Archive for August, 2009


“So I don’t feel alone, or the weight of the stone…”

Washington National Cathedral is known for its quirky gargoyles, but recently my friends’ five-year-old spotted a relatively mundane beastie around 35 feet up, wedged among the dragons and monsters that overlook the Bishop’s Garden. I imagine this creature must think rather highly of himself. And so I give you…

A SONNET FROM THE BOARTUGUESE

I ask: Did He who made the squirrel make me?
He shaped the petty weevil, slug, and fly:
For as thou art to them, am I to thee,
When ’round the garden durst thou slouch and sigh.
I grin, and father pestilence on high;
I bristle, and beshrivel every leaf;
I twitch an ear, the goldfish gasp and die;
I blink, and roses beg for sweet relief.
Yet tourist, when thou turnst to tend thy grief,
My holy tusks and tail thou shan’t recall,
Though still I mince thy mind with unbelief;
Between these buttressed groves I govern all.
Let dragons thus proclaim in wyrmish lore:
“Among our roosts there ruled a humble boar.”

(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tag.)

Hoodoo, voodoo, seven-twenty-one-two…

The weekend comes, and nifty links come close behind.

This is neat: Someone made a short film out of Robert E. Howard’s poem “The Return of Sir Richard Grenville.”

Speaking of Howard, his collected poetry is now in its third printing, and the work of one of his favorite writers, Harold Lamb, is back in print.

Steven Hart appreciates the Robert Silverberg novel Dying Inside and wishes Peter Jackson would film it.

Jake Seliger writes intriguingly about The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

“Her lips were full, sultry or sulking, her expression unblinking; she seldom smiled. Yet the reeds held fond memories of her friend Hedges, her companion in slinky swimming until she, or he, was carried away in 1998 by the waters of the River Nene.” No, it’s not an Ursula Le Guin story; it’s one of the better obits of the year.

Happy birthday to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe! The old boy would have turned 260 today. In his honor, here’s someone reading his poem “Prometheus,” and here’s “Quid Plura?” favorite France Gall singing “Ein bisschen Goethe, ein bisschen Bonaparte.” (You know you want to.)

“There’s talk in the houses, and people dancing in rings…”

So I guess when a neighborhood’s most obvious medieval-ish draw is a gigantic new Gothic cathedral, it’s understandable that one might tromp up and down the street, possibly for years, and not notice, just two blocks away, the house with a gargoyle on the roof and a dragon in the front yard.

I don’t know who lives here, but they’re my new favorite neighbors. I hope they have trolls ’round the back.

“I never talk to my neighbours, I’d rather not get involved…”

“A gargoyle, Mother, is perched on the gable,
It searches and lurches, befickled by fable.
The gargoyle, Mother, has eaten the cat!”
“And what shall we do about that, my child,
What shall we do about that?”

“A gargoyle, Mother, is stalking our roof,
Its claw-pricks primeval, primordial proof.
The gargoyle, Mother, has eaten dear brother!”
“And why can’t we get us another, my child,
Why can’t we get us another?”

“A gargoyle, Mother, alights in the hall,
Its grindings and growlings begrizzled by gall.
The gargoyle, Mother, has eaten poor father!”
“And why must you be such a bother, my child,
Why must you be such a bother?”

“A gargoyle, Mother, is greedy for gore,
Befouled and bedeviled, beframed by the door.
The gargoyle, Mother, is coming for you!”
“And what do you dream I can do, my child,
What do you dream I can do?”

“A gargoyle, Mother, has eaten you whole,
Its hellmaw begobbling you, body and soul.
The gargoyle, Mother, is spitting you out!”
“And why did you have any doubt, my child,
Why did you have any doubt?”

“A gargoyle, Mother, bespews its hot breath,
Its burning and burbling betoken my death.
The gargoyle, Mother, has torn me in two!”
“And why must you mourn only you, my child,
Why must you mourn only you?”

(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tag.)

“Swooping swallows chased by violins…”

Thanks for checking in! Like the summer, my blog vacation is winding down, but here’s a scene of shameless fecundity at the Bishop’s Garden.

“Success or failure will not alter it.”

Managing workloads, suffering fools, wishing the days could be longer—medieval people lamented these problems just as often as we do, but they soldiered on. “A thousand skeptic hands won’t keep us from the things we plan,” Charlemagne famously insisted, prompting Alcuin to quip: “unless we’re clinging to the things we prize.”

That’s my favorite passage from Einhard’s Vita Karoli; it invigorates me every time I’m slogging through an endless morass of work. In that spirit, here are links to smart and interesting people whose efforts you can reward simply by reading them.

With all due punctilio, Steven Hart appreciates science-fiction and fantasy writer Jack Vance.

Do you dawdle? Are you stalled? Jake Seliger reads books about learning to focus.

Neil Verma wonders about separating artists from their art.

Dear publishers, Scott Nokes implores you: Stop putting the monk Eadwine on book covers.

Open Letters Monthly reviews The Natural History of Unicorns.

Red in tooth and claw, OLM also steps into a literary feud over the annotated Wind in the Willows.

Enough cromulent problematizing! Vaulting and Vellum grumble at academic language that locks others out.

Bibliographing gets to know Abelard and Heloise.

“You got your manly, economic prose in my pipeweed!” “Your got your pipeweed in my manly, economic prose!” Lingwë asks: “Hemingway’s Silmarillion?”

What might be right be you may not be right for Ephemeral New York, who shows you buildings from the opening credits of “The Jeffersons” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Finally, smooth down the epaulets on your Members Only jacket and dance to this: the full-length commercial for the 1985 Plymouth Duster.

“Everybody’s coming home for lunch these days…”

Yep, we’ve fallen into lazy summer hours here at “Quid Plura?” headquarters. August is about writing, reading, and walking in gardens—but new posts are coming soon.