Archive for April, 2010

Fun with mock-epic

April 29, 2010

So here is a representative sample of Alexander Pope’s mock-heroic epic The Rape of The Lock. If you are not familar with it, this poem describes a courtly prank(the snipping of a lock of hair) in absurdly heroic terms. In this excerpt, a card game is described as though it were a great battle:
Part 3
CLOSE by those Meads for ever crown’d with Flow’rs,
Where Thames with Pride surveys his rising Tow’rs,
There stands a Structure of Majestick Frame,
Which from the neighb’ring Hampton takes its Name.
Here Britain’s Statesmen oft the Fall foredoom
Of Foreign Tyrants, and of Nymphs at home;
Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey,
Dost sometimes Counsel take–and sometimes Tea.
Hither the Heroes and the Nymphs resort,
To taste awhile the Pleasures of a Court;
In various Talk th’ instructive hours they past,
Who gave the Ball, or paid the Visit last:
One speaks the Glory of the British Queen,
And one describes a charming Indian Screen.
A third interprets Motions, Looks, and Eyes;
At ev’ry Word a Reputation dies.
Snuff, or the Fan, supply each Pause of Chat,
With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.

Mean while declining from the Noon of Day,
The Sun obliquely shoots his burning Ray;
The hungry Judges soon the Sentence sign,
And Wretches hang that Jury-men may Dine;
The Merchant from th’exchange returns in Peace,
And the long Labours of the Toilette cease —-
Belinda now, whom Thirst of Fame invites,
Burns to encounter two adventrous Knights,
At Ombre singly to decide their Doom;
And swells her Breast with Conquests yet to come.
Strait the three Bands prepare in Arms to join,
Each Band the number of the Sacred Nine.
Soon as she spreads her Hand, th’ Aerial Guard
Descend, and sit on each important Card,
First Ariel perch’d upon a Matadore,
Then each, according to the Rank they bore;
For Sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient Race,
Are, as when Women, wondrous fond of place.

Behold, four Kings in Majesty rever’d,
With hoary Whiskers and a forky Beard;
And four fair Queens whose hands sustain a Flow’r,
Th’ expressive Emblem of their softer Pow’r;
Four Knaves in Garbs succinct, a trusty Band,
Caps on their heads, and Halberds in their hand;
And Particolour’d Troops, a shining Train,
Draw forth to Combat on the Velvet Plain.
The skilful Nymph reviews her Force with Care;
Let Spades be Trumps, she said, and Trumps they were.
Now move to War her Sable Matadores,
In Show like Leaders of the swarthy Moors.
Spadillio first, unconquerable Lord!
Led off two captive Trumps, and swept the Board.
As many more Manillio forc’d to yield,
And march’d a Victor from the verdant Field.
Him Basto follow’d, but his Fate more hard
Gain’d but one Trump and one Plebeian Card.
With his broad Sabre next, a Chief in Years,
The hoary Majesty of Spades appears;
Puts forth one manly Leg, to sight reveal’d;
The rest his many-colour’d Robe conceal’d.
The Rebel-Knave, who dares his Prince engage,
Proves the just Victim of his Royal Rage.
Ev’n mighty Pam that Kings and Queens o’erthrow,
And mow’d down Armies in the Fights of Lu,
Sad Chance of War! now, destitute of Aid,
Falls undistinguish’d by the Victor Spade.
Thus far both Armies to Belinda yield;
Now to the Baron Fate inclines the Field.
His warlike Amazon her Host invades,
Th’ Imperial Consort of the Crown of Spades.
The Club’s black Tyrant first her Victim dy’d,
Spite of his haughty Mien, and barb’rous Pride:
What boots the Regal Circle on his Head,
His Giant Limbs in State unwieldy spread?
That long behind he trails his pompous Robe,
And of all Monarchs only grasps the Globe?

The Baron now his Diamonds pours apace;
Th’ embroider’d King who shows but half his Face,
And his refulgent Queen, with Pow’rs combin’d,
Of broken Troops an easie Conquest find.
Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild Disorder seen,
With Throngs promiscuous strow the level Green.
Thus when dispers’d a routed Army runs,
Of Asia’s Troops, and Africk’s Sable Sons,
With like Confusion different Nations fly,
In various habits and of various Dye,
The pierc’d Battalions dis-united fall,
In Heaps on Heaps; one Fate o’erwhelms them all.

