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New planets!  I'm excited and agog, and also (is there anything I can't find a downside to?) thinking somewhere alongside the excitement that this discovery could foster up a feeling that now we don't have to worry about wrecking this planet because we've got somewhere else we can go.  (Of course there's no such real suggestion; I just mean how it might change people's mood about things.)  So... mixed feelings.  But still... seven planets, under a huge, cool sun.  Wow!  Oh, we live in amazing times!

So does everybody, of course - I mean, so everybody always has, whether they knew it or not.  Today's also, more or less, a hundred years since the stunning, out-of-nowhere (ha!) end of the Romanov rule over Russia, on the back of the chaotic butchery of WW1 and of riots over incipient (or actual?) famine. 
Coincidentally, on Nirvana in Fire, talk has turned to how a failure to provide relief in such crises leads to rioting and thus to regional (at least) instability - true enough, and I'm sorry Nicholas II hadn't better advisors, or (if he had them) that he'd listened more.  A sad ending for an amiable family.

Great sonnet, isn't it, by the way?  :) 

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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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Writing:  not at all.  :(

Reading:  Looking about for something undemanding, I picked up the no-magic-here fantasy Mistress Masham's Repose, by T H White, which, with its wildly Wicked Guardians harks  back to nineteenth-century satires of Gothic literature and also is in the line which later produced in The Hundred and One Dalmations, and Joan Aiken's Dido Twite (etc) books.  It's not exactly a "children's book" - it's more like one of those clever fairy-tales told to amuse sophisticated Louis XIV court circles, peppered with Bloomsbury/Cambridge-y injokes, very arch, mildly satirical, mildly upper-class liberal in tone - some good side-shots at colonialism and at bossy do-goodery.)  Overall - clever, well-written, nice central conceit.

It j
arred, though, when White carried on with the suave, delicately humorous "we all know these things" tone when making reference to a seventeenth-century treason trial (with all that implies :( ).

Oh, for goodness' s
ake! How large is "too large", Dreamwidth?

This entry truncated, in mounting frustration with this shoddy  (DW) site.  The rest of it is on LJ.

Why I didn't like the joke about the trial )
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I posted another chapter last night on my long story 'The Ivory Merchants', and happened to glance at the publication dates and so on, and saw to my staggerment that I have been writing it for a year!  Or actually, for a year and a day, as in fairy tales, and as set out in TVtropes.  By rights (as understood in the fairy-tales) I should have won my true love by this time, or broken the enchantment, or something.  But no... I haven't even been able to sign off with a flourish to finish the story -- two chapters to go, I think. But soon, soon... by the end of April, I think.  :) 

But speaking of years, I started this year, 2014, as far as AO3 goes, by going a bit wild, and posting a play-poem, but a gloomy one. )

I wonder is it that I've been really pushing to sign off on 'The Ivory Merchants' which has given me this yearning to write more non-stories?  Things no-one but me will enjoy playing with, like more Narnian poems, or collections of Calormene maxims for how to govern - yes!  very, very dry!  Maybe I go and draw maps. 

heliopausa: (ID pic)
"It may be that the gulfs will wash us down
It may be we shall reach the happy isles..."

...were lines from Tennyson's Ulysses that were running in my head as I looked at the chaotic pile of words which may or may not be hammered into shape as an NFE fic.
And because I am a procrastinator and not at all disciplined in writing, I drifted away to look at the poem, to see if I remembered it right, and found myself on a website which said that Tennyson was riffing off Dante's view of Ulysses when he wrote that, and which quoted a translation of Dante, Ulysses speaking:
"'O brothers,' I said, 'who through a hundred thousand dangers have reached the West deny not to this the brief vigil of your senses that remain, experience of the unpeopled world beyond the sun. Consider your origin, ye were not formed to live like Brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge.... Night already saw the other pole with all its stars and ours so low that it rose not from the ocean floor'"


:)   What fun!  Because, from the thirteenth chapter of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader :
"But the third, who was a very masterful man, leaped up and said, `No, by heaven. We are men and Telmarines, not brutes. What should we do but seek adventure after adventure? We have not long to live in any event. Let us spend what is left in seeking the unpeopled world behind the sunrise.' "

