoon
    I’d certainly do her most of the night
    Til my hernia swelled up like a red balloon.

    Like any Z-list sleb she’s got pets,
    Animals from a Brazilian jungle
    Must spend a fortune at the vets
    Those marmosets suffer from something fungal.

    Like a randy tom cat her jaguar
    Crouches, lifts its long tail up to spray
    You can smell it in the flat wherever you are
    In the drawing room or further away.

    You’d give Grishkin more than one look
    You’d leave Webster alone with his book
    Grishkin looks a lot of bedtime fun
    Hard to leave her when she’s been Donne.

    May God forgive me for this. I love the original poem.

  5. March 19, 2012 3:05 PM

    Lovely, HLM and Ed. Here’s one I wrote in Arabic and translated into English:

    Douse The Flame: The Spark Will Not Die

    I gazed into the abyss
    despite warnings from Fred
    but it didn’t gaze back:
    it was much worse than this.

    It winked, and becked
    and gave me a grin:
    “it’s where you belong, brother:
    come, come on in.
    You know that our hands will
    now close round your neck.
    Abjure all the falsity,
    remain true and still”

    But I have been strangled by crueler, it’s true:
    And nor did they kill me: and neither will you.

  6. March 19, 2012 3:49 PM

    I was going to translate Verlaine’s Dans l’interminable…; but these damn medications are turning me narcoleptic.

    Later, then…

  7. March 19, 2012 10:21 PM

    You can’t say I didn’t warn you:

    Dans l’interminable…

    Dans l’interminable
    Ennui de la plaine
    La neige incertaine
    Luit comme du sable.

    Le ciel est de cuivre
    Sans lueur aucune.
    On croirait voir vivre
    Et mourir la lune.

    Comme les nuées
    Flottent gris les chênes
    Des forêts prochaines
    Parmi les buées.

    Le ciel est de cuivre
    Sans lueur aucune.
    On croirait voir vivre
    Et mourir la Lune.

    Corneille poussive
    Et vous, les loups maigres,
    Par ces bises aigres
    Quoi donc vous arrive?

    Dans l’interminable
    Ennui de la plaine
    La neige incertaine
    Luit comme du sable

    Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

    The Interminable Dance

    On this plain
    of tedium endless,
    the drifting rain,
    the sheen of dullness.

    The copper dome,
    sky metal plain,
    a dead moon’s home
    or born there again.

    Close, the oaks
    float grey as fog;
    a crouching, beaten
    sylvan dog.

    The copper sky
    is absent light;
    fit frame wherein a sun may die;
    or, spark-fed, burn, return to sight.

    The wolves so gaunt;
    the raucous crows;
    where do you haunt
    when fanged wind blows?

    On the plain
    of endless tedium
    the merciless wind
    the shadows of shadows?

    I wonder if I translated Rilke’s The Panther again, how differently (if at all) I’d approach it?

    Until now, I’d never really considered how much sway the translator’s state of mind might have (or not) on the actual work…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 19, 2012 10:50 PM

      May I cut in?
      [That is a Danse joke]
      Excellent idea. I did love your version of The Panther
      State of mind evidently has enormous sway in your expression.
      I suppose it’s best to avoid re-reading your earlier iteration if you want to test this.

  8. hic8ubique permalink
    March 19, 2012 10:34 PM

    My French is sorely in need of pardoning, but I’m now working at being able to say:
    (five squirrelly syllables)
    Amazing work, you three, with a crafty twist from Moon.
    I’m pleased with myself for getting two windows of M’s Mallarmé side by side in order to see quite closely how it has developed. Leaving the rhythm of the original, it becomes more weary, more poignant…

  9. March 19, 2012 10:41 PM

    I’m pleased that we’re able to distract and perhaps even sometimes amuse, my dear.

    I hope you’ll like this one, too.

    I was looking through my Faber Selected Poems by Louis MacNeice and came across this old one of his; I couldn’t resist posting it (copyright be damned…LM’s long-dead: what the hell does he care?):


    The shutter of time darkening ceaselessly
    Has whisked away the foam of may and elder
    And I realise how now, as every year before,
    Once again the gay months have eluded me.

    For the mind, by nature stagey, welds its frame
    Tomb-like around each little world of a day;
    We jump from picture to picture and cannot follow
    The living curve that is breathlessly the same.

    While the lawn-mower sings moving up and down
    Spiriting its little fountain of vivid green,
    I, like Poussin, make a still-bound fete of us
    Suspending every noise, of insect and machine.

    Garlands at a set angle that do not slip,
    Theatrically (and as if for ever) grace
    You and me and the stone god in the garden
    And Time who is also shown with a stone face.

    But this is all a dilettante’s lie,
    Time’s face is not stone nor yet his wings,
    Our mind, being dead, wishes to have time die
    For we being ghosts cannot catch hold of things.

    — Louis MacNeice (1933)

    What a fine poet he was…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 19, 2012 11:50 PM

      Very fine; makes me wonder… but I might want to change the end.
      hmmm, along the lines of

      Our mind, being mortal, wishes time solidify
      For we being ghosts wish to grasp concrete things.

      May as well be presumptuous, whilst we’re infringing copyright, just for the sake of the argument.

  10. Reine permalink
    March 19, 2012 10:50 PM

    Fiach Mara

    Cois farraige,
    Ag faire trasna na dtonnta síoraí
    An fiach mara i mo shúile,
    Tusa im chroí;
    Mo chroí leatsa
    Lán le grá nár féidir leis an Atlantic ar fad
    A choimead

    D’eitil an t-éan uaim
    I do threo, b’fhéidir.


    By the sea
    Looking across the eternal waves
    The cormorant in my eyeline
    You in my heart;
    My heart with you
    Full of such love
    The entire Atlantic could not contain it

    The bird flew from me
    In your direction, maybe.

    (A shit bilingual attempt by me – no wonder the fucking cormorant flew away)

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 19, 2012 11:55 PM

      Lovely…until you had to skewer it!
      [ a sea-bird joke]
      Welcome back with all your kisses. x

  11. March 19, 2012 11:10 PM

    That’s lovely, Reine. Thank you for that.

    On a related matter, a perfect example of The Grauniad’s real attitude to free speech and to poetry was exhibited the other day.

    I mentioned, in a comment on a translated poem, that we had set-up a blog solely for the purpose of allowing people to try their hand at translating poems out-of or in-to any language and invited people to join-in and provided a link to Perp Walk. Deleted almost instantly.

    The reasoning behind this is so grotesque, so irrational, so incomprehensible, that I won’t even bother to try to work it out.

    I did note, though, that when I signed in as LFDestouches, I was informed that my comments were subject to ‘pre-moderation’. A synonym for censorship, of course.

    What manner of people are these, who feel threatened by remarks on poetry, language etc etc…? Doubtless, the sort who drove Weldon Kees to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Ahh, fuck ’em, the petty, unlovely, little seat-polishers. Instead, here’s a lovely poem by Hugo Williams


    God give me strength to lead a double life.
    Cut me in half.
    Make each half happy in its own way
    with what is left.
    Let me disobey
    my own best instincts
    and do what I want to do, whatever that may be
    without regretting it, or thinking that I might.

    When I come late at night from home,
    saying I have to go away,
    remind me to look out the window,
    to see which house I’m in.
    Pin a smile on my face
    when I turn up two weeks later with a tan
    and presents for everyone.

    Teach me how to stand and where to look
    when I say the words
    about where I’ve been
    and what sort of time I’ve had.
    Was it good or bad or somewhere in between?
    I’d like to know how I feel about these things,
    perhaps you’d let me know?

    When it’s time to go to bed in one of my lives,
    go ahead of me up the stairs,
    shine a light in the corners of my room.
    Tell me this: do I wear pajamas here,
    or sleep with nothing on?
    If you can’t oblige me by cutting me in half,
    God give me strength to lead a double life.

  12. March 20, 2012 12:04 AM

    Here’s one for you, hic, by a poet I’ve always loved:

    Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day

    By Delmore Schwartz

    Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
    Metropolitan poetry here and there,
    In the park sit pauper and rentier,
    The screaming children, the motor-car
    Fugitive about us, running away,
    Between the worker and the millionaire
    Number provides all distances,
    It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
    Many great dears are taken away,
    What will become of you and me
    (This is the school in which we learn …)
    Besides the photo and the memory?
    (… that time is the fire in which we burn.)

    (This is the school in which we learn …)
    What is the self amid this blaze?
    What am I now that I was then
    Which I shall suffer and act again,
    The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
    Restored all life from infancy,
    The children shouting are bright as they run
    (This is the school in which they learn …)
    Ravished entirely in their passing play!
    (… that time is the fire in which they burn.)

    Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
    Where is my father and Eleanor?
    Not where are they now, dead seven years,
    But what they were then?
    No more? No more?
    From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
    Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
    Not where they are now (where are they now?)
    But what they were then, both beautiful;

    Each minute bursts in the burning room,
    The great globe reels in the solar fire,
    Spinning the trivial and unique away.
    (How all things flash! How all things flare!)
    What am I now that I was then?
    May memory restore again and again
    The smallest color of the smallest day:
    Time is the school in which we learn,
    Time is the fire in which we burn.

  13. hic8ubique permalink
    March 20, 2012 12:24 AM

    Thank you, Mishari.
    Beautiful. Fantastic poem about karma, and Kali…
    I have much to partake from your trove.

  14. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 20, 2012 10:27 AM

    Can you disinter the Weldon Kees parrot poem that LFDestouches/Old Possum/someone posted on PotW or PP a few months ago and put it up here?

    One of your simplest and most affecting I thought.

  15. March 20, 2012 10:40 AM

    I don’t think it was this one, was it? Because I have a vague memory of Kees actually being named:

    Pretty Polly

    The pre-Columbian Americans
    made cloaks from parrot-feathers
    and one can see why: breathable; rain-proof:
    sort of an Aztec Gortex.

    And God knows they looked swish
    as you mounted the zigurrat
    and wielded the obsidian knife
    to tear a beating heart
    out of some poor bastard’s chest.

    parrots go well with obsidian and bloodshed.

    And peanuts.

    …I really must keep a record of all the verse I write….never mind; I just googled it. This is the one you meant:

    Weldon Kees’ Parrot

    The socks in the sink;
    the parked car by
    The Golden Gate Bridge.

    His parrot said: “futility”.
    His parrot said: “despair”.
    His parrot ate a cracker
    and Weldon took to air.

  16. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 20, 2012 10:51 AM

    It’s the second one – thanks.

  17. Reine permalink
    March 20, 2012 10:57 AM

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s translations last night.

    Just some morning rambling, I’ll try to stick to the brief after this.


    I tried to translate a translation
    Put it back in original form
    But I found that my effort was grating
    My barometer read far from warm
    I tried to translate my own feelings
    Put them into some sort of queer order
    But my head with its ramblings and reelings
    Left me somewhere still shy of the border
    I tried to translate a love letter
    Put shape on the interline spacing
    But I couldn’t do that any better
    And ended up fretting and pacing
    I try now to translate your silence
    Put it into some sort of perspective
    But it still has the slap of a violence
    Abnegating our former collective.

  18. March 20, 2012 11:07 AM

    Lovely, Reine. I’m off for a doctor’s appointment but later, we’ll crack this translation racket and stun the world…or perhaps even a very small part of it…

  19. Reine permalink
    March 20, 2012 11:56 PM

    I like these guys for a bit of mellow… ‘night all.

  20. hic8ubique permalink
    March 21, 2012 12:02 AM

    I still love ‘Aztec Gortex’.

    and I do keep going back to the Hugo Williams. Deeply interesting as a search for reconciliation within the self, or bargaining for relief from the want of it. To be displaced, alienated even, within one’s own experience must be a monster task to convey, yet this poem seems a spatial articulation of that condition. Somehow HW manages to be (inversely) powerfully plaintive in expressing a null state; an art of expressing devastation through detachedness. He gives me a sense that I almost get it, but can’t ever quite grasp…
    Isn’t ‘Pin a smile’ just brutal there?

  21. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 21, 2012 12:21 PM

    Just back from Shanghai, where I was piggy-backing on the brain of my Siamese Djinn. Will look to doing a translation, but it may take me a day or two (or three) before the mind is all together again!

    Jack Brae

  22. March 21, 2012 1:36 PM

    Your works are always worth the wait, old son…

  23. March 21, 2012 4:45 PM

    I had a delightful conversation with a tall elderly Frenchman today, as we both sat in the Jardin des Plantes. He looked very distinguished, in an old-fashioned way: an aged but beautifully-cut dark-grey suit, white shirt, dark tie etc etc.

    He had steel-grey hair cut en brosse and a small, neatly trimmed moustache. His hands were long-fingered, strong-looking and elegant. If I’d been asked to guess, I would have said he’d been one of the men who ran France’s colonial empire or a perhaps a senior military officer. He had that air of authority; of a man used to command.

    Inez and the children had been with me initially but had gone on about their business and he and I conversed. He complimented me on my family and said that I struck him as a lucky man.

    “But,” he said “I sense dissatisfaction; am I wrong?”

