Friday, April 30, 2010
A Baneful God
Father Zeus, none other god is more baneful than thou; thou hast no compassion on men, that are of thine own begetting, but makest them to have fellowship with evil and with bitter pains.Reading Alexander Pope's translation of these lines, one understands why Richard Bentley observed, "It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope; but you must not call it Homer."
Ζεῦ πάτερ, οὔ τις σεῖο θεῶν ὀλοώτερος ἄλλος·
οὐκ ἐλεαίρεις ἄνδρας, ἐπὴν δὴ γείνεαι αὐτός,
μισγέμεναι κακότητι καὶ ἄλγεσι λευγαλέοισιν.
O Jove! for ever death to human cries;
The tyrant, not the father of the skies!
Unpiteous of the race thy will began!
The fool of fate, thy manufacture, man,
With penury, contempt, repulse, and care,
The galling load of life is doom'd to bear.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Sean O'Dwyer of the Glen
The O'Dwyers held land in the barony of Kilnamanagh, Co. Tipperary and fought a losing battle against the Cromwellian armies in 1650-1652. It is likely that the Sean O'Dwyer of the song shared a fate similar to that of his cousin Colonel Edmund O'Dwyer who, after the defeat of the Irish cause, left Ireland to fight and die in the service of foreign armies. The words of the song tell us that Sean O'Dwyer of the Glen, as he witnesses the steady destruction of the forests, foresees that he too will soon be forced to leave.See also Robert Welch, ed., The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (1996; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), s.v. tory (p. 566):
The Glen referred to is probably the Glen of Aherlow...
Tory later became synonymous with 'skulking' confederates and royalists who refused to lay up their arms after the *Rebellion of 1641 and its aftermath, as well as the outlaws who attacked the new settlers and disrupted the Cromwellian settlement [see *plantation]. Éamonn Ó Chnoic (Ned of the Hill) and his contemporary Seán Ó Duibhir an Ghleanna are examples of such outlaws from the period of the interregnum celebrated in Irish *folksong.Éamonn Ó Ciardha, "Tories and Moss-Troopers in Scotland and Ireland in the Interregnum: A Political Dimension," in John R. Young, ed., Celtic Dimensions of the British Civil Wars (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1997), pp. 141-163, is unavailable to me.
Here is Keefe's translation of the folk song:
Rising in the morningKeefe (1977, p. 34) cites as a source "Irish Minstrelsy, by James Hardiman (Dublin, 1831), 2:86." In James Hardiman, Irish Minstrelsy, or Bardic Remains of Ireland (London: Joseph Robins, 1831), vol. II, pp. 86-93, I find the Gaelic with a very loose English translation by Thomas Furlong beginning "Blithe the bright dawn found me..." The Gaelic original, along with a somewhat closer translation and music, can also be found in Erionnach (George Sigerson), The Poets and Poetry of Munster: A Selection of Irish Songs, 2nd series (Dublin: John O'Daly, 1860), pp. 110-117. Here is Sigerson's translation:
The summer sun shining,
I have heard the chant weaving
And the sweet songs of birds,
Badgers and small creatures,
The woodcock with his long beak,
The sounding of echoes,
The firing of strong guns,
The red fox on the crag,
Thousand yells of huntsmen
And a woman glumly in the pathway
Counting her flock of geese,
But now the woods are being cut
We will cross over the sea
And, Sean O'Dwyer of the Glen,
You are left weak.
This is my long loneliness,
The shelter for my head being cut,
The North wind lashing me
And death in the sky;
My happy dog being tied up
With no right to move or gambol
Who would take bad temper from a child
In the bright noon day;
The hearts of nobles on the rock
Capering, proud, prancing,
Who would climb beyond the furze
Until their final day.
So if I get a little peace soon
From the gentry of the town
I will make my way to Galway
And leave the rout behind.
Meadows in stream-cut valleys
Have no vigor, no strength of men,
No glass or cup is raised
To health or happy life;
My bare hills! loss of hedges
Leaves the hare on thickets' edges,
A vagrant on the plain.
What is this raid of strangers
But long-drawn cutting and clearing?
Sweet-whistled thrush and blackbird
Without branches for their singing,
An omen of coming troubles
Burdened priest and people
Adrift in empty harbors
Of deep mountain glens.
This is my daily bitterness,
To have lived to the age of sin,
To see this heavy scandal fall
On my own people, my own kind.
How often on those long fine days
There were apples on the trees,
Green leaves on the oak,
Fresh dew on the grass;
Now I am driven from my acres,
In lonely cold without friends,
Hiding sadly in holes
And hollows of the mountain.
If I don't get some peace soon
And the right to stay at home
I must give up my own ground,
My country and my life.
I've seen, full many a May-time,There is another translation, by Frank O'Connor, in A Book of Ireland (London: Collins, 1959), pp. 44 ff., which I haven't yet seen. Versions of the O'Connor translation on web pages don't seem to be accurate.
Suns lead on the day-time,
Horns ring in that gay time
With birds' mellow call,
Badgers flee before us,
Wood-cocks startle o'er us,
Guns make pleasant chorus
Amid the echoes all,
The fox run high and higher,
Horsemen shouting nigher,
The peasant mourning by her
Fowl, that mangled be.
Now, they fell the wildwood,
Farewellhome of childhood!
Ah, Seaan O'Dwyer an Gleanna,
Joy is not for thee!
It is my sorrow sorest,
Woe—the falling forest!
The north wind gives me no rest,
And death's in the sky;
My faithful hound's tied tightly
Never sporting lightly,
Who once could, day or nightly,
Win grief from the eye.
The antlered, noble-hearted
Stags are never started,
Never chased nor parted
From the furzy hills.
If Peace came, but a small way,
I'd journey down on Galway,
And leave, tho' not for alway,
My Erinn of Ills.
The Land of streamy vallies,
Hath no Head nor rallies—
In city, camp or palace
They never toast her name;
Alas! no warrior column
From Cloyne to Stualc naov Colam—
O'er plains now waste and solemn
The hares may rove tame.
0, when shall come the routing,
The English flight and flouting,
We hear no joyous shouting
From the blackbird yet,
But more warlike glooms the omen,—
Justice comes to no men,
Priests must flee the foemen
To hilly caves and wet.
It is my daily ruin
That a sinless death's undoing
Came not, ere came the strewing
Of all my bright hopes.
Ah, many a pleasant day-time
I've watcht in Erinn's May-time
The sweet fruits scent that gay time,
And dew on oak and slopes.
Now, my lands are plunder,
Far my friends asunder,
I must hide me under
Heath and bramble screen.
If soon I cannot save me
By flight from foes that crave me,
O Death! at last I'll seek thee
Our bitter foes between!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
A Personal Library
A personal library is not merely a collection of books. It is a mirror of its owner, but a magic mirror that reflects far more than the image that is put before it. It can expose secret aspirations and cut deeper than any scalpel into an unquiet heart.
Related post: The Anti-Library.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Hot as Hell
The exact temperature of hell cannot be computed, but it must be less than 444.6° C., the temperature at which brimstone or sulphur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations [sic] 21:8: "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be below the boiling point, which is 444.6° C. If it were above this point it would be a vapor and not a lake.As the article points out, hell (below 445° C. = 833° F.) is actually cooler than heaven (525° C. = 977° F., computed from Isaiah 30:26).
Sunday, April 25, 2010
[76.1] As Cleomenes was seeking divination at Delphi, the oracle responded that he would take Argos.
