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About jfp

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  • Birthday February 20


  • Biography
    jfp = John from Paris [where I've now been "from" for over 28 years]
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  • Interests
    Reading (mainly fiction, in English and French...); baritone in semi-professional choir; pianist.
  • How did you hear about this site?
    Thanks to my Aussie friend Kimberley

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  1. For me, the naked and the nude (By lexicographers construed As synonyms that should express The same deficiency of dress Or shelter) stand as wide apart As love from lies, or truth from art. Lovers without reproach will gaze On bodies naked and ablaze; The Hippocratic eye will see In nakedness, anatomy; And naked shines the Goddess when She mounts her lion among men. The nude are bold, the nude are sly To hold each treasonable eye. While draping by a showman's trick Their dishabille in rhetoric, They grin a mock-religious grin Of scorn at those of naked skin. The naked, therefore, who compete Against the nude may know defeat; Yet when they both together tread The briary pastures of the dead, By Gorgons with long whips pursued, How naked go the sometimes nude! Robert Graves - "The Naked and the Nude"
  2. [...] The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft Octobernight, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea. [...] From T.S.Eliot, "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock"
  3. How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st, Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway'st The wiry concord that mine ear confounds, Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap To kiss the tender inward of thy hand, Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap, At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand! To be so tickled, they would change their state And situation with those dancing chips, O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait, Making dead wood more blest than living lips. Since saucy jacks so happy are in this, Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss. Shakespeare, Sonnet 128
  4. Sit on the bed; I'm blind, and three parts shell. Be careful; can't shake hands now; never shall. Both arms have mutinied against me,—brutes. My fingers fidget like ten idle brats. I tried to peg out soldierly,—no use! One dies of war like any old disease. This bandage feels like pennies on my eyes. I have my medals?—Discs to make eyes close. My glorious ribbons?—Ripped from my own back In scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book.) A short life and a merry one, my buck! We used to say we'd hate to live dead-old,— Yet now ... I'd willingly be puffy, bald, And patriotic. Buffers catch from boys At least the jokes hurled at them. I suppose Little I'd ever teach a son, but hitting, Shooting, war, hunting, all the arts of hurting. Well, that's what I learnt,—that, and making money. Your fifty years ahead seem none too many? Tell me how long I've got? God! For one year To help myself to nothing more than air! One Spring! Is one too good to spare, too long? Spring wind would work its own way to my lung, And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots. My servant's lamed, but listen how he shouts! When I'm lugged out, he'll still be good for that. Here in this mummy-case, you know, I've thought How well I might have swept his floors for ever. I'd ask no night off when the bustle's over, Enjoying so the dirt. Who's prejudiced Against a grimed hand when his own's quite dust, Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn, Less warm than dust that mixes with arms' tan? I'd love to be a sweep, now, black as Town, Yes, or a muckman. Must I be his load? O Life, Life, let me breathe,—a dug-out rat! Not worse than ours the lives rats lead— Nosing along at night down some safe rut, They find a shell-proof home before they rot. Dead men may envy living mites in cheese, Or good germs even. Microbes have their joys, And subdivide, and never come to death. Certainly flowers have the easiest time on earth. “I shall be one with nature, herb, and stone,” Shelley would tell me. Shelley would be stunned: The dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now. “Pushing up daisies,” is their creed, you know. To grain, then, go my fat, to buds my sap, For all the usefulness there is in soap. D'you think the Boche will ever stew man-soup? Some day, no doubt, if ... Friend, be very sure I shall be better off with plants that share More peaceably the meadow and the shower. Soft rains will touch me,— as they could touch once, And nothing but the sun shall make me ware. Your guns may crash around me. I'll not hear; Or, if I wince, I shall not know I wince. Don't take my soul's poor comfort for your jest. Soldiers may grow a soul when turned to fronds, But here the thing's best left at home with friends. My soul's a little grief, grappling your chest, To climb your throat on sobs; easily chased On other sighs and wiped by fresher winds. Carry my crying spirit till it's weaned To do without what blood remained these wounds. Wilfred Owen - "A Terre"
  5. VIOLA She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed? We men may say more, swear more: but indeed Our shows are more than will; for still we prove Much in our vows, but little in our love. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night II/iv
  6. Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? W.B.Yeats - "The Second Coming"
  7. Elmet

