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  1. Today
  2. Just Abandoned

    Yes, Meg, fair point..
  3. Just Abandoned

    Two books I really enjoyed - must be the hot weather making it difficult to concentrate!
  4. Poetic Wanderings

    Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age, God's breath in man returning to his birth, The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r, Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear, The six-days world transposing in an hour, A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear; Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss, Exalted manna, gladness of the best, Heaven in ordinary, man well drest, The milky way, the bird of Paradise, Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood, The land of spices; something understood. Prayer by George Herbert
  5. Just Abandoned

    Half-way through Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and I suddenly lost interest.
  6. Yesterday
  7. Poetic Wanderings

    My soul, there is a country Far beyond the stars, Where stands a wingèd sentry All skilful in the wars: There, above noise and danger, Sweet Peace sits crown'd with smiles, And One born in a manger Commands the beauteous files. He is thy gracious Friend, And—O my soul, awake!— Did in pure love descend To die here for thy sake. If thou canst get but thither, There grows the flower of Peace, The Rose that cannot wither, Thy fortress, and thy ease. Leave then thy foolish ranges; For none can thee secure But One who never changes— Thy God, thy life, thy cure. Henry Vaughan - 'Peace'
  8. Just Abandoned

    Restless, William Boyd. No idea if this is my fault or his but after 31 pages I just could not be bothered.
  9. Currently Reading

    The Silent Companions, Laura Purcell
  10. World Cup 2018

    In our house we saw every game and enjoyed the World Cup very much. I thl nk France will win but before it all began I was going to have a bet on Croatia. Um.
  11. [...] Thus far, Friend! did I, not used to make A present joy the matter of a song, Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains That would not be forgotten, and are here Recorded: to the open fields I told A prophecy: poetic numbers came Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe A renovated spirit singled out, Such hope was mine, for holy services. My own voice cheered me, and, far more, the mind's Internal echo of the imperfect sound; To both I listened, drawing from them both A cheerful confidence in things to come. [...] William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book I
  12. Bel Canto

    I was interested in this novel until about half-way through when I found myself checking how many pages to the end of the chapter. Not a good sign.
  13. Last week
  14. Poetic Wanderings

    There's music in the sighing of a reed; There's music in the gushing of a rill; There's music in all things, if men had ears: Their earth is but an echo of the spheres. from Don Juan - canto XV by Lord George Gordon Byron
  15. Currently Reading

    Restless, William Boyd
  16. Poetic Wanderings

    I saw Eternity the other night, Like a great ring of pure and endless light, All calm, as it was bright; And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years, Driv’n by the spheres Like a vast shadow mov’d; in which the world And all her train were hurl’d. The doting lover in his quaintest strain Did there complain; Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights, Wit’s sour delights, With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure, Yet his dear treasure All scatter’d lay, while he his eyes did pour Upon a flow’r. Henry Vaughan - from 'The World'
  17. Key West, 1936. Headstrong, accomplished journalist Martha Gellhorn is confident with words but less so with men when she meets disheveled literary titan Ernest Hemingway in a dive bar. Their friendship—forged over writing, talk, and family dinners—flourishes into something undeniable in Madrid while they’re covering the Spanish Civil War. Martha reveres him. The very married Hemingway is taken with Martha—her beauty, her ambition, and her fearless spirit. And as Hemingway tells her, the most powerful love stories are always set against the fury of war. The risks are so much greater. They’re made for each other. With their romance unfolding as they travel the globe, Martha establishes herself as one of the world’s foremost war correspondents, and Hemingway begins the novel that will win him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beautiful Exiles is a stirring story of lovers and rivals, of the breathless attraction to power and fame, and of one woman—ahead of her time—claiming her own identity from the wreckage of love. Well that's what it says on Amazon... I find historical fiction an interesting concept. It's more challenging when the characters are famous and where so much has been written about them. This novel is based on the events as we know them, but how much is fiction and how much is fact? Gellhorn comes across as a women who respects Hemmingway as an author, likes him as a man (sometimes), but is not sure if she loves him. Hemingway is presented as an author who knows his own worth, but is fragile as a man (it's all a front). He is the weak character here, the flawed genius. The novel is written in the first person and told by Martha Gellhorn so we are presented with her take on their brief relationship. The story told is from their first meeting to their divorce, the years 1936 to 1944. As an exploration of a relationship that was perhaps always going to fail, it's very good. As an encouragement to read some Martha Gellhorn, well I'm convinced. My main criticism? It reads a but too much like Hemingway in places. Especially the conversations with him. Did he really speak the way he wrote? Worth a try.
  18. [...] These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind With tranquil restoration:—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on,— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. [...] William Wordsworth, "Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"
  19. Self-celebrating and self-mocking autobiographical writings from Ecce Homo - translated as 'behold the man' - the last work iconoclastic German philosopher Nietzsche wrote before his descent into madness (from the Amazon description because I could not put it better myself). This is a Penguin Little Black Classics and is around 57 pages long. I thought I'd start with a short one to get a feel for Nietzsche before I read anything else. Of course it depends on the translator so I have now bought a book translated by the definitive translator Walter Kaufmann. I enjoyed this for what it was, a collection of writings, and as such it was somewhat disjointed but does give a flavour of the philosopher. It didn't put me off. I'd recommend this to someone who is willing to work for understanding, even although it's very short.
  20. Poetic Wanderings

