Literature


There’s no justice. I did so little work last week that the meeting I had scheduled with a website client this afternoon was all set to turn into an embarrassing dressing down. What should I find on arriving at work this morning but an e-mail from said client postponing the meeting until a week tomorrow? My sole punishment was to wear a suit to work for no reason, which would have happened anyway. My heart rejoices in the knowledge that sloth has paid off once again. It always does: I was going to wash my car on Saturday, but didn’t because I was too lazy. This morning it rained, so I saved myself hours of fruitless labour there too.

It’s another mixed bag this week, presented as I found them in the books. Hopefully I can maintain a more cheerful tone than in previous selections, thanks to my completely unmerited good fortune. The first poem is by Ruth Mason Price. The simplicity of her verse echoes that of the picture she describes, and her final two lines could be a general instruction to the artist on how to avoid gilding the lily.

A Japanese Print

A curve for the shore,
A line for the lea,
A tint for the sky
Where the sunrise will be.
A stroke for a gull, a sweep for the main;
The skill to do more –
With the will to refrain.

The next poem is merely a link, because it’s far too long for my idle fingers to want to reproduce it here. I find it particularly appealing, from the Latin title to the general tendency to encourage luxury and vice. I give you Coronemus nos Rosis antequam Marcescant (Let us crown ourselves with roses before they fade away) by Thomas Jordan.

For health, wealth and beauty, wit, learning and sense,
Must all come to nothing a hundred years hence.

So much for my intention to be cheerful. This next one echoes a train of thought I had some months ago so closely that it deserves to be included here. It’s by Thomas R. Jones Jr.

Sometimes

Across the fields of yesterday
He sometimes comes to me,
A little lad just back from play –
The lad I used to be.

And yet he smiles so wistfully
Once he has crept within,
I wonder if he hopes to see
The man I might have been.

In a similar vein to Jordan’s verses, Henry Carey sings in praise of the fruit of the vine and his own unlikely capacity for it.

A Drinking Song

BACCHUS must now his power resign—
I am the only God of Wine!
It is not fit the wretch should be
In competition set with me,
Who can drink ten times more than he.

Make a new world, ye powers divine!
Stock’d with nothing else but Wine:
Let Wine its only product be,
Let Wine be earth, and air, and sea—
And let that Wine be all for me!

It wouldn’t be a real verse selection if I didn’t include at least one household name. This poem by Shelley has managed not to bestow a stock household phrase on the language, so it’s worth pointing out.

From the Arabic
AN IMITATION

My faint spirit was sitting in the light
Of thy looks, my love;
It panted for thee like the hind at noon
For the brooks, my love.
Thy barb, whose hoofs outspeed the tempest’s flight,
Bore thee far from me;
My heart, for my weak feet were weary soon,
Did companion thee.

Ah! fleeter far than fleetest storm or steed,
Or the death they bear,
The heart which tender thought clothes like a dove
With the wings of care;
In the battle, in the darkness, in the need,
Shall mine cling to thee,
Nor claim one smile for all the comfort, love,
It may bring to thee.

Rail journeys encourage, indeed enforce, deep thought. This is particularly true after dark, when it’s impossible to gaze vacantly at the scenery. James Thomson has made good use of one journey in producing this.

In the Train

As we rush, as we rush in the Train,
The trees and the houses go wheeling back,
But the starry heavens above the plain
Come flying on our track.

All the beautiful stars of the sky,
The silver doves of the forest of Night,
Over the dull earth swarm and fly,
Companions of our flight.

We will rush ever on without fear;
Let the goal be far, the flight be fleet!
For we carry the Heavens with us, dear,
While the earth slips from our feet!

It’s been a slightly longer selection this week, partly because I found more good poems this time around and partly because I’ve been neglecting these pages in favour of televisual pursuits and it’s about time I took myself in hand. I think I’ve hit on some good ones this week, and I hope you agree.

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Some might think that a week off from work presents great opportunities to make enormous numbers of journal entries on all manner of subjects and perhaps get on with some other writing, like the old poems I’m supposed to be revising. As the long silence on these pages demonstrates, this would be a profoundly erroneous assumption. I picked up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which was supposed to be started after War and Peace was finished, and here I am with nothing done.