The Knave of Diamonds now tries his wily Arts,
And wins (oh shameful Chance!) the Queen of Hearts.
At this, the Blood the Virgin’s Cheek forsook,
A livid Paleness spreads o’er all her Look;
She sees, and trembles at th’ approaching Ill,
Just in the Jaws of Ruin, and Codille.
And now, (as oft in some distemper’d State)
On one nice Trick depends the gen’ral Fate.
An Ace of Hearts steps forth: The King unseen
Lurk’d in her Hand, and mourn’d his captive Queen.
He springs to Vengeance with an eager pace,
And falls like Thunder on the prostrate Ace.
The Nymph exulting fills with Shouts the Sky,
The Walls, the Woods, and long Canals reply.
Oh thoughtless Mortals! ever blind to Fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate!
Sudden these Honours shall be snatch’d away,
And curs’d for ever this Victorious Day.

Makeup post

April 25, 2010

Sorry for the missed updates, so here’s a double update. First, a bit of Donne:
Holy Sonnet X:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;
For those, whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture[s] be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke ; why swell’st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more ; Death, thou shalt die.

Holy Sonnet 14:
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Now for some musical fun. Jumping to the late 20th century, an aria from John Adam’s opera Dr. Atomic( wiki synopisis ). Unfortunately, a video of the Metropolitan Opera’s production that I would have used has been taken down, hopefully this is an ok substitute:

A little shakespeare

April 15, 2010

One of my favorite stretches of black comedy:
A churchyard]
Enter two Clowns [with spades and pickaxes]

1. Clo. Is she to be buried in Christian burial that wilfully seeks her own salvation?
2. Clo. I tell thee she is, and therefore make her grave straight. The crowner 1 hath sat on her, and finds it Christian burial.
1. Clo. How can that be, unless she drown’d herself in her own defence?
2. Clo. Why, ’tis found so. 4
1. Clo. It must be “se offendendo,” 2 it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, and to perform; argal, 3 she drown’d herself wittingly.
2. Clo. Nay, but hear you, goodman delver,—
1. Clo. Give me leave. Here lies the water; good. Here stands the man; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes,—mark you that? But if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself; argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
2. Clo. But is this law? 8
1. Clo. Ay, marry, is ’t; crowner’s quest law.
2. Clo. Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial.
1. Clo. Why, there thou say’st; and the more pity that great folk should have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even Christian. 4 Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam’s profession.
2. Clo. Was he a gentleman? 12
1. Clo. He was the first that ever bore arms.
2. Clo. Why, he had none.
1. Clo. What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture? The Scripture says Adam digg’d; could he dig without arms? I’ll put another question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself—
2. Clo. Go to. 16
1. Clo. What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
2. Clo. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.
1. Clo. I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well; but how does it well? It does well to those that do ill. Now, thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the church, argal, the gallows may do well to thee. To ’t again, come.
2. Clo. “Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?” 20
1. Clo. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
2. Clo. Marry, now I can tell.
1. Clo. To ’t.
2. Clo. Mass, I cannot tell. 24

Enter HAMLET and HORATIO, afar off

1. Clo. Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when you are ask’d this question next, say “a grave-maker”; the houses that he makes lasts till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of liquor. [Exit Second Clown.] [He digs, and] sings.
“In youth, when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet,
To contract, O, the time for-a my behove,
O, methought, there-a was nothing-a meet.”

Ham. Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?
Hor. Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness. 5
Ham. ’Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier sense. 28
1. Clo. (Sings.)
“But age, with his stealing steps,
Hath claw’d me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land,
As if I had never been such.”
[Throws up a skull.]