[77.3] All these things coming together spread fear among the Argives. Therefore they resolved to defend themselves by making use of the enemies' herald, and they performed their resolve in this way: whenever the Spartan herald signalled anything to the Lacedaemonians, the Argives did the same thing.
[78.1] When Cleomenes saw that the Argives did whatever was signalled by his herald, he commanded that when the herald cried the signal for breakfast, they should then put on their armor and attack the Argives.  The Lacedaemonians performed this command, and when they assaulted the Argives they caught them at breakfast in obedience to the herald's signal; they killed many of them, and far more fled for refuge into the grove of Argus, which the Lacedaemonians encamped around and guarded.
[79.1] Then Cleomenes' plan was this: He had with him some deserters from whom he learned the names, then he sent a herald calling by name the Argives that were shut up in the sacred precinct and inviting them to come out, saying that he had their ransom. (Among the Peloponnesians there is a fixed ransom of two minae to be paid for every prisoner.) So Cleomenes invited about fifty Argives to come out one after another and murdered them.  Somehow the rest of the men in the temple precinct did not know this was happening, for the grove was thick and those inside could not see how those outside were faring, until one of them climbed a tree and saw what was being done. Thereafter they would not come out at the herald's call.
 Then Cleomenes bade all the helots pile wood about the grove; they obeyed, and he burnt the grove. When the fire was now burning, he asked of one of the deserters to what god the grove belonged; the man said it was of Argos. When he heard that, he groaned aloud, “Apollo, god of oracles, you have gravely deceived me by saying that I would take Argos; this, I guess, is the fulfillment of that prophecy.”
[75.1] ... Cleomenes had already been not entirely in his right mind, and on his return from exile a mad sickness fell upon him: any Spartan that he happened to meet he would hit in the face with his staff.  For doing this, and because he was out of his mind, his relatives bound him in the stocks. When he was in the stocks and saw that his guard was left alone, he demanded a dagger; the guard at first refused to give it, but Cleomenes threatened what he would do to him when he was freed, until the guard, who was a helot, was frightened by the threats and gave him the dagger.  Cleomenes took the weapon and set about slashing himself from his shins upwards; from the shin to the thigh he cut his flesh lengthways, then from the thigh to the hip and the sides, until he reached the belly, and cut it into strips; thus he died, as most of the Greeks say, because he persuaded the Pythian priestess to tell the tale of Demaratus. The Athenians alone say it was because he invaded Eleusis and laid waste the precinct of the gods. The Argives say it was because when Argives had taken refuge after the battle in their temple of Argus he brought them out and cut them down, then paid no heed to the sacred grove and set it on fire.On Cleomenes' war against the Argives, see A.R. Burn, Persia and the Greeks: The Defense of the West, 546-478 B.C. (1962; rpt. Minerva Press, 1968), pp. 227-232 (with a good map on p. 228). I haven't yet seen the following:
[84.1] The Argives say this was the reason Cleomenes went mad and met an evil end...
- Ignace H. M. Hendriks, "The Battle of Sepeia," Mnemosyne 33 (1980) 340-346
- Alan Griffiths, "Was Kleomenes Mad?" in A. Powell, ed., Classical Sparta: Techniques Behind Her Success (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 51-78
- George L. Cawkwell, "Cleomenes," Mnemosyne 46 (1993) 506-527
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Heaven on Earth: Alle is Buxumnesse
For if Heaven exists on earth, and ease for any soul,Walter W. Skeat, An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898) p. 86:
For many causes I think it is in cloisters or convent schools.
No man comes into cloisters to quarrel or fight;
All is obedience there, and books, and imbibing of learning.
He is scorned in school, if a scholar cannot learn;
Else, all is delight and love, and love of one another.
For if heuene be on this erthe . and ese to any soule,
It is in cloistere or in scole . be many skilles I fynde;
For in cloistre cometh ne man . to chide ne to fi3te,
But alle is buxumnesse there and bokes . to rede and to lerne.
In scole there is scorne . but if a clerke wil lerne,
And grete loue and lykynge . for eche of hem loueth other.
BUXOM, healthy; formerly, good-humoured, gracious; orig. obedient. (E.) Shak. has buxom, lively, brisk, Hen. V, iii. 6. 27. Gower has boxom, obedient, C. A. ii. 221. In the Ancren Riwle, p. 356, it is spelt buhsum. — A. S. búgan, to bow, bend, whence a stem buh- (for bug-); with the suffix -sum, same, like, as in E. win-some, i.e. joy-like, joyous; see March's A. S. Grammar, sect. 229. The actual word buhsum does not appear in A. S. (as far as we know), but is common in Early English; and there is no doubt about the etymology. Hence the original sense is 'pliable, obedient.' + Du. buigzaam, flexible, tractable, submissive; similarly formed from buigen, to bow, bend. + G. biegsam, flexible; from biegen, to bend. See BOW.See Milton, Paradise Lost 2.842 and 5.270: buxom air, i.e. unresisting, yielding (cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.75: terra feras cepit, volucres agitabilis aer).
Terence Tiller is an apt name for the translator of Piers Plowman.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
A Heinous Anti-Christian Offence
"Punnest thou?" said the friar. "A heinous anti-Christian offence. Why anti-Christian? Because anti-Catholic. Why anti-Catholic? Because anti-Roman. Why anti-Roman? Because Carthaginian. Is not pun from Punic? punica fides: the very quint-essential quiddity of bad faith: double-visaged: double-tongued. He that will make a pun will----I say no more. Fie on it."
Monday, April 19, 2010
To Be Free
From office confinement all year long,
I have come out of town to be free this morning
Where willows harmonize the wind
And green hills lighten the cares of the world.
I lean by a tree and rest myself
Or wander up and down a stream.
...Mists have wet the fragrant meadows;
A spring dove calls from some hidden place.
...With quiet surroundings, the mind is at peace,
But beset with affairs, it grows restless again...
Here I shall finally build me a cabin,
As Tao Ch'ien built one long ago.
Following my natural disposition, I just behave carelessly,The same, tr. Red Pine:
And am particularly heedless in managing my livelihood.
This year I learned to plant melons.
However, my garden is mostly filled with weeds.
Although all the plants equally shared rain and dew,
My melon-seedlings were particularly luxuriant.
Due to the shortness of the spring,
The season slipped away before I was able to hoe in time.
The farmers laugh at me for having wasted my efforts,
As the days and nights proceed, my hopes grow slimmer.
Truly, this is not our business.
Just let me study the books of the ancients.
When I follow my nature I'm rash
too careless to earn a living
this year I tried planting melons
in a garden that was mostly weeds
the plants all shared the rain and dew
but mine ended up in the shade
and once spring work got busy
the time for hoeing was past
the farmers laughed at my useless efforts
from dawn to dusk resulting in nothing
clearly this isn't my kind of work
I'll stick with ancient texts instead
Periods and Ages
The practice of chopping history into convenient lengths and calling them 'periods' or 'ages' has of course its drawbacks. Strictly speaking, there are no periods in history, only in historians; actual history is a smoothly flowing continuum, a day following a day. And even when hindsight enables us to cut it through at a critical point, there is always a time-lag and an overlap.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
A Costly Typographical Error
An Australian publisher has had to pulp and reprint a cook-book after one recipe listed "salt and freshly ground black people" instead of black pepper.Another "silly mistake" (although acceptable to some): plural pronoun they with singular antecedent proofreader (quotation of Sessions in penultimate paragraph).
Penguin Group Australia had to reprint 7,000 copies of Pasta Bible last week, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.
The reprint cost A$20,000 ($18,000; £12,000), but stock in bookshops will not be recalled as it is "extremely hard" to do so, Penguin said.
