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Lovely to read of so much exhilaration and hope on the many marches.  I'd been anxious - about communications systems, amongst other things - and it was so good to find that it wasn't necessary at all, in the event!  :)    (But it was interesting to see it confirmed by some people involved, that mobile phone/cell phone coverage does indeed falter in large crowds - something to be aware of, going forward.)

In more local news:

The Tet goldfish have all been released into waterways, to become celestial dragons for the three kitchen gods to ride back to heaven.  I mentioned last year that student groups and other young volunteers were asking people not to toss their fish-carrying plastic bags in when they released their fish - this year that's become a campaign, with posters and more volunteers and council workers, stationed at the likely places (where there are steps down into the water, mostly).  

The poster says: Let loose the fish, hold onto the plastic bag!  

I have new glasses, and the world is crystal-clear.  (Or as close to it as my eyes allow, anyway.)   I am being amazingly conscientious about putting them back in their case, but I expect it won't be terribly long before they're being slung around casually, and ending up as battered as all previous pairs of glasses have been.

Yesterday I made crumpets from scratch!   I used this recipe, which weirdly doesn't reveal that the crumpet so made should be toasted later - i.e. that it's not intended to be eaten in its flabby original first-cooked state.  The dough/batter was really strange - very gloopy and gluey - but the result on cooking was instantly recognisable as crumpets, though not exactly round due to my not having the poaching rings to make them in.  They toasted up well this morning, but were regrettably doughy inside.  :(  If I do it again, I'll cook them longer at lower heat, in the first cooking.

Thanks to a tip from puddleshark, I've been looking at and enjoying Nirvana in Fire, a 54-part series (I'm up to part 9) set in eighth-century China.  Read more, if you like... )

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Well, "all this"  is probably false advertising, but here's two things which caught my eye in the morning's news:

Horse-snowboarding!  A new snow sport. (link goes to German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, with link to video, 1 min 40 seconds.)

This one doesn't reflect well on me, because the article is about serious stuff (refugees in Belgrade) but I was distracted by the photo that went with it.  It struck me as very Caravaggiesque, in the bold perspective as well as in the light-and-dark of it. At first I didn't understand what the main figure was doing; his lifted hand seemed to me to be raised in recognition of significance, or maybe sheltering/shielding the other figure - which was my misreading entirely, of course, but I thought I'd share the picture with you nonetheless.  (And the article's good, too.)

Okay! Resolutions - How did I go in 2016? )

So what's the plan for 2017? )

There!  The long-delayed New Year's resolutions post is done - and now to make a sticky post to record books I've read, as I read them, in 2017

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...and a lot of travelling, and flights getting tighter as Christmas nears.  Still, everywhere I go is beautiful - at least, the sky is always beautiful, and there's often so much else.  Today was glorious; I do love the sharpness of the light here, and the clear, clear air - trees and the sea and animals are an added bonus, when they turn up.  (A horse! lots of seagulls, pigeons and cockatoos! Rabbits! A strange, striped caterpillar unlike any I had seen before!)

I have finished Sock One.  :)  I had no actual trouble until I got to the decreasing for the toes part, when I lost track of my stitches, and didn't see where the decreasing was meant to be happening anyway.  Still, I bashed ahead, and got there in the end, even if the sock in question looks a bit boofy (ie boofheady).  I hope Sock Two, now on the needles, is a more polished production.

I have watched the whole of Class, and especially like Miss Quill, and the Quill-centric seventh episode.  I deplore the spoiler ).  I have also watched several episodes of Rosehaven, and while it's a bit mixture-as-usual in its Small Town with Characters set-up, still, I liked the relationships, and how they developed, and did once actually laugh out loud at a scene.  And the language is good - recognisable, which is more than can be said for the appalling Upper Middle Bogan.

Finally, a word from Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin.