    I told him that he was not. Take your time, he said, and give it some thought: what did I think would make me truly content?

    After some thought, I realised that one of the few places that have always made me happy have been second-hand bookshops. I have never tired of them and I doubt that I ever will.

    “Perhaps, ” he said, smiling kindly “you should consider opening one?”. With this, he bid me good-day and strolled off.

    I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I truly believe that owning a second-hand bookshop; spacious, comfortable, well-stocked, affordable, free coffee and a total lack of pressure on anyone to buy anything–such a bookshop would make me truly content.

    I must give this some serious thought.

    • Sheff Pixie permalink
      March 22, 2012 10:06 AM

      A bit of advice Mishari, on what we dream of doing from Langston Hughes,

      Dreams Deferred

      What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      Like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore –
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over –
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
      Or does it explode?

      My dream was to open a jazz club (a youthful beatnik fantasy) – but sadly it sagged, rather like the body as I approach old age. So if there’s any chance at all your bookshop could be a goer, don’t let it slip past you.

  24. Reine permalink
    March 21, 2012 5:27 PM

    What a lovely exchange. If I didn’t know better, I might say he was your guardian angel. Hope it gave you a fillip (or a Philippe – ba doom…) anyway.

  25. March 21, 2012 5:51 PM

    It did…it also made me realise that I would love to own an independent cinema. Show whatever I wanted, especially all the great films that the vast majority of people have only seen on TV, as opposed to the way they were meant to be seen, larger than life…themed double-features; themed triple-features at weekends, very like a small cinema near where I once lived in Boston, The Coolidge Corner Cinema. What a great place that was.

    Hope springs eternal…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 21, 2012 7:58 PM

      Site of my first date with D.
      We went to see ‘The Secret of Roan Inish’

    • March 21, 2012 8:18 PM

      I promised, at the end of last summer, to tell you an interesting story about my neighbour in the Sierra de Gattas and the God of Roman soldiers, Mithras.

      Typically, just when I decide to do so, after a brief nudge from you the other day, I find that all the files and notes and history etc etc are on my main laptop…the XPS that fried its motherboard.

      But by an almost miraculous stroke of luck, my computer man, had the very same model come in his shop, ripe for cannibalisation, motherboard intact. He promises my machine’s return next week, better than new, with a far larger hard-drive but otherwise exactly as it was, all data an OS etc etc intact.

      So, I didn’t forget, hic; just so many other things to distract one….

      Has anyone else watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I knew nothing about the story, the author or anything else. I thought it was excellent, if a bit disturbing…Sweden never looked so bleak and potentially evil.

      The director, David Fincher is an interesting man; not only did he direct 7 and Fight Club but he wrote the script for Eastwood’s Unforgiven,

      I also watched (with the children) We Bought A Zoo. It was OK; the sort of thing that, when Frank Capra was alive, would have been called ‘Capracorn’.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 21, 2012 8:34 PM

      Glad to hear Mithras is still in the offing.
      A miracle and and angel. Things are looking up.
      My addition to old books and old movies would be vinyl lps. Now that everything’s digital, I hear the richness of old recordings anew.

      We have a lovely old cinema (in Beverly) where a formally-dressed man plays the piano in the lobby before each film.

  26. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 21, 2012 6:05 PM

    A friend of mine works in a second hand bookshop and is trying to buy it. The owner will sell it to her but he’s old and has money-grubbing hangers on.

    She regularly has to throw out industrial quantities of the Da Vinci Code, Katie Price style books that are handed in but which will not sell in a million years.

    I remember watching an incredibly arcane TV documentary decades ago about an old skool London second-hand bookshop dealer, the guitarist Martin Stone ( ex of hippy bands Mighty Baby and Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers ) and Ian Whathischops the London psycho-geographer author. Alan Moore was probably in there as well. I could imagine you in that world of erudition, conspiracy and literary obsession.

  27. henrylloydmoon permalink
    March 21, 2012 6:54 PM

    Buy Studio 28 in Montmartre. It’s right up your street. If you happen to live on rue Tholozé…

  28. March 21, 2012 7:00 PM

    Your advice, considered unsound by some of the world’s most deranged individuals, has been noted, my old. I usually take no other kind.

    Meanwhile, compared to what HLM (who is the real thing) does, my stuff is cringe-worthy.

    I don’t think that what I do even really approximates ‘translation’; it’s more like busking or faking a tune heard long ago. Fun, though (if only for me):


    La Femme mûre ou jeune fille,
    J’en ai frôlé toutes les sortes,
    Des faciles, des difficiles;
    Voici l’avis que j’en rapporte :

    C’est des fleurs diversement mises,
    Aux airs fiers ou seuls selon l’heure;
    Nul cri sur elles n’a de prise;
    Nous jouissons, Elle demeure.

    Rien ne les tient, rien ne les fâche,
    Elles veulent qu’on les trouve belles,
    Qu’on le leur râle et leur rabâche,
    Et qu’on les use comme telles ;

    Sans souci de serments, de bagues,
    Suçons le peu qu’elles nous donnent,
    Notre respect peut être vague,
    Leurs yeux sont haut et monotones.

    Cueillons sans espoirs et sans drames,
    La chair vieillit après les roses;
    oh! parcourons le plus de gammes !
    Car il n’y a pas autre chose.

    Jules Laforgue


    Young or ripe,
    I’ve had every type:
    sound or unsound;
    and here’s what I’ve found.

    Women are blooms
    in many arrays;
    sometimes lonely,
    sometimes proud;
    in streets or in rooms
    but– their own: always.

    Who gives a damn
    for oaths and rings?
    They don’t; but allow us
    what little they will.
    Their eyes are haughty
    disdainful and still.

    Absent melodrama or false hope
    drink, luxuriate, in the perfume;
    Women and blossoms, roses and flesh
    both grow old and corrupt far too soon.

    Poor HLM…how it must pain him to see my assaults on a language he knows so well.

  29. hic8ubique permalink
    March 21, 2012 8:19 PM

    I’m sure I’m not corrupting nearly fast enough…
    but I had my dental cleaning today, and good to go for 6 mos..
    I do love getting the baking-soda blast.

    Sometimes, I like to be able to look up a dry literal translation, alongside your version’s stepping beyond into an interpretation that restores some music, and adds your own riffs, just as I like to stumble and burble through the original as best I can.

  30. Reine permalink
    March 21, 2012 8:27 PM

    Don’t worry, I’m making up for you…corrupting by the minute.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 21, 2012 8:38 PM

      Partner in ruption? Tandem?

    • Reine permalink
      March 21, 2012 8:54 PM

      Only if you drive…

  31. Reine permalink
    March 21, 2012 8:52 PM

    Just a short one, inexpertly translated…

    Solas, le Máirtín Ó Direáin

    Chaithfeadh mo cholainn cloigeann eile
    Is níor mhiste ar mo theach dhá dhoras
    Ariamh níor dhiúltaigh solas
    Ó na ceithre hairde nuair tháinig
    Ach iarraim ar an solas iasachta
    Gan mo sholas féin a mhúchadh

    Light, by Máirtín Ó Direáin

    My body would wear another head
    And my house would have two doors
    Before I denied light
    From the four heights when it came
    But I ask this foreign light
    Not to extinguish my own

    • March 21, 2012 9:02 PM

      Lovely. They’ll all be properly posted over at Perp Walk eventually…

    • Reine permalink
      March 21, 2012 9:11 PM

      Go raibh maith agat a Mhisharí … thanks Mish. I’ll teach ye Irish yet.

  32. henrylloydmoon permalink
    March 21, 2012 9:59 PM

    What you do, Mish, is adaptation; it’s translation with soul. And at the risk of wearenotworthying at thy feet, your skill in this instance is outstripped only by your modesty.

    Damn, I’ve started to perspire…

    • March 21, 2012 11:04 PM

      An epidemic of generosity seems to have infected this place…still, there are worse afflictions. Thanks all the same, though. A compliment from a master is always welcome.

      An early bed for me, I’m afraid. I bid you all sweet dreams and may they, in time, be fulfilled.

  33. hic8ubique permalink
    March 22, 2012 2:33 AM

    Although this is from 2006, it was sent me just yesterday by my son the Art student,
    I am proud and grateful to say…

  34. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 22, 2012 9:23 AM

    I’m certainly glad I never did art for O level and A level. I’m glad I left school when I was 16.

    When I finally went to art college there were quite a few students there who couldn’t escape the idea that art was something your teachers made you do.

  35. March 22, 2012 10:22 AM

    Sound advice, Sheff…and, I imagine, a common experience for art students, Ed.

    I have a film to watch called Dreams of Life (the Grauniad’s review is HERE) that I’m reluctant to start. It seems like such a sad, yet increasingly common story. It might have to go on to the ‘to do’ list for a while…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 22, 2012 2:19 PM

      I recommend Cuckoo , Mishari. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but really one of my favourites.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      March 22, 2012 2:49 PM

      Carol ( sister of Paul ) Morley who made Dreams of Life made a really good documentary about the beginnings of the Hacienda in Manchester. It’s less depressing than this one – might be a good starter.

      She was a boozer and good-time gal who interviewed the many men she had slept with about this period.

      It has a nostalgic appeal for those of us who lived in Manchester before European cafe culture and acid house raves hit the place – in the early 80’s if you wanted filter coffee the cafe in the basement of the Central Library was the only place to get it.

      It was just before the city council tried to turn Manchester into a Barcelona style 24 hour city and instead of getting families out and about late into the night got drunks fighting, puking and pissing all over the place.

    • March 22, 2012 2:50 PM

      Is this the one with Richard E Grant or the Finnish one, hic? I must admit, I suspect the former…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 22, 2012 4:20 PM

      Sorry The Cuckoo

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 22, 2012 4:29 PM

      Oo, I just looked up the Grant one, which is actually called simply: Cuckoo.
      So, you very much mis-suspected, but unfortunately, I did mislead…
      The Finnish one I love is rigourous, but also humorous and redemptive.

  36. March 22, 2012 10:23 AM

    hic, Mark Twain once said: “A man should never let schooling interfere with his education.”

  37. Sheff Pixie permalink
    March 22, 2012 3:32 PM

    I think I’ll have to gird my loins and breathy deeply before watching Dreams of Life. I recently watched A Separation – a wonderful Iranian film about the vicissitudes of family life in present day Tehran. If you haven’t already seen it, its one not to miss.

  38. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 22, 2012 3:51 PM

    Werner Herzog’s 4 part film about prisoners on death row is on UK TV tonight at 10.00.

    More cheery subject matter but as regular readers of my comments ( all 2 of them ) know Herzog is always worth a coat of looking at.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      March 22, 2012 3:52 PM

      Channel 4 that is

  39. Reine permalink
    March 22, 2012 3:53 PM

    Sheff, that one’s on my to do list for the weekend. I share your jazz club dream…

    Anyway, I just dropped in to relay an overheard encounter in the restaurant between colleagues of mine. A younger woman, prone to melodrama and wide eyed wonderment (not me), dressed in a black leather dress – tight bodice, flared skirt – was lunching with two older colleagues. One of the ladies admired the dress and got a blow by blow account of its provenance, price, fit, comfort quotient etc. and when she was finished the second woman, known for her withering one liners remarked “You look like you’re going figure skating for the Nazis”.

  40. March 22, 2012 4:31 PM

    Well, just in case anyone decides it’s all puppies and rainbows from here on in:

    the sights and sounds are muted
    the text also became un film noir
    as dreamt
    with all the multiple complications
    & shifts of meaning
    variable typeface
    the horror was what he got right.

    — from READING IN BED, a poem in Iain Sinclair’s collection Lud Heat

    What He Got Right

    It’s the vague unease
    that comes calling first:
    it couldn’t be less ominous.

    Something, you sense, has changed;
    but it’s minor, scarcely noticable:
    nothing to dwell on,
    no guard to raise.

    And yet while you turned
    to other things,
    the Other Thing
    had entered your world.

    Its touch drained,slow and sure:
    light, joy, pleasure and more–

    As you spoke a word or looked
    to something familiar and loved,
    to any and all that pleased,
    its essence was sucked from it
    and spat back at you, your enemy
    now; malignant and empty, refilled
    with…something that killed.

    This Other Thing looks for a breach
    and we must all teach
    ourselves to kill it there;
    for beyond the breach,
    it finds its tools:
    left lying about
    by careless fools.

    This is the hardest of schools:
    the only kind for unwary fools,
    if they’re fond of life.

    I am a fool fond of life.

  41. March 22, 2012 4:45 PM

    BTW, ED, I found a comment of yours in the spam filter. God knows why wordpress binned it but it’s been restored (just after HLM’s bookshop/cinema comment).

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      March 22, 2012 5:56 PM


      Iain Sinclair was of course the psycho-geographer I couldn’t remember for the life of me who then appears in one of your comments.

      Coincidence or mind-meld?

  42. Sheff Pixie permalink
    March 22, 2012 5:07 PM

    Hmm…so no to puppies and rainbows; okay Mishari. Found this in a book I’m reading and it seemed apposite given the apparent popular mood/ times we’re living through:

    They smell your breath
    lest you have said: I love you
    They smell your heart:

    These are strange times my dear…

    They chop smiles off lips,
    and songs off the mouth…

    These are strange times, my dear.