The recipe was for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto.
"We're mortified that this has become an issue of any kind, and why anyone would be offended, we don't know," head of publishing Bob Sessions is quoted as saying by the Sydney newspaper.
Penguin said almost every one of the more than 150 recipes in the book listed salt and freshly ground black pepper, but a misprint occurred on just one page.
"When it comes to the proofreader, of course they should have picked it up, but proofreading a cook-book is an extremely difficult task. I find that quite forgivable," Mr Sessions said.
If anyone complains about the "silly mistake", they will be given the new version, Penguin said.
I don't see why proofreading a cook-book should be "extremely difficult" tedious and time-consuming, yes, but difficult, no.
Hat tip: Jim K.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Saturday, April 17, 2010
How Pure They Seemed
These sectaries deal in parodies of truth—
Their narrow-minded fancies, crude and mean,
Uttered with gestures wild and words uncouth
In nature's mighty presence, move our spleen,
When they should move our tears. The gale blew loud,
But still the raving and the rant were heard—
Just then I marked, how, from a flying cloud,
Orion swiftly drew his belt and sword,
As he would mount to higher heavens, and go
Still further from the earth! how little dreamed
The hot fanatic, breathing flames and woe,
Of that ineffable contrast! Stars that gleamed,
Free winds and fleecy drift, how pure they seemed,
How alien from the hearts that grovelled so!
The Ban of All the Woods
Shall not the phantom-axe, with viewless strokes,Turner's note (on p. 114):
The quiet purlieus of your traffic vex?
And the grim voice of all these aged oaks
Go storming o'er your ledgers, to perplex
Your clerks with sylvan horror? This fair haunt
Of light and shadow, and divine repose,
Low-fallen at last beneath your ruthless blows,
Waits its last shame, the hammer. Do not vaunt
The pelf your ravage brings you; for the ban
Of all the woods is on you! you have spared
No shelter for the dreams of god or man—
Who stirred the wood-god's bile, what risks he ran
Of old! ay, even the heedless swain, who dared
To tune his pipe across the nose of Pan!
The last four lines of the sonnet allude to these of the Idyll:This is Theocritus 1.15-18, here translated by C.S. Calverley:Οὐ θέμις, ὦ ποιμὴν, τὸ μεσαμβρινόν, οὐ θέμις ἄμμιν
Συρίσδεν· τὸν Πᾶνα δεδοίκαμες: ἦ γὰρ ἀπ᾽ ἄγρας
Τανίκα κεκμακὼς ἀμπαύεται· ἔστι δὲ πικρός,
Καί οἱ ἀεὶ δριμεῖα χολὰ ποτὶ ῥινὶ κάθηται.
THEOCR. Εἰδύλλιον α’
I durst not, Shepherd, O I durst not pipe"The hammer" in line 8 of Turner's sonnet is the auctioneer's hammer. The Rev. Charles Turner (Tennyson's elder brother) was vicar of GrasbyI haven't been able to discover the Sitz im Leben behind the sonnet, but see Alfred J. Church, The Laureate's Country: A Description of Places Connected with the Life of Alfred Lord Tennyson (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1891), p. 68, n. 1:
At noontide; fearing Pan, who at that hour
Rests from the toils of hunting. Harsh is he;
Wrath at his nostrils aye sits sentinel.
A characteristic story is told of Charles Turner's love of trees. Just outside the larder may be seen the stump of what must have been a splendid specimen of the willow. He paid £10 to the owner of the tree on the condition that it should not be cut down in his lifetime.Note to myself: check Charles K. Rawding, The Lincolnshire Wolds in the Nineteenth Century (Lincoln: Soc. for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, 2001).
Friday, April 16, 2010
Let my delight be the country, and the running streams amid the dellsmay I love the waters and the woods, though fame be lost.
rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,
flumina amem silvasque inglorius.
Tactitus, Dialogus de Oratoribus 9:
One must withdraw into woods and groves, that is, into solitude.Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage II.xxv:
in nemora et lucos, id est in solitudinem, secedendum est.
To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude; 't is but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms, and view her stores unroll'd.
At War with the Wilderness
The race that settles and clears the land has got to deal with every tree in the forest in succession. It must be resolute and industrious, and even the stumps must be got out, — or are. It is a thorough process, this war with the wilderness, — breaking nature, taming the soil, feeding it on oats. The civilized man regards the pine tree as his enemy. He will fell it and let in the light, grub it up and raise wheat or rye there. It is no better than a fungus to him.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Tonadose des Conores?
This name looks suspicious to me. Despite 119 Google hits for Tonadose des Conores, the correct name is actually Tomadose des Comores (692 Google hits). For the word tomadose, see André Charrier et al., edd., Tropical Plant Breeding (Montpellier: Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, 2001), p. 527 (on Lycopersicon):
The form with small fruit, L. esculentum var. cerasiforme, or cherry tomato, is the only wild form of the genus and is encountered both in South America and beyond (Rick, 1986). It is known in the Antilles and French Guyana under the name tomadose and is cultivated in the warm humid season. Cultivated tomato is probably a domesticated form of this wild species.Comores is the French name for The Comoros in the Indian Ocean.
English tomato comes ultimately from Nahuatl tomatl. Nahuatl is an Aztec language.
Labels: typographical and other errors
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Looking in a Mirror
By habit I never gave old age much thought,
And even now my youthful mind soars like a mountain.
But suddenly I begin to compare ages with my neighbors
And am startled to discover how much older I am than they are!
I never looked at myself carefully before,
And kept bragging about my youthful face, pink like a drunkard.
But today I've met my true self in this mirror
I'm as wan and sallow as a withered lotus.
My body has somehow been magically transformed,
And I will pass my remaining years in infirmity.
I realize it's too late to get all worried about this,
But now that I know, what, alas, can I do?
The old sun and moon have been playing tricks on me,
But it's not worthwhile laughing at them or getting angry.
I must whet the sword that cuts away sadness,
For the lance that turns back time1 is useless to me now.
Young lads, who noisily celebrate the fair spring festival,
Call me to come out to dance and sing with them.
The very idea of this sets my blood on fire,
And I rise up, strong, to frisk and gambol about!
1Allusion to the account of a battle between Duke Yang of Lu and Han Gou described in the Huainanzi. When Duke Yang could not finish defeating his enemy before sunset, he waved his lance at the sun, which supposedly moved back toward the east. Index du Houai Nan Tseu (Taipei, repr. 1968), p. 61b.
Labels: eheu fugaces labuntur anni
Monday, April 12, 2010
I mount my horse, ready to go out the gate;
out the gate, pause in uncertainty,
turn my head to speak to my wife,
sure she must be puzzled by all these spring outings.
I know I go on a lot of spring outings,
but what can an old fellow do,
when the ruddy face of youth is fading, fading,
and white hairs continue and continue to appear?
You have ten fingersuse them,
tally up my friends for me.
Say age one hundred is the outside limit
how many make it into their seventh decade?
Now I am sixty-five
and speeding downhill like a wheel on a slope.
Supposing I should last to seventy,
that leaves me only five springs more.
Faced with spring, not to go out and enjoy it,
one would have to be a fool!
Labels: eheu fugaces labuntur anni
Sunday, April 11, 2010
All Rhuthyn's Woods are Ravaged
A poem on behalf of the squirrels who went to London to file and make an affidavit on the bill for the cutting down of Marchan Wood, near Rhuthyn.Robin Clidro's poem is remarkable for its precise description of the ecological consequences of deforestation. Although I don't know Welsh, I always like to quote the original if possible:
Odious and hard is the law
and painful to little squirrels.
