Monday, September 28, 2015

Lawrence Durrell: "Lesbos"

Another of Lawrence Durrell's enigmatic poems--I don't know why I read his poetry, but there's something there that fascinates me.  Perhaps it's that attraction of the unsolved puzzle, one whose meaning is just out of reach.


                                     The Pleiades are sinking calm as paint,
                                     And earth's huge camber follows out,
                                     Turning in sleep, the oceanic curve

                                      Defined in concave like a human eye
                                      Or cheek pressed warm in the dark's cheek,
                                       Like dancers to a music they deserve.

                                      This balcony, a moon-annointed shelf
                                      Above a silent garden holds my bed,
                                       I slept.  But the dispiriting autumn moon,

                                       In her slow expurgation of the sky
                                       Needs company:  is brooding on the dead,
                                       And so am I now, so am I.

-- Lawrence Durrell --
from Collected Poems: Lawrence Durrell

All seems well, he is comfortable but then the " dispiriting autumn moon" rises.  For him, autumn is a melancholy time for it reminds him of those who have died, and perhaps of his own mortality.

The second stanza poses a problem for me. especially the second and third lines. 

                                       "Or cheek pressed warm in the dark's cheek,
                                         Like dancers to a music they deserve."

 It seems to be a comforting situation, but I'm not sure about the "music they deserve."

Most interesting line is the first: "The Pleiades are sinking calm as paint."

Is there one that you find most interesting?

The title "Lesbos" refers to a Greek island and seems to have little to do with sexual preference. On the other hand, I may be missing something here, which is entirely possible. 

 Comments are welcomed and encouraged. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blog Problems


Most recent and I hope the final update to the blog problem.  Cheryl, see her comment below, suggested allowing third party cookies and the problem vanished, not that I understand why, but hey.  .  .

Three cheers and a mighty Thank You to Cheryl.  


Update on problem:  I fear this may be related to my hard drive crash of a week or so ago.  I lost everything and had to get a new hard drive.  While my PC was down, I found that I could work here with a small Tab5.

I now have a new hard drive and have spent considerable time trying to restore my system.  I've  been mostly successful, but.  .  .

Present problem:  I can create, edit, and delete my blog posts on my PC, but I cannot edit or add comments/replies to that same blog post.  In addition, I find that I cannot reply on several blogs that I follow.  Right now I am blocked from replying on R. T.'s blog and madamevauquer's blog.  Since I find that I can reply on my own blog using the Tab, I will try this on other blogs to see if it works.  
However, my replies will be much shorter than usual because I can create messages now only by laboriously tapping them out one letter at a time.  How any body can spend a long time texting is beyond me.

Why I can reply on my TAB and not on my PC is beyond me.

I'm having problems responding to a number of blogs that I visit and what's most serious is that I can't even respond to comments here, on my own blog.  However, I can still create blog posts, even though I can't comment on them.

Yvette, I'm not ignoring your comment to the last post on Kenko, for I have tried several times and it won't accept my comments. I don't understand what happening or why.  I will return and respond to your comment here on this post.    
R.T.,  I've also tried to leave comments on several of your recent posts, but my replies are not being accepted there either. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kenko: Signs of a well-bred person

No. 56

How boring it is when you meet a man after a long separation and he insists on relating at interminable length everything that has happened to him in the meantime.  Even if the man is an intimate, somebody you know extremely well, how can you but feel a certain reserve on meeting him again after a time?  The vulgar sort of person, even if he goes on a brief excursion somewhere, is breathless with excitement as he relates as matters of great interest everything that happened to him.   When the well-bred man tells a story he addresses himself to one person, even if many people are present, though the others too listen, naturally.  But the ill-bred man flings out his words into the crowd, addressing himself to no one in particular, and describes what happened so graphically that everyone bursts into boisterous laughter.  You can judge a person's breeding by whether he is quite impassive even when he tells an amusing story, or laughs a great deal even when relating a matter of no interest.

