I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Friday, 23 May 2014

A cyber Post-It

What follows must inevitably be boring. Sorry.

Faithful readers will recognise it's that time of year at Tone Deaf. Three days devoted to the Hay Festival with friends up from London (plus, for the first time, grandson Ian), then a rest, then a fortnight at a villa near Beziers. It's what I'm going to do and is thus unamenable to wit or controversy. Again I apologise.

Hay is where I re-charge my intellectual batteries: sixteen sessions intended to prove the width of my interests, but revealing me as nothing more than a dilettante. Reflecting on my so-called career which was based on being familiar with tiny bits of lots and lots. As with:

The latest novel of Edward St Aubyn. Who he? Dunno. Gonna find out.

The difficulties of translating fiction. A perennial fascination.

Rose Heilbron, Britain's first female senior judge.

John Bercow, speaker (ie, chairman) of the House of Commons, also Wimbledon-level tennis umpire.

Conductor John Eliot Gardner, lovingly about Bach.

How to be a museum curator.

The short, unhappy life of Chile's President Allende.

Plus nine others.

The Poet's Tongue, my source book, includes more modern stuff and I find familiar lines. This is cheating; blind extracts are our meat. Here's one:

Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.

Reasons why. This is poetry but it's straightforward. You’ve read Joe's Nudge; do you need my help? "Graspest" was aptly chosen but that's what poets do. Same with concise "dreamless head". But read the last line. The meaning’s clear - it could be prose but isn't. Say why. Take a thousand words. Take two thousand. Concentrate on “about”.
Tennyson, 1809 - 1892


Sir Hugh said...

Stunted yews cling in abundance to the steep slopes of Arnside Knott growing without apparent sustenance from piles of limestone and you know they are ancient. Apart from the other deep connotations the poem's description is a superb compression.

Lucy said...

There's a thing: I picked up the latest of Mervyn Barg's weekly radio outing 'In Our Time' - check out the podcasts if you're short of intellectual stimulus during Hay week, all 600+ broadcasts from the last 15 years or so and there's something for everyone, the last month alone saw discussions on photosynthesis, the Domesday book, the Sino-Japanese War, Tristram Shandy and, what I tuned into, Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam. Which then led me to decide now was the time to revisit In Memoriam. I studied this for A level, and would go as far as to say perhaps it's not the wisest thing to give a melancholy and impressionable 17 year old to immerse herself in, but I survived.

Anyway, Librivox have it entire, read by one of their better readers, so I have almost freshly come from the Old Yew - interestingly capitalised, and another vocative I suppose - wrapping it's roots round the mortal remains. I can't wait for the rest now.

I like John Bercow, didn't know he was a tennis umpire too.

mike M said...

About doubles as adverb and preposition here, an adverb only if you can't make the jump from wrapt to rapt. The double entendre is clearly purposeful. The tree is portrayed as sentient, savoring the nutrition provided by the residue of life "ended". A little short on words here. Work beckons.

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh, this one aches with beauty. Do I have to analyse it? It works, it works. The words lift my heart.

Go forthest, Robbie, to Hayes! I always look forward to reading your annual reports.

Avus said...

Ah..."In Memoriam" I have always loved. Like Lucy I came to it when I was about 17, but by a voluntary root.

I remember an inspired Geography master quoting these lines to us:

There rolls the deep where grew the tree.
O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
There where the long street roars, hath been
The stillness of the central sea.

The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.

That impressed on my imagination the topography of this Earth more than a dry text book could ever do.

Enjoy Hay!

Avus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avus said...

"root" should be "route", of course!

mike M said...

lol@ Avus...good stretch.

Lucas said...

A well pacxked quatrain. I am impressed by the idea of "underlying" as it seems to imply a cause and effect. Thanks for including this from what could be Tennnyson's most succesful poem. I agree with Lucy that it is well worth revisting.

Roderick Robinson said...

All: The real hero here is the method Auden/Garrett adopted for The Poet's Tongue, requiring the honest reader to respond to poetry without any preconceptions. And in this sense I am the perfect mediator for Tone Deaf's readers who know far more about poetry than I do. Not only did I not know beforehand this quatrain was by Tennyson, I didn't realise when I'd checked the author's name that it was from In Memoriam, one of his most well-regarded poems. So attentive readers are getting it straight from the mouths of babes and sucklings, and good poetry is the winner.

One or two corrections.

Lucy: Bercow was Middlesex Junior Champion at tennis, not an umpire. He is a complete tennis nut, having watched many championships over many years and has a multitude of stats close to hand. He has just written a book based on his view of the twenty best male players in modern times.

Avus: Your enthusiasm for IM stands out and you provide strong evidence to support it. I am ashamed I wasn't familiar with IM until now.

Lucas: Astonishing there is so much to go at in four deceptively straightforward lines.