They go all the way to London
with their cry and matron before them.
This red squirrel was splendid, 5
soft-bellied and able to read;
she conversed with the Council
and made a great matter of it.
When the Book was put under her hand
in the faith that this would shame her, 10
she spoke thus to the bailiff,
'Sir Bribem, you're a deep one!'
Then on her oath she said,
'All Rhuthyn's woods are ravaged;
my house and barn were taken 15
one dark night, and all my nuts.'
The squirrels are all calling
for the trees; they fear the dog.
Up there remains of the hill wood
only grey ash of oak trees; 20
there's not a stump unstolen
nor a crow's nest left in our land.
The owls are always hooting
for trees; they send the children mad.
The poor owl catches cold, 25
left cold without her hollow trunk.
Woe to the goats, without trees or hazels,
and to the sow-keeper and piglets!
Pity an old red-bellied sow
on Sunday, in her search for an acorn. 30
The chair of the wild cats,
I know where that was burnt.
Goodbye hedgehog! No cow-collar
nor pig-trough will come from here any more.
If a plucked goose is to be roasted, 35
it must be with bracken from Rhodwydd Gap.
No pot will come to bubbling,
no beer will boil without small twigs;
and if peat comes from the mountain
in the rain, it's cold and dear. 40
Cold will exhaust the housemaid,
with cold feet and a dripping nose.
There's no hollow trunk or branch,
nor a fence for the beating of an old thin snipe.
Yes, Angharad spoke the truth, 45
if we don't get coal it's goodbye to our land.'
Cywydd dros y gwiwerod a aeth i Lundain i ffilio ag i wneuthur affidafid ar y bil am dorri Coed Marchan yn ynyl Rhuthyn.Anonymous (16th century Welsh), Glyn Cynon Wood, tr. Gwyn Williams, id., pp. 89-90 (line numbers added by me):
Blin ac afrydd yw’r gyfraith,
mac’n boen i’r gwiwerod bach;
mynad ar lawndaith i Lundain
â’u bloedd a’u mamaeth o’u blaen.
Gwych oedd hi’r wiwer goch hon, 5
dorllaes, yn medru darllen,
yn ymddiddan â’r cyngawr,
ac eto ma’n fater mawr.
Pan roed y llyfr dan ei llaw
a choel oedd i’w chywilyddiaw, 10
hi ddywed wrth y beili,
“Sir Bribwm, un twym wyt ti!”
Ar ei llw hi ddywed fal hyn,
anrheithio holl goed Rhuthyn
a dwyn ei thŷ a’i sgubor 15
liw nos du, a’i chnau a’i stôr.
"mae’r gwiwerod yn gweiddi
am y coed rhag ofn y ci.
Nid oes fry o goed y fron
Ond lludw y derw llwydion. 20
Nod oes gepyll heb ei gipio,
na nyth brân byth i’n bro.
Mae’r tylluanod yn udo
am y coed, yn gyrru plant o’u co’.
Gwae’r dylluan rhag annwyd, 25
oer ei lle am geubren llwyd!
Gwae’r geifr am eu coed a’u cyll,
a pherchen hwch a pherchyll!
Gwae galon hwch folgoch hen
Dduw Sul am le i gael mesen! 30
Cadair y cathod coedion,
mi wn y tu llosgwyd hon.
Yn iach draenog; nac aerwy
na chafn moch ni cheir mwy.
Os rhostir gŵydd foel, rhiad fydd 35
â rhedyn Bwlch y Rhodwydd.
Crychias ni feirw crochan,
na breci mwy heb bricie mân.
O daw mawnen o’r mynydd
a y glaw, oer a drud fydd. 40
Annwyd fydd yn lladd y forwyn,
oer ei thraed a defni o’i thrwyn.
Nid oes gaynac ysgyrren
na chae chwipio biach gul hen.
Gwir a ddywed Angharad, 45
oni cheir glo, yn iach in gwlad.”
Aberdare, Llanwynno through,I can't find all of this anonymous poem in Welsh, but these are the opening lines:
all Merthyr to Llanfabon;
there was never a more disastrous thing
than the cutting of Glyn Cynon.
They cut down many a parlour pure 5
where youth and manhood meet;
in those days of the regular star
Glyn Cynon's woods were sweet.
If a man in sudden plight
took to flight from foe, 10
for guest-house to the nightingale
in Cynon Vale he'd go.
Many a birch-tree green of cloak
(I'd like to choke the Saxon!)
is now a flamming heap of fire 15
where iron workers blacken.
For cutting the branch and bearing away
the wild birds' habitation
may misfortune quickly reach
Rowenna's treacherous children! 20
Rather should the English be
strung up beneath the seas,
keeping painful house in hell
than felling Cynon's trees.
Upon my oath, I've heard it said 25
that a herd of the red deer
for Mawddy's deep dark woods has left,
bereft of its warmth here.
No more the badger's earth we'll sack
nor start a buck from the glade; 30
no more deer-stalking in my day,
now they've cut Glyn Cynon's shade.
If ever a stag got into a wood
with huntsmen a stride behind,
never again will he turn in his run 35
with Cynon Wood in mind.
If the flour-white girl once came
to walk along the brook,
Glyn Cynon's wood was always there
as a fair trysting nook. 40
If as in times gone by men plan
to span the mountain river;
though wood be found for house and church
Glyn Cynon's no provider.
I'd like to call on them a quest 45
of every honest bird,
where the owl, worthiest in the wood,
as hangman would be heard.
If there's a question who rehearsed
in verse this cruel tale, 50
it's one who many a tryst has kept
in the depth of Cynon Vale.
Aberdar, Llanwnno i gyd
plwy Merthyr hyd Lanfobon;
mwya adfyd a fu erioed
pan dorred Coed Glyn Cynon.
Torri llawer parlwr pur, 5
lle cyrchfa a gwyr a meibion;
yn oes dyddiau seren syw
mor arael yw Glyn Cynon.
Llawer bedwen glas ei chlog
(ynghrog y byddo'r Saeson!) 10
sydd yn danllwyth mawr o dan
gan wyr haearn duon.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
There was a female critic, in fact a Critic (on BBC radio), who remarked apropos of Thunderball that by its use the reader could have his "adolescent inferiority feelings compensated for." This was clearly felt to be a bad thing, though I should have thought that if Thunderball did manage to do this service, the book would be praiseworthy rather than blameworthy on that ground. The notion has grown up that wish fulfillment is somehow immature and therefore suspect. I can't see this myself. I think wish fulfillment is a common and normal human activity. I find self-advertised maturity, pride in maturity, at least equally suspect. No adult ought to feel adult all the time.
But this is a large topic. Perhaps the best shortcut out of it for now is to put forward the works of Homer as a far more compendious compensation-manual than those of Mr. Fleming. In Homer we can enjoy compensation for inferiority in bravery via Achilles, in fertility via Priam, in toughness via Ajax, in nobility via Hector, in cunning via Odysseus. What about that episode where Odysseus, cast away naked on the shore, is awakened and cared for by the beautiful young princess Nausicaa and her attendant maidens? Blatant virility-impairment-refurbishment-substitution-syndrome.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Quaint anatomic plates are sold
Along the quays in third-hand stalls
Where tomes cadaverous and old
Slumber like mummies in their palls.
In them the craftsman's skill combines
With expert knowledge in a way
That beautifies these chill designs
Although the subject's far from gay.
One notes that, consummating these
Mysterious horrors, God knows how,
Skeletons and anatomies
Peel off their skins to delve and plough.