    I found Elmet rather uneven. It draws a very effective picture of contemporary England as a place where predators affront prey; it also displays some very evocative and poetic descriptions of secluded rural spots (and succeeded admirably in making me wish that so many of those rural spots had not been destroyed). The way of transcribing Yorkshire dialect – wandt, dindt and woundt to render local pronunciations of wasn't, didn't and wouldn’t, in garden (rather than the traditional in t’ garden) to render the glottal stop – was, to me, original (but may not be easily comprehensible to those not familiar with these idiosyncrasies…) But as a story, I found it was less successful. Most importantly, the back story was not convincing or complete enough, and the children’s absent mother needed, I felt, a lot more explaining. It was never even made clear (to me at least) whether Granny Morley was the children’s maternal or paternal grandmother. Also, the adolescent’s growing realisation that he was “different”, “not a real man” – and thus presumably gay – was too allusive and oblique to be really effective. I also felt that the six italicised sections – in which an older narrator (but how much older?) is trying to find his missing sister later on (but how much later on?), and has clearly become something of a down-and-out – were too cryptic. In the end I was left needing to know more, although also feeling moved by bits of the novel. But not enough bits...
  8. His Bloody Project

    I've just read this, rather belatedly. Given the words quoted (last November) by Binker: "When you're older you'll realise that a man has to satisfy his needs somewhere. Especially now that your dear mother is no longer with us", spoken to Roderick by Lachlan Mackenzie, who had just been having sex with Jetta, it seemed obvious to me that All in all, I was slightly disappointed by the whole novel.
  9. IAGO I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin, And let him find it. Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ: this may do something. The Moor already changes with my poison: Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons. Which at the first are scarce found to distaste, But with a little act upon the blood. Burn like the mines of Sulphur. I did say so: Look, where he comes! [Re-enter OTHELLO] Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep Which thou owedst yesterday. Shakespeare - Othello III/iii
  10. Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

    My experience is similarly varied... I certainly wouldn't consider Ishiguro as a great writer... (and surely some sort of greatness is what the Nobel prize should recognise?) I feel his writing doesn't come from the heart, for from the gut... and some of it clearly comes from creative writing classes... I liked, and still like, The Remains of the Day; I felt Never Let Me Go was very overrated, though based on a very clever idea (or conceit); I didn't manage to finish When We Were Orphans... Has anybody here read The Unconsoled?
  11. (...) The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies, For the pattern is new in every moment And every moment is a new and shocking Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm. In the middle, not only in the middle of the way but all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble, On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold, And menaced by monsters, fancy lights, Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God. The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless. The houses are all gone under the sea. The dancers are all gone under the hill. (...) From T.S.Eliot, "East Coker" (Four Quartets)
  12. Man Booker Prize 2017

    I'm slightly surprised, as I'd assumed the fact that an American novel won last year would militate against its happening again this year. A friend of mine (a fellow English-teacher) raved ecstatically about Lincoln in the Bardo back in the spring (I think he may have read it a second time almost immediately after finishing it). It looks a bit daunting to me, but I daresay I'll give it a go. Giving the prize to Auster would have made it feel like a lifetime achievement award, and 4321 is to my mind far from being his best work... I liked Ali Smith's Autumn, but can understand why many people wouldn't... but, as with Auster, it's not her best work and it would have been awkward to give her the prize when her previous three shortlisted titles lost out... (she's catching up with Beryl Bainbridge, who was shorlisted five times but never won... Iris Murdoch was shortlisted a record (I think...?) six times, but she won the prize in 1978). As a born and bred Yorkshireman I'm looking forward to reading Elmet over half-term.
  13. I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realize now that I must give all that I have to possess it. Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you. R.S.Thomas - "The Bright Field"
  14. Hear me, recreant! On thine allegiance, hear me! Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow- Which we durst never yet- and with strain'd pride To come between our sentence and our power ,- Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,- Our potency made good, take thy reward. Five days we do allot thee for provision To shield thee from diseases of the world, And on the sixth to turn thy hated back Upon our kingdom. If, on the tenth day following, Thy banish'd trunk be found in our dominions, The moment is thy death. Away! By Jupiter, This shall not be revok'd. Shakespeare - King Lear I/i
  15. The march interrupted the light afternoon. Cars stopped dead, children began to run, As out of the street-shadow into the sun Discipline strode, music bullying aside The credulous, prettily-coloured crowd, Evoking an over-confident, over-loud Holiday where the flags lisped and beckoned, And all was focused, larger than we reckoned, Into a consequence of thirty seconds. [...] From: Philip Larkin - "The March Past"