starlady: Queen Susan of Narnia, called the Gentle and the Queen of Spring (gentle queen how now)
One of Catullus' most famous poems, and one of my personal favorites. This translation is my own.

Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
   advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias,
ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
   et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem,
quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum,
   heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi.
Nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum
   tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
   atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.


Transported through many peoples and many seas,
   I have come, O my brother, for these wretched offerings,
So that I might honor the dead with final gifts
   and speak pointlessly to your silent ashes,
Because Fate stole you yourself away from me,
   Oh, my wretched brother, taken from me undeservedly.
Yet now in these circumstances, these offerings
   handed down from our ancestors, ancient custom and sad duty--
Accept them dripping with tears from your brother,
   and for eternity, O my brother: "hail and farewell."

(for A, and for her brother)
starlady: ((say it isn't so))
Robert Lowell, "For the Union Dead"

"Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam."1

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.

Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass; )

1 "They leave all behind to serve the republic."

[personal profile] ninj called me just as I was about to make lunch--she and her husband had come up to the Bay Area for the day, so we went out for pizza and hung around (it's a beautiful day). It was great to see her and her husband, whom I hadn't met before and who is really nice, notwithstanding the hippie ranting at us about the line for pizza being so long on account of the holiday, "it's about slaughtered Palestinians or something?" Apparently the guy didn't see [personal profile] ninj's husband's service T-shirt and cap; rarely have I been so disgusted with my fellow townsfolk. Today is not the day to have the conversation about the need to get out of the habit of violence and the utter futility of war (though I did find myself watching Wufei's complaint on Youtube again; I still think about it seriously).

Today is the day to say, Thank you for your service, and for your sacrifice.
starlady: (moon dream)
Still having a fannish yard sale! Anime, manga, and sff movie fandom stuff of various kinds at the link.


So I saw this AMV on Saturday afternoon and really liked it: 

And then on Saturday night I had a dream inspired by it, and I actually made up a haiku about the dream: 

I dreamt of earthrise
In a gray desert, awake
In the lunar night.


銀の砂漠で、夜、地球の出を見た。

These are not real Japanese-language haiku, but I like this one all the same.

Over and out.
starlady: ((say it isn't so))
THE THEOLOGIAN'S TALE: ELIZABETH

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I
"Ah, how short are the days! How soon the night overtakes us!

In the old country the twilight is longer; but here in the forest

Suddenly comes the dark, with hardly a pause in its coming,

Hardly a moment between the two lights, the day and the lamplight;

Yet how grand is the winter! How spotless the snow is, and perfect!"




Of course I have an opinion )
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but today by feeding is allayed,
Tomorrow sharpened in his former might;
So, love, be thou; although today thou fill
Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fullness,
Tomorrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness;
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that when they see
Return of love, more blessed may be the view;
     Or call it winter, which being full of care
     Makes summer’s welcome thrice more wished, more rare.

     --William Shakespeare, Sonnets, 56


This is actually a teaser for one of my planned [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw posts (yes, the Shakespeare & Catullus one): 

In and of itself, Sonnet 56 is not especially remarkable. Lines 5 and 7 are unmetrical even with elisions, and the poem sounds rather trite, at least in the ‘fill/till/kill’ internal rhyme of lines 5-7. What is remarkable here is the image in the last quatrain, which Stephen Booth describes as “imprecise” and “not obviously pertinent either to what precedes [its lines] or to what follows” (231). According to Booth, most critics have desultorily conjectured a reference to the story of Hero and Leander in this quatrain, but he is right in that the sense of that story is not quite the same as the situation Shakespeare depicts (231). To a reader of Catullus, however, these four lines will inevitably suggest poem 64 and its unforgettable description of Ariadne and Theseus.

For the record, there are better sonnets in the sequence (such as this one, which I posted last year), but individually and collectively the sonnets repay repeat reading in spades.
starlady: (always)
Since, via [personal profile] jonquil, I learned that today is Lady Gregory's birthday, and since via [personal profile] toft, [personal profile] eumelia, and several others I have encountered the following meme, here is a poem which was (as the title indicates) partially written at her estate in County Galway. (And because I was there and at Yeats' tower in January 2006, have some photos of what remains.)


Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931

Under my window-ledge the waters race,
Otters below and moor-hens on the top,
Run for a mile undimmed in Heaven's face
Then darkening through "dark" Raftery's "cellar" drop,
Run underground, rise in a rocky place
In Coole demesne, and there to finish up
Spread to a lake and drop into a hole.
What's water but the generated soul?