    Ahmad Shamlu 1979

    The book, btw, is ‘Then they Came for Me’ by Maziar Bahari, an Iranian journalist and it’s an intimate account of his incarceration in Evin prison in 2009, soon after the fraudulent election.

  43. March 22, 2012 7:04 PM


    Sensation Par les soirs bleus d’été, j’irai dans les sentiers,
    Picoté par les blés, fouler l’herbe menue :
    Rêveur, j’en sentirai la fraîcheur à mes pieds.
    Je laisserai le vent baigner ma tête nue.

    Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien,
    Mais l’amour infini me montera dans l’âme ;
    Et j’irai loin, bien loin, comme un bohémien,
    Par la Nature, heureux- comme avec une femme.

    Rimbaud (1870)


    On the warm azure evenings, I’ll saunter down paths,
    needled by dry corn and crushing the grass:
    feeling its coolness on my soles as I pass.
    The wind will loose my hair like a bath.

    My mind will stay blank and my mouth well-closed:
    I’ll urge love eternal to mount my shy soul;
    I’ll travel beyond whereof gypsies do speak,
    happy as if traveling with a woman unique.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 22, 2012 9:19 PM

      beyond whereof gypsies do speak
      Yes, it’s good to keep the occasional rainbow in the mix.

  44. March 22, 2012 10:17 PM

    I’m happy you liked it. My usual ‘free;’ translation verging on insolence. But soon, I shall have my proper machine back and I will embark on my career as the many-named author of many-hued books…inshalla.

    And now these damned meds send me off to an early bed again; what’s worse is that even with my new prescription reading-glasses, reading in bed, the words tend to blur…it’s all very aggravating.

    But soon, soon, the wheel turns upward again: maktoob (Arabic word, means ‘it is written’)…

    golden slumbers, all….

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 23, 2012 2:08 AM

      smiles awake you…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 23, 2012 1:22 PM

      …awoken by ‘await’

  45. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 23, 2012 11:11 AM

    Good morning all. I managed to get my brain fairly straight this morning and came up with the following. A person in possession of commonsense would hesitate to offend either Italians or professional translators with the following version. Sadly, I lack that commodity. All I can say in my defence is that I love this poem dearly and wished merely to approximate something of it (as a poem) in English. Hopefully it’ll get me off the hook for a bit at least …

    Jack Brae

  46. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 23, 2012 11:13 AM

    For de la bella caiba • fugge lo lusignolo

    For de la bella caiba • fugge lo lusignolo.
    Piange lo fantino • però che non trova
    lo so usilono • ne la gaiba nova,
    e dice con duolo: • chi gli avrì l’usolo?
    e dice con duolo: • chi gli avrì l’usolo?
    E in un boschetto • se mise ad andare
    sentì l’osoletto • sì dolce cantare.
    – Oi bel lusignolo • torne nel mio brolo
    oi bel lusignolo • torne nel mio brolo.

    The Gilded Gate Was Sprung
    (Traditional, from the Italian)

    The gilded gate was sprung; • thus fled the nightingale.
    An infant’s heart was wrung; • the child began to wail:
    My shining cage – no nightingale! • From his heart, a pang;
    He sang: • who let you out of jail?
    His heart a pang; he sang: • who let you out of jail?
    He followed a woodland trail • as the fledgling sang;
    Its sweet song a bell; • hence the trees rang.
    O lovely nightingale: • to my garden, take wing.
    O lovely nightingale: • in my garden, sing.

    version, Jack Brae Curtingstall

  47. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 23, 2012 11:18 AM

    Hi Mish

    If you’re not inclined to delete it entirely, perhaps you’d be kind enough to separate the two versions by an extra space (the formatting got lost a bit in the transfer).

    Could you also render in italics the final two lines, and also the following:

    My shining cage – no nightingale!

    and the two instances, in the following two lines, of:

    who let you out of jail?

    Jack Brae

  48. March 23, 2012 12:22 PM

    Give me a moment to gather my small wits, Jack, and I’ll get right on it; Is this right?:

    For de la bella caiba • fugge lo lusignolo

    For de la bella caiba • fugge lo lusignolo.
    Piange lo fantino • però che non trova
    lo so usilono • ne la gaiba nova,
    e dice con duolo: • chi gli avrì l’usolo?
    e dice con duolo: • chi gli avrì l’usolo?
    E in un boschetto • se mise ad andare
    sentì l’osoletto • sì dolce cantare.
    – Oi bel lusignolo • torne nel mio brolo
    oi bel lusignolo • torne nel mio brolo.


    The Gilded Gate Was Sprung
    (Traditional, from the Italian)

    The gilded gate was sprung; • thus fled the nightingale.
    An infant’s heart was wrung; • the child began to wail:
    My shining cage – no nightingale! • From his heart, a pang;
    He sang: • who let you out of jail?
    His heart a pang; he sang: • who let you out of jail?
    He followed a woodland trail • as the fledgling sang;
    Its sweet song a bell; • hence the trees rang.
    O lovely nightingale: • to my garden, take wing.
    O lovely nightingale: • in my garden, sing.

    version, Jack Brae Curtingstall

  49. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 23, 2012 12:42 PM

    Thanks Mish, that’s it.
    Mmmm, this morning it seemed like such a good idea I’d had! (Sigh!)

  50. March 23, 2012 12:49 PM

    No, no…it’s very good and shall, of course, make its way to Perp Walk, with accompanying image.

  51. hic8ubique permalink
    March 23, 2012 1:39 PM

    I like the flights of rhythm especially, Jack.
    We lost one of our two love-birds this week, the shyer and prettier of the two.
    It is indeed a ‘pang’.
    Tango, who survives her, is quite desperate for company.

  52. March 23, 2012 2:59 PM

    Back in London, I find that Spring has actually arrived:

    It is Ulysses that approaches from the east,
    The interminable adventurer? The trees are mended.
    That winter is washed away. Someone is moving

    On the horizon and lifting himself up above it.

    — from The World As Meditation by Wallace Stevens

  53. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 23, 2012 5:58 PM

    Hic, being something of a love-bird myself, I know Tango’s pangs. Glad you like the flights of rhythm.

  54. March 23, 2012 11:23 PM

    Speaking of birds (albeit rather different ones), I came across this poem while looking for something completely different; but even as the hardened atheist that I am, I found it affecting.


    You have made God small,
    setting him astride
    a pipette or a retort
    studying the bubbles,
    absorbed in an experiment
    that will come to nothing.

    I think of him rather
    as an enormous owl
    abroad in the shadows,
    brushing me sometimes
    with his wing so the blood
    in my veins freezes, able

    to find his way from one
    soul to another because
    he can see in the dark.
    I have heard him crooning
    to himself, so that almost
    I could believe in angels,

    those feathered overtones
    in love’s rafters, I have heard
    him scream, too, fastening
    his talons in his great
    adversary, or in some lesser
    denizen, maybe, like you or me.

    R.S. Thomas

  55. hic8ubique permalink
    March 24, 2012 2:40 AM

    Here’s a [bird + Thomas] favourite of mine:

    The Brook

    Seated once by a brook, watching a child
    Chiefly that paddled, I was thus beguiled.
    Mellow the blackbird sang and sharp the thrush
    Not far off in the oak and hazel brush,
    Unseen. There was a scent like honeycomb
    From mugwort dull. And down upon the dome
    Of the stone the cart-horse kicks against so oft
    A butterfly alighted. From aloft
    He took the heat of the sun, and from below.
    On the hot stone he perched contented so,
    As if never a cart would pass again
    That way; as if I were the last of men
    And he the first of insects to have earth
    And sun together and to know their worth.
    I was divided between him and the gleam,
    The motion, and the voices, of the stream,
    The waters running frizzled over gravel,
    That never vanish and for ever travel.
    A grey flycatcher silent on a fence
    And I sat as if we had been there since
    The horseman and the horse lying beneath
    The fir-tree-covered barrow on the heath,
    The horseman and the horse with silver shoes,
    Galloped the downs last. All that I could lose
    I lost. And then the child’s voice raised the dead.
    “No one’s been here before” was what she said
    And what I felt, yet never should have found
    A word for, while I gathered sight and sound.

    ~ Edward Thomas

  56. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 24, 2012 11:01 AM

    When all considerations are gathered in
    It would be simpler to be a mandarin.
    Forgo any semblance of influence or power
    Observing behaviour from an ivory tower,
    Part monk cell, part elaborate pagoda
    From which issue aphorisms a la Yoda –
    Observations abstracted into numb elegance
    Detached to the point where men become ants,
    Crawling over and under a seething cess-pit,
    A world which divides into biters and the bit.
    When all considerations are gathered in
    Would it be simpler to be a mandarin?

  57. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2012 11:09 AM

    I’m fond of both Thomases, but the R. S. Collected is one of the most thumbed on my shelves.

    Funny, but while in Shanghai the other week we got into conversation about three Thomases – Edward and R. S., but also Dylan.

    I see that there’s a new thread over at Poster Poems, with only a week left of the month. Reen is over there having fun. I’d join in except I don’t have an idea in my head. (I barely have a head these days, just a distant cloudy mess above my shoulders.)

    Jack Brae

  58. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 24, 2012 11:10 AM

    Editor : could you change the second line to ” It would be simpler to be a mandarin.”


    Glorious Spring weather up in the North too. It’s in colour as well which is always a bonus.

  59. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2012 11:12 AM

    God is a matter
    of total conjecture.
    And us for that matter,
    I bet’cha.

  60. March 24, 2012 11:23 AM

    Done, Ed.

    As for Poster Poems, I’m in ‘pre-moderation’ as LFDestouches and I’ll be damned if I’ll have my verse, feeble as it may be, ‘pre-moderated’ by philistines….even if I had an idea for a poem…which I don’t. Anyway, the weather here is glorious…far too nice to stay indoors.

    Like you, Jack, there’s something about RS’s…what to call it?…mystical austerity?…that appeals to me more than the other Thomas’s’ss? (whatever). Though they’ve all done work I love.

  61. Reine permalink
    March 24, 2012 11:41 AM

    The ideas in my head are questionable God knows, I hope men and women of calibre swell the ranks as some Sergeant Major somewhere must have once said. Or maybe it was Mae West.

    Beautiful here too; off out for a walk and taking a picnic (prophetic poetry, who knew?). Witnessed London’s spring last weekend, sitting in Russell Square drinking coffee and thumbing through a book of poetry from The London Review Bookshop. Well, when in Bloomsbury…

  62. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2012 12:02 PM

    Mish, I know I’ve said this before, and I hope it won’t be taken the wrong way (especially by Billy, whom I respect very much) but I feel the energy has recently just been leeched out of the PP thread and posting there just isn’t fun anymore. I will even admit to a feeling of guilt for leaving poor Reen on her own over there, but the threads just don’t do it for me these days. Anyway, I feel Billy kind of lost interest and energy as well. (No offence, Billy.) The idea of writing poetry to a month of the year is kind of … unexciting. I do appreciate that it’s getting harder to come up with themes etc, but maybe the project has just had its day. Which is a great pity.

    However, the main problem for me is with the Guardian mods and editors themselves. They just have no respect for the blogs. Truth be told, there’s better poetry on PP by the likes of us than on most of Carol Ann Duffy’s specially commissioned themed pages. Some of the work chosen for the Saturday Poem is fairly dismal too.

    About a fortnight ago I posted a light-hearted little rhyme to the Notherner blog, which was looking for poems on the theme of pies. Very late one night I caught a post by Don Greenpants that said that he’d been considering posting a poem but had changed his mind because I had posted there and had somehow polluted the page. He then accused me of “policing” the blogs and “littering” them with my poetry. (Actually, he described my poetry as “litter”.) He seems to think the whole world is against him. His nasty little post was since moderated, but it made me groan to think that the blogs are so overpopulated by such deluded nitwits. Being in the company of such silly idiots just takes the fun away from it all.

    Jack Brae

  63. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2012 12:04 PM

    Hi Reen, see we were posting at the same time. The sun is shining down here in Kerry, but it’s very cold.

    • Reine permalink
      March 24, 2012 6:15 PM

      Glorious here Jack, went to Glendalough. Like a summer’s day without the hordes of tourists. Hope you’re well enough in the Kerrycold.

  64. hic8ubique permalink
    March 24, 2012 3:14 PM

    Hi Jack~ It’s always a pleasure to find you here. The opportunity to discuss, and comment freely into the mix is far livelier I find than just throwing up poems. I’ve often felt PP would be more fun if people chatted about their ideas and strategies, but glory, that could be a minefield.
    I agree the ham-handed skill in moderation is appalling.
    As for the ‘deluded nitwits’, I’ve come to assume that there is one highly active one on the poetry blogs with multiple puppet profiles. This individual will fly into a deranged episode, then appear next time as someone else, but the underlying personality eventually comes into focus.There is talk of posting poems, but they rarely materialise.
    It’s such a familiar act now on PotW that the regulars just try to ignore it, unless the perpetrator can hook in a new target. Except, this last time, it must have been Des who had a go at him/her and logged in as ‘AngryParanoidPerson’. I did laugh out loud. (It was quickly modded, and disappeared altogether shortly thereafter.)