I love this!  :)  (I'm sorry, runesnspoons, (who has gently reproved me before for the doubling-up italics and underlinings) Just one or the other is not enough right now, to convey how cheerful this makes me feel.)
That is, I really, really like C. S.Lewis giving to the imagined children reading his books tiny glimpses of the great literature which waits for them out there, and I like as well the chain of quotings and requotings of stories through centuries.  I can see (but am too lazy to draw!) a huge family-tree of the Ulysses story, thousands of years and dozens of languages long. Which all makes me feel very cheerful.
heliopausa: (ID pic)
This one is well-known, but what the heck....

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam -
A red cockatoo. 
Colour'd like the peach-tree blossom, 
Speaking with the speech of men. 
And they did to it what is always done 
To the learned and eloquent. 
They took a cage with stout bars 
And shut it up inside.

(From Arthur Waley's translation of the ninth-century Chinese of Po Chu-I (772-846 AD))
heliopausa: (ID pic)

Sleeping in the spare bedroom/library of someone who has a great many more books than I have, I recently came across something which you all may know already, but I didn't and I loved it! 

It was John Skelton's poem, 'Speke, Parrot' -- not that I've read any more than a few bits, but the part which amazed and enchanted me was the portrait of the parrot itself, in the parrot's own voice. 

I was amazed (which I shouldn't have been, because crusaders and trade routes and 1521 being early modern anyway, really, and also because nothing new under the sun) by there being parrots and dates and almonds and parrot-cages with little mirrors at the court of Henry the Eighth!

And then, I was entranced by the whole picture presented... by Tudor England's view of the romance of the exotic bird from distant lands:

My name is Parrot, a byrd of paradyse,
By nature devysed of a wonderous kynde,
Daintily dieted with dyvers dylycate spyce,
Tyl Euphrates, that flode, dryveth me into Inde
Where men of that countrey by fortune me fynd,

And by how the parrot in a cage is so like the way people do keep birds in cages, mirror and all, and say the same things to them ("Parrot is a good bird"!).

And send me to greate ladyes of estate :
Then Parot must have an almon or a date ;
A cage curyously carven, with sylver pyn,
Properly paynted, to be my covertowre
A myrrour of glasse, that I may toote therin

(Does anybody have a lead on what "toote" means here? Any etymology or other use of the word?)
These maidens ful mekely with many a divers flowre
Freshly they dresse, and make swete my bowre,
With, "Speke, Parrot, I pray you," full curtesly they say;
"Parrot is a goodly byrd, a pretty popinjay":

And then, and most especially, by the parrot's self-portrait:

With my becke bent, my lyttyl wanton eye,
(I love that!  the "little wanton eye"!)
My fedders freshe as is the emrawde grene,
About my neck a cyrculet lyke the ryche rubye,

(Gasp!   I raced off and googled until I decided it was an African (or Indian?) Ring-necked Parakeet)
My lyttyll leggys, my feet both fete and clene,
(I loved that too, the little legs, and the feet both feat and clean.  It jumped my mind to "foot it featly, here and there".)
I am a mynyon to wayt uppon a quene ;
"My proper Parrot, my lyttyl prety foole";
With ladyes I lerne, and go with them to scole.

"Hagh, ha, ha, Parrot, ye can laugh pretyly! "
Parrot hath not dyned of al this long day :
Lyke your puss-cat, Parrot can mute and cry
In Lattyn, in Ebrew, Araby, and Caldey;
In Greke tong Parrot can bothe speke and say,
As Percyus, that poet, doth reporte of me,
'Quis expedivit psitlaco mum chaire?"

I don't know what that last line means: "who has made the parrot something something"???  The Latin would be in odd oldish spelling as much as the English, and I don't know Latin anyway.  Information gladly received!

And there's lots more, including Katherine of Aragon being called a "peerless pomegranate", and what looks like, to me, the first use of what has developed into an Australian slang expression.  But this entry has probably gone on long enough.  I really hope that someone gets as much pleasure from the scraps as I did!

(I used  https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=zJYNAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA1 ; and pages following for the text, and modernised the spelling very mildly in a few places.)


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