Under the border of that lake's a wood
Now all dry sticks under a wintry sun,
And in a copse of beeches there I stood,
For Nature's pulled her tragic buskin on
And all the rant's a mirror of my mood:
At sudden thunder of the mounting swan
I turned about and looked where branches break
The glittering reaches of the flooded lake.

Another emblem there! That stormy white
But seems a concentration of the sky;
And, like the soul, it sails into the sight
And in the morning's gone, no man knows why;
And is so lovely that it sets to right
What knowledge or its lack had set awry,
So arrogantly pure, a child might think
It can be murdered with a spot of ink.

Sound of a stick upon the floor, a sound
From somebody that toils from chair to chair;
Beloved books that famous hands have bound,
Old marble heads, old pictures everywhere;
Great rooms where travelled men and children found
Content or joy; a last inheritor
Where none has reigned that lacked a name and fame
Or out of folly into folly came.

A spot whereon the founders lived and died
Seemed once more dear than life; ancestral trees,
Or gardens rich in memory glorified
Marriages, alliances and families,
And every bride's ambition satisfied.
Where fashion or mere fantasy decreees
We shift about--all that great glory spent--
Like some poor Arab tribesman and his tent.

We were the last romantics--chose for theme
Traditional sanctity and loveliness;
Whatever's written in what poets name
The book of the people; whatever most can bless
The mind of man or elevate a rhyme;
But all is changed, that high horse riderless,
Though mounted in that saddle Homer rode
Where the swan drifts upon a darkening flood.

--W. B. Yeats



Like many stories of the C20th in Ireland, Lady Gregory's is bittersweet. She was a great patron and friend of Yeats and many others in the so-called Irish Renaissance of the early part of the century (which many people note was actually an Anglo-Irish renaissance), but her son was killed fighting for Britain in World War I, leaving only her young grandson, and her estate house was eventually destroyed by Republican partisans.
starlady: A woman in a sepia photograph wearing a military uniform (fight like a girl)
These opening ceremonies are pretty damn cool, on multiple levels. More on that later.

[personal profile] bravecows has a brief quotation from the dancer Lee Su-Feh that gets right to the crux of what's wrong with cultural appropriation. One word summary: context. (But read the whole interview!)

The New York Times interviews Jenny Sanford, who will soon not be Jenny Sanford anymore. I thought her story, as told by her, was really interesting. Hard not to compare her with Elizabeth Edwards, at least for me.

Barbie's next career is a computer engineer. As someone who stopped playing with Barbies at age six due to her convictions that Barbie was bad for women, I support this career move wholeheartedly.

[personal profile] houbanaut has a post in [community profile] scans_daily about the French comic Adèle and the movie Luc Besson just made of it. Looks pretty cool.

[personal profile] kaigou has an interesting post on writing, and on filing off serial numbers in same.

[personal profile] yhlee wrote me a poem, "Crow Arithmetic", for [livejournal.com profile] help_haiti. ♥!

[livejournal.com profile] rachel_manija's poem "Nine Views of the Oracle" is nominated for a Rhysling Award, and is excellent.
starlady: Abraham Lincoln, vampire hunter (alternate history)
So I mentioned the Quaker democracy novel in a recent post, yes? I've been doing a little basic research into the origins of New Jersey (of which probably more anon) and of Haddonfield as part of that, and one book I obtained from my library is the inimitable This Is Haddonfield, published by the Haddonfield Historical Society in 1963 on the occasion of the town's semiquincentennial (250th) anniversary. Yes, the town really is snobby enough to warrant pulling out all the stops on the Latinate diction. And yes, my sister and I do have plans for parody lyrics set to "This Is Halloween." 

In the meantime, I can't not make this poetic gem about the Devil coming up to Jersey, and going down the Shore, available to all.