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I wish I had the energy to write the post you all deserve.  But since I haven't, here's the last few days in point form:
- I have turned a heel, and done the next bit as well, and am nearly down to the toe of Sock One.
- I saw a motor-bike which was 1800cc, which was bigger than any motorbike I have ever seen.
- I walked along a nearly deserted and nearly, nearly plastic-free beach (just one bit of pen, and one bit of ice-cream container in more than a kilometre), which ended in mangroves.  Oh, and the sea was unutterably beautiful - or if not unutterably, beyond me right now to describe.
- I've travelled many miles, but not over hedges and stiles.
- I've cleaned up after a bee invasion (down the chimney) but not yet blocked the bees.  Tomorrow.  :)

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I know I promised Shakespeare, but... ah well.  Life's too glum right now to write much of that light-hearted sort of thing.  I did have fun, though, two-three months back, drifting through the plays and through the byways of mildly associated history as I got ready to write, and in particular enjoyed learning about the Carey family, two of whom were patrons of Shakespeare's company over several years.  The story I wrote featured them, tangentially, as footnotes to supposed missing scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream - scenes in which I tried to address the whole disquieting plot point of two very powerful* figures quarrelling (ruinously) over possession of a child - a stolen child - that neither of them seem in fact to care very much about, in himself.
Bonus points for anyone who spots the reference to a Steeleye Span song.

* Especially Titania - Shakespeare filched the name Titania from Ovid, who used it to name one of Titanic power and heritage, as for example, Circe, who says "behold! I am a goddess, and I am the daughter also, of the radiant Sun."

In other news:
I'm trying to be productive - and in pursuit of that objective have actually started knitting a pair of socks!  That is, I've got as far as casting on the first of them, and am finding knitting on multiple needles very very very tricky.  :)

Something pleasant in the animal world - puggles!

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November already.  It's shaping to be a busy month, but less stressful than October, anyway.  (Sympathy and support, by the way, to those of you anxiously waiting to vote, or to hear the results, in the US elections.)

This month is my last chance to make a dash for completion - even beginning! - of my New Year's resolutions.  One resolution was to knit (for the first time ever) a pair of socks; it's not begun - not even the wool bought, or the pattern sorted.  I'll try for those essential beginnings this week, at least. 
And there was also Chinese character-learning... well, eight weeks to go!

Shakespeare!  The stageoffools Shakespeare fest has happened, and gone public.  To my delight I was given a terrific reworking of Hamlet: I am to do a good turn for them, by days_of_storm.  It's a great story, reworking Hamlet's canonical account of kidnap by a pirate ship to reveal very different underlying realities - I won't spoil anything, but I will say that days_of_storm gave us a wonderfully Macchiavellian Hamlet, quick, intelligent and hard as nails.  As Horatio nearly says - what a king he might have been!  (I always thought the pirate story sounded suss.  :D )

More on Hamlet - and other Shakespeare-related matters - tomorrow.  :)

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Well, DW just lost another draft post, but this was was very underdeveloped, so no crankiness ensues.

The busy month of October is almost on me, and is casting its busyness before.  I don't expect to be posting much in the next few weeks, and my responses might be slow, and less loquacious than usual, as well, which is probably not a bad thing.  :)

But October busyness doesn't fret me, because I've got my Shakespeare story done and ready to post!  and am very much looking forward to the opening of the collection, because that'll mean I can finally talk about all the things I found while thinking about what story to write, and can ask other people what they think about the plots and characters Shakespeare wrote, and hear about productions people have been to, or what's coming up that I might be able to see.  (There's an Othello I could maybe get to, later this year - but that's one tough night in the theatre.  :( )

I've only just seen that art can be entered as prompts for Yuletide - a revelation!  Because there's no huge amount of backstory which has to be known with a painting (err... generally); you can just take the image and go!.    I don't imagine I'll be in Yuletide - see above about incipient time-stress - but it's a way that would make it more possible for me. 