Susanna Clarke isn’t entirely to blame, though. Stuart and Ellie stayed the night on Tuesday, and I spent quite a lot of Wednesday with them, watching Green Wing and going to Orcombe Point for a swim. Then there was the long-planned trip over to Cambridgeshire with Dad to research the family’s history, which took all the time from Thursday to Saturday. All the good pictures were taken on the digital cameras we took and I don’t have copies, but one of the shots from my phone sums up the trip as imperfectly as any single photograph can.

Beware of ducks. Giant ducks if the sign is in any way accurate.

Beware of ducks. Giant ducks if the sign is in any way accurate.

That brings us relatively up to date with activities under the Shadow, and it’s time for the poems again. This week’s selection has no particular theme: the poems are chosen at random from the first few books I dragged off the shelf this evening. The first is a cheery little piece from Helen Gray Cone, which has a really good title.

Heartbreak Road

As I went up by Heartbreak Road
Before the dawn of day,
The cold mist was all about,
And the wet world was gray;
It seemed that never another soul
Had walked that weary way.

But when I came to Heartbreak Hill,
Silver touched the sea;
I knew that many and many a soul
Was climbing close to me;
I knew I walked the weary way
In a great company.

Next is a strange anonymous piece about two Scottish rivers, which is pretty self explanatory. The second stanza is my translation, just in case the meaning’s a little obscure.

Two Rivers

Says Tweed to Till –
‘What gars ye rin sae still?’
Says Till to Tweed –
‘Though ye rin with speed
And I rin slaw,
For ae man that ye droon
I droon twa.’

Says Tweed to Till –
‘What makes you run so still?’
Says Till to Tweed –
‘Though you run with speed
And I run slow,
For each man that you drown
I drown two’.

It’s about time we had some Keats around here, so I’ve included one of his sonnets. I’ve had days like this one, and it’s always a shame to see them end.

X

To one who has been long in city pent,
‘Tis very sweet to look upon the fair
And open face of heaven, – to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with heart’s content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel, – an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.

This poem by Amelia B. Welby should have gone in with the sea poems two weeks ago, but as twilight approaches here it might still be appropriate for today.

Twilight at Sea

The twilight hours like birds flew by,
As lightly and as free;
Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
Ten thousand on the sea;
For every wave, with dimpled face,
That leaped upon the air,
Had caught a star in its embrace
And held it trembling there.

Sorry to have kept you hanging on for eight days waiting for only four poems. I hope they’re enjoyable enough to be worth the wait.

At the risk of sounding extremely English, the weather here is absolutely atrocious. It’s August, it’s cold and it’s raining, so I think this is a good time to think of other climes and places. Since I’ve been doing some travelling of my own recently, I think that the sea, medium of journeys and my close neighbour here at home, is an appropriate theme for today.

The first poem is from John Masefield, who is generally known as the author of Sea Fever. This poem is also in a nautical vein, and suggests itself because it’s relatively short, has a touch of the exotic to its first two stanzas and compares that with the eternally prosaic Now. It also approaches the issue of how those commodities that govern the wealth of nations change over time in a way that I find very interesting.

Cargoes

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-tree shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rail, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware and cheap tin trays.

In this next poem by Shelley the sea is only a metaphor; but time itself is also a medium of journeys. For it to be personified as a limitless ocean makes a great deal more sense than as an old man.

Time

Unfathomable Sea! whose waves are years,
Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe
Are brackish with the salt of human tears¬
Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow
Claspest the limits of mortality!
And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,
Vomitest thy wrecks on its inhospitable shore,
Treacherous in calm, and terrible in storm,
Who shall put forth on thee,
Unfathomable Sea?

The next poem is a natural continuation from the last. Shelley’s most famous poem is his ode to a skylark (whence comes Noël Coward’s title for Blithe Spirit), and on opening The Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins I find a poem about skylarks, the sea and Time.

The Sea and the Skylark

On ear and ear two noises too old to end
Trench – right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.

Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeinèd score
In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.

How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,

Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime:
Our make, and making break, are breaking down
To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.

I think something rather more cheerful is in order for the last poem. In this next piece, Richard Hovey captures the excitement of ocean travel and the call of the sea that so many Devonshire people have followed.

The Sea Gipsy

I am fevered with the sunset,
I am fretful with the bay,
For the wander-thirst is on me
And my soul is in Cathay.

There’s a schooner in the offing,
With her topsails shot with fire,
And my heart has gone aboard her
For the Islands of Desire.

