Saturday, 23 June 2018

253 -- Montgomery/Blake/stevenson

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: The Closed Door
I found this quite a surprising story from the author of Anne of Green Gables. I had no idea before this project that she had any interest at all in the occult or supernatural, but this was another of those stories.

William Blake: Mock on, mock on Voltaire, Rousseau
Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
Mock on, Mock on, 'tis all in vain.
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.
And every sand becomes a Gem
Reflected in the beams divine;
Blown back, they blind the mocking Eye,
But still in Israel's paths they shine.
The Atoms of Democritus
And Newton's Particles of light
Are sands upon the Red sea shore
Where Israel's tents do shine so bright.
Robert Louis Stevenson: Samuel Pepys
An interesting, if a bit long-winded, essay about Samuel Pepys, the 17th century diarist, and a new (ie. 19th century) edition of the diary. It makes me want to read the diary, so I will see if I can find it.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

252 --Vonnegut/Blake/Krakauer

Short Story
Kurt Vonnegut: Custom-Made Bride
A story about a newly married couple, in which the husband has manipulated his new wife to suit his own fancies, with disastrous results.

William Blake: The Smile
Time for a video for this one:

John Krakauer: Death of an Innocent
This may be a famous story in the US, but it was unknown to me. It was an interesting essay about a young man called Chris McCandless went into the Alaskan wilderness with loads of intelligence but no common sense, and died of starvation.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

251 -- Vonnegut/Blake/Washington

Short Story
Kurt Vonnegut: The cruise of the Jolly Roger
Another story from Bagombo Snuff Box. I must admit these stories are not the kind I expected to read from Vonnegut, but then I've only read a couple of his novels before this. This is a good story anyway, about an ex-soldier finding purpose in his life.

William Blake: A cradle song, 1789
Another Lambeth poem. There seems to be several versions of this poem. This one is from my Penguin poetry library book (see the Sources page for more info).
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming o'er the joys of night:
Sleep, sleep: in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.  
Sweet babe, in thy face Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.  
As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.  
O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep:
When thy little heart does wake,
Then the dreadful lightnings break.
From thy cheek & from thy eye
O'er the useful harvests nigh:
Infant wiles & infant smiles
Heaven & Earth of peace beguiles.
George Washington: First Inaugural Address (1789)
By sheer coincidence the date of this is the same as the poem! This is from the Harvard Classics American Historical Documents book. I found it interesting how religious Washington was, and also that he accepted no payment for being America's first President, other than expenses. Interesting.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

250 -- Vonnegut/Blake/Monroe

Short Story
Kurt Vonnegut: Souvenir
A short story about a greedy pawnbroker and a broke farmer trying to sell him a souvenir that is far more valuable than either of them realise.

William Blake: I saw a chapel all of gold (Lambeth)
A rail against the hypocrisies of religion in this one:
I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in
And many weeping stood without
Weeping mourning worshipping
I saw a serpent rise between
The white pillars of the door
And he forcd & forcd & forcd
Down the golden hinges tore 
And along the pavement sweet
Set with pearls and rubies bright
All his slimy length he drew
Till upon the altar white 
Vomiting his poison out
On the bread & on the wine
So I turnd into a sty
And laid me down among the swine
President James Monroe: The Monroe Doctrine (1823)
This is the document that forged America's foreign policy for over a century. An interesting read. It basically says that European interference in North and South America was not going to be tolerated, thus of course leaving the US to interfere all it wanted.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

249 -- Vonnegut/Blake/Bradford

Short Story
Kurt Vonnegut: Poor Little Rich Town
I liked this story, about one of those annoying people who 'improve' productivity.

William Blake: Never pain to tell thy love (from Lambeth)
Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
Silently invisibly
I told my love I told my love
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears
Ah she doth depart
Soon as she was gone from me
A traveller came by
Silently invisibly
O was no deny 
William Bradford: The Mayflower Compact (1620)
This is from The History of Plymouth Plantation by Bradford, the second governor.
I'm being relaxed about what I define as an essay, but it's worth reading historical documents like this, and very interesting too - whether they can strictly be counted as essays or not.

I've been to the historical reenactment site at Plimouth Plantation, and found it fascinating. If you're in the area, it's definitely worth visiting.

Friday, 15 June 2018

248 -- Vonnegut/Bradbury/Sayers

Short Story
Kurt Vonnegut: The No-Talent Kid
A story about a kid with no talent for music. A nice twist at the end.

Ray Bradbury: Shakespeare the Father, Freud the Son
Not the greatest Bradbury poem by any means, but an interesting one.

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Human-Not-Quite-Human
Not as good as yesterday's essay, although if I'd read them weeks or months apart I might have thought differently. Basically, asks the question of how would men feel if they were treated and spoken about the same as women.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

247 -- Asimov/Bradbury/Sayers

Short Story
Isaac Asimov: The Singing Bell
An interesting murder story revolving around singing bells found on the Moon. Written in 1955, and I think it may have been where the Star Trek writers got their replicator idea.

Ray Bradbury: And yet the burning bush has voice
Why choose between religion and science? Bradbury says you can have a bit of both.

Dorothy L. Sayers: Are women human?
This is a very witty essay about feminism, written in 1938, but sadly much of it could still have been written today and people still ask inane questions such as what is a woman's point of view on things that have nothing to do with gender.