Books 2010

Books 2009

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Friday, 19 February 2010


But Keats has something soothing to offer too, eg
Think not of it, sweet one, so - and Keats is never gloomy and really sad, according to me.

Think not of it, sweet one, so -
Give it not a tear;
Sigh thou mayst, and bid it go
Any, anywhere.

Do not lool so sad, sweet one,-
Sad and fadingly;
Shed one drop,then it is gone,
O 'twas born to die!

Still so pale? then, dearest, weep -
Weep, I'll count the tears,
And each one shall be a bliss
For thee in after years.

Brighter has it left thine eyes
Than a sunny rill;
And thy whispering melodies
Are tenderer still.

Yet - as all things mourn awhile
At fleeting blisses,
E'en let us too! but be our dirge
A dirge of kisses.

And I have seen another beautiful film featuring poetry; it was Invictus by Clint Eastwood, which is also about rugby, politics and the history of South-Africa. The newly-elected President Mandela tries to reconciliate and reunite the black and white communities while the rugby team captain wants to motivate his fellows in preparation for the 1995 Rugby World Cup. They both meet and share their experiences, and they both succeed despite difficulties. Well, it is probably full of what you would call sentimentality, but it is a nice film that every rugby lover would thoroughly enjoy. By the way, Invictus is also an English poem that you know better than me. Mandela apparently used it throughout hardship, the two last verses (that I can remember) are
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

A subtle thought, Mr C. Suckling is much less sympathetic than Keats, of course, and much more physical and direct. The Keats is entrancing because neither Keats nor the reader has any expectation that the knight will escape his thrall - whereas Suckling will have none of it!

Did Keats have this in mind when writing "La Belle Dame sans Merci"?

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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