I must forth again to-morrow!
With the sunset I must be
Hull down on the trail of rapture
In the wonder of the sea.

As the title may suggest, I managed to overcome all of the trials and tribulations that Europe’s public transport utterly failed to throw at me and made it to Ukraine, where I’m taking some time from my busy schedule of local cuisine, high-quality vodka and finer quality company to keep my appointment with Monday’s verse selection. Behold the sacrifices I make to enrich the lives of my beloved public.

The first poem today is an old favourite, and one of the very few that I can remember by heart. This, it transpires, is a complete waste of brain space, since it’s available in a million places on line. What can one expect of something written by William Blake?

The Clod and the Pebble

“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell’s despair.”

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

“Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven’s despite.”

Here Blake concisely sums up two opposing and equally unhealthy attitudes to love, both of which are conspicuous for the absence of any sense of reciprocal feeling. Both the clod and the pebble assume that love is simply bestowed and never returned: the one is crushed by heedless cows, the other simply remains motionless and changeless in the uncaring water of the stream. Neither, it will be noted, is something that could be expected to receive or even understand love, so the attitude of each is ridiculous in the mouth that propounds it.

I have one book of poetry with me, and inevitably it’s about war. Today I visited a memorial that commemorates more dead than all Devonshire memorials put together. This poem was written about the British, but I think it has more scope than one time, one land or one war. It’s by W.H. Auden.

Yes, We Are Going to Suffer

Yes, we are going to suffer now; the sky
Throbs like a feverish forehead; pain is real;
The groping searchlights suddenly reveal
The little natures that will make us cry,

Who never quite believed they could exist,
Not where we were. They take us by surprise
Like ugly long-forgotten memories,
And like a conscience all the guns resist.

Behind each sociable home-loving eye
The private massacres are taking place;
All women, Jews, the Rich, the Human Race.

The mountains cannot judge us when we lie:
We dwell upon the earth; the earth obeys
The intelligent and evil till they die.

It’s a short post today, because my host’s friend has just arrived and I need to be sociable. My brief, shower-long annexation of the computer is at an end, and I leave you with three lines by Francis King.

Our three old landlords sit and quarrel,
For a dead rose
And a few sheaves of thistle, rue and sorrel.

Before I start on this week’s verse selection, I ought to explain one of last week’s selections. I’ve already done this in correspondence with one friend, but that’s only brought home just how much in need of explanation it was.

I refer, of course, to Robert Bridges’ juvenile misogynistic rant. What I should have said about it is what I originally thought when I first read it: this man is an idiot. There’s a strand of romantic verse that tends to the idolisation of women, and since that’s unrealistic and juvenile it results in equally unrealistic and juvenile rants about the evil of women when the goddess inevitably turns out to be a human being. That poem is bad verse – not because it fails in its structure, but because its principal sentiment is childish, bitter and petulant. It’s so bad, and so ridiculous, that I thought it would be fun to laugh at it. This explanation is meant to clarify that intention and slap in the face anyone who agreed with it or thought it justified whatever sick thoughts they’ve been having. Of course, I can’t deny that I was hoping to annoy some of the Sisters of the Blessed Misandrony, who turn up every now and then to attack friends of mine for refusing to dress like Victorian widows, but primarily Bridges is laughable. If he was joking he’s still laughable, because he was only really half joking.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way I have a rather less controversial selection for you. I shall begin with one of Sylvia Plath’s more comprehensible poems, which is related in a way to one that I put up a couple of weeks ago. It concerns mirrors.

Mirror

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful –
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

I’m not particularly bothered about the idea of growing old. It is, after all, better than pushing up daisies. It can be disorientating, though, to know that you’ve reached an age that once seemed ancient, and that all that’s really changed is the face in the mirror. My mother told me the other day that she doesn’t feel like someone of her age, and I’m not sure that anyone ever really does. My brother turns thirty next month, and he’s always said that he’ll be eighteen forever, just like that Bryan Adams song. Perhaps another song can explain it better.

To look in the mirror in total surprise
At the hair on my shoulders and the age in my eyes.