    So be not dismayed, my friend!
    Billy himself declared he was losing inspiration. At least the month theme is broad enough that any idea you have may be held up to some permutation of the word ‘March’, or Mars, or …Martianisms. You see, anything you post will, as a Martianism, be essentially on topic.
    Or post everything here chez Mishari; I‘m so sure there is no finer venue and company that I don’t even go looking.

  65. March 24, 2012 5:47 PM

    Well, I’ve just come back from a ‘March’; I must have walked over 20 miles today, all over London: East, North and West; I only walked along the South Bank of the river but didn’t go further south, to various places that I’ve lived and known well in South London.

    But what I saw was really quite astonishing; one of the main reasons that London has been a great city for almost 2000 years is its ability to change and grow. But the pace of it now took my breath away.

    On a small road that runs between Whitechapel Road and Bethnal Green, there’s an old, walled Jewish cemetery. For as long as I’ve known it, a large empty space stood by it, used as parking space by the surrounding residents. So it was no more than 12 weeks ago, when I last walked past it.

    Today, a 6-story block of flats stands on that empty space, fully completed and what is perhaps even more astonishing: fully occupied. It was the same everywhere I went, but most noticeable in the East End, where I’m much more familiar with the recent past.

    In Whitechapel, Stepney and Bow, whole vast areas that were rubble-strewn wasteland or dilapidated industrial estates the last time I saw them, some as recently as 6 months -ago, are now actual neighborhoods, complete with roads and closes, rows of shops, playgrounds, parks and schools. And all fully-populated, alive with children and bustle.

    I guess it’s the speed of it that really astonishes. London marches over itself, time and time again, leveling and re-building. I walked along the canal and where there were formerly, wild, tangled fields and tumbled-down warehouses, now stood vast apartment complexes–again, all seemingly fully-occupied.

    And everywhere, the hustle and bustle of people living: walking, sun-bathing, jogging, reading, eating, chatting etc etc…

    I couldn’t help wondering how many of them notice the speed and scale of the changes around them? Are they just too busy getting on with their lives? Do you have to be past an age, to have slowed down some, to note these things?

    I’m trying to remember how I felt about such things when I was much younger. I suspect, that unless whatever it was had some direct bearing on my life, then I just took it for granted and didn’t give it much thought.

    I guess this is The March of Progress. That ‘March’ seems like a fit subject for verse, no?

  66. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2012 6:16 PM

    Mish, sounds like a good enough subject for poetry to me.

    Hic, I am holding you responsible for my posting to the March thread of Poster Poems. It’s all your fault. You made me do it.

    • Reine permalink
      March 24, 2012 7:26 PM

      Well, I for one am glad of the stellar company. x

  67. March 24, 2012 6:54 PM

    Perhaps I will too, Jack…just out of a sense of loyalty to Billy, really.

    Assuming, of course, that the ‘pre-moderators’ don’t suspect it of being some kind of Doomsday Device, intended to destroy Mr. Rusbridger’s £60,000 hand-made Italian piano…(seriously: he wrote a long piece about the commissioning, designing and building of it a few years back).

    PS: Well, I just posted a bit of March doggerel…let’s see if it ever appears. Nobody can accuse me of refusing to swallow my pride for a decent cause.

  68. hic8ubique permalink
    March 24, 2012 7:35 PM

    Nah, I can’t make anyone do anything, Jack. I love the way ‘March’ just hangs there extraneously flapping in the breeze; charming poem.
    So, if the game is boring, change the game. How would it be to write poems that have ‘March’ concealed in them, like Waldo?

    Reine, ‘Yellow Fury’ with its vase metaphor is priceless.

    And !Mishari, 20 miles? Egad.
    Or I might say:
    Christ on a bike, Mishari on foot!

  69. InvisibleJack permalink
    March 24, 2012 7:46 PM

    Good stuff Mish.

    I agree with Hic on Yellow Fury’s priceless vase.

    Actually, Hic, you did make me get off my arse. I was having a private pity-party and bemoaning the passing of a Golden Era. Don’t know if I’ll do another one though. However, it did feel nice to have a presence back on the blog. I’m always moaning about Billy’s choices and always end up doing something nonetheless.

    • Reine permalink
      March 24, 2012 8:45 PM

      Thanks Hic, Jack. Only semi-autobiographical! Salad sandwich recipe seems to have more universal appeal… my son howled with laughter at “building the picnic dream”. He kept alternately trying to compose himself and encourage me and breaking down laughing and then admitted it wasn’t my best work. Luckily, it wasn’t news to me.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 24, 2012 8:46 PM

      Oh, alright, I did put you up to it. Now I believe the word ‘march’ will niggle at you, and something more will emerge…

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      March 25, 2012 10:18 AM

      Great poem Hic, the one you did late last night. I was feeling sleepless and silly and decided to encourage the dogg to write one too. In the finish though all he did was cog off of Johnny Keats.

  70. March 24, 2012 8:17 PM

    20 miles is easy, hic. When I walked to Santiago de Compostela, I averaged 25 to 30 miles a day, and that was over mountain and meseta. Not hard if you’re reasonably fit and you pace yourself. In the city, it’s just about 5 hours at average walking pace.

    I see my little verse snuck in to PP. Little do they know that I have cryptographically embedded code into it that gives me control of the Grauniad’s servers. Tomorrows headlines will read:

    Editor Rusbridger Announces: 1 gram of free heroin with every copy. We WILL make this paper a habit for you.

    • Reine permalink
      March 24, 2012 8:37 PM

      To think that this day last week, we might have bumped into each other as we pounded the pavements. I watched keenly for any familiar faces but only saw an actor from Coronation St. and the chef, Paul Rankin who was absolutely thrilled with himself by the looks of things.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 24, 2012 8:41 PM

      Oh, I’ve done that. I walked from morning til night in Stockholm, but I’ve never counted miles on foot. I don’t often have occasion to walk for 5 hrs at a time.

  71. hic8ubique permalink
    March 24, 2012 8:51 PM

    I finally got my cakes in the oven. When they emerge, I’m off.
    The UK is getting the summer we had all week, I take it.
    Very weird to have forsythia in full bloom a month early. Walking yesterday, it was so warm I had to carry the dog for the last half-mile. She’d lie down panting making a noise like an ignition turning over and over, so I finally got fed up and slung her under my arm. She wasn’t even embarrassed.

  72. March 24, 2012 10:08 PM

    Cakes? What kind of cakes, tell?

  73. hic8ubique permalink
    March 25, 2012 12:58 AM

    Ah, layers for Birthday-cake tomorrow. (The Aged Spouse will be 52; we’re 10 mos. apart to the day.) The tradition is for each Birthday guest-of-honour to request a cake of choice. So, these are for a vanilla cake with lots of beautiful eggs and good vanilla. The request was chocolate-orange:
    Milk-chocolate frosting with a drop or two of orange oil in. One layer of cream-cheese frosting with orange marmalade mixed (trust me), and one layer of dark choc. ganache, or… if people turn up early for pancakes, I’ll skip the ganache and use the milk choc frosting for one of the inner layers. Rather than cointreau, as I haven’t any, I’ll slosh this lovely Poire William over the layers before the frosting goes on. A grating of orange zest on the top.
    I can well imagine an enthusiasm for cake after such a march. We don’t have it very often; only for birthdays really. Oh, vanilla froz yoghurt and/or blood-orange sorbet optional.What is your most favourite ideal cake?
    So, you’ve walked the Camino? We went to see The Way which I found interesting mainly for the scenery, but the mob-scene of the group hostel was pretty off-putting. I spent one night like that in Stockholm when the usual Vandrarhem were full for a huge road-race. Never again. I’d rather carry a tent. Well, maybe a rain-fly… and a bit of ground-sheeting…
    Hope you are deep in the honest sleep of the bone-tired, M.

    • Reine permalink
      March 25, 2012 11:26 AM

      Happy birthday to aged spouse with the mellifluous tones. Have a lovely day.

  74. March 25, 2012 10:00 AM

    Yes, I was sleeping the sleep of the just.The cake sounds lovely. Felicitations to you both.

    As for the Camino, I avoided the refugios like the plague, except to use the showers and such. Why anyone would willingly choose to attempt rest amongst 50 to 200 snoring, farting, mumbling etc etc other people is beyond me. I slept under the stars, always. If it rained, which was rare except in Asturias and Galicia, I sought shelter of some kind; otherwise, out in the open.

    What was as bad as the crowd noises etc of the hostels was the mad rush to be off and walking at the crack of dawn. Which meant that, inevitably, 1 to 2 miles of the camino was crowded with walkers, who had all left the hostel at roughly the same time. They seemed to think it was a race or something.

    Me, I woke up when I felt like it, had a few coffees, perhaps a bite to eat and set off when I felt like it. Consequently, I hardly ever saw anyone else on the camino itself, except for a couple of fellows (an American graphic-designer who lived in Amsterdam and a Belgian dentist) who were coming the other way: they’d enjoyed the walk so much that they were walking back. They, too, had done it my way.

    Done like that–stopping off at anything interesting, making diversions to see something special, spending more than one night in a place you especially liked–it was a glorious experience.

    One day, I intend to walk the Via de la Plata, which is the old pilgrim way from Seville to Santiago; it’s considerably longer and hardly anyone does it. Perfect.

    I saw the film as well. It seemed like a good illustration of how not to do it.

    Damnit…it’s gone cold again…what happened to yesterday’s summer-like warmth?

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      March 25, 2012 10:30 AM

      I’d love to walk the Camino. If things get any worse here I might actually be there permanently. I’ll be the beggar who accosts walkers and runs off with their sleeping bags and chocholate. I’ll become a legend.

      I saw the movie and wanted to strangle the entire cast afterwards, so I suppose that was a spiritual response. Apparantly Martin Sheen has just made (or is currently making) another piece of ridiculous bejaybary here in Ireland, in his spiritual parish of Borrisokane. It’ll all end in blubbery tears, I’m sure.

  75. March 25, 2012 10:07 AM

    But to make up for the colder weather, this was waiting for me in my in-box:

    Dear Friend

    I am senior staff work with a bank here in Spain, I need your assistance in repatriating the funds left behind by a late customer that died with his entire family before it is declared unserviceable.

    Every attempt to trace any member of his family has proved unsuccessful and abortive.

    I contacted you because we can therefore present you as the beneficiary to the inheritance since there is no written will. I will give you more information upon your response to this.

    I would request that you keep the content of this mail confidential and the integrity of the information as important. I contacted you as an independently proposal outside the bank i work. My Email:

    Best regards,

    Mr. Alfonso Cortez

    What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts.

  76. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 25, 2012 10:57 AM

    Experienced one of the most impressive pea-souper fogs like EVAH last night whilst driving over the Peninnes.

    Visibility was less than 3m in places.

    Banks of the stuff was ( were? ) piling over the motorway barriers as if there was a smoke machine pumping it out in the fields.

    Then it stopped dramatically on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border. A sentence almost built for the comments of MMowbray.

    btw do watch the Herzog series if you can. It’s called Death Row, the subject matter is grimmer than grim but Herzog makes something else out of it.

    • Reine permalink
      March 25, 2012 11:02 AM

      Fog and the Herzog – there’s the germ of an Alarming March poem, no?

  77. Reine permalink
    March 25, 2012 11:05 AM

    I know he is impressive but I didn’t quite mean to give him the definite article. (A sentence I have uttered more than once in my life)

  78. March 25, 2012 11:09 AM

    My tolerance for ‘grim’ is very low at the moment, Ed, but I’ll catch it at some point (God bless bit-torrent); I’ll watch anything Herzog does, anyway.

    I see we’ve lost an hour and are officially on ‘British Summer Time’…and just to confirm it, the sun has started to come out from behind the clouds…yay.

    • Reine permalink
      March 25, 2012 11:16 AM

      I have just poemed on the time loss – we have guests (ex-husband and family) due for lunch at two who may arrive then or at one or three; timing the roast will be challenging.

      Enjoy the sun Mish.

  79. March 25, 2012 11:13 AM

    I meant to ask you, Ed…did you see Hugo? While parts of it it were a bit too mawkish, others were enchanting…especially the film history and the re-discovery of Mieles stuff. It looked more like a Gilliam film than a Scorcese film.

    Morning, Reine…howaya?

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      March 25, 2012 11:36 AM

      I missed Hugo at the flicks – friends who saw it said much the same as you. Can’t have enough about M. Melies in my opinion but sentimental he certainly wasn’t.

      I can understand your desire to keep away from grimness. I wouldn’t have bothered had Herzog not been involved. It really is worth a look when you are on a more even keel – which I hope will be sooner rather than later.

      Reine I’m a complete-ist at heart and have tried a couple of Spring into March, March into Spring poem attempts but the results were too horrible to post. I’ll wait until April when I can abuse the opening part of the Waste Land to my heart’s content.

