Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Caricature

Clerihew of the Philosophical Playa


Man of affairs,
Was A. J. Ayers;
Used language, truth, and logic, him,
All in pursuit of getting trim.

Daily Dose

From An Anthropologist on Mars, by Oliver Sacks


"At this point, when he was first in the hospital, many of his Hare Krishna friends would come to visit him; I often saw their saffron robes in the corridors.  They would come to visit poor, blind, blank Greg and flock around him; they saw him as having achieved 'detachment,' as an 'Enlightened One.'"

From The Last Hippie

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Caricature

Yet Another Frankfurter from the Icebox


Pragmatist, Jurgen Habermas,
While waiting for the train to pass,
Surveyed all the junctions
Twixt structures and functions.

Daily Dose

From The Collected Spectator, by Addison & Steele


"For there is as much difference in apprehending a thought clothed in Cicero's language, and that of a common author, as in seeing an object by the light of a taper, or by the light of the sun."

From No. 409, Thursday, June 19 (Addison)

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Caricature

A Decadent Clerihew of the Revolution


Said Herbert Marcuse,
"You must excuse a
Very old man a
Taste for Havanas."

Daily Dose

From The Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


"His happy constitution (even when he had, with great pains, half demolished it) made him forget everything when he was before a venison pasty, or over a flask of champagne; and I am persuaded he has known more happy moments than any prince on earth."

From a letter to the Countess of Bute, dated Lovere, Sept. 22 (1755)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Caricature

A Frankfurter from the Pantry


Walter Benjamin
Shouted, "Come on in!
Say buon giorno!
To Adorno."

Daily Dose

From Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy


"It may have been observed that there is no regular path for getting out of love as there is for getting in. Some people look upon marriage as a short cut that way, but it has been known to fail."

From Departure of Bathsheba -- A Pastoral Tragedy

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Caricature

A Clerihew for a Frankfurter


Theodor Adorno
Tried to watch a porno
But couldn't decide which part
Might position itself as “art.”

Daily Dose

From The Education of Henry Adams


"Henry Adams had failed to acquire any useful education; he should at least have acquired social experience. Curiously enough, he failed here also."

From Chapter XIII, The Perfection of Human Society (1864)

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Literary Dinner

Cowper's Last Poem


Obscurest night involv'd the sky,
         Th' Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destin'd wretch as I,
         Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast
         Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast,
         With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
         Expert to swim, he lay;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
         Or courage die away;
But wag'd with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd
         To check the vessel's course,
But so the furious blast prevail'd,
         That, pitiless perforce,
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;
         And, such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
         Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship, nor shore,
Whate'er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he
         Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
         Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives, who lives an hour
         In ocean, self-upheld;
And so long he, with unspent pow'r,
         His destiny repell'd;
And ever, as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried—Adieu!

At length, his transient respite past,
         His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in ev'ry blast,
         Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him: but the page
         Of narrative sincere;
That tells his name, his worth, his age,
         Is wet with Anson's tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,
         Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme
         A more enduring date:
But misery still delights to trace
   Its semblance in another's case.

No voice divine the storm allay'd,
         No light propitious shone;
When, snatch'd from all effectual aid,
         We perish'd, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he.

Daily Dose

From On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History, by Nicholas A. Basbanes


"The first American passports were designed and printed in 1783 by Benjamin Franklin, at a small printing shop he had set up for his personal amusement in France, his home for nine years during the Revolution."

From Chapter 8, Papers, Please

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Birds and Death

Daily Dose

From The Nature of the Gods, by Cicero, translated by P. G. Walsh


"But men are born, so the human form existed before the human race did, and the immortal gods were endowed with that form.  Accordingly we must state not that the gods have human shape, but that our human form is divine."

From Book 1, (90)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Upcoming Event

This is my friend, Nick DiMartino.  He's got a new novel out, a mystery called Student Union.  It's a page-turner.  I just finished it tonight.  Come Tuesday, the 29th, at 7PM, I'll be introducing him at the University Book Store.  He'll be reading and signing.  Come check it out.

The Redwoods

Daily Dose

From Daphnis and Chloe, by Longus, translated by Paul Turner


"'There are, dear girl, several kinds of nymphs.'"

From Book Three, (23)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Noble Manners

Daily Dose

From Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift


"My only concern is, that I shall hardly be able to do justice to my master's arguments and expressions, which must needs suffer by my want of capacity, as well as by translation into our barbarous English."

From Chapter V

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Light Verse

Daily Dose

From Poems, by Emily Bronte


Come, walk with me,
There's only thee
To bless my spirit now -
We used to love on winter nights
To wander through the snow;
Can we not woo back old delights?
The clouds rush dark and wild
They fleck with shade our mountain heights
The same as long ago
And on the horizon rest at last
In looming masses piled;
While moonbeams flash and fly so fast
We scarce can say they smiled -

Come walk with me, come walk with me;
We were not once so few
But Death has stolen our company
As sunshine steals the dew -
He took them one by one and we
Are left the only two;
So closer would my feelings twine
Because they have no stay but thine -

'Nay call me not - it may not be
Is human love so true?
Can Friendship's flower droop on for years
And then revive anew?
No, though the soil be wet with tears,
How fair soe'er it grew
The vital sap once perished
Will never flow again
And surer than that dwelling dread,
The narrow dungeon of the dead
Time parts the hearts of men -' 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Science Came West


A Daily Dose

From Thomas Hornsby Ferril and the American West, edited by Robert C. Baron and Stephen J. Leonard


"The undelivered sky, vein-rippled in pain
Of crackled lightning underneath the skin,
Still holds her throbbing thunder-burden in,
Too drugged to hate or fear or love the rain."