There's too much sadness and madness going on in the world in the world for me to even want to think about political things at the moment, but I did bestir myself up to asking my local representatives (Senate and House of Reps) to take action about the very dangerous (and depressing) Clause 42D of the Border Security Act in my country.  I'm not in the swim of what's happening on those lines currently - if any other Australians can fill me in, I'd be grateful.
On the more positive side, several very small Pacific nations have spoken out about human rights abuses in West Papua.    Human rights abuses, and also the long-standing trampling over self-determination.  I'm very grateful to them for raising the issues.

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I hope I manage to see it rising tonight - of course (of course!) I'm double-booked with a lecture, but still, one can hope.  It's Mid-autumn Festival, which has (I'm told) different meanings in different places, but here is for children, with lanterns, masks, presents and parties.  For the last few days there's been a buzz of the excitement approaching, and little children seen unexpectedly in party dresses, or carrying boxes of mooncakes home, or selecting with great care their masks at shops or stalls, and this morning there were signs in the community space - one long paper chain strung all across the yard, and slightly squashy rained-on balloons hanging from it at intervals - that there'd been a party there last night (tonight is more for families). 

This is
also Narnia Fic Exchange time - twenty-three brand-new stories, all beautifully crafted to fit recipients' prompts, and being eagerly devoured as I write. as always, there's a terrific range of stories-wildly cracky, intricate histories, domestic vignettes,full-blown erotica... is there a detective story in there?  I bet there is,somewhere!  They range right through the Narnia canon, too, from pre-TMN to well post TLB. I've started reading, and will be having lots of fun catching up with all the stories in scattered bursts over the next few days. Recommended!

Otherwise, life for me is plunging into seasonal busy-ness.The rest of this month, and the two following will probably be pretty flat-out. (Shakespeare still to be shoe-horned in there somehow.)   But pretty flat-out doesn't mean only work!  Expect reports on concerts, - oh, and travel planned for next full moon!   Which I've already arranged to be free for, to see rising! How's that for forethoughtfulness! :D

Late addition:  I did see the moon, though not rising, and it was looking like the squashy balloons left after the party.  The full moon we were celebrating was a calendar full moon, not an astronomical full moon!  Real full moon, any day now!

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I had hoped to spend some time tonight quietly knitting on a project inspired partly by todayiamadaisy on LJ and partly by having lost a beret somewhere or other, and partly by there being seven small balls of wool and a large one kicking around making an nuisance of themselves in the spare room.  For a non-knitter - that is, I can, but I hardly ever do - I'd made a promising start, I thought, but I've just come to the dispiriting realisation that I've misunderstood the instructions and have cast on too few stitches and will have to start all over again - and I loathe casting on.  Botherbotherbother.

On the slightly more cheerful side, it's New Moon today - so it's a new lunar month as well as a new solar-calendar one - two new months in one!

Neutral news is that  the Year of Pulses continues, but isn't doing so well this week - all I have to show is a mixed vegie curry with chickpeas.  Maybe I should get ambitious and try making tempeh.

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The weekend was crammed full of things, so I didn't get around to reading or posting much - and the week is also looking pretty full-on - but yes! there's still time for self-indulgence and various cultural excitements.  Not the terrific free lecture with excerpts and explanations of the puppetry of Bao Ha village, though - it was crammed full by the time we got there.  But never mind, there was a very nice indeed new (to me) patisserie nearby (cue: tarte framboise and iced coffee) and I was also able to spend some time in a bookshop buying delayed birthday presents for a quasi-godchild plus bonus treat of a new big Vietnamese-English dictionary for me.

and later that night culture reigned! in that I continued the Season Eighteen Old Who project,and saw the story titled "Full Circle", with the introduction of the mysterious adric  Read more... )

There's a Shakespeare story exchange happening! on both LJ and DW - I'm pondering it as a possible way to help rejig my story-writing zest.  :)  I'd have to find four plays (excluding histories) that I'd feel capable of writing a thousand words on, to an unknown prompt, sometime in September.   Hhhmmm... 

and as mentioned previously, an ongoing salute to International Year of Pulses - this time, courtesy of [personal profile] asakiyume , Spicy Roasted Chickpeas, a pleasingly spicy snack, involving cayenne pepper and chickpeas. Thank you, [personal profile] asakiyume !  I snacked on them through the weekend, and ate them all up!