  80. March 25, 2012 12:50 PM

    I haven’t stopped laughing since I read THIS.

    Johnny Depp as Tonto? Has he lost his mind?

    Some of you may even remember my own meditations on The Lone Ranger.

    What a world….

    Right…the sun’s out and so am I…

  81. March 26, 2012 9:27 AM

    I knew there was something fishy about the Euro but THIS article about a fellow in Dublin took the fishiness to the the next level.

    As an emblem of the modern Irish condition, Frank Buckley is almost too apt. Dead broke, he lives in a house made of money.

    Euros here, euros there. Euros in the fireplace. Euros on the floor, on the chairs, in the windows. Worthless euros, taken out of circulation and shredded by Ireland’s Central Bank, forming the interior walls of an apartment that Mr. Buckley does not own in a building left vacant by the country’s economic ruin.

    Mr. Buckley, 50, calls the apartment — built from thousands of bricks of shredded, decommissioned cash (each brick contains, roughly, what used to be 50,000 euros) — the Billion Euro House. He reckons that about 1.4 billion euros actually went into it, but the joke, of course, is that it is worth simultaneously so much and so little. — The NYT, today

  82. hic8ubique permalink
    March 26, 2012 5:35 PM

    I’ve been thinking about these point-to-point routes like the Caminos for many years.
    Now, I’m having to admit to myself that the romance of the idea doesn’t hold up well against my expectations of creature comforts. Some friends went walking in Scotland last year, but their belongings were transported ahead each day to the next inn along their plotted way.
    Sadly, that is probably what I’d require, but I’d like to do it on horseback in Ireland. The idea of me wandering along with my knapsack on my back belongs somewhere back in my thirties.
    The escape fantasy doesn’t play as well with expectations about showers, sun-protection, regular meals, fresh laundry, soy-milk for my espresso, contact-lens solution, a mint on my tempurpedic pillow…
    Look! there goes Carefree Hic with her entourage of Sherpas…
    The rueful part is realising that now I’m free enough I could do it, I would no longer want to. *sigh*

    • Reine permalink
      March 26, 2012 9:34 PM

      I’d allow you to tie up your horse for the night.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 26, 2012 9:51 PM

      My horse isn’t into that.

  83. Reine permalink
    March 26, 2012 10:01 PM

    Alright, maybe just tickle him then. I can picture the pair of us galloping across the west. I’m shattered, off for an early night. Night, see ye, love ye as we Stantininis say…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 26, 2012 10:12 PM

      Sorry, Re, that struck me as a comical response, most likely because I was listening this afternoon to so and so Weiner (?) who writes the Mad Men series. He was interviewed by Terry Gross and talked about sado-masochism related to the Don Draper character. It was an engaging interview despite my never having watched the show.

      Anyway, so will you be riding point to point with me, with a cosy B&B prepared to receive us each evening? Have you ever done anything like that?
      I may be a bit restless just now. I’m not doing my usual recert in Marin next month. Wanted to plan a wild dolphin swim in the Bahamas this June, but it’s not looking likely at the moment [pace * pace]

      “Night, see ye, love ye” x

  84. Reine permalink
    March 27, 2012 6:38 PM

    It was indeed comical Hic. I was very taken with the first few series of Mad Men and took a particular fancy to Roger, by name and nature the same fellow.

    I will only be riding (ahem) with you in spirit but will be delighted to meet you at the B&B to hear breathless tales of life on horseback. I used to horse ride as a child but I was never in any danger of being recruited by the Aga Khan.

    Swimming with dolphins? You make one’s paltry holiday ambitions seem very pedestrian (not in the Camino sense). If I win the lotto, I will sponsor the trip.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      March 27, 2012 10:53 PM

      A lovely colleague is one of the facilitators, and it’s just a five day thing, not a long flight.
      We shall see; as long as it’s just an idea, why stint? Anything worth the bother …the less ambitious plans rarely justify leaving here.
      If you win the lotto, you shall join me; wouldn’t that be the cat’s.

  85. hic8ubique permalink
    March 27, 2012 10:59 PM

    “Great poem Hic, the one you did late last night. I was feeling sleepless and silly and decided to encourage the dogg to write one too. In the finish though all he did was cog off of Johnny Keats.”

    Thanks for this Jack, if you’re still about. It was indeed late, and I was ‘cogging’ off Juan’s
    effort with my tipsy nod (very loosely) to Browning. Gratified you liked it.

    If you’re up for a Camino, perhaps we might all be inspired to convene in order to walk the Pol Hom Way. Wouldn’t that be wild?

  86. Edward Taylor permalink
    March 28, 2012 12:53 PM

    I think that I shall never be
    A poem lovely as a tree.
    Their foliage, the mottled bark,
    I look better in the dark.
    Green sings out when they’re in leaf
    The colours I wear are beyond belief.
    Their strength sustained by miles of roots
    My nine and a half feet in size ten boots.
    The wind causes branches to gently sway
    My wind makes others stay away.
    The Baobab! The stately Oak!
    I’m just an unassuming bloke.
    In spring the wood’s an extravaganza
    You’d struggle to fit me into a stanza.

    The Redwood’s a sonnet, I’m free verse,
    The Elm’s a Constable, I’m Damien Hirst.

  87. March 29, 2012 4:24 PM

    Mishari – you’ve probably spotted this already, but 17,000 of Alan Lomax’s field recordings have just been put online for free.

    Worth an explore.

  88. Edward Taylor permalink
    April 3, 2012 2:04 PM

    This amused me

    “3 Apr 2012: Video (2min 26sec) Writer Ian McEwan describes meeting Tony Blair at the opening of Tate Modern, when the then-prime minister mistook him for an artist ”

    All around the birds are working hard in the fields, the lambs are gambling and the cacti are flowering.

  89. Reine permalink
    April 3, 2012 4:00 PM

    Jesus, times are hard when even the lambs are gambling ;)

    McEwan always reminds me of that actor in westerns whose name I can never remember. That may have been the funniest thing that ever happened to him. He doesn’t strike me as a fellow given to rolling in the aisles, unless of the bookshops letting adoring fans tickle him.

  90. Edward Taylor permalink
    April 3, 2012 5:12 PM

    Times are getting hard indeed.

    This will be the first year since 1995 that we haven’t toured to Ireland.

    Not sure if it’s the economy or a petition that’s caused this state of affairs.

    • Reine permalink
      April 3, 2012 5:38 PM

      It wasn’t my doing… I would have been first in line to stick my head in the pig. (no laughing in the cheap seats)

  91. Reine permalink
    April 3, 2012 11:05 PM

    Hic, you’d better hope you don’t get a horse like this fellow for your point to point…

  92. hic8ubique permalink
    April 4, 2012 1:41 AM

    I perceive you are exercising your talent for cheering me up, Madame Re. I might not mind such a fellow to press a point to point, after all.
    But now I must post this poem, since it happens to mention just such an individual.
    I thought it might go on Billy’s, but the segue is here, so…

    31 March ’12
    Encounter Dream

    Emerging from budding woods, I
    saw a sea-lion, grey one,
    by the vernal pool so
    out of place, spotted

    we saw each other, and circling me
    it raced, thought I, to flee,
    but kept on as if showing off
    strangely so fast, then
    came to frisk teasing at my feet.

    “I’ll not lower my hand to you,
    wildling” said I “I’m human,
    so not good for you” but, he
    followed me up the hill to home.

    We passed the pinto tied
    beside a dry bale to munch;
    I passed the dog, unaware of
    his menacing a badgery porcupine
    whilst my sea-lion friend

    hung back concealed in brush.
    Indoors, everyone was intent
    painting a still-life. I left
    to seek my vital sea-lion.

    • Reine permalink
      April 4, 2012 12:11 PM

      That is gorgeous. Magical. You should PP it as well.

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      April 4, 2012 1:43 PM

      Mighty stuff Hic. I agree with Hic. PP it.

  93. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 4, 2012 1:44 PM

    I meant to say “I agree with Reen”.

    My brain was obviously traumatised by seeing that randy Horse in Reen’s link!

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      April 4, 2012 1:53 PM

      Prick up your ears was the first phrase that came to mind.

  94. Reine permalink
    April 4, 2012 2:36 PM

    I consider it the highest compliment to be mixed up with Hic…

    Not as traumatised at the poor garda was I’d say Jack. Jaysus, Mr. Ed should get himself an agent.

  95. hic8ubique permalink
    April 4, 2012 2:51 PM

    Thanks, team, I did PP it, which gave me a chance to fix one or two bits.

    ‘Pinto’ is a nicer word than ‘skewbald’.

  96. Reine permalink
    April 7, 2012 9:03 PM

    Joy of Eastertide wishes to all and sundry. I will be at dawn mass at the foot of Croagh Patrick tomorrow seeking indulgences for you all. (Text Reen@resurrection84) to opt out. Of course it is bound to rain. With any luck, a flock of seagulls will shit on my car and I will know then what my future holds.

    • InvisibleJack permalink
      April 7, 2012 9:51 PM

      Would these be the Wicked Indulgences you’d be seeking for us? Count me in.

  97. hic8ubique permalink
    April 8, 2012 2:19 AM

    Normally, I too would be of a mind for the wicked and corrupted indulgences, but as I’m nursing a boy with a fever, who tells me now, impertinently, to learn to type with all of my fingers…
    I say: “don’t bite that thermometer…
    he says : “I like mercury”…
    I’m more inclined to ask for manifold angelic blessings. So be it.

    I’m grateful for the brief holiday opportunity to sequester him at home for a spell of long-simmered chicken soup and imposed bed-rest.
    Especially satisfied that I declined a viewing of Titanic in 3D…

    Such satisfaction to the each and every of you in the Pol Hom conviviality.

  98. Edward Taylor permalink
    April 8, 2012 9:30 AM

    ( written from a subterranean cave ) i fear you may have your work cut out with some of us Reine.

    I had an attack of the Dawkins over Easter aged about 9 and haven’t celebrated it since. An odd choice for a boy of my age given the amount of potential chocolate on offer. I expect some form of rebellion was behind it.

    Good luck.

    By sheer coincidence the wrens in our garden have become visible again.

    Interesting ( or not ) as they don’t migrate for the winter, they evidently don’t die in the cold and given the lack of insects at that time of the year you’d imagine they’d be more visible foraging rather than less.

  99. Reine permalink
    April 8, 2012 12:06 PM

    Well, I did my best. I was the only one who bothered to put on makeup for the resurrection… really, ladies, yes, you started out in the dark but the whole nature of dawn is that it will get brighter. Jesus might love us unconditionally, but it’s no excuse for not making an effort.

    So… by the shores of Clew Bay, in the shadow of the mountain, waves lapping, birds circling an ancient abbey … one might actually believe. At approximately 6.40 a.m., in a moment of silent reflection, your names were offered up humbly with my best intentions.

    Now, there’s a fatted calf to be cooked (not quite in keeping) … no rest for the wicked and, God knows, I am wicked.

    Bye, see ye, love ye x

  100. Edward Taylor permalink
    April 9, 2012 3:31 PM

    Super Natural

    Are they always there? They remain unseen
    Like the Smoking Kills signs
    Or the bass player in Queen.

    Materialising before your eyes
    Unbidden from somewhere hidden
    Or beaming down from USS Enterprise.

    Back in the garden

  101. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 10, 2012 11:23 AM

    There was a young lady called Reen
    who early one morning was seen
    under gull-rendered skies
    (with mascaraed eyes)
    sending prayers to forces unseen

  102. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 11, 2012 7:05 PM

    Mish, I hope you’re holding your own in the struggle. Been thinking of you.

    I thought that HLM’s version of L’ Albatros over on POTW was bloody marvellous. Bloody bloody good, and so it should be. But then along comes Mowbray and blows everyone out of the water, including Baudelaire. Fucking piece of genius. Seriously, the best poem (never mind this translation Mallarky, it was a poem in its own right) I’ve read in the past two days. Both these versions should go up on Perp Walk in my view. Puts us all to shame, to be sure.

    Jack Brae

  103. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 11, 2012 7:15 PM

    well nah, didn’t relise that was akscherly old K. Amis wot done that. Mowbray isn’t arf as good as oi fort.

    jack brae

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 11, 2012 9:19 PM

      Well, nobody can say you haven’t the courage of your convictions, Jack.
      And I absolutely agree about Moon’s fantastic version, but I just ticked his box rather than risk setting off the clique vigilantes with my raves.
      He’s a heavy hitter.

  104. InvisibleJack permalink
    April 11, 2012 9:28 PM

    Won’t be commenting on POTW anymore. Will be looking though, that’s always worth doing.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 12, 2012 10:16 PM

      Jack~ your PotW comments are always a worthwhile antidote to drivel. The social maladjustment of a few should not be permitted to deter you.
      I hope we’ll at least be able to lure your Siamese djinn out to play. Sometimes when I feel disinclined to enter the harangue, I find I can couch a sketch of my perspective in a flippant snippet of verse.