Navvies, funereal and resigned,
From the tough ground with which you tussle
With all the effort that can find
Filleted spine or skinless muscle—
O grave-snatched convicts, say what strange
Harvest you hope from such a soil
And who the farmer is whose grange
You would replenish with this toil.
Mean you to show (O evil-starred
Exponents of too stark a doom)
The promised sleep may yet be barred,
Even from us, beyond the tomb;
That even extinction may turn traitor,
And Death itself can be a lie;
And that perhaps, sooner or later,
Forever, when we come to die,
In some strange country, without wages,
On stubborn outcrops delving holes,
We'll push a shovel through the ages
Beneath our flayed and bleeding soles?
Dans les planches d'anatomie
Qui traînent sur ces quais poudreux
Où maint livre cadavéreux
Dort comme une antique momie,
Dessins auxquels la gravité
Et le savoir d'un vieil artiste,
Bien que le sujet en soit triste,
Ont communiqué la Beauté,
On voit, ce qui rend plus complètes
Ces mystérieuses horreurs,
Bêchant comme des laboureurs,
Des Ecorchés et des Squelettes.
De ce terrain que vous fouillez,
Manants résignés et funèbres
De tout l'effort de vos vertèbres,
Ou de vos muscles dépouillés,
Dites, quelle moisson étrange,
Forçats arrachés au charnier,
Tirez-vous, et de quel fermier
Avez-vous à remplir la grange?
Voulez-vous (d'un destin trop dur
Epouvantable et clair emblème!)
Montrer que dans la fosse même
Le sommeil promis n'est pas sûr;
Qu'envers nous le Néant est traître;
Que tout, même la Mort, nous ment,
Et que sempiternellement
Hélas! il nous faudra peut-être
Dans quelque pays inconnu
Ecorcher la terre revêche
Et pousser une lourde bêche
Sous notre pied sanglant et nu?
Measure of wisdom Growth in wisdom can be measured precisely by decline in bile.
Woran die Weisheit zu messen ist. — Der Zuwachs an Weisheit lässt sich genau nach der Abnahme an Galle bemessen.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
They planted me, a walnut-tree, by the road-side to amuse passing boys, as a mark for their well-aimed stones. All my twigs and flourishing shoots are broken, hit as I am by showers of pebbles. It is no advantage for trees to be fruitful. I indeed, poor tree, bore fruit only for my own undoing.Epigramma Bobiense XLIV is a Latin translation of the above:
Εἰνοδίην καρύην με παρερχομένοις ἐφύτευσαν
παισὶ λιθοβλήτου παίγνιον εὐστοχίης·
πάντας δ' ἀκρεμόνας τε καὶ εὐθαλέας ὀροδάμνους
κέκλασμαι πυκιναῖς χερμάσι βαλλόμενη·
δένδρεσιν εὐκάρποις οὐδὲν πλέον· ἦ γὰρ ἔγωγε
δυσδαίμων ἐς ἐμὴν ὕβριν ἐκαρποφόρουν.
Rusticus imprudens plantam nucis hic posuit meApparently oculi in the third line means "buds" (see Lewis & Short, s.v. oculus, I.B.4.a) I would have expected virgae or rami as a straightforward translation of Greek ἀκρεμόνας.
saxorum iaculis ludibrium pueris.
namque omnes oculi generosaque bracchia pomis
iactibus et crebro fragmine rupta mihi.
ferre quid immensas fruges iuvat? has ego gratis,
in mea damna ferax, pro meritis tetuli.
4 rupta Munari, pulchra cod.
Aesop, Fable 152 Chambry (tr. Laura Gibbs):
There was a nut tree standing by the side of the road who had a great many nuts and the people walking along the road used to knock them off by throwing sticks and stones at the tree. The nut tree then said sadly, 'Woe is me! People gladly enjoy my fruits, but they have a terrible way of showing their gratitude.' The fable indicts those ungrateful and wicked people who requite good deeds with cruelty.In the Latin elegaic poem Nux, attributed to Ovid, a nut tree complains that it is being pelted with stones. The only English translation known to me is by J.H. Mozley in the Loeb edition of Ovid's The Art of Love and Other Poems (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929). The poem is too long (182 lines) to reproduce here. Some bibliography on Nux (most of which I haven't read):
Καρύα, παρά τινα ὁδὸν οὖσα καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν παριόντων λίθοις βαλλομένη, στενάξασα πρὸς ἑαυτὴν εἶπεν· Ἀθλία εἰμὶ ἐγώ, ἥτις κατ' ἐνιαυτὸν ἐμαυτῇ ὕβρεις καὶ λύπας παρέχω. Ὁ λόγος πρὸς τοὺς ἐπὶ τῶν ἰδίων ἀγαθῶν λυπουμένους.
- Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, ed., "Liber Nucis, " in Commentationes Philologae in Honorem Theodori Mommseni (Berlin: Weidmann, 1877), pp. 390-401
- Carl Ganzenmüller, Die Elegie Nux und ihr Verfasser (Tübingen: J.J. Heckenhauerschen, 1910)
- Sjoerd Wartena, Nux Elegia (Groningen: P. Noordhoff, 1928)
- R.B. Steele, The Nux, Maecenas and Consolatio ad Liviam (Nashville 1933)
- Léon Herrmann, "La Controverse du Noyer," Revue Internationale des Droits de l'Antiquité 2 (1949) 421-424
- A.G. Lee, "The Authorship of the Nux," in N. Herescu, ed., Ovidiana (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1958), pp. 457-471
- M. Pulbrook, ed., Publii Ovidi Nasonis Nux Elegia (Maynooth: Maynooth University Press, 1985)
- Roger Beck, "Ovid, Augustus, and a Nut Tree," Phoenix 19.2 (Summer 1965) 146-152
- Arnd Bohm, "Wordsworth's 'Nutting' and the Ovidian 'Nux'," Studies in Romanticism 45.1 (2006) 25-48
Bohm (op. cit.) thinks that the pseudo-Ovidian Nux was known to William Wordsworth and influenced him when he wrote Nutting:
It seems a day,Carol Rumens, "The Romantic Poets: Nutting by William Wordsworth," The Guardian (January 26, 2010), sensibly downplays the supposed sexual imagery of Wordsworth's poem: "[T]his poem is not about rape, in the usual sense, but rapacity."
(I speak of one from many singled out)
One of those heavenly days which cannot die,
When forth I sallied from our cottage-door,
And with a wallet o'er my shoulder slung,
A nutting crook in hand, I turn'd my steps
Towards the distant woods, a Figure quaint,
Trick'd out in proud disguise of Beggar's weeds
Put on for the occasion, by advice
And exhortation of my frugal Dame.
Motley accoutrement! of power to smile
At thorns, and brakes, and brambles, and, in truth,
More ragged than need was. Among the woods,
And o'er the pathless rocks, I forc'd my way
Until, at length, I came to one dear nook
Unvisited, where not a broken bough
Droop'd with its wither'd leaves, ungracious sign
Of devastation, but the hazels rose
Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung.
A virgin scene! - A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights in; and with wise restraint
Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed
The banquet, or beneath the trees I sate
Among the flowers, and with the flowers I play'd;
A temper known to those, who, after long
And weary expectation, have been blessed
With sudden happiness beyond all hope. -
- Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
The violets of five seasons re-appear
And fade, unseen by any human eye,
Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on
For ever, and I saw the sparkling foam,
And with my cheek on one of those green stones
That, fleeced with moss, beneath the shady trees,
Lay round me scatter'd like a flock of sheep,
I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,
In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay
Tribute to ease, and, of its joy secure,
The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,
Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,
And on the vacant air. Then up I rose,
And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with crash
And merciless ravage; and the shady nook
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower
Deform'd and sullied, patiently gave up
Their quiet being: and unless I now
Confound my present feelings with the past,
Even then, when from the bower I turn'd away
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings
I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
The silent trees and the intruding sky. -
Then, dearest Maiden! move along these shades
In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand
Touch, - for there is a spirit in the woods.