Ham. That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the knave jowls 6 it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jaw-bone, 7 that did the first murder! It might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o’erreaches; one that would circumvent God, might it not?
Hor. It might, my lord.
Ham. Or of a courtier, which could say, “Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?” This might be my lord such-a-one, that prais’d my lord such-a-one’s horse, when he meant to beg it; might it not? 32
Hor. Ay, my lord.
Ham. Why, e’en so; and now my Lady Worm’s; chapless, and knock’d about the mazzard 8 with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, if we had the trick to see’t. Did these bones cost no more the breeding, but to play at loggats 9 with’em? Mine ache to think on ’t.
# 1. Clo. (Sings.)
“A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,
For and a shrouding sheet;
O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.”
[Throws up another skull.]

Ham. There’s another. Why might not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddits 10 now, his quillets, 11 his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce 12 with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries. 13 Is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in this box, and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha? 36
Hor. Not a jot more, my lord.
Ham. Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?
Hor. Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins too.
Ham. They are sheep and calves that seek out assurance in that. 40
I will speak to this fellow. Whose grave ’s this, sir?
1. Clo. Mine, sir. [Sings.]
“O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.”

Ham. I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in ’t.
1. Clo. You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours. For my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is mine. 44
Ham. Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say ’tis thine. ’Tis for the dead, not for the quick, therefore thou liest.
1. Clo. ’Tis a quick 14 lie, sir; ’twill away again, from me to you.
Ham. What man dost thou dig it for?
1. Clo. For no man, sir. 48
Ham. What woman, then?
1. Clo. For none, neither.
Ham. Who is to be buried in ’t?
1. Clo. One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she’s dead. 52
Ham. How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it; the age is grown so picked 15 that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heels of our courtier, he galls his kibe. 16 How long hast thou been a grave-maker?
1. Clo. Of all the days i’ the year, I came to ’t that day that our last king Hamlet o’ercame Fortinbras.
Ham. How long is that since?
1. Clo. Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born; he that was mad, and sent into England. 56
Ham. Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
1. Clo. Why, because ’a was mad. He shall recover his wits there; or, if he do not, it’s no great matter there.
Ham. Why?
1. Clo. Twill not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he. 60
Ham. How came he mad?
1. Clo. Very strangely, they say.
Ham. How “strangely”?
1. Clo. Faith, e’en with losing his wits. 64
Ham. Upon what ground?
1. Clo. Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
Ham. How long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?
1. Clo. I’ faith, if he be not rotten before he die—as we have many pocky corses now-a-days, that will scarce hold the laying in—he will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine year. 68
Ham. Why he more than another?
1. Clo. Why, sir, his hide is so tann’d with his trade that he will keep out water a great while, and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. Here’s a skull now; this skull has lain in the earth three and twenty years.
Ham. Whose was it?
1. Clo. A whoreson mad fellow’s it was. Whose do you think it was? 72
Ham. Nay, I know not.
1. Clo. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! ’A pour’d a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the King’s jester.
Ham. This?
1. Clo. E’en that. 76
Ham. Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kiss’d I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Quite chopfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
Hor. What ’s that, my lord?
Ham. Dost thou think Alexander look’d o’ this fashion i’ the earth?
Hor. E’en so. 80
Ham. And smelt so? Pah! [Puts down the skull.]
Hor. E’en so, my lord.
Ham. To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole?
Hor. ”Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so. 84
Ham. No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty 17 enough and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam, and why of that loam whereto he was converted might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperial CÆsar, dead and turn’d to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter’s flaw!

And no, next week will not be “The Love Song of J.Alfred Pufrock”. We’re taking a break from modern literature.

Fishing post 2:

April 10, 2010

So how do you learn to fish? From fishermen, of course! See if any of your fly-fishing friends or relatives would be willing to help you learn to cast. The answer will probably be yes. If you have no fly-fishing friends or relatives, then ask whoever you got your rod from about casting lessons.
Now the other thing to do is to meet up with people who flyfish. Try to find the local Trout Unlimited chaper; it’s a sort of crossbreed conservation group and fishing club. It’s a good place to learn the ropes and many chapters organize outings that are good ways to get your feet wet.
Which leads to the next question-where to go fishing? Ask around! I’ll be putting up a list of good spots in this area at some point later, but otherwise ask around.
And now for your FISHING REPORT!
Tuesday’s downpour may or may not have mucked up the fishing. Again, headwater streams clear first in the catoctin mountains Big Hunting will also be good once the weather warms back up for a good few days to a week and the water clears up. The Gunpowder might have heated back up by now, though. I don’t know that they hatches will be productive this weekend, but if they are not then fish will still hit nymphs and streamers. Might be difficult, though. PSA: Nobody wants didyomo getting around, so use the wader wash stations and give your waders a good through cleaning. Also, ditch the felt soles since they track too much from river to river. In the potomac, the hickories were in full run last weekend and may not be around much longer. The white(really American) shad are definitely in, although they might be slowed by the cold snap. The bigger question is whether the river is too high to rent boats again. Also, dart/fly preference seems to be pink and orange, and flyfishers will need a sinking line. There might also still be white perch, especially in the cove, and there are rockfish hanging aroud. This early they mostly hit cut bait, but they might take flies later when things clear up. Or now if you want to experiment.
One other thing: I’m offically going to a regular biweekly schedule. random stuff post Wensday, fishing post Friday.

Notes on Rembrandt’s Jan Six

April 6, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve done an art post, so here’s someone who has yet to be featured here

Rembrandt, Jan Six. 1665. Oil on canvas, 112 x 102 cm. Six family collection, Amsterdam

This is probably Rembrandt’s greatest portrait save his group portraits or his own self-portraits. It was painted for a good friend of Rembrandt, a collector of antiquites and patron of the arts, and remains in the Six family collection(whose head, incidentally, is Jan Six XI)
Here, more than any other work save his self-portraits, Rembrandt concentrates on his sitter as a person. Of course, previous portraitist had been exceedingly penetrating; certainly Holbien and Velazquez could capture their sitters well. But there was always the inportance of presenting the sitter’s “public face”, whether through insignia or clothing(recall the various sumptuary laws in effect in mideval and early modern times) various objects symbolic of the sitter, and suchlike. But that is all stripped off here. There is no setting save the gallery, and the clothing is dispensed with in some really masterly passages of painting. Indeed, one author has suggested that the cloak was loaned by the artist so some red would balance the composition. The one fully developed region of the painting is the face of Six with its Mona Lisa smile. It is a gentle, careworn face, that of a man who has labored long but with statisfaction and who seeks rest. In this context, the art historian examines the focus on the masterfully painted hands. He argues that it is a metaphor for the ultimate departure of death. It’s a good essay, and can be found at this link:

Fishing post no. 2

April 5, 2010

Unfortunately, due to exhaustion there will be no general notes, just a fishing report. Without further ado:
The shad run is picking up. The water’s low enough for Fletcher’s to rent and barring rain this week should just keep dropping. Pink and green darts and flies have been the ticket. A lot of weight is needed in this high water, though-fly-fishermen should probably use a full sinking line and at most 2.5 or 3 feet of leader. The Gunpowder remains on-and-off, but there have been good midge hatches on on days. Look for a week or two of good warm weather and clear skies to get things consistent on the powder. No details about the cactoctin streams except that the headwaters should be fishing well for brookies. At any rate, Little Fishing Creek was. Go for a small(size 16) stimulator and try to be reasonably sealthy. Also, Bigh Hunting should at least be decent in about two weeks. No word on Beaver Creek or western upper savage might be fishing well. Otherwise, most of the stocked streams should be fishing reasonably well. In the warmwater department, well I saw some bass lounging around in Rock Creek at the eddy below Pierce Mill and the various lakes should be picking up in the next week or two.

On the occasion of viewing cherry-blossoms, haiku by basho

April 2, 2010

Under the cherry-
blossom soup,
blossom salad.

Spring night,
blossom dawn.

Dusk-though last
bell’s faded,
air cherry-rich.

Spraying in wind,
through blossoms,
waters of Lake Grebe.

Old legs, still eager
for Yoshino’s
flowering slopes.

Ise’ shrine-
what tree can give
such perfume?

Translations by Lucien Stryk, so don’t bug me about the syllable count. Notes-Yoshino is a hill famous for its cherry-blossoms; many of the DC cherry blossoms are descended from cuttings taken at Yoshino. the Ise Shrine, dedicated to the principle shinto deity Amaterasu-Omikami, is wholly rebuilt of presumably fragrant cypress wood every 20 years.