If I keep expressing myself through the medium of country music, I’ll end up driving a fifteen-year-old Dodge Ram with a gun rack in it, and I really can’t afford to put petrol in one of those. It is interesting, though, how much people seem to dwell on the advancing years. A long time ago, I was an air cadet, and part of that was parading on Remembrance Sunday and listening each year to the customary tribute to the fallen by Laurence Binyon.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Some lesser mortals might now post something cheerful to raise the spirits, but I’m nasty like that. Instead I’m going to use Macaulay to highlight the sad fate of those Englishmen who were loyal to James II. The echoes of that so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ are still being heard in Ireland today, and it’s not a pretty sound.

Epitaph on a Jacobite

(1845)

To my true king I offered free from stain
Courage and faith; vain faith, and courage vain.
For him, I threw lands, honours, wealth away.
And one dear hope, that was more prized than they.
For him I languished in a foreign clime,
Grey-haired with sorrow in my manhood’s prime;
Heard on Lavernia Scargill’s whispering trees,
And pined by Arno for my lovelier Tees;
Beheld each night my home in fevered sleep,
Each morning started from the dream to weep;
Till God who saw me tried too sorely gave
The resting place I asked, an early grave,
Oh thou, whom chance leads to this nameless stone,
From that proud country which was once mine own,
By those cliffs I never more must see,
By that dear language which I spake like thee,
Forget all feuds, and shed one English tear
O’er English dust. A broken heart lies here.

The theme of long life is continued in a way by John Donne in the following poem, which is about separation from a loved one. Love can inspire some utter tripe, but it also gives rise to greatness.

The Computation

For the first twenty years since yesterday,
I scarce believed, thou couldst be gone away,
For forty more, I fed on favours past,
And forty on hopes, that thou wouldst, they might last.
Tears drowned one hundred, and sighs blew out two,
A thousand, I did neither think, nor do,
Or not divide, all being one thought of you;
Or in a thousand more, forgot that too.
Yet call not this long life; but think that I
am, by being dead, immortal; can ghosts die?

Oh, all right: you can have something  a bit lighter now. This one by Leigh Hunt conforms to the general chronological theme of the others, but only slightly.

Jenny kiss’d Me

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

And finally a completely untemporal Triolet from Henry Austin Dobson. Oh what perils there are for the poet in stepping onto the pavement. I’ve left this one out of the blockquotes, again because it contains italics.

Urceus Exit

Triolet

I intended an Ode,
And it turn’d to a Sonnet
It began à la mode,
I intended an Ode;
But Rose cross’d the road
In her latest new bonnet;
I intended an Ode;
And it turn’d to a Sonnet.

I hope that this week’s choices will give rise to less lengthy correspondance than last week’s, but we shall see. Whatever the result, I trust they gave you pleasure.

It’s been a ridiculously busy week, so Monday’s Poets’ Corner has been postponed until now. I’d like to be able to say that I’ve been preoccupied with my mother’s birthday this weekend and my forthcoming trip to Central Europe, but sadly it’s all been work. Anyway, without further ado, here’s your delayed dose of culture for this week.

First, here’s a Thomas Hardy poem that I was discussing with one of my friends last month, and which will either help him with his thesis or just irritatingly remind him of it at an awkward moment.

Mad Judy

When the hamlet hailed a birth
Judy used to cry:
When she heard our christening mirth
She would kneel and sigh.
She was crazed, we knew, and we
Humoured her infirmity.

When the daughters and the sons
Gathered them to wed,
And we like-intending ones
Danced till dawn was red,
She would rock and mutter, ‘More
Comers to this stony shore!’

When old Headsman Death laid hands
On a babe or twain,
She would feast, and by her brands
Sing her songs again.
What she liked we let her do,
Judy was insane, we knew.

I shall now proceed to alienate all of my female readers with the help of Robert Bridges. I hasten to add that I stand by none of this: I just like writing that’s calculated to offend people. I might be reading too much into this, but I think he may have been feeling a little bitter about someone.

XVII.

Triolet.

All women born are so perverse
No man need boast their love possessing.
If nought seem better, nothing’s worse:
All women born are so perverse.
From Adam’s wife, that proved a curse
Though God had made her for a blessing,
All women born are so perverse
No man need boast their love possessing.

For those of you who read through that and are still here, I’ve selected something a little more acceptable. This is a particular favourite of mine, and dates from a time when Byron had been digging for treasure in the grounds of his house (because of course that’s how any sensible fellow deals with a cash-flow crisis). What he found and what he did with it should be pretty clear from this poem.