    'Tis said that when The hands of men Tamed this primeval wood, And hoary trees with groans of woe, Like warriors by an unknown foe, Were in their strength subdued, The virgin Earth Gave instant birth To springs that ne'er did flow That in the sun Did rivulets run, And all around rare flowers did blow The wild rose pale Perfumed the gale And the queenly lily adown the dale (Whom the sun and the dew And the winds did woo), With the gourd and the grape luxuriant grew. So when in tears The love of years Is wasted like the snow, And the fine fibrils of its life By the rude wrong of instant strife Are broken at a blow Within the heart Do springs upstart Of which it doth now know, And strange, sweet dreams, Like silent streams That from new fountains overflow, With the earlier tide Of rivers glide Deep in the heart whose hope has died-- Quenching the fires its ashes hide,-- Its ashes, whence will spring and grow Sweet flowers, ere long, The rare and radiant flowers of song! The Forest Reverie - EdgarAllen Poe
  21. Poetic Wanderings

    Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode, The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road. A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire, And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire; A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head. I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire, And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire; But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made, Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands, The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands. His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun? The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which, But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch. God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier. My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage, Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age, But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth, And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death; For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green. G.K. Chesterton - 'The Rolling English Road'
  22. World Cup 2018

    As being from a small country myself, I'd really like to see Croatia win.
  23. Poetic Wanderings

    Do you remember an Inn, Miranda? Do you remember an Inn? And the tedding and the spreading Of the straw for a bedding, And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees, And the wine that tasted of tar? And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers (Under the vine of the dark verandah)? Do you remember an Inn, Miranda, Do you remember an Inn? from Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc
  24. Poetic Wanderings

    Well I remember how you smiled To see me write your name upon The soft sea-sand . . . "O! what a child! You think you're writing upon stone!" I have since written what no tide Shall ever wash away, what men Unborn shall read o'er ocean wide And find Ianthe's name again. Waltor Savage Landor - 'Well I remember how you smiled'
  25. Poetic Wanderings

    Yes, I think a poem is a spell of kinds that keep things living in a written line, whatever's lost or leaving - lock off rhyme - and so I write and write and write your name. Spell - Carol Ann Duffy
  26. PUCK If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber'd here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: if you pardon, we will mend: And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, We will make amends ere long; Else the Puck a liar call; So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends. Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream V/i
  27. World Cup 2018

    Were going home ....France v Croatia final
  28. Poetic Wanderings

    I SAY that Roger Casement Did what he had to do. He died upon the gallows, But that is nothing new. Afraid they might be beaten Before the bench of Time, They turned a trick by forgery And blackened his good name. A perjurer stood ready To prove their forgery true; They gave it out to all the world, And that is something new; For Spring Rice had to whisper it, Being their Ambassador, And then the speakers got it And writers by the score. Come Tom and Dick, come all the troop That cried it far and wide, Come from the forger and his desk, Desert the perjurer's side; Come speak your bit in public That some amends be made To this most gallant gentleman That is in quicklime laid. Roger Casement - W.B. Yeats
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