Sunday, 20 May 2018

229 -- Montgomery/Montgomery/Dickens

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Aunt Olivia's Beau
Another story about romance and people getting hitched after a long period of estrangement -- in this case 20 years. "Old maidship" is seen as probably the worst fate possible for a woman. But Olivia escapes this terrible fate.

L.M. Montgomery: The Sea Spirit

I scowl in sullen guise­
The sea grows dark and dun,
The swift clouds hide the sun
But not the bale-light in my eyes,
And the frightened wind as it flies
Ruffles the billows with stormy wing,
And the sea is a terrible, treacherous thing!

When moonlight glimmers dim
I pass in the path of the mist,
Like a pale spirit by spirits kissed.
At dawn I chant my own weird hymn,
And I dabble my hair in the sunset's rim,
And I call to the dwellers along the shore
With a voice of gramarye evermore.

And if one for love of me
Gives to my call an ear,
I will woo him and hold him dear,
And teach him the way of the sea,
And my glamor shall ever over him be;
Though he wander afar in the cities of men
He will come at last to my arms again.

I'm no poetry expert, but I can see why our Maud is better known for her stories than her poems. (BTW. I looked up "gramarye" and it means the occult.)

Charles Dickens: The curate, the old lady, the half-pay captain
Another great character sketch of these three people in the parish. It reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell (I'm reading her novels at the moment), I suppose because they're from the same period. It's interesting to look at this from our current secular times and see just how important the church was in society 200 years ago..

Saturday, 19 May 2018

228 -- Montgomery/Dickens/Dickens

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Each in his own tongue
Another terrific story, this one about the importance of music and how music can reach people who are otherwise unreachable.

Charles Dickens: Little Nell's funeral.)
(Little Nell was a character in The Old Curiosity Shop

And now the bell, - the bell
She had so often heard by night and day
And listened to with solemn pleasure,
E'en as a living voice, -
Rung its remorseless toll for her,
So young, so beautiful, so good.

Decrepit age, and vigorous life,
And blooming youth, and helpless infancy,
Poured forth, - on crutches, in the pride of strength
And health, in the full blush
Of promise, the mere dawn of life, -
To gather round her tomb. Old men were there,
Whose eyes were dim
And senses failing, -
Grandames, who might have died ten years ago,
And still been old, - the deaf, the blind, the lame,
The palsied,
The living dead in many shapes and forms,
To see the closing of this early grave.
What was the death it would shut in,
To that which still could crawl and keep above it!

Along the crowded path they bore her now;
Pure as the new fallen snow
That covered it; whose day on earth
Had been as fleeting.
Under that porch, where she had sat when Heaven
In mercy brought her to that peaceful spot,
She passed again, and the old church
Received her in its quiet shade.

They carried her to one old nook,
Where she had many and many a time sat musing,
And laid their burden softly on the pavement.
The light streamed on it through
The coloured window, - a window where the boughs
Of trees were ever rustling
In the summer, and where the birds
Sang sweetly all day long.

Charles Dickens: Our Parish 1: The beadle, the parish engine, the schoolmaster
An interesting description of these stalwarts of a parish in 19th century England, and of course the poverty that Dickens knew so well.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

227 -- Montgomery/Austen/Allen

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Old Lady Lloyd
A cautionary tale about how pride can lead to a life of loneliness and emptiness. A good story. You can read it here.

Jane Austen: Oh! Mr. Best, you're very bad
Oh! Mr. Best, you're very bad
And all the world shall know it;
Your base behaviour shall be sung
By me, a tunefull Poet.--
You used to go to Harrowgate
Each summer as it came,
And why I pray should you refuse
To go this year the same?-- 
The way's as plain, the road's as smooth,
The Posting not increased;
You're scarcely stouter than you were,
Not younger Sir at least.-- 
If e'er the waters were of use
Why now their use forego?
You may not live another year,
All's mortal here below.-- 
It is your duty Mr Best
To give your health repair.
Vain else your Richard's pills will be,
And vain your Consort's care. 
But yet a nobler Duty calls
You now towards the North.
Arise ennobled--as Escort
Of Martha Lloyd stand forth. 
She wants your aid--she honours you
With a distinguished call.
Stand forth to be the friend of her
Who is the friend of all.-- 
Take her, and wonder at your luck,
In having such a Trust.
Her converse sensible and sweet
Will banish heat and dust.-- 
So short she'll make the journey seem
You'll bid the Chaise stand still.
T'will be like driving at full speed
From Newb'ry to Speen hill.-- 
Convey her safe to Morton's wife
And I'll forget the past,
And write some verses in your praise
As finely and as fast. 
But if you still refuse to go
I'll never let your rest,
Buy haunt you with reproachful song
Oh! wicked Mr. Best!-- 
Woody Allen: My speech to the graduates (1979)
I'm afraid this essay left me cold. For me, it was too obviously clever and trying to be funny, and so I found it neither. Sorry.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

226 -- Montgomery/Montgomery/d'Ambrosio

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Old Man Shaw's Girl
This is the kind of story we don't get enough of these days. It's heart-warming, and made me smile all the way through, but not because it was funny.

L.M. Montgomery: A Winter Dawn
Above the marge of night a star still shines,
And on the frosty hills the sombre pines
Harbor an eerie wind that crooneth low
Over the glimmering wastes of virgin snow.
Through the pale arch of orient the morn
Comes in a milk-white splendor newly-born,
A sword of crimson cuts in twain the gray
Banners of shadow hosts, and lo, the day! 

Monday, 14 May 2018

225 -- Montgomery/Bukowski/Frank

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: The winning of Lucinda
This was a bit like the story, the Hurrying of Ludovic, in being about a couple who are in love and have been engaged for 15 years. In this case neither would speak to the other. And then they did.

Charles Bukowski: Bluebird
Time for a video. I discovered Charles Bukowski yesterday, so here's another.

Adam Frank:  Was there a civilization on earth before humans?
An interesting essay that doesn't answer the question of the title, but is more concerned with the question of how would you know if there was a civilisation hundreds of millions of years ago. What signs would you look for?

224 -- Montgomery/Bukowski/Bowden

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: Little Joscelyn
I'm rapidly becoming a fan of LMM. This is a lovely story.

Charles Bukowski:
Long walks at night–
that’s what good for the soul:
peeking into windows
watching tired housewives
trying to fight off
their beer-maddened husbands.

Mark Bowden: Dumb kids' class
A short essay about the author's experiences in Catholic schools

Thursday, 10 May 2018

223 -- Montgomery/Poe/Didion

Short Story
L.M. Montgomery: The hurrying of Ludovic
I haven't read any of Montgomery's short stories, but I have a friend who's a big fan and has lent me three of her books of collected short stories. I liked this one (from Chronicles of Avonlea), about a man who is extremely slow to propose marriage to the woman he loves (as in 15 years).

Edgar Allan Poe: A dream within a dream
An intriguing poem. I never think of Poe as a poet really, but perhaps I should rethink that.
The last lines pose an interesting question (click on the link above for the whole poem):
Is all that we see or seemBut a dream within a dream?
Joan Didion: On going home (1967)
About the differences in attitude to the home we grew up in between the generation born in the 30s and those born later.