Of interest mostly to australians: about the census. )

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Something I read: I finished the book The Just City  - I've already tipped my main reactions to the book, but in sum, I do feel positively about it - I found myself putting off finishing it because I was enjoying the ride -  but not stunningly so.  I liked the idea of it more than the execution, I guess.  Minor point:  behind a cut, in case spoilery. )

Something I began to read: I saw on [personal profile] oursin 's blog a mention of The Last Man, a story by Mary Shelley set in 2073 (there's so much around that I've never heard of!) and dashed off to find it, because fascinating thought, the view of 2073, from1826.  Read more... )

Something I won't get to see:  I like the sound of this exhibition in Cambridge about illuminated manuscripts. 

Something I did actually see: I saw another episode in the eighteenth season of <i>Doctor Who</i>!  I'm seeing them in order, very slowly, as life permits.  This was the one about Meglos, Read more... )

On Sunday, there were signs of great weariness from my laptop - it's been just about two years since I was told it could go at any minuteNot exciting, really... ) So - a happy ending.  :)

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Literature!  Theatre!  Music!  and a swimming pool!!  It was a brilliant, brilliant weekend.  Oh, and on Friday night, a spectacular and silent lightning storm.  amazing!

The theatre wasn't really on the weekend - it was on Thursday night, but near enough, near enough - and it was terrific.  Sombre in places, and theatre-of-ideas in places (difficult, because I don't have enough language to follow the debates) and romance in places (pah, humbug!) and obligatory funny bits in places (ummm) but still - exciting production, and I loved the sets and the acting, and the ideas, very much.

The lightning storm - how far away does lightning have to be, to be completely silent?  It was amazing and beautiful, a huge storm around a whole quarter of the sky.

I started, and read most of, The Just City - which I'm enjoying, though not without niggles; it feels a bit two-bob-each-way between a novel and a fable, as if in all fairness (because it's a fable,a thought experiment) one shouldn't fret too much about characters or history or finicky pedantic points. (Not every number, Apollo!  You mean every number up to twelve!)  But it's fun watching the experiment work out (doomed to fail! - at least, it seems to me that it has been, but I see there's sequels, which suggests the experiment doesn't end in this volume, anyway) - and in general it's very enjoyable, and a huge step up from Hild. (I bought them both in the same bookshop swoop, last March.)  It reminds me of how Martin Gardner used to wrap up his mathematical/logic problems in very appealing and amusing mini-stories. 

The music was - still is - the Sydney Piano Competition, available via internet for a limited number of days - I think it's four weeks from when they were broadcast.  Here's the first set of three finalists, in the 19th/20th Century concerto section, playing Saint-Saens (an odd choice for competition playing), Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev.   So there were swathes of music throughout the weekend.

and swimming for hours!  This is a rare treat, and the opportunity was not wasted, not for a minute, in this hot weather!  I say, swimming, but a good bit of the time - nearly all the time - was also just splashing about, or standing chatting in the watery shade.  ahhhhh...  :)

So, all up, a great weekend.  :)

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The wind blows, and the sand-grains scatter; the dune remains.

I've been writing Calormene proverbs.  :)  and, some days later than I said I would, I've posted a new story in the Atrementus collection. This one  (which is a Calormene-proverbs-for-foreigners book) isn't one of the ones whose title Lucy noticed on Tumnus's shelves, but then she only noted four - or is only recorded as having noted four - and I want to have at least seven items in the Collection, and maybe eight.  I enjoyed writing it, anyway - I could have gone on for ages!  (It's okay - I didn't.  If anyone ever asks, though, in some dim, far-off future time...  ;) )

In other Narnian news, a few of us are reading through Prince Caspian, over here.  Other voices welcome!

and in domestic news, the International Year of Pulses continues to be celebrated here, most recently with a Tom Kha Tofu soup, which was highly delicious!

