lexlingua: (WHAT!?)
Clerihew: a type of light, humorous biographical four-line poem (i.e. a "quartrain"), in rhyming style AABB. The clerihew was named after its inventor, Edmund Clerihew Bentley (also, one of G.K. Chesterton's close friends). The first line of the clerihew is the name of the poem's subject, usually a famous person "put in an absurd light".

A few funniest samples here:

After dinner, Erasmus
Told Colet not to be “blas’mous”
Which Colet, with some heat
Requested him to repeat.
The people of Spain think Cervantes
Equal to half-a-dozen Dantes:
An opinion resented most bitterly
By the people of Italy.
Sir Humphrey Davy
Detested gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.
Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I'm going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I'm designing St. Paul's."
lexlingua: (poetry)

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me,

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow;

The storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

lexlingua: (Beauty)
From the song "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen
The birds they sang at the break of day...
"Start again," I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah, the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove, she will be caught again
Bought and sold, and bought again
the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
lexlingua: (Divinity)
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

(A riddle from the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)
lexlingua: (poetry)
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out,
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

For all the sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!
lexlingua: (Contemplation)
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
lexlingua: (Brightness)
It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.
lexlingua: (Divinity)
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
lexlingua: (poetry)
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
lexlingua: (Divinity)
The Paradox

~ by John Donne
No lover saith, I love, nor any other
        Can judge a perfect lover ;
He thinks that else none can or will agree,
        That any loves but he ;
I cannot say I loved, for who can say
        He was kill’d yesterday.
Love with excess of heat, more young than old,
        Death kills with too much cold ;
We die but once, and who loved last did die,
        He that saith, twice, doth lie ;
For though he seem to move, and stir a while,
        It doth the sense beguile.
Such life is like the light which bideth yet
        When the life’s light is set,
Or like the heat which fire in solid matter
        Leaves behind, two hours after.
Once I loved and died ; and am now become
        Mine epitaph and tomb ;
Here dead men speak their last, and so do I ;
        Love-slain, lo ! here I die.
lexlingua: (poetry)
Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~ Robert Frost
lexlingua: (Contemplation)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
~ Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Read more... )
lexlingua: (Divinity)

Where are the loves that we have loved before
When once we are alone, and shut the door?
No matter whose the arms that held me fast,
The arms of Darkness hold me at the last.

No matter down what primrose path I tend,
I kiss the lips of Silence in the end.
No matter on what heart I found delight,
I come again unto the breast of Night.

No matter when or how love did befall,
'Tis Loneliness that loves me best of all,
And in the end she claims me, and I know
That she will stay, though all the rest may go.

No matter whose the eyes that I would keep
Near in the dark, 'tis in the eyes of Sleep
That I must look and look forever more,
When once I am alone, and shut the door.

~ Willa Cather
lexlingua: (poetry)
I recently began reading "The Man Who Was Thursday" by G. K. Chesterton, arguably one of the ten best spy novels ever written. The work begins with this poem called "A Nightmare" by Chesterton, which will probably make more sense once I have finished the book. The poem was dedicated by Chesterton to Edmund Clerihew Bentley. E.C. Bentley was a popular English novelist who wrote the "first truly modern mystery", a humourist of the early twentieth century, and also a poet who invented the 'clerihew', a type of irregular humourous verse on biographical topics (quite similar to a limerick).

A Nightmare

A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity and art admired decay;
The world was old and ended: but you and I were gay;
Round us in antic order their crippled vices came—
Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame.
Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom,

Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume.
Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung;
The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named:
Men were ashamed of honour; but we were not ashamed.

Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus­;
When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from us
Children we were—our forts of sand were even as weak as eve,
High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea.

Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd,
When all church bells were silent our cap and bells were heard.
Not all unhelped we held the fort, our tiny flags unfurled;
Some giants laboured in that cloud to lift it from the world.