  105. April 12, 2012 12:23 AM

    I can’t translate, unfortunately. My Dutch isn’t good enough. But here’s an, ahem, translation of sung lyric to text. Not sure how it may come across without all the epic rock trimmings:

    O, God I think I saw him move
    Broken cigar and clotted wine
    A flash of gold around his neck
    His tattered slacks held up with twine

    But through the smoke around his face
    Well, I could make out man enough
    To heat you like an ox’s tongue;
    To melt you down then lick it up

    So won’t you run away, Baby
    Run away from the thing you saw
    Sometimes it’s better, just to wonder
    Than have everything you know
    Go crashing through a trap door

    Won’t you run away baby
    Run away from the thing you saw
    Because the stone cold daddy with the gas-burned suit
    And his hands on the floor
    Might just have been a Minotaur

    O, God it’s been 10,000 years
    But this volcano never sleeps
    I ride the floe, I burn and roll
    Through broken days and midnight creeps

    I lifted Memphis on my horn
    But I can’t stand up from this kerb
    There’s no more incense, no more youths
    White Lightning and fag ends must serve

    So won’t you come away baby (etc)….

    Well I was born 10,000 years ago
    When a little blood would wash away
    Like springtime snow
    And I was what men feared
    When I was born 10,000 years ago

    Hope everyone’s well. And good vibes to our host. x

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 12, 2012 10:28 PM

      This is wonderful, ExB. I think it does very well on the page.
      My only suggestion (in case you should want one) is:
      ‘I ride the magma floe, burn and roll’ as a possible alternative to

      ‘I ride the floe, I burn and roll’
      unless you want an ambiguity of ice and fire?

      …but, distinctly compelling overall anyway.

      All’s well here. Last I heard, Mishari was making great strides.
      I hope you are feeling the Spring in your veins as well.

  106. hic8ubique permalink
    April 12, 2012 10:18 PM

    From the hilarity of Alarming’s ‘I snore datta, dayavdham,danyatta’
    to a foreboding shroud from Reine…
    yet, I have no impulse to make a poem.
    That’s a sort of relaxation.

  107. hic8ubique permalink
    April 12, 2012 10:36 PM

    Kevin~ if you should be about. I caught your three poems from the 1922 anthology before they were axed, and captured one of them.
    I had Up the Airy Mountain as a child, remember it well, (except the Bridget verse) and found the North/South one particulary interesting.

  108. Reine permalink
    April 13, 2012 3:08 PM

    Blue of the Night, a radio show I like, has linked to this in its trailer for tonight’s show… a fave of Mishari’s I think. Anyway just posting as a holding pattern and “hullohing” to all.

  109. April 16, 2012 6:29 PM

    Thanks, Hic! I hadn’t noticed the floe issue. Have I made a paradox? I mean, is ‘floe’ associated more with ice than lava? Fine either way. Quite happy with the paradox if it’s there.

    I’ve just finished reading Karel Capek’s ‘War with the Newts’, which I enjoyed. But it occurred to me that I almost always enjoy books that bring fabulous or anthropomorphic animals and characters from myth into the real world. The lyric above is in part drawn from ‘The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break’ by Steven Sherrill, where the bovine one works as a melancholy chef in a nowheresville diner. Also loved Heart of a Dog and, er, The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Having struggled with picking up novels (or, at least, finishing them) for a long time, I’m on a bit of a roll; Reine – finally, finally, about to start The Twin. So, thanks again.

    Ned, if you’re there, I think you’d very much enjoy War With the Newts – although I’m sure you’ve read it. Went to the Jolly Butcher on Saturday for a quick half after a walk from Old Street to Stoke Newington and thought of you. Hope all’s well.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 16, 2012 11:55 PM

      Oh, I Love ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’.
      ‘He drank all the water in the tap.’ Fantastic.

      I think ‘flow’ is lava and ‘floe’ is ice, but aurally you get ambiguity, so that’s happy.

      At last I got to see The Artist which was every bit as enjoyable as I’d anticipated and more.
      Beautifully crafted; I’d see it again and find more to love, I’m sure.

      We had a toy once, some sort of souvenir perhaps, which was a fright-wigged minotaur in lederhosen and on skis. It had a nose-ring which when pulled caused the thing to bellow and roll its eyes.
      It was the most grotesque anomaly and terrifying to my first-born, and so was probably disposed of. Utterly unforgettable though.

      Partial to centaurs myself.

    • Reine permalink
      April 17, 2012 5:26 PM

      Hope The Twin doesn’t disappoint Exit. It’s a bit grimsville but I thought it wonderfully atmospheric. Anyway, I won’t be testing you at the end so don’t feel obliged to persist.

      Hic, it’s easier to get a minotaur into bed than a centaur although the latter is handier for quick trips to the shop.

  110. hic8ubique permalink
    April 17, 2012 12:01 AM

    Just remembered this:

    She was also frightened of one of these, another odd gift, which we called the ‘Oogie’,
    so we put it in the medicine chest as a deterrent.
    She’s 28 now, so it feels like ancient history.

  111. April 17, 2012 9:00 PM

    Just revisited the ‘fright-wigged minotaur on skis’. I think my brain rejected the image the first time as too horrible. The Ogie is simply something I can now never unsee.

    Reine, If I recall ‘The Minotaur takes…’ he was quite tricky to get into bed (shy) and there were problems (horns). Lovely novel.

    Very much enjoying the Twin. I didn’t realise it was a Dutch novel, so happy to revisit a familiar landscape and smile at the impossibility of translating certain Dutch foods into English. Although for some reason I read the characters in my head with Irish accents. I find it quite gentle, so far. Sad but not vicious.

    Just came back from a talk at the William Blake Society by Eric G Wilson. He was rather manic, very enthusiastic and a bit nervous. Very good on what Blake can teach about the creative process. Felt a bit bad for him, lecturing only about a dozen or so people and all of us looking in various degrees of general oddball outsiderness. Still, that’s Blake for you. Since checked him out and he’s written some fairly high profile books, as well as recent articles for Salon.

    • Reine permalink
      April 17, 2012 10:32 PM

      Ah, so my Irish whispering spell worked. I kept thinking of Joe Gargery and his forge. Glad you like it anyway Exit. Blake man sounds interesting.

      Life is hard enough without the challenges of being a minotaur. No wonder he smoked.

  112. hic8ubique permalink
    April 19, 2012 3:16 PM

    A merciful belle dame named ‘Reine’
    her poitrine more famed than Mycenae
    rose and painted her face
    to beseech Pascal grace
    for her friends too remote to be seen-e

    Happy Birthday, Dear Reine, Happy Birthday to you!


  113. Reine permalink
    April 19, 2012 4:12 PM

    Thanks lovely Hic, and for your e-mail.

    My poitrine is drooping but my spirits are swooping, tak. x

  114. Captain Ned permalink
    April 19, 2012 4:34 PM

    Greetings from South Korea, Pol Hommers. I have been here for a week now and am very tired; teaching children is an exhausting business, especially when there aren’t enough books, there isn’t a functioning timetable and most of your co-workers can barely speak English (even though they’re supposed to be teaching it). But the days are sunny, the cherry trees are in bloom and the weekend beckons (which means time to drink more makkoli). To Reine, I say 생일축하합니다.

    I have not read Capek, EB, but would like to. Obooki thinks highly of him.

    Hic, when you say that your toy minotaur was probably disposed of, that ‘probably’ makes me nervous. The possibility, however faint, of its continued existence makes me worry for the safety of my young charges thousands of miles across the globe from you. A properly ceremonious destruction of the thing is the only course.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 19, 2012 4:41 PM

      Ahoy, CaptN! You’re still getting your sea-legs. I’m sure you’ll mulch down well, if I may scramble my metaphors.
      I’ll make enquiries around the old family pile just to reassure you the creature is no more.

  115. Reine permalink
    April 19, 2012 4:58 PM

    Ned, I told you before – I’d love to but I’m married. Ha, hope the fatigue eases and thanks for the good wishes.

  116. Edward Taylor permalink
    April 19, 2012 5:43 PM

    Ned I’d also keep an eye out for the skies. Those malfunctioning test rockets north of the border have to land somewhere.

    A friend of mine in North Wales has had to start teaching the 6 year old son of his partner at home.

    The boy is as good as gold at home, is able to be empathetic towards others and in general displays no devious behavioural patterns but the school threw him out after Easter saying he is a disruptive influence and citing evidence from a classmate who is known for making things up..

    They’ve not been offered any support from outside agencies and the reasons given display the mindset of a small traditional school in a tiny rural village.

    My friend says that the boy doesn’t like school very much and isn’t shy of speaking his mind but it seems extraordinary that they have over-reacted to what appears to be a solveable problem

  117. Ovid Yeats permalink
    April 20, 2012 11:13 PM

  118. Ovid Yeats permalink
    April 20, 2012 11:16 PM

    Not excised for being ‘off topic’.

  119. hic8ubique permalink
    April 23, 2012 5:25 PM

    Blast. I thought the PotW was our ‘John Skelton’; caught myself just before gushing over excellent choice of poet without having read more than his name :(

    You should consider keeping that name, OvidYeats; it lends a lovely complementary element to our colour-scheme. I noted your savvy post about chinese censorship.

  120. Reine permalink
    April 23, 2012 6:23 PM

    Isn’t our John a Sexton or am I labouring under a misapprehension?… I think the potw is about my good old grand aunt, several times removed, Margery.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      April 23, 2012 6:51 PM

      Oh, you’re right, of course. I tend to conflate certain words. My enthusiasm ran roughshod over the distinction. Even reading ‘Sexton’ in your post, I didn’t immediately get it…
      Margery? we’re probably related somewhere back there in the mists.

  121. Reine permalink
    April 23, 2012 8:16 PM

    Poor Margery wouldn’t have had any Vol de Nuit to adorn her.

  122. Edward Taylor permalink
    April 24, 2012 10:58 AM

  123. Ovid Yeats permalink
    April 26, 2012 1:02 AM

    There’s a wonderful clarity in the images. And a somewhat brusque yet aleatory way the
    voice(s) inter-mesh and strangle the scene into defiant, glorious and graceful submission. As a squash tis before a peascod, or a codling when tis almost an apple. Something in-between something and something else. Something powerful and repetitive,

    elegant and brute. The metrical energies at variance with the Creator, yet at-one with the people. Simultaneously present and elsewhere, cliched yet not an inaccurate groan of cultural recognition. Skeltonics, gel-a-tonical it brings together nama and mama, repeated after a proctorial smorgasbord has spoken, in utterance, a viable doh-ray-moi of aman and nama – back-to-front they go. No mam yes sir ten bags light of three not full.

    What does it all mean?

  124. Ovid Yeats permalink
    April 26, 2012 1:53 AM

    I made a mistake, copying and pasting a link that doesn’t embed the vid. Now, because the blog software classifies the proper link, that has a longer code that embeds a copy of it here, as a reproduced post, I am guessing, it won’t appear here as its been put into a spam-holder. It is confusing without the context the cartoon characters speak.

    The above few sentences were removed in two minutes.

    Sad. I stumbled across Xtranormal last week after having screeds of, not off topic, waffle removed, and i enacted a breach of copyrite by making a cartoon one of last weeks poem that I then put up the link to, and that was up for a few hours before being disappeared. This is a different one, created at the same time earlier this evening as the one that went into the spam filter, and so it should appear here. Hopefully.

    Thanks hic. I did read your comment about saving one of my rants, but days after you wrote it. Cheers.

  125. hic8ubique permalink
    April 26, 2012 2:33 PM

    Still in the greening OvY… I ‘caught’ that post of yours only in the sense of reading it before excision, but I admired how cleverly you couched your condemnation of censorship within a PotW about a Chinese poet, drawing a scathing parallel.
    They aren’t fast enough off the mark to prevent you being heard by many, even though the archives end up fragmented.

    Per Reine’s “Please stop talking about the match.”
    … I told Spouse this morning that three sad dramas in four days is too much for me to assimilate. (A Separation, Birdsong pt.I, and The Deep Blue Sea)
    His reply: “Four actually… [grave pause]
    the Bruins lost.”

  126. Captain Ned permalink
    May 2, 2012 12:14 PM

    I see that David Weiss of the artistic duo Fischli/Weiss has died recently. Anyone here familiar with their work? I’ve only seen one short film, about a rat and a bear (the artists in rudimentary costume) wandering through caves, mountains and forests. It was being shown at a small exhibition at the ICA; everything else there was utterly uninteresting crap of the type apparently favoured during Ekow Eshun’s tenure as artistic director. The film was being shown on a video screen in an ordinary gallery room, in the midst of the other exhibits, but I found it so entrancing that I had to sit cross-legged in the middle of the floor and watch the whole thing through while other people walked around me and gave the odd funny look.

  127. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 2, 2012 10:48 PM

    This is their most famous film Ned. It got ripped off by a car commercial a few year’s back.

    They had a go at sue-ing and were told the commercial wasn’t similar enough – even thoughg certain things in it are a complete copy. Fischli and Weiss’ lawyers obviously weren’t as good as the car company’s lawyers.

