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.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Garden Of Eden disturbed

Brian, our gardener, is my age but fitter. When not dead-heading he trots up the Brecon Beacons.

He's also a Baptist church deacon and rather weak on how souls were saved prior to 0 AD. All those Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon types baffled to find themselves roasting in Hell.

VR and I believe gardens are for sitting in and for contemplating while drinking Bloody Marys. Yet - reluctantly - we must still manage our plot.

This is because Brian is a horticultural conservative who limits himself to secateurs when pruning. Whereas decades of watching Gardeners World on telly (a shriving ritual made bearable with red wine) have taught us more powerful devices are needed.

Thus we bring in Mr Massacre, an Irishman who recently broke his chainsaw cutting back our ivy. Afterwards Brian tuts at the savagery and we wonder whether we have enough vodka. Unnecessary ideological chat ensues

Where every prospect pleases,
And only Man is vile. 

Subsequently added to the above couplet at Lucas's suggestion:

In vain with lavish kindness,
The gifts of God are strown,
The heathen in his blindness
Bows down to wood and stone

Oh come one, let's have a real poem, one I recognise immediately without the author’s name. These are later lines to make things slightly harder.

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter for us, like Death, our death.

Reasons why. I feel as if I'm pointing at The Night Watch and saying: "That's good!" The pessimism,  the sense of being a pawn, the realistic ending seeming to justify the pessimism. The weary yet conversational voice. The deployment of language never bettered.

T.S. Eliot. (The) Journey of the Magi


  1. Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons were inserted into the fossil record at the creation, along with the trilobites. Clearly done by our all- loving God to confuse and tempt us. Eliot is sensitive here to the exhaustion brought on by the long journey of the Magi. They walked it didn't they? In robes? And gold is quite heavy.
    A "shriving ritual"? Confessional? Or "Shriveling"? I recall both words from GT,(Hatch's eyeballs shriveled at some point) but I can only make sense of shriveling here.

  2. MikeM: They had transportation:

    "And the camels galled, sore footed, refractory,
    Lying down in the melted snow."

    Shrive: assign penance to, absolve. Don't you do Shrove (ie, past participle) Tuesday (day before Lent); otherwise Pancake Day. But no treat for you, pancakes too readily available, too readily consumed.

  3. Yes, sorry...I dove into this a little too early this morning.

  4. There is indeed a speaking, even a kind of bloggers rhythm to those lines, yet they are full of meaning compacted into the last line. Excellent idea to quote them as a foursome, and what you say about them too.

  5. Lucas: My humble gratitude for that. For many months I have tried to evolve a style of writing that fits the 300-word slot I impose on myself for posts. Given the word limit the text often becomes excessively elliptical; I over-compress, the gaps in meaning between sentences (sometimes even between words) remain unbridged and the reader quite justifiably lurches away confused.

    My success rate (for which I am the only judge) is no better than one in ten but I persist. However to my knowledge no one (and that includes Joe) has recognised what I have been attempting, or at least commented to that effect.

    Until now, that is. I think the reason you got it is because there are resemblances between this form of prose and certain types of verse. I am as it were playing on your home ground. Anyway, whatever the reason, I appreciate the keenness of your eye even though, alas, there are no prizes. Just a mild sense of relief on my part.

    Ironically this passage falls well short of 300 words since the Joe's Nudge section makes up the rest.