Read more... )
lexlingua: (Macabre)
Here's Kreymborg proposing a test for what makes a true "poem":


Ladislaw the critic
is five feet six inches high,

Which means
that his eyes
are five feet two inches
from the ground,

which means,
if you read him your poem,
and his eyes lift to five feet
and a trifle more than two inches,
what you have done
is Poetry—

Should his eyes remain
at five feet two inches,
you have perpetrated prose,

And do his eyes stoop
—which Heaven forbid!—
the least trifle below
five feet two inches,
are an unspeakable adjective.
lexlingua: (Divinity)
- from Poems of Power by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1902)

However the battle is ended,
Though proudly the victor comes
With fluttering flags and prancing nags
And echoing roll of drums,
Still truth proclaims this motto
In letters of living light,--
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.
Though the heel of the strong oppressor
May grind the weak in the dust,
And the voices of fame with one acclaim
May call him great and just,
Let those who applaud take warning,
And keep this motto in sight,--
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.
Let those who have failed take courage;
Tho' the enemy seems to have won,
Tho' his ranks are strong, if he be in the wrong
The battle is not yet done;
For, sure as the morning follows
The darkest hour of the night,
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.

O man bowed down with labor!
O woman young, yet old!
O heart oppressed in the toiler's breast
And crushed by the power of gold!
Keep on with your weary battle
Against triumphant might;
No question is ever settled
Until it is settled right.
lexlingua: (Beauty)
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
’Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

- from Ode to a Nightingale, by John Keats (1819)
lexlingua: (poetry)
There are two things that make me leap for a mystery book: the reference to a poem in the title, and the hint of the supernatural in the plot. That's why I was eager to try out the audio book of Be Buried in the Rain by Barbara Michaels (a 1998 publication), when my friend suggested it to me.

The audio book has been narrated by Pat Starr, and she does a fine job of expressing the necessary emotional nuances. She, however, doesn't change her voice to denote the different characters, so it may be a tad difficult to follow up.

The title of the book comes from the poem "Justice Denied in Massachusetts" written by Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1927, which I've put under the cut:

Read more... )

The poem itself is beautiful, but the connection seemed a bit too stretched. The story is about a senile old woman named Martha, who is quite hung up on family traditions and heritage. She's now bedridden and an invalid, and her niece, Julie, has been asked to come over to the old manor and take care of Martha. Julie and Martha don't get along much, because Martha's been a tyrannical matriarch who basically forced Julie to separate from her fiance, a gruff and poor archaeologist named Alan.

Now, Alan's been called in too, because a skeleton has been discovered in Martha's backyard/ manor grounds. Whose skeleton is it, how did it come to lie there? And of course, who's the villain who doesn't want the skeleton to be examined?

I'm afraid that the villain's not much of a mystery, and the final puzzle piece, which come towards the last thirty pages of the book, isn't very exciting either. Plot development doesn't really happen-- the archaeologist's team keeps excavating, Julie befriends a stray dog who is poisoned but survives, and Julie and Alan get together again. Character development? Not enough going on in that department either, other than a cousin who's a suave politician and knows how to turn on the charm during elections. The only thing that kept me going was Pat Starr's narration.

So, I'm going to rate this book as a 5 out of 10. Avoidable. Read the poem instead; it is a hundred times better.
lexlingua: (poetry)
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
lexlingua: (Contemplation)

I had heard many people commend Robin Hobb as a brilliant SFF author, so I finally decided to start off her booklist with The Liveship Traders Trilogy

Robin Hobb & her Liveship Traders Trilogy Book-Set

This set of books is about the Vestrit trading family of Bingtown, whose head, in his will, bestowed the family ship—The Vivacia – on his eldest daughter Keffria, and by proxy, her husband, Kyle. This was a terrible shock to Althea, his younger daughter, who is a spirited, independent and highly competent woman who has been trained since childhood to become a sailor.

The inheritance of a liveship is no trivial matter, because it basically is a ship with a soul, memory and even the five senses. The figurehead of the ship, carved usually as a man or woman, can talk, guide the crew, and brave bad weather at sea—so such magical liveships are very conducive to trade. These ships are carved out of some special kind of wood (“wizardwood”) by the people of the Rain Wilds, and are loaned to Bingtown traders.


Read more... )


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January 2017



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