    They also had a room in the Tate Modern where they painstakingly re-made all the crap that the builders left whilst building the Tate Modern. All the milk-bottles, tarpaulins, ladders, paint brushes are made of polystyrene and painted by the artists. It looks completely normal until you realise it’s anything but.

  128. Reine permalink
    May 4, 2012 10:49 PM

    Well, I have just come off the phone to my mother, and before that my cousin, who regaled me with a most amusing, if unfortunate, anecdote from their day.

    The background is that my mother’s 102 year old aunt died earlier in the week and was being buried today following her funeral mass on an island off the west coast where she lived the greater part of her life. So the nieces, among others, set off on the high seas arriving in good time on a clement day. So far so good. My aunt, let us call her Máire, for that is her name, is a very imposing lady – think Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey if you have seen it or some similar dowager type. She always looks fabulous, has a mildly haughty air and a very posh accent which none of her siblings shares. She suffers badly with arthritis. To this end it was arranged that she would get a lift to the graveyard in the hearse, which is actually a 4 by 4 with the back door removed to facilitate access and egress of the dear departed in their coffins. Everyone laughed at her riding shotgun, how like her, look at the cut of her etc. etc. Her daughter, who happened to be visiting from London, was delighted to be getting one of the better funeral outings and meeting all the relatives.

    By the time the pedestrians arrived at the graveyard, situated very picturesquely on a small hill down some roughly hewn steps, a small crowd had gathered at a remove from the grave in waiting. Aunt Máire, it transpired, had offered to carry a rather large wreath by way of payment for the chauffeur service, one presumes, but lost her footing and fell face down into the wreath and cut her leg badly. By the time her closest family reached her she had been rolled over on the grass, her face a curious shade of yellow and her funeral coat festooned with flowers. “Oh my God” shrieked her sister “she looks desperate, she’s a terrible colour”… “is she dead?” asked another and so on while her daughter sat behind her mother and held her head cradled in her lap (“as if I was her birthing partner” she later described).

    The terrible colour transpired to be pollen so that was jaundice crossed off the list but her arm appeared to be fractured and her leg was bleeding profusely. Once the official funeral rites had been dispensed with, the pallbearers returned to the hearse with Aunt M carried aloft and slid her in where Auntie C has just slid out minutes earlier. The island wags kept her spirits up by saying she would go down in the annals as the only person to leave the graveyard in the hearse. There then ensued a bumpy journey around the island to the clinic, M’s feet poking out the back of the vehicle much to the amusement of passing tourists and Máire, not given to being low key, screaming at her daughter not to put me on “that confounded Facebook”.

    The upshot was that following assessment by the nurse, she was despatched on the next boat off the island and told to make her way to A&E in Galway. She is there still – my cousin asserts discrimination on “old doll with a plain name grounds” and the fact that Máire, an ex hospital matron, has reverted to type and started bossing everyone else around rather than reporting faithfully on the extent of her injuries.

    Never a dull moment.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 5, 2012 3:49 AM

      Auntie M!
      Poor Auntie M. I immediately suspected the lilies, having been jaundiced by them myself in the past.

      My grandmother, who is much in my thoughts recently, used to sing (rather spontaneously):

      “Bloomin’ great orchids
      Sockin’ great orchids
      Oh, ain’t it grand
      to be bloomin’ well dead.”

  129. Captain Ned permalink
    May 5, 2012 10:07 AM

    Good stuff, ET, particularly the will-it-won’t-it tension of the mini wrecking ball and the glass of water.

    Even by your standards, Reine, that is a marvellously vivid anecdote, especially the pollen/jaundice confusion. I wish your aunt a speedy recovery.

    I know how troublesome elderly retired nurses can be when they find themselves as patients. My grandmother, 87 tomorrow, has been blessed with robust health in her old age, but during the few occasions she’s been admitted to hospital, she has proved a terror. In her opinion, the quality of nursing in Britain has gone downhill since the closure of the old nursing schools and their replacement by university degrees. She may not be entirely wrong on that score, I don’t know – but she’s come perilously close to waxing nostalgic about the limited career options available to women before the advent of feminism. Nice, bright, middle-class gels could be nurses or teachers or secretaries and not much else, which meant that nursing schools could afford to admit only the very best candidates, and not the silly riff-raff you find in wards today. In her time, people also believed in duty and discipline, rather than empowerment. Matrons, of course, ought never to have been done away with; their demise is symptomatic of the ruination of Britain, along with the decline of Latin in schools and the widespread grammatical deterioration of spoken English (particularly as it is used by TV and radio presenters, who ought to know better). The greatest misfortune to have befallen young people in recent years has been the absence of a decent war, which was the making of her generation, and bags of fun besides. Most of her opinions may be nonsense, but she’s not without cause to criticise modern nursing practices; she was widowed by them.

    • Reine permalink
      May 5, 2012 10:24 AM

      Oh God Ned, I was laughing along merrily thinking Granny and Máire would get on famously before being pulled up by your final words. Poor lady, that must have been very hard for her … and all of you. An OU man and handsome to boot. I am so accustomed to that officialese, bureaucratic speak… good to see someone standing up to the system.

    • Captain Ned permalink
      May 6, 2012 3:46 AM

      Thanks Reine. It took three years of hard work by my mother and sister to get this far; it helped that the former is a nurse and the latter a lawyer. The sobering thought is that most families would eventually have given up complaining in the face of the health board’s protracted delays, evasions and half-measures (which, one feels, were entirely deliberate; too much time has passed for the criminal falsification of records to be properly investigated). I suspect that there’s a cynical calculation at play: yes, stonewalling and fob-offs may occasionally go wrong when there are persistent patients/relatives involved, but this happens so rarely that on the whole it’s worth continuing the old policy of deny, deny, deny. It will take a whole load of these cases, plus determined political action, for the NHS to change in this regard.

  130. Reine permalink
    May 5, 2012 9:45 PM

    If Jack is looking in, hope the Hartnett éigse went well… and that you are well yourself.

    If any of you other boys or girls are looking in, hello how are ye.

    • Reine permalink
      May 5, 2012 9:54 PM

      If any of you is… I do beg your pardon.

  131. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 16, 2012 2:11 PM

    Hello everyone, if there is an everyone anymore.

    Mish, I hope your silence is merely a sign that you’re taking your ease, and not a sign that you’re too much under the struggle. Keep well.

    Reine, that’s an almighty puss you have in your new gravatar. You look as if you’ve lost all belonging to you.

    Keep good
    Jack Brae

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2012 2:29 PM

      Ha! Hi Jack, since putting up my brown cow sad-eyed pic, I get email prompts of new posts… every cloud. I had a bee in my bonnet about something but if I told you, you’d have to write a poem about it. I’m not in laughing form yet. I hope you are. Love, Daisy.

  132. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 16, 2012 2:48 PM

    Not laughing, just waving

    • Reine permalink
      May 16, 2012 2:56 PM

      Waving back, blowing a kiss.

  133. InvisisbleJack permalink
    May 16, 2012 6:21 PM

    Ah, ye terrible hussy!

    Where in the name of Jesus has everyone got to? Has there been a plague here or something? Did Mowbray come with an axe and level everyone? Why didn’t anyone call me, I could have watched!

    I’ve been flitting around the place teaching and rotting, going slowly more demented in the head than I ever was. That’s all I have to report really. Éigse Michael Hartnett went very well this year; Fluer Adcock was in attendance and gave a wonderful reading; I thought she was great. Niall Hartnett was there too, but his luggage had gone missing after his flight, so he was borrowing clothes from his uncles! But a good time was had by all, and then we became suitably miserable once it was all over.

    I have a Featured Article entitled The Untruth of Poetry over at the Poetry Ireland Website this month. It contains a translation (with the original) of a sonnet by Torquato Tasso, in case you’re interested. A quick google might find it quickly.

    I see that PP hasn’t yet realised that we’re well into May.

    Jack Brae

  134. Reine permalink
    May 17, 2012 10:55 AM


    I very much enjoyed your article; the last line is particularly poignant. And my eyes were of course immediately drawn to “aflame in her clitoris”…

    I can testify that Hic was alive and well up to a week or so ago and I hope Mishari is, as you say, continuing to take his ease. I am in the throes of the holy communion season with three nephews and nieces making their bread of life debut. It’s exhausting. Last Saturday, I found myself seated at lunch with my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law, a nosy Kerry woman, who asked me, among other inappropriate things, whether my first marriage might have endured if I had tried a bit harder. You don’t meet many poets at holy communions with whom you might have a laugh or cry.

    Mowbray is as you have probably seen making his mark on potw and poster poems (when may we expect to see May?) … he and Billy often doing the two hand reel, kindred spirits as they are. I have nothing much else to report, nothing I would bore you with anyway. Glad to hear the MH weekend went well… Niall H. does nude photographic portraits so would be comfortable in his all together I imagine although I am sure the Limerick weather wasn’t up to it and one Adcock a festival is probably sufficient (very tenuous play one words… I’m out of practice). Good to see you anyway a grá… keep well, as you say yourself.

  135. InvisibleJack permalink
    May 17, 2012 12:39 PM

    Ah, the Holy Communion Season! I cleverly fell out with all my relatives ages and ages ago, so it means I don’t get invited to these little horror fests! Oh you crathur, you’ve still got the confirmations ahead of you, and all the weddings, and the funerals! You should have punched that nosy Kerry woman on the hooter, and then Aunty Reen would have found herself relievedly banned. You missed your chance, girl.

    Hopefully the Guardian will realise that we’re in the month of May before we actually get to the month of June!

  136. hic8ubique permalink
    May 18, 2012 6:03 PM

    Even now, I’m alive and well. We’re a quiet everyone these days on PH, but we are surely an everyone yet.
    Lots of seasonal activity though nothing much to report, except that I notice the Moon is looking large as life and twice as natural.

    Chill dude
    hot shades
    high brow
    low profile

    (scroll to top of p.)

  137. henrylloydmoon permalink
    May 18, 2012 8:16 PM

    I’ve been threatening a diet for a while now…

    • Reine permalink
      May 18, 2012 9:03 PM

      Look at you… *wolfwhistles*

      If I write a versette about a leopard print thong… would ya… for a biscuit?

  138. hic8ubique permalink
    May 21, 2012 3:32 PM

  139. hic8ubique permalink
    May 21, 2012 10:31 PM

  140. May 23, 2012 7:55 PM

    Hello all! Ned cruelly directed me to a GU blog post recently. I won’t tell you what it was (he might) because it was so irritating and badly written that my mind keeps going back to it, sketching out all the arguments against the writer’s wrong opinions. And I’d hate anyone else to suffer the same.

    I have news – last week, after spending the last couple of months swotting up in order to plug the 15-year gap in my education – I was accepted onto the King’s College MA course in Shakespeare studies. And I’m very pleased with myself. In the long term, I’m very excited and hopeful for the future. In the short term, I have to read the Faerie Queene.

    Also held a rehearsed reading of my meta-theatrical one-hour sex-comedy a couple of weeks back. People laughed (in the right places) and didn’t birch or prosecute me for obscenity, which was more than I’d hoped for. Now planning a companion piece in Chaucerian verse (Ned, help!).

    @Reine – isn’t your sister-in-law’s mother-in-law your mother?

    Hope you’re doing okay, Mishari, if you’re reading this. x

    • Reine permalink
      May 23, 2012 11:33 PM

      Delighted for you Exit, what an achievement. Have a ball. x

      In answer to your riddle, I have no brother. You confused me for a few minutes though.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      May 24, 2012 9:43 AM

      Congratulations XB on finding what sounds like a good home for you. Are you grant-aided ( he wrote showing his age ) or will you have to work in the galleys to pay

      I suspect it was my Shakespearean comment that has drawn your ire so here by way of balance is a piece written by a friend who was in the RSC for a year. Worth a read.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 24, 2012 11:41 AM

      Gloriana! and Hey nonny nonny!
      I am delighted for you ExB, couldn’t be more so.
      Did you know Reine has an MA in Chaucerian shenanigans? I think I have that right.

      Was it McCrum who blundered? He’s the first to leap to mind; another one whom I just skip altogether.

      You won’t forget your old friends when you’re up there in the thinner atmospheres, will you?

  141. Des permalink
    May 23, 2012 8:43 PM

    Congratulations! Hope it all goes well on the course.

  142. May 26, 2012 4:59 PM

    Thanks, everyone! @Ed, I don’t have funding – my current job is part-time and I’ll be doing the course over two years.

    I’m continuing my cultural summer today by attending a Eurovision party. A friend of mine throws one every year. There will be quizzes on impenetrable details of EU politics, wallcharts for each competing country and its entry (including the behind-the-scenes politics) and, most impressive, all the food served up is recipes and booze from the host-nation. So, slightly nervous to discover what they eat in Azerbeijan.

    Eurovision hasn’t been quite so exciting the last two years. There are now so many countries involved that the contest is done in two rounds, so most of the most heroically awful and eccentric acts get voted out before the final. Also, a lot of the ex-eastern bloc countries take it very, very seriously. So there’s a preponderance of earnest ballads. Although there’s a 77-year-old Russian grandmother competing, which is promising.