It is most distressing when the good and bad of somebody's appearance or the quality of a certain person's scholarship is being evaluated, for the speaker to refer to himself by way of comparison. 

-- Kenko --
from Essays in Idleness

This probably sounds strange to us, but I wonder how often we make judgements like these, but we aren't aware of the standards we are applying.  Of course, we don't speak of  "breeding" today, but are more likely to talk about good manners or politeness or courtesy towards others.

According to Kenko, the well-bred person is rather reticent upon meeting somebody after a long separation or especially after taking a short trip.   A story really should be told as if it is to one person, even if others are present  and is quite reserved when telling a story, especially if it is of minor interest.  And most of all, when discussing someone's appearance or scholarship, one should never use himself as a comparison.

What do you think?  Would these be viewed the same way in our culture as Kenko does?  What do these behaviors tell us about the individual?  Do you know anyone who might commit one or more of these social "transgressions"?


Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Rubaiyat: Second Edition, Quatrain L

Second Edition:  Quatrain L

Would you that spangle of Existence spend
about THE SECRET--quick about it, Friend!
   A Hair, they say, divides the False and True--
And upon what, prithee, does Life depend?

 Fifth Edition:  Quatrain XLIX

Would you that spangle of Existence spend
about THE SECRET--quick about it, Friend!
   A Hair perhaps divides the False and True--
And upon what, prithee, does Life depend?

I can see no difference between the Second and the Fifth Editions, except for the third line when  "they say" is replaced by "perhaps."  The responsibility, if such, is transferred from the ubiquitous and ambiguous "they" to a doubtful statement in the narrator's own mind with the "perhaps."  It makes this quatrain a bit more personal as he assumes responsibility for the doubtful statement.

That "spangle of Existence" seems to refer back to the previous quatrain's "One Moment in Annihilation's Waste,/ One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste--."  The Poet/Narrator asks us if we wish to spend our brief time here wondering about "The Secret."  This, no doubt, refers back to references in earlier quatrains about the secret of life and existence, about which no revelation was made, and more strongly, the claim that no revelation can be made.  The Secret remains a secret.

In addition, should our short time here, therefore, be spent pondering questions when the distinction between "the False and True" is so negligible?  How can we know which side of that "Hair" we are on?  Moreover, does Life itself depend on this knowledge?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Scholar and the Cat, a poem

The Scholar and the Cat

                                       Each of us pursues his trade,
                                       I and Pangur my comrade,
                                      His whole fancy on the hunt,
                                      And mine for learning ardent.
                                      More than fame I love to be
                                      Among my books and study,                   
                                      Pangur does not grudge me it,
                                      Content with his own merit.

                                      When--a heavenly time!-we are
                                      In our small room together
                                      Each of us has his own sport
                                      And asks no greater comfort.

                                     While he sets his round sharp eye
                                     On the walls of my study
                                      I turn mine, though lost its edge
                                     On the great wall of knowledge.

                                     Now a mouse drops in his net
                                     after some mighty onset
                                    While into my bag I cram
                                    Some difficult darksome problem.

                                    When a mouse comes to the kill
                                     Pangur exults, a marvel!
                                     I have when some secret's won
                                    My hour of exultation.

                                     Though we worked for days and years
                                     Neither the other hinders;         
                                     Each is competent and hence
                                     Enjoys his skill in silence.

                                     Master of the death of mice,
                                     He keeps in daily practice
                                     I too, making dark things clear,
                                    Am of my trade a master. 

-- Anonymous --
Irish/Gaelic,  circa 850 AD
translated by Frank O'Conner
from World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time
Editors:  Katherine Washburn and John R. Major

I too have a cat, but it doesn't work exactly as it does with this scholar and Pangur.  While I'm reading or on the computer, Dusky is not out there seeking prey.  Instead, she is usually curled up on the bed, sofa, chair, window sill,  etc. catching up on her beauty sleep.  Of course, what goes on in her dreams, I have no idea.