Only the strong survive )
starlady: (a sad tale's best)
thank you for the
snowflake cookie
v-gift, gifter
I do not know

by name. I am sure
it was delicious
so virtual
and so cold
starlady: (justice)
WHEN THE BERLIN WALL FELL
When the Berlin Wall fell, dear Frau Schubert,
I began dreaming migraines. Multilingual mi-
graines, no preservatives. Bulging freedom,
the excess weight of the united countries, be-
gun peering in through my windows. Its eye–
I wonder what it's thinking.
WE HAVE IT ALL NOW
We have it all now, dear Frau Schubert. The
borders' invisible stitch. Impeccable tailored
fields. Close-cropped towns. A genetic crisis.
In the greenhouse, where I'm resting after
growing a novel, Newton's orange ripens.
–Ewa Lipska (translated from the Polish by Barbara Bogoczek and Tony Howard)

I wish I could say I remember when the Wall fell. Instead I remember watching Gorbachev eat Spam on TV as an example of glasnost (or was it perestroika? whose the hand that holds it? whose the hand that moulds it?) while my mother said that Spam tasted so bad he'd bomb us in revenge. Yeah, that was my mom.

I've seen some good points made about 1989 in the media--particularly that one set of revolutions got under way in Europe in 1989, while in China another was deferred, violently, for a generation or more--and these points are certainly valid, but I don't think they can diminish the fact that, while Ronald Reagan may have exhorted "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" it was the people of Berlin who actually did it themselves. And it was the people of Germany who defied world powers super and not-so-super (guess who didn't want reunification? Margaret Thatcher, that's who, among many others) who voted to reunify their country seven months later. I was saying to my dad that the fall of the Wall is one of the things I point to to justify my rather Whiggish view of history, and he countered that it was economic forces as much as anything that did it. He has a point, certainly, but I think so do I. Nothing is impossible, and a new world can come round as swiftly as a wall goes down--though, as George Packer points out completely correctly and brilliantly as usual, some things are rather improbable. But the Cold War ending was one of them. 
starlady: (the last enemy)
It's Shakespeare's birthday (observed), and still Poetry Month. Thus: 

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt'ring days
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! Where, alack,
Shall time's best jewel from time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back,
Or who his spoil o'er beauty can forbid?
     O none, unless this miracle have might:
     That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

     --William Shakespeare, Sonnets, 65
 
This article, to segue implicitly, presents some hard (and unpleasant) facts about the reality of cancer.
starlady: (rain)
Hit by a car, a
Robin lies dead in the road:
The cruelty of spring.

車にひかれた鳥、春の残酷。

My haiku are getting worse, not better. At least this one scans.

These are my contributions to the fact that April is Poetry Month.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

--T.S. Eliot, from "The Waste Land: I. The Burial of the Dead"


starlady: (moon dream)
Blue light special: haiku!

In the dead of night
Geese fly under the full moon
Will my soul fly too?

真夜中満月下鵞鳥が飛ぶ
我もか。

I think I'm flubbing by counting 満 as one syllable. Whatever. I'm just pleased I was able to think of a translation.

I've been having a lot of weird dreams lately--usually when I go back to sleep in the morning, for obvious reasons. Today I dreamed that I came home and the house had been vandalized. Yesterday I had another "speeding through steampunk town in Minnesota" dream, this time with the twist that I got pulled over for speeding. Bleh.

I thought yesterday, for the first time in forever. of the subplot in The Magician's Nephew--Diggory's desire to save his mother's life, which of course he eventually does with the apples from the tree in the garden. As I left this morning I thought that my mother resembled my grandmother in her last few weeks; not a comforting comparison.

I went to the Minute Clinic at a nearby CVS and my suspicions were confirmed--I do indeed have sinusitis. *headdesk* I thought that I might have finally broken the cycle of annual sinus infections, but no. Better luck next year? The visit was $59, but I got antibiotics for absolutely free at ShopRite. Score! Who says providence doesn't watch out for children and fools?

I also finished Roberto Bolaño's 2666 on Saturday night. It's a huge, sprawling book, Bolaño's masterpiece--not a coincidence, I think, that it's posthumous--and I can't recommend it highly enough. Bolaño was obsessed with fascism, so I wasn't surprised that the novel's mainly absent hero, Archimboldi, has an encounter with an imprisoned Nazi in a POW camp; I also thought that the real climax of the work, in a strange way, was when Archimboldi adopted his nom de plume; it was all downhill from there. I'm glad, too, that the author's heirs decided to go against his wishes and publish it all in one volume, since I think its unities obviously outweigh its fragmentations: it's a book about critics, writers, serial murder victims, Nazis, professors, journalists, unified throughout by strange, subtle deepwater currents, not least of which is the author's manifest sympathy for all the members of humanity (particularly the outcasts) who grace its pages, except of course for the national socialists.

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