    The GU blog that annoyed me (and Ned) was this:

  143. Captain Ned permalink
    May 28, 2012 12:57 PM

    An insight into the fearsomely logical minds of Guardian moderators….

    Dear moderators,

    Please explain why my comment (21st May, 3.22 PM) on Emer O’Toole’s Shakespeare article was deleted. Regards,

    Captain Ned



    Thank you for your mail. Your posts in the Emer O’Toole thread were pulled because there were abusive towards the author

    “The most egregious of O’Toole’s many stupidities is her claim…”
    “If you publish a load of moronic drivel, it is no defence to then say, ‘Oh, but a really good discussion developed in the succeeding comments’; that is an argument for ATL trolling (a crime of which The Guardian has often been guilty).”

    1. We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the Guardian website as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.

    Many thanks


    Cif Moderation Team


    Dear [P],

    Thank you for your reply. You do not seem to have considered my posts very carefully, however, as they are not abusive towards the author; the ‘abuse’ (or robust criticism) is directed towards the article. The ‘stupidities’ refer to the claims made in the text; ‘moronic drivel’ also refers to the text. I did not call O’Toole stupid or a moron; I did not indulge in personal abuse. I can see how a hasty reading of the first offending quote might lead to a misunderstanding on the part of an overworked moderator, but I am at a loss as to how the second constitutes a personal attack. Are you sure it wasn’t my dig at The Guardian’s practice of ATL trolling that raised the red flag? Regards,

    Captain Ned



    As [P] stated this was deemed to be personal abuse and I agree with that judgement. Our standards are quite clear on this.
    In future perhaps you should try to be a bit more careful in your phrasing and think about how your posts will be perceived by other posters and moderators.



    Dear [J],

    Your standards may well be clear. The question is, do you as moderators always abide by them? A ‘personal attack’ surely means an attack on a person (ad hominem); your own guidelines define personal attacks as attacks ‘on authors, other users or any individual’. You cannot then shift the goalposts so that the definition encompasses criticism, however strong, of an author’s article – and it is clearly the article, not O’Toole herself, which was the object of my criticism.

    I might have been less disappointed by the responses I have received to my query had ‘mindless abuse’ been given as the reason for my posts’s deletion, rather than ‘personal attack’. I would still have complained, as I do not believe I did indulge in mindless abuse, but you might have been able to mount a defence, however weak, on the basis that mindless abuse can just as easily be directed towards a text as it can be directed towards an author. Indeed, there were several short comments of the ‘what a load of shit’ variety which were allowed to remain – comments that could well be deemed mindless abuse. It seems that brief brickbats of that nature are treated more leniently than criticism grounded in argument and example.

    Let us take the first of my offending quotes: “[t]he most egregious of O’Toole’s many stupidities is her claim…” This is just a fancy way of saying that the author has made several stupid claims; is such language really impermissible? Are we not allowed to refer to any point made on CiF as stupid? So long as it is not used in an ad hom capacity (and, as I cannot over-emphasize, it was not in my case), what is so terrible about the word ‘stupid’? Everyone, no matter how intelligent, says, does, or writes something stupid from time to time; noting such an instance of stupidity is not the same as calling the party concerned a stupid individual. I acknowledged that O’Toole’s below-the-line comments were not indicative of stupidity; though I took issue with most of her arguments, they were presented in such a way that an intelligent debate would have been possible had she not already poisoned the waters with her original blog. Calling that (or more precisely, the arguments made within it) stupid does not seem to me in any way excessive; it was obviously the majority view. Or was it the word ‘egregious’ that was found unacceptable? Are certain combinations of words forbidden (words which may themselves be allowable)? Is there some scale of adjectival offence in use? If so, I think most commenters would be grateful were it to be made available in your guidelines.

    As for my second deleted post, a cursory and decontextualised reading might lead someone of a censorious disposition to think of ‘moronic drivel’ as abuse, but careful reflection will reveal that it is not so. I had earlier remarked on the discrepancy between the shallowness and flippancy of O’Toole’s article and the more sober tone of her follow-up comments, which lent themselves more easily to agreeable discussion. O’Toole responded by implying that as the beginning of such a discussion was now taking place, there was no harm done. I replied that her argument validated the publication of any blog, no matter how slipshod, provided that reasoned below-the-line debate subsequently took place. My choice of words was strong by design: they emphasized the danger of her implication, which would give license to the most purposefully, provocatively sub-standard articles intended solely to generate as many comments and clicks as possible. I’m not at all sure that O’Toole herself acted with such conscious cynicism, but I’m not inclined to impart the purest of motives to the CiF editorial team. The point I was making is rational and, I would argue, valid; if it was abuse, it was certainly not mindless.

    So then: neither quote constitutes a personal attack, and neither quote constitutes mindless abuse (I trust you’re not going to accuse me of being a persistent troll). I think I have mounted a strong case against the deletion of my comments, and would appreciate it if you would reinstate them. What moderators need to bear in mind is that it it no good deleting comments on the basis of individual words; the context has to be considered, so that one does not reach immediately for the scissors on first sight of words like ‘stupidities’ or ‘moronic’. It is also important that if a moderator is of the opinion that a comment ought to be deleted, he or she thinks very carefully which of the community standards is to be invoked, and that he or she makes absolutely sure that the comment in question breaches that particular standard. This does not appear to have happened here. The reason given for moderation in this case was personal abuse, but I repeat: I did not call the author stupid or a moron. I called her article stupid and moronic (an opinion shared, remember, by the overwhelming majority of those who commented on it). The distinction is important, yet neither you nor [P] seem able to grasp it, or address it. Personal abuse means abuse of the person; it could not be clearer. You state that you agree with [P], but provide no justification for doing so; if you are determined that my comments will remain deleted, I would appreciate it if you would at least attempt to engage with my arguments. A system of complaints whereby the only response given is to state which particular community standard has been deemed to have been breached is worthless, as in most cases this is perfectly obvious. What is then at issue is whether the comment does breach the community standard. No doubt by far the greater part of deletions are justified, and many complaints are specious, but when a reasoned case can be made against deletion, it really is galling when the only response is ‘Well, I think you’re wrong’. I appreciate that moderators have a large workload, but if a complaints system is to be no more than a pointless charade, then there had better be no complaints system at all. At least we’d know where we stand with a pretence of papal infallibility.


    Captain Ned


    Still waiting for a reply to the latest one…

  144. Mishari permalink
    May 28, 2012 1:59 PM

    Ya gotta love, Ned; despite all evidence to the contrary (that the the Graun’s book Muffia are as craven as they are shabbily dishonest, Ned still tears at his coat and begs us to let him at ’em.

    Save your breath, old friend. One of you or Kim Gilchrist is worth a million of these, mealy-mouthed, i-personoids. They’re just bright enough to grasp good design but a billion parsecs and 10 zabillion brain-cells from understanding what the difference is and why it matters.

    I’m proud and gratified to have you and Kim for friends…but that’s something else the ’employees’ (i.e. friends of some mediocrity or other at The Groan) will never grasp either.

    Sorry, BTW…it’s me, Mishari. They keep fucking up my password. Who cares? The Groan’s lit pages are the equivalent of Tesco Value-Brand Spaghetti Hoops in a tin for 19 pence. It looks less like food post-digestion than it does pre-digestion and probably tastes better.

    Those worthless sub-literate equivalent of cat-litter make you and Kim look like long-time residents of Olympus who left because the company was so cringe-making they made your togas wrinkle; and they fucking are, too….the worthless turds.

    • Edward Taylor permalink
      May 28, 2012 2:19 PM

      I got moderated in a recent Jonathan Jones’ blog which stated that Damien Hirst is surrounded by yes-men for claiming that Jones himself is a Hirst yes-man as evidenced by the sheer volume of blogs Jones has written extolling the virtues of Hirst’s oeuvre.

      Yes-man is now either a term of personal abuse, mindless abuse or persistent trolling. I apologise if its use here offends those of a sensitive nature.

      As with Ned’s example my comment was sandwiched between “Wanker”, “Tosser” and “Pillock” comments which remained on-line.

      Welcome back Mishari. Is this a flying visit or a longer stop-over?


  145. Mishari permalink
    May 28, 2012 2:30 PM

    Just a flying visit, Ed…but I make progress. Jones…what a fucking larf; if that corpulent cunt were any more cretinous, they could stick him in a mulch-filled pot and water him once a week…

    …at least there’d be some (albeit fantastically remote) chance that the wanker might bear fruit or at least grow some kind of fungus or tumorous growth….y’know…anything that gave us a visible sign of something.

  146. henrylloydmoon permalink
    May 28, 2012 11:36 PM

    Stick with it, Mish. Good to see you back and adhomineming with vigour.

    I witnessed both the above blogs in real time and found myself spitting feathers at your deletions. That kind of shit, combined with the dementia sisters on the POTW blog, has put me off the Guardian of late. Thank god for hic and reeni. Tried the Independent recently. From broadsheet to Andrex in the space of a year…

    • hic8ubique permalink
      May 29, 2012 4:24 PM

      That’s sweet of you to say, Moon. It’s confounding to wrestle with such assiduous misattributions.
      Rab’s persistent idea that homophobic bullying was somehow relevant to discussion of the poem… Leah’s Nazism parting shot (I hope she finds a nice kow-tow-ing blog where she can rest on her laurels.)… The drive to sanitise away what might have been an interesting window on a world generally inaccessible to me: the über-testosterone end of the gay male spectrum.

      I try to rub along with Parisa’s idiosyncrasies as part of the entertainment, but her hypocrisy in trotting out her ‘everyones view is valid‘ at least once a week, and then baldly asserting that pinkroom was wrong? that was the living end.
      I suspect much of my irritation with posters like her who generate a lot of vague platitudinous blather is that when challenged in their self-indulgence they become the most aggressive bullies.
      “Something is wrong on this blog” P. says (or something to that effect) No kidding: the division may lie between those who want to challenge facile wishy-washy-ing and those who rely on that sort of pablum for security. That’s a covertly manipulative behaviour pattern and as such invokes the less-sociable side of my own personality.

  147. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 29, 2012 10:10 AM

    PotW would be much the poorer without your poetic interventions HLM.

    I haven’t yet been accused of homophobia but over the years I’ve been an anti-semite, a casual racist, a know-nothing fuck-wit, an out-of-touch intellectual and a trendy hipster. Goebbels has yet to be dragged in to refute my opinions but there’s still time.

    Our former blogpal MM posted up quite an impressive list of things he’s been accused of. Labradorphobe would be my addition to that list.

  148. Captain Ned permalink
    May 29, 2012 10:38 AM

    Good to see you back, Mishari, even if it’s just a fleeting re-appearance. Glad to hear you’re making progress; keep at it, as we’re missing you.

  149. May 29, 2012 10:58 AM

    Has anybody got a Valium??? Jesus, Mary and Joseph…

    (Hi Mish, good to hear you dropping the odd tray)

  150. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 29, 2012 11:22 AM

    If you’re considering throwing them I’d suggest something with a bit more weight.

  151. May 29, 2012 12:55 PM

    I’m thinking a plague of greenfly might do the trick.

  152. Edward Taylor permalink
    May 29, 2012 1:03 PM

    Something that’s attracted to patchouli oil will do the trick.

  153. May 29, 2012 1:25 PM

    Ha. I led-ol at that. I’ll have no luck for it… some kind of karmic curse will aggrieve me.

  154. hic8ubique permalink
    May 30, 2012 2:34 AM

    Ledol: ‘a crystalline sesquiterpenoid alcohol C15H25OH occurring in the oil from the leaves and flowering tops of the marsh tea and in other essential oils’

    I think I might need to go to sleep…

  155. Captain Ned permalink
    June 5, 2012 11:41 AM

    The actors playing the poets in that film have been cast to eerie perfection.

  156. Edward Taylor permalink
    June 5, 2012 1:52 PM

    Ned are you still in Korea? we may be in Seoul in October for a week. But then again we may not.


    A buffer between May and July,
    A minor tune.
    Enough of me
    We seldom take much notice of June.

    We don’t clock the time fly
    It’s come so soon,
    A surprise to me
    We find ourselves again in June.

    Does it pass as quickly by?
    A Roadrunner cartoon.
    Imperceptible to me
    We see the back end of June.

  157. Captain Ned permalink
    June 6, 2012 9:18 AM

    I’ll be in Korea. I don’t live in Seoul, but I can get there easily for a weekend. What show will you be taking?

  158. Edward Taylor permalink
    June 6, 2012 10:59 AM

    Brain Wave ( the one you saw in Greenwich), possibly Pig and possibly neither of them – budgets and global financial meltdown being what they are.

    It’ll be October 1st to the 7th if it happens.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      June 7, 2012 1:35 AM

      US Customs official:
      We’ll need to have a look inside your pig, Mr Alarming.

      I’m afraid you’ll have to move to the back and wait your turn.

  159. Edward Taylor permalink
    June 7, 2012 8:53 AM

    We don’t supply chairs either.

    As regards the experience of waitiing the US, Russia and the pig are remarkably similar.

    I’d never considered the WRAS to be a monolithic institution before so this has been a real game-changer.

Comments are closed.