Thanks to Eric Thomson for drawing my attention to Wordsworth's poem and Bohm's article.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
A Petition by Alexander Pope and Others
Related posts: A Culture Is No Better Than Its Woods; Abraham, Cyriac, Barhadbshabba, and Sergius; Ronsard and the Forest of Gâtine; The Heavenly Beauty of Earthly Things; Apollo Karneios and the Cornel-Trees; Pitiful Destruction; Enemy of Orchards; Arboricide and Matricide; The Sacrilegious Axe; Arboricide on the Wayne Ranch; The Woods of Bachycraigh; Papadendrion; Papadendrion Again; A Bewilderment of Birds; Ancient Protests Against Deforestation; Illustrations of Erysichthon; Prayer and Sacrifice to Accompany Tree Cutting; A Spirit Protects the Trees; St. Martin and the Pine Tree; The Geismar Oak; Bregalad's Lament; Petition of a Poplar; Cactus Ed and Arboricide; Views from the Center of Highgate Wood; Artaxerxes and Arboricide; When the Last Tree Falls; The Hamadryads of George Lane; Sorbs and Medlars; So Foul a Deed; Like Another Erysichthon; The Fate of Old Trees; Scandalous Misuse of the Globe; The Groves Are Down; Massacre; Executioners; Anagyrasian Spirit; Butchers of Our Poor Trees; Cruel Axes; Odi et Amo; Kentucky Chainsaw Massacre; Hornbeams; Protection of Sacred Groves; Lex Luci Spoletina; Turullius and the Grove of Asclepius; Caesarian Section; Death of a Noble Pine; Two Yew Trees in Chilthorne, Somerset; The Fate of the Shrubbery at Weston; The Trees Are Down; Hornbeams; Sad Ravages in the Woods; Strokes of Havoc; Maltreatment of Trees; Arboricide; An Impious Lumberjack; Erysichthon in Ovid; Erysichthon in Callimachus; Vandalism.
The Petition ofThat whereas a Certain Tree lying, being & standing in or on the Grounds of your Lordship, at or before or on one side or the other of a Certain Edifice at your Honour's called the Casino, hath possessed occupied and held, for the space of twenty or twenty-one years or thereabouts, over or under, the said Ground Place and Bank, and suffered & endurd all the Changes & Vicissitudes of Wind Water & Weather in the Worst of Times. And whereas a certain Upstart Terras, hath arisen & stood opposite (tho at great distance) to your Honour's said Tree, above & before mentioned & described, which said Terras hath and can suffer no molestation, Let, or hindrance from any Shadow, Root or Branch of your said Tree, which both continued faithfully fixed to the Premises, nor ever stirred, or attempted to stir, from his said place, notwithstanding which the said Terras hath, by the Instigation of Sathan, & of William Kent, his agent & Attorney, conspiring thereunto, devised and plotted, and do at this time devise plot & conspire the Destruction, Abolition, Overthrow & Total Subversion of this Your Honour's Tree, the said Tree to cut down, or saw down, or root up & grub up, & ruin for ever: We, Your Honour's humble Petitioners who have many years known, accustomed & frequented the said Tree, sitten, reposed or disported under the Shade thereof yea and seen the said William Kent, the Agent & Attorney of the said Sathan, solace himself with Syllabubs, Damsels, and other Benefits of Nature, under the said Tree, Do, for ourselves & our Posterity, most earnestly, & jointly as well as Seperately, petition and pray that the said Tree may remain, subsist, continue & flourish in his place, during his or her natural life (not being absolutely certain of the Sex of the said Tree) to enjoy the Small Spot of Ground on which God & your Lordship's Ancestors of ever blessed memory have placed it.
Dorothy Countess of Burlington, Dorothy & Charlot Boyle
Spinsters, Charles Duke of Grafton, Geo. Lord Euston,
Sir Clemt Cottrel Knt. Alexr. Pope Gent. & Chs.
Brunevall Gent. and others
To the Right Hon. the Earl of Burlington,
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
The Favor of the Muses
Then the herald approached leading the good minstrel, whom the Muse loved above all men, and gave him both good and evil; of his sight she deprived him, but gave him the gift of sweet song.Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, II, 212 (tr. R.J. Hollingdale):
κῆρυξ δ᾽ ἐγγύθεν ἦλθεν ἄγων ἐρίηρον ἀοιδόν,
τὸν πέρι μοῦσ᾽ ἐφίλησε, δίδου δ᾽ ἀγαθόν τε κακόν τε:
ὀφθαλμῶν μὲν ἄμερσε, δίδου δ᾽ ἡδεῖαν ἀοιδήν.
Yes, the favour of the Muses! What Homer says of it is so true and so terrible, it pierces us through: 'the muse loved him dearly and gave to him good and evil; for she took from him his eyes and bestowed upon him sweet song'. This is a text without end for the thinker: she gives good and evil, that is her way of loving dearly! And everyone will interpret for himself why it is we thinkers and poets have to give our eyes in exchange.Related post: Miscellaneous Notes.
Ja die Gunst der Musen! — Was Homer darüber sagt, greift ins Herz, so wahr, so schrecklich ist es: "herzlich liebt' ihn die Muse und gab ihm Gutes und Böses; denn die Augen entnahm sie und gab ihm süssen Gesang ein." — Dies ist ein Text ohne Ende für den Denkenden: Gutes und Böses gibt sie, das ist ihre Art von herzlicher Liebe! Und jeder wird es sich besonders auslegen, warum wir Denker und Dichter unsre Augen darangeben müssen.
Monday, April 05, 2010
A Culture Is No Better Than Its Woods
Sylvan meant savage in those primal woods1: English savage comes from Latin silvaticus, itself from silva = forest.
Piero di Cosimo so loved to draw,
Where nudes, bears, lions, sows with women's heads,
Mounted and murdered and ate each other raw,
Nor thought the lightning-kindled bush to tame 5
But, flabbergasted, fled the useful flame.
Reduced to patches owned by hunting squires
Of villages with ovens and a stocks,
They whispered still of most unsocial fires,
Though Crown and Mitre warned their silly flocks 10
The pasture’s humdrum rhythms to approve
And to abhor the license of the grove.
Guilty intention still looks for a hotel
That wants no details and surrenders none;
A wood is that, and throws in charm as well, 15
And many a semi-innocent, undone,
Has blamed its nightingales who round the deed
Sang with such sweetness of a happy greed.
Those birds, of course, did nothing of the sort,
And, as for sylvan nature, if you take 20
A snapshot at a picnic, O how short
And lower-ordersy the Gang will look
By those vast lives that never took another
And are not scared of gods, ghosts, or stepmother.
Among these coffins of its by-and-by 25
The Public can (it cannot on a coast)
Bridle its skirt-and-bargain-chasing eye,
And where should an austere philologist
Relax but in the very world of shade
From which the matter of his field was made. 30
Old sounds re-educate an ear grown coarse,
As Pan’s green father suddenly raps out
A burst of undecipherable Morse,
And cuckoos mock in Welsh, and doves create
In rustic English over all they do 35
To rear their modern family of two.