In other domestic news, a centipede crawled out of the plughole in the bath (over which is the shower)  yesterday.   I do not care for such happenings at all.   :(

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My life is at sixes and sevens again, but to at least be posting something here are three idle thoughts, and a question.

1. Trollope is hideously unfair to the Marchioness of Hartletop. Read more... )

2. I read a short piece in the Guardian about what is and isn't proper grammar - it was very scathing about the use of 'amongst', saying:
"How longeth wilt thou persist with “amongst” and “whilst”? Yea though thine prose doth ring fanciful, long hath the “st” lain banish’d ’pon the pebbl’d shore. (These days, it’s always “among” and “while”.)"

Bah, humbug! 'amongst' is a perfectly good word, and I will jolly well continue to use it any time I feel like it. (also, "How longeth" is simply silly.)

3. I think the science here is open to doubt, because the CSIRO say so, but it's interesting in itself, and also for a glimpse of a very country Greens Party pollie in australia: the Condamine river, famed in song and story, set on fire. (videolink, one minute.)

and the question:
Four years ago, just about, I posted my first ever fanfic to fanfiction.net. Is it worth overhauling it, smoothing off some of the rough edges, and reposting it on ao3 - or is that boring? (This is partly inspired by seeing someone asking for fics starring older characters, which this does.)
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Once again, back after time away - and doubtless having missed much.  :(  Lots of my life (including pretty well all of those good intentions/resolutions which I started the year with) went by the board in the last few weeks - as well as all your posts on LJ/DW, and any new stories which might be out there.  I'll look forward to reading it all, and profiting from everyone's recorded wisdom and creativity!

In terms of writing, I came back to find a sudden flurry ( a small flurry, but very welcome!) of reviews and kudos on AO3, especially for The Ivory Merchants, but also for one or two others - this was beautifully cheering to find!  and I hope will help me restart writing before the year gets too old.

There's been quite a bit of tough stuff happening, but  good things have happened, too, while I was travelling.  One was lots of good reading, viz.: 
  • I'm now about  half-way through War and Peace (which means I can start to read [personal profile] moon_custafer 's posts on W&P, too!)  and
  • one day I made a lightning raid on Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney, to snatch as many books as I could of my Books I'd Like To Read list - eight, in total, I think, and
  • as has happened before, while staying in other people's houses I read great things from their bookshelves, including a SF Classic that everyone but me read years ago.  :)
So that's all good, and will be posted about soon!
Meantime, here's from Australia, about the glorious night sky, and the dark constellation which is now riding high in the south.

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Life is getting busier and busier in the streets around me - everyone's gearing up for Tet, with frantic cleaning and gift-buying and planning to get back home (wherever home is).  Last weekend, though, Read more... )

For those interested in the diplomatic side of environmental matters: Read more... )

Fandom is bustling,too, with many challenges and fests happening - including halfamoon: 14 days of celebrating women.  I'm thinking hard about what I can contribute.  Recs? Meta? Maybe I'll seize a prompt.  Can't let the chance go by to join the celebration, anyway!

From Ethiopia - the Lion returns.  This, the dark-maned largest lion, is the kind I've preferred to write as aslan in my Narnian fanfic. 

Speaking of Narnia:  over on the NFFR site the Narnia LWW Reread has reached Chapter Twelve, with some very interesting meta, sources, questions, suggestions...

after last week's complex-character exertions ( :P to all those laughing!) it's back to the simple side for this week's character! 

and in the tiny domestic triumphs department:  the last of the missing socks has revealed itself!  My sock-bag is now only holding pairs!

