Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Popular Pope

Strangely, all of the Pope poems seem to have been really popular, resulting in The Trees... getting more page views this month than we ever have before!

Explanations on a postcard, please.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield shade,
In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcern'dly find
Hours, days, and years, slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mixed; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Better than That

In fact, it was fantastic!  Muppet Treasure Island may in fact be the best film of the '90s.  And Ken from The View from Nunhead Station argued the other day that it was probably the best film of Treasure Island ever. 

Simply the Best

1996 seems to have had a few good films - The English Patient, Jerry MaguireCrash, Secrets and Lies and Trainspotting of course, and some very enjoyable ones - such as Independence Day, Mars Attacks and Mission Impossible.

But there is one film from the period which, when mentioned to true cognoscenti and film buffs, receives a unanimous response. Everyone says it was the best film of the year.  And we are going to watch our old battered video of it this afternoon.

An Explanation

If you hadn't guessed, I'm reading quite a lot of Pope at the moment, in the John Butt one-volume version of the Twickenham edition.

I suppose I should have read Pope much earlier, but when I was 'doing' English literature I had to make choices.  So I mostly did the Victorians through the poetry, ducking the very many big fat novels, and mostly ignored the latter half of the seventeenth, and the early eighteenth, centuries altogether.

Which means that although there are a few poems I knew already, I'm mostly coming to Pope for the first time - and, I'm afraid, sharing.  Sorry about that...

Pope of the Day

Alexander Pope

When wise Ulysses, from his native coast
Long kept by wars, and long by tempests toss'd,
Arrived at last, poor, old, disguised, alone,
To all his friends, and ev'n his Queen unknown,
Changed as he was, with age, and toils, and cares,
Furrow'd his rev'rend face, and white his hairs,
In his own palace forc'd to ask his bread,
Scorn'd by those slaves his former bounty fed,
Forgot of all his own domestic crew,
The faithful Dog alone his rightful master knew!

Unfed, unhous'd, neglected, on the clay
Like an old servant now cashier'd, he lay;
Touch'd with resentment of ungrateful man,
And longing to behold his ancient lord again.
Him when he saw he rose, and crawl'd to meet,
('Twas all he could) and fawn'd and kiss'd his feet,
Seiz'd with dumb joy; then falling by his side,
Own'd his returning lord, look'd up, and died!


We went to see the Opera North version of Ruddigore at the Barbican last night.

Lots of Fun, especially the special effects in the second half.

It wasn't a G&S I knew very well, and I really did enjoy it...


Saturday, 26 November 2011

They're Back!

- or so it seems, and Hadley Freeman in the Guardian showcased her top five Muppet moments.  And I know there are a lot to choose from, but I think she missed one or two. 

For example:-


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Epigram. On one Who Made Long Epitaphs