Now here, now there, some loosened element,
A fruit in vigor or a dying leaf,
Utters its private idiom for descent,
And late man, listening through his latter grief, 40
Hears, close or far, the oldest of his joys,
Exactly as it was, the water noise.
A well-kempt forest begs Our Lady's grace;
Someone is not disgusted, or at least
Is laying bets upon the human race 45
Retaining enough decency to last;
The trees encountered on a country stroll
Reveal a lot about a country's soul.
A small grove massacred to the last ash,
An oak with heart-rot, give away the show: 50
This great society is going to smash;
They cannot fool us with how fast they go,
How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.
2-6: Probably a reference to Piero di Cosimo's Forest Fire, in the Ashmolean Museum:
I haven't yet seen Virginia M. Hyde, "The Pastoral Formula of W. H. Auden and Piero di Cosimo," Contemporary Literature 14.3 (Summer 1973) 332-346.
10: The "Crown and Mitre" are the civil and religious establishments, respectively.
28-30: What is the matter of the philologist's field? Words, especially the words found in old books. Perhaps beech trees provide the shade — a philologist would know that there is an etymological connection between books and beeches. See Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of North American Trees (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007), p. 162:
And on the beech was written, probably, the first page of European literature. For, it is said the earliest Sanskrit characters were carved on strips of beech bark; the custom of inscribing the temptingly smooth boles of Beeches came to Europe with the Indo-European people who entered the continent from Asia. Indeed, our word "book" comes from the Anglo-Saxon boc, meaning a letter or character, which in turn derives from the Anglo-Saxon beece, for Beech.Or is Auden possibily alluding to the Latin adjectives umbraticus and umbratilis? Lewis and Short define umbraticus as "of or belonging to the shade, i.e. to retirement, seclusion, or leisure," and umbratiilis as "remaining in the shade, in retirement, or at home; private, retired, contemplative." The pursuit of philology requires retirement, seclusion, and leisure.
32: "Pan's green father" is Picus, father of Faunus (Faunus was identified with Pan). Circe transformed Picus into a woodpecker. See Vergil, Aeneid 7.187-191, Ovid, Metamorphoses 14.391-396, and Silius Italicus 8.439-442.
Related posts: Abraham, Cyriac, Barhadbshabba, and Sergius; Ronsard and the Forest of Gâtine; The Heavenly Beauty of Earthly Things; Apollo Karneios and the Cornel-Trees; Pitiful Destruction; Enemy of Orchards; Arboricide and Matricide; The Sacrilegious Axe; Arboricide on the Wayne Ranch; The Woods of Bachycraigh; Papadendrion; Papadendrion Again; A Bewilderment of Birds; Ancient Protests Against Deforestation; Illustrations of Erysichthon; Prayer and Sacrifice to Accompany Tree Cutting; A Spirit Protects the Trees; St. Martin and the Pine Tree; The Geismar Oak; Bregalad's Lament; Petition of a Poplar; Cactus Ed and Arboricide; Views from the Center of Highgate Wood; Artaxerxes and Arboricide; When the Last Tree Falls; The Hamadryads of George Lane; Sorbs and Medlars; So Foul a Deed; Like Another Erysichthon; The Fate of Old Trees; Scandalous Misuse of the Globe; The Groves Are Down; Massacre; Executioners; Anagyrasian Spirit; Butchers of Our Poor Trees; Cruel Axes; Odi et Amo; Kentucky Chainsaw Massacre; Hornbeams; Protection of Sacred Groves; Lex Luci Spoletina; Turullius and the Grove of Asclepius; Caesarian Section; Death of a Noble Pine; Two Yew Trees in Chilthorne, Somerset; The Fate of the Shrubbery at Weston; The Trees Are Down; Hornbeams; Sad Ravages in the Woods; Strokes of Havoc; Maltreatment of Trees; Arboricide; An Impious Lumberjack; Erysichthon in Ovid; Erysichthon in Callimachus; Vandalism.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Shenstone, Schopenhauer, and Claudius
Schopenhauer's penchant for Shenstone (mention actually comes in vol 2 chap. VIII not VII) dates from a London book-buying spree of 1803 when he was fifteen (Patrick Bridgewater: Arthur Schopenhauer's English Schooling p. 352).
'... his humour is sometimes gross, and seldom sprightly' was Dr J's verdict on Shenstone, but Schopenhauer thought little enough of Johnson: 'The man Sterne is worth a 1000 Pedants and commonplace-fellows like Dr. J.', 'as bigoted as an old woman', 'a philistine', 'a vile scribbler', 'an arch-Anglican ass', 'a bigotted priest-ridden narrow-minded fellow'.
The Claudian dispensation forms part of this res gestae as imagined by Zbigniew Herbert (tr. John Carpenter and Bogdana Carpenter):
The Divine ClaudiusBest wishes,
It was said
I was begotten by Nature
like an abandoned sculpture
the damaged fragment of a poem
for years I played the half-wit
idiots live more safely
I calmly put up with insults
if I planted all the stones
thrown into my face
an olive ground would spring up
a vast oasis of palms
I received a many-sided education
Livy the rhetoricians philosophers
I spoke Greek like an Athenian
although Plato I could recall
only in the lying position
I completed my studies
in dock-side taverns and brothels
those unwritten dictionaries of vulgar Latin
bottomless treasuries of crime and lust
after the murder of Caligula
I hid behind a curtain
they dragged me out by force
I didn't manage to adopt an intelligent expression
when they threw at my feet the world
ridiculous and flat
from then on I became the most diligent
emperor in universal history
a Hercules of bureaucracy
I recall with pride
my liberal law
giving permission to let out
sounds of the belly during feasts
I deny the charge of cruelty often made against me
in reality I was only absent-minded
on the day of Messalina's violent murder
the poor thing was killed I admit on my orders
I asked during the banquetWhy hasn't Madame come
a deathly silence answered me
really I forgot
sometimes it would happen I invited
the dead to a game of dice
I punished failure to attend with a fine
overburdened with so many labours
I might have made mistakes in details
I ordered thirty-five senators
and the cavalrymen of some three centurions
to be executed
well what of it
a bit less purple
fewer gold rings
on the other handand this isn't a triflemore room in the theatre
no one wanted to understand
that the goal of these operations was sublime
I longed to make death familiar to people
to dull its edge
bring it down to the banal everyday dimension
of a slight depression or runny nose
and here is the proof
of my delicacy of feeling
I removed the statue of gentle Augustus
from the square of executions
so the sensitive marble
wouldn't hear the roars of the condemned
my nights were devoted to study
I wrote the history of the Etruscans
a history of Carthage
a bagatelle about Saturn
a contribution to the theory of games
and a treatise on the venom of serpents
it was I who saved Ostia
from the invasion of sand
I drained swamps
since then it has become easier
in Rome to wash away blood
I expanded the frontiers of the empire
by Brittany Mauretania
and if I recall correctly Thrace
my death was caused by my wife Agrippina
and an uncontrollable passion for boletus
mushroomsthe essence of the forestbecame the essence of death
descendantsremember with proper respect and honour
at least one merit of the divine Claudius
I added new signs and sounds to our alphabet
expanded the limits of speech that is the limits of freedom
the letters I discoveredbeloved daughtersDigamma and Antisigma
led my shadow
as I pursued the path with tottering steps to the dark land of Orkus
Labels: noctes scatologicae
Maureen Dowd and the Latin Language
The nuns have historically cleaned up the messes of priests. And this is a historic mess. Benedict should go home to Bavaria. And the cardinals should send the white smoke up the chimney, proclaiming "Habemus Mama."(2) Maureen Dowd, "Devil of a Scandal" New York Times (April 3, 2010):
Father Cantalamessa went on to quote from the letter of an unnamed Jewish friend: "I am following with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful by the whole world. The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt, remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."Dowd needs either Latin lessons or an editor who knows some Latin.