Lines Inscribed upon a Cup Formed from a Skull

Start not – nor deem my spirit fled;
In me behold the only skull,
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.

I lived, I loved, I quaffed like thee:
I died: let earth my bones resign;
Fill up – thou canst not injure me;
The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape,
Than nurse the earth-worm’s slimy brood;
And circle in the goblet’s shape
The drink of gods, than reptile’s food.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others’ let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?

Quaff while thou canst: another race,
When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
May rescue thee from earth’s embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.

Why not? since through life’s little day
Our heads such sad effects produce;
Redeem’d from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs, to be of use.

I seem to remember hearing recently about moths and the fear thereof. What should I find on opening The Book of American Poetry but this by Benjamin de Casseres?

Moth-terror

I have killed the moth flying around my night-light: wingless and dead  it lies upon the floor.
(O who will kill the great Time-Moth that eats holes in my soul and that burrows in and through my secretest veils!)
My will against its will, and no more will it fly at my
night-light or be hidden behind the curtains that swing in the winds.
(But O who will shatter the Change-Moth that leaves me in rags – tattered old tapestries that swing in the winds that blow out of Chaos!)
Night-Moth, Change-Moth, Time-Moth, eaters of dreams and of me!

Something short and sweet next, from that perennial favourite, Robert Herrick. It’s not in a blockquote because the italics are significant.

The Rosemarie branch

Grow for two ends, it matters not at all,
Be’t for my Bridall or my Buriall.

Finally, a poem about a subject very close to my heart at the moment: the sheer irritation of early-morning birdsong outside my window. Abraham Cowley probably overstates it a little, but that’s poetry for you.

The Swallow

Foolish prater, what dost thou
So early at my window do?
Cruel bird, thou’st ta’en away
A dream out of my arms to-day;
A dream that ne’er must equall’d be
By all that waking eyes may see.
Thou this damage to repair
Nothing half so sweet and fair,
Nothing half so good, canst bring,
Tho’ men may say thou bring’st the Spring.

I trust that this selection justifies the long delay in posting it. Enjoy.

It seems that a lot of people are posting songs that they like on a Monday. Since I don’t really know many songs that you don’t know already, and since bandwagons are anathema to me, I’m not inclined to follow suit. I am inclined, however, to mark the beginning of the week by posting some artistic works that are occupying my mind. This is the rationale behind the collection of arbitrarily selected verse that will form my communiqué for today.

First up is a poem about unwillingly learning the finer points of handling firearms. This is one of the pieces in The Terrible Rain, and I think it speaks for itself.

Naming of Parts

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,

For today we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed

Continuing the Second World War theme, a poem about pilots drinking in pubs, which also takes a look beneath the desperate revelry. This has all of the ingredients for the perfect poem, and I’m surprised that I don’t number it among my favourites.

In the Local

You see them in the “Local” anywhere
In town or country near a fighter station
In flying boots and scarves – their ruffled hair
Like schoolboys out for a jolly celebration:
Eight in a car for four had raced along
And miracles were wrought to bring them here.
To pass an hour with banter, darts and song
And drink a pint or two of English beer,
And talk of “binds” and “dims” with lots of natter
Of “ropey jobs” and “wizard types” and “gen”
Amid much laughter glasses chink and clatter.
Deep underneath was hid the real men,
Who saw their comrades fall out of the skies,
And knew too well the look in dead men’s eyes.

W.A.G. Kemp

Departing from war, we have William Cowper on insanity. This is the final stanza of the poem, and my favourite part of it. The last two lines are perfect. I think of them often.

Him the vindictive rod of angry Justice
Sent quick and howling to the centre headlong;
I, fed with judgment, in a fleshy tomb am
Buried above ground.

To conclude, I think something short is in order. They don’t come much shorter than Matthew Prior’s The Lady who offers her Looking-glass to Venus. None of us are what we were, and the lady in question is undeniably a fool, but I do like the grand gesture of forswearing mirrors. If only vanity were as easy to cast aside as a looking-glass.

Venus, take my votive glass:
Since I am not what I was,
What from this day I shall be,
Venus, let me never see.

I shall leave you with another of my periodic quotations. This one is taken from the of The Oxford Library of Words and Phrases that I acquired recently.

Quod enim mavult homo verum esse, id potius credit.

For what a man would like to be true, that he more readily believes.

Francis Bacon

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