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It feels like ages since I've posted, so even though I haven't great things to report, here goes:

My resolutions are off to a flying start, apart from the one about practising the recorder - and the one about writing.  :(  Today, okay? 
Though the recorder one is partly that from this house I can hear one of my neighbours from time to time playing, just idly, I think, on the flute - such lovely and delicate melodies, very beautiful and ethereal.  But if I can hear them, they would be able to hear me, and that would be a wrong thing to do to the neighbourhood - to let loose just-learning sounds on the recorder - you all know how horrible that is, right? - and also very shaming.  So maybe not today for that.

For some reason I've been cooking up a storm this past week, including with the jackfruit seeds I mentioned once before.  Read more ifyou're interested in jackfruit seeds!... ) 
Which all doesn't really add up to a post, so how about a few links?

I enjoyed this article by an historian, about health services as portrayed in Downton abbey.

I was happy to see that traditional hurricane-proof houses on Tanna had stood the test of Cyclone Pam last March, though (as the video footage shows) standing the tests was not just the roof, but also the plain strength of those inside holding it down as it bucked in the wind.

and in my own country, a traditional farming practice creates great patterns while countering erosion.

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So... 2015 wasn't a great year for me, in terms of writing or anything else. I enjoyed some three-sentence-fictioning, and I wrote a story for NFE - oh, and an extra Madness one.  That's it, in terms of fanfic. 
(First resolution for 2016: update my 'stuff I have written' sticky post about fanfic.) 
I did finish an original fiction, balanced somewhere between SF and uncanny - or possibly horror, depending how you look at it - and sent it away to a mag, where it was rejected, but very courteously, and not discouragingly.  :) 

In terms of reading - all I can remember right now is Les Miserables.  So that brings my second resolution for 2016 - to keep actual record of the books I read. 
This is going to be the year of War and Peace, by the way - any advice about translations?  But before that I have a pretty-well-guaranteed pleasure-read coming up - King and Joker, by hot fave writer (recently died, sadly) Peter Dickinson.  It's making its way to me slowly, via a friend, and I'm really looking forward to it.   Even before that I have a lovely small life-and-times, beautifully illustrated, of a twelfth-century noblewoman, which came recently as a Christmas present.

and in terms of writing... well, one more original story has to be written and sent away, definitely, and I hope to pick up the bookbinder series I began in the NFE, too.  That can be third and fourth resolutions for 2016.   (By the end of the month, for resolution four? Is that over-ambitious, do you think?)

Oh, and lots more!  To knit my first pair of socks.  To practise recorder more often than I do now, anyway.  To get to be fluid and faultless in tai chi. To improve my language skills in Vietnamese and French, and to learn one new Chinese character a week.  (I know that's setting the bar low, but if I don't, I won't make it, and it will be 1000% up on what I know now.) 

There!  That should do me for 2016!  :) 
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I went away after Christmas and need to read everybody's posts to see what's been happening - I hope the year has started beautifully for you all - and that it keeps on doing more of it.

My Christmas was quiet but lovely - and has kept on going right until Twelfth Night, because it was only yesterday that the last two cards and a present arrived!  and I suppose it counts as the last of Christmas that I've cooked up the last of the sharing gingerbread today - I ran a survey with the work-team as to which were better:
the ones shaped like stars, or the ones shaped like hearts?
the ones with only powdered spice in, or the ones with added dried, sugared ginger? (like crystallised ginger, but in thin slices)
the ones which were rolled out thick, to make a cakey-tending biscuit, or the ones rolled out thin, to make a crisp, light biscuit?

The decision is not yet in, because two people were away from work,and everyone said their votes should be counted, but right now it's evenly balanced.

I should probably do a summary of what I achieved in 2015, and what I want to achieve in 2016*, but I think I'd rather go and read everyone's posts that I've missed - for one thing, I see there's a new chapter of The Pirate Queen out!  :)

* I will do this sometime soon, though, because I want to think it through myself.

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By Milton!  and only two verses at that, from his much longer 'Hymn on the morning of Christ's Nativity'.  I love these verses.  :)

Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,
And let the base of heav'n's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th' angelic symphony.

For if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould;
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

Merry Christmas - and may we all have a very happy (in all ways) new year.  :)


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