As they say in Latin, "Ne eas ibi." Don't go there.
(1) Habemus ("we have") takes a direct object in the accusative case. As the spelling mamma is more common in Latin than mama, read "Habemus Mammam."
(2) With a verb of motion, an adverb or phrase meaning thither is needed, which in Latin could be eo, istuc, illuc, in eum locum, etc. See e.g. Caesar, Gallic Wars 5.11: eo cum venisset, maiores iam undique in eum locum copiae Britannorum convenerant.... Therefore read "Ne eas in eum locum" vel sim.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
In der Freien Natur
We enjoy being in the open countryside so much because it has no opinion concerning us.
Wir sind so gern in der freien Natur, weil diese keine Meinung über uns hat.
Ille Potens Sui
The wise Creator from our knowledge hidesHorace's Latin:
The end of future times in darksome night;
False thoughts of mortals He derides,
When them vaine toyes affright.
With mindfull temper present houres compose,
The rest are like a river, which with ease,
Sometimes within his channell flowes,
Into Etrurian seas.
Oft stones, trees, flocks, and houses it devoures,
With echoes from the hills, and neighb'ring woods,
Where some fierce deluge, rais'd by showres,
Turns quiet brookes to floods.
He master of himselfe, in mirth may live,
Who saith, I rest well pleas'd with former dayes;
Let God from heav'n to morrow give
Blacke clouds, or sunny rayes.
No force can make that voide, which once is past,
Those things are never alter'd, or undone,
Which from the instant rolling fast,
With flying moments run.
Proud Fortune joyfull sad affaires to finde,
Insulting in her sport, delights to change
Uncertaine honours: quickly kinde,
And straight againe as strange.
I prayse her stay, but if she stirre her wings,
Her gifts I leave, and to my selfe retire,
Wrapt in my vertue: honest things
In want no dowre require.
prudens futuri temporis exitumA literal prose version by Niall Rudd:
caliginosa nocte premit deus,
ridetque si mortalis ultra
fas trepidat. quod adest memento
componere aequus; cetera fluminis
ritu feruntur, nunc medio alveo
cum pace delabentis Etruscum
in mare, nunc lapides adesos
stirpesque raptas et pecus et domos
volventis una non sine montium
clamore vicinaeque silvae,
cum fera diluvies quietos
irritat amnes. ille potens sui
laetusque deget, cui licet in diem
dixisse: "vixi": cras vel atra
nube polum Pater occupato
vel sole puro; non tamen irritum,
quodcumque retro est, efficiet neque
diffinget infectumque reddet,
quod fugiens semel hora vexit.
Fortuna saevo laeta negotio et
ludum insolentem ludere pertinax
transmutat incertos honores,
nunc mihi, nunc alii benigna.
laudo manentem; si celeres quatit
pinnas, resigno quae dedit et mea
virtute me involvo probamque
pauperiem sine dote quaero.
God in his providence hides future events in murky darkness, and laughs if a mere mortal frets about what is beyond his control. Make sure to settle problems calmly. Everything else flows away like a river that now glides peacefully in the middle of its channel down to the Etruscan Sea, now rolls along eroded boulders, uprooted trees, livestock and houses all mixed together amid the roar of the mountains and neighbouring woods, when a wild flood enrages its quiet streams. That man will be master of himself and live a happy life who as each day ends can say "I have lived." Tomorrow let our Father cover the sky in dark cloud or bright sunshine, he will not cancel whatever is past, nor will he render null and void what the flying hour has once carried away. Fortune, revelling in her cruel business, and determined to play her high-handed game, switches her fickle favours, kind now to me, now to someone else. I praise her while she stays, but if she shakes her swift wings, I return her presents, wrap myself in my virtue, and go in search of honest Poverty, though she brings no dowry.
Friday, April 02, 2010
The Roman Revolution
Heaven and the verdict of history conspire to load the scales against the vanquished.p. 7:
In all ages, whatever the form and name of government, be it monarchy, republic, or democracy, an oligarchy lurks behind the façade.p. 59:
Liberty and the laws are high-sounding words. They will often be rendered, on a cool estimate, as privilege and vested interests.p. 60:
Without a party a statesman is nothing. He sometimes forgets that awkward fact. If the leader or principal agent of a faction goes beyond the wishes of his allies and emancipates himself from control, he may have to be dropped or suppressed.p. 78:
When a party seizes control of the Commonwealth it cannot take from the vanquished the bitter and barren consolation of defaming the members of the new government. The most intemperate allegations thrown about by malignant contemporaries are repeated by credulous posterity and consecrated among the uncontested memorials of history.p. 105:
A blameless life is not the whole of virtue, and inflexible rectitude may prove a menace to the Commonwealth.p. 284:
When an official document records voluntary manifestations of popular sentiment under a despotic government, a certain suspension of belief may safely be recommended.p. 315:
The Romans as a people were possessed by an especial veneration for authority, precedent and tradition, by a rooted distaste for change unless change could be shown to be in harmony with ancestral custom, 'mos maiorum'which in practice meant the sentiments of the oldest living senators. Lacking any perception of the dogma of progressfor it had not yet been inventedthe Romans regarded novelty with distrust and aversion. The word 'novus' had an evil ring.p. 319:
The theorists of antiquity situated their social and political Utopias in the past, not in the future.p. 325:
It is an entertaining pursuit to speculate upon the subtleties of legal theory, or to trace from age to age the transmission of perennial maxims of political wisdom; it is more instructive to discover, in any time and under any system of government, the identity of the agents and ministers of power. That task has all too often been ignored or evaded.p. 346:
A democracy cannot rule an empire. Neither can one man, though empire may appear to presuppose monarchy. There is always an oligarchy somewhere, open or concealed.p. 477:
Lack of prosecutors does not prove a lack of criminals.
Knowing your propensity for a certain type of humor, I would call to your attention Shenstone's "Inscription," mentioned in Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch.VII. You can read the short poem at http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/etexts/E000290.htm#X1167.
To save any other readers the trouble of following the link, here is Shenstone's Inscription:
To the memory ofIn other words, A.L. availed himself of the Claudian dispensation. See Suetonius, Life of Claudius 32:
A. L., Esquire,
Justice of the Peace for this county:
Who, in the whole course of his pilgrimage
Through a trifling ridiculous world,
Maintaining his proper dignity,
Notwithstanding the scoffs of ill-disposed persons,
And wits of the age
That ridiculed his behaviour,
Or censured his breeding;
Following the dictates of Nature,
Desiring to ease the afflicted,
Eager to set the prisoners at liberty,
Without having for his end
The noise or report such things generally cause
In the world,
(As he was seen to perform them of none)
But the sole relief and happiness
Of the party in distress;
Himself resting easy
When he could render that so;
Not griping or pinching himself
To hoard up superfluities;
Not coveting to keep in his possession
What gives more disquietude than pleasure;
But charitably diffusing it
To all round about him:
Making the most sorrowful countenance
In his presence;
Always bestowing more than he was asked,
Always imparting before he was desired;
Not proceeding in this manner
Upon every trivial suggestion,
But the most mature and solemn deliberation;
With an incredible presence and undauntedness
With an inimitable gravity and economy
Bidding loud defiance
To politeness and the fashion,
Dared let -- --.
He is even said to have thought of an edict allowing the privilege of breaking wind quietly or noisily at table.
dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi.
Labels: noctes scatologicae