April 22, 2006

disappear for a while

Posted in books tagged , at 8:52 pm by placeinthestars

I just finished rereading Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly. *sniffle* It never fails to make me all sniffly in any number of places, but the moment click for spoilers

April 9, 2006

much have i seen and known

Posted in poetry tagged , , at 10:22 am by placeinthestars

per my last post:

Ulysses
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

***

On first looking into Chapman’s Homer
by John Keats

MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

***

April 8, 2006

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

Posted in books tagged , at 11:58 pm by placeinthestars

So I finished The Tomb of the Golden Bird this afternoon. It’s the latest in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters and, given the ending, I believe it may be the last. Which I have always kind of expected. click for spoilers!

April 1, 2006

the rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands

Posted in books tagged at 4:37 pm by placeinthestars

A. is a bad influence. I want to let you know that right upfront. I have had a moratorium on buying new books for over a year now, and with some exceptions I pretend didn’t actually happen (usually aided by Amazon gift certificates, but not always), I’ve been pretty good about it, as I still have four bins of unread books sitting in my apartment, waiting.

But the Strand is a trap for the unwary bibliophile, and even the wary one. Because I honestly didn’t mean to buy five new books, but I did anyway. I certainly didn’t need a copy of Chapman’s Homer, even though I’ve never read that translation, and I could have waited to buy Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, War for the Oaks and The Master and Margarita (leading A. to comment on my love for the devil *snicker*), all of which were recommended to me at one point or another, and seriously, I shouldn’t be so easy that the word “map” convinces me to buy a book of short stories (I don’t even really *like* original short stories as a form!) but I did buy Andrea Barrett’s Servants of the Map. I am just in love with maps and have been since I was a kid.

Every year, my dad used to get the National Geographic Atlas, and I would sit for hours poring over it, picking out random places and reading about them and wondering what it would be like to go there. When I was attempting my own magnum opus of original fiction – i.e., the countless LotR ripoffs I wrote as a kid – I would always start with maps, and they were always beautifully detailed and colored in and real to me in ways the characters I created never were. I could tell you the history and the economic system and the language and the way the criminal underclass operated, but I couldn’t create a damned character worth reading about – I couldn’t even keep my own interest up once the worldbuilding was done, so I always moved onto the next world, the next map, the next place that would maybe show me something new, some undiscovered country where I’d find what I was looking for, because I’d know it when I saw it, even though I couldn’t have told you what it was at the time.

Then, we looked over the bags they sell, and A. went right for the jaunty, pretty striped one, and I reached immediately for the black tote. Which tells you which of us is the native New Yorker, I think. *snerk*

She ended up with the larger striped tote, which reminds me for some reason of a beach bag – it’s got that light, summery feel to it – and I ended up with the more expensive – but not black! – messenger bag, in olive drab. Pre-worn, even the logo is fading. It looks like it’s been through the wars already and survived, and I appreciate that in a bag. I used to have a khaki canvas one I used until it fell apart.

I love bags. My dad and my sister are jacket people – my father has a jacket for every possible permutation of weather. Me, I have more bags than any one person could possibly use, and yet I can’t resist the lure of a shiny backpack or messenger bag. I love my red and gold chinoiserie bag, and my tiny brown leather Coach purse, and my little black backpack, and my big floral canvas tote, and now my olive drab Strand messenger bag.

Maps and bags. Man, I really should be more well-travelled than I am. I am sad now at how little I’ve travelled, how little of the world I’ve seen. I wish I could be optimistic that that would change, but I don’t think it will. Sigh.

Oh, iTunes, you would play “Transatlanticism” now, wouldn’t you? *sniffle*

***