From One Mountain Hour

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Hing & Sign: Poems, 1968 - 1993, by Heather McHugh


Gizmos and jeremiads aside, God
romped in a fit of glee, apropos
of nothing.  He had no friends
in higher places -- had no bailiwick
at all: he hadn't an inkling, a sou.

The writers, meaning business,
came calling him names.
They wanted him to say the word
was first and last -- they wanted to live
for good.  But God was a fool for his own

new feet, and a few
odd monosyllables of song.  As long
as he lived, they'd have to
be content.  Later, they could read
themselves into his will.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose


From The Way It Is: new & Selected Poems, by William Stafford


They struggled their legs and blindly loved, those puppies
inside my jacket as I walked through town.  They crawled
for warmth and licked each other -- their poor mother
dead, and one kind boy to save them.  I spread
my arms over their world and hurried along.

At Ellen's place I knocked and waited -- the tumult
invading my sleeves, all my jacket alive.
When she came to the door we tumbled -- black, white,
gray, hungry -- all over the living room floor
together, rolling, whining, happy and blind.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


"The waves of people at his word divide,
  Slow rolls the chariot through the following tide" -- Alexander Pope, Homer's Iliad, Book XXIV

Daily Dose

From An Anthology of Light Verse, edited by Louis Kronenberger


Give me more love or more disdain;
         The torrid, or the frozen zone,
Bring equal ease unto my pain;
         The temperate affords me none;
Either extreme, of love, or hate,
Is sweeter than a calm estate.

Give me a storm; if it be love,
         Like Danae in that golden show'r
I swim in pleasure; if it prove
         Disdain, that torrent will devour
My vulture-hopes; and he's possess'd
Of heaven, that's but from hell releas'd.

Then crown my joys, or cure my pain;
Give me more love, or more disdain.

-- Thomas Carew

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Complete Poems of Byron


"Love in full life and length, not Love ideal,
No, nor ideal Beauty, that fine name,
But something better still, so very real,
That the sweet Model must have been the same"

From Beppo, A Venetian Story, XIII

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Poem by D. H. Lawrence


At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise ...

When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding ...

When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno ...

Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.

A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.

And you think:
"The swallows are flying so late!"


Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop ...
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.

Never swallows!
The swallows are gone.

At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio ...
Changing guard.

Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one's scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.

Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;

Wings like bits of umbrella.


Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.

Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.

In China the bat is symbol for happiness.

Not for me!

--D. H. Lawrence

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From For the Moment, by John Mole


"Pure joy, the love-struck
face of it, a kid again"

From Fats

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Collected Poems, by John Updike

I saw my toes the other day.
I hadn't looked at them for months.
Indeed, they might have passed away.
And yet they were my best friends once.
When I was small, I knew them well.
I counted on them up to ten
And put them in my mouth to tell
The larger from the lesser. Then
I loved them better than my ears,
My elbows, adenoids, and heart.
But with the swelling of the years
We drifted, toes and I, apart.
Now, gnarled and pale, each said, j'accuse!--
I hid them quickly in my shoes.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From A Book of English Pastoral Verse, edited by John Barrell & John Bull


"Ye sylvan Muses, loftier strains recite,
Not all in shades, and humble cotts delight."

From The Birth of the Squire, by John Gay

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Letters of Kingsley Amis, edited by Zachary Leader


"When you get to my time of life you have to take what you can get when you can get it, you sam."

From a letter to Philip Larkin, dated 30 July 1959

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Faber Book of English History in Verse, edited by Kenneth Baker


"There was a solid brass gong, a grand piano, antlers, decanters,
and a gentleman's lavatory.
In the days of England's glory."

From Mr. Gradgrind's Country, by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Life of William Cowper, by Thomas Wright


"When confronted by her father the girl showed some spirit.  'What will you do,' asked the little man, 'if you marry William Cowper?' 'Wash all day,' was the reply, ' and ride the great dog at night.'"

From Chapter II, Southampton Row and the Temple 1749 - December 7th, 1763

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From An Anthology of Light Verse: From the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day, edited byLouis Kronenberger


Hail, ye indomitable heroes, hail!
Despite of all your generals, ye prevail.

By Walter Savage Landor

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Advice to Worriers

Daily Does

From Silver Poets of the 16th Century, edited by Gerald Bullett


"And yet she thought those stars moved in such measure
To do their sovereign honour and delight
As sooth'd her mind with sweet enchanting pleasure,
Although the various change amazed her sight
And her weak judgment did entangle quite"

From Orchestra, by Sir John Davies

Monday, April 7, 2014

London Plane-Tree

A Bookstore Doodle

Daily Dose

From Open Ground: Selected Poems, 1966 - 1996, by Seamus Heaney


"Blessed be down-to-earth!  Blessed be highs!
Blessed be the detachment of dumb love
In that broad-backed, low-set man
Who feared debt all his life, but now and then
Could make a splash like the salmon he said was
'As big as a wee pork pig by the sound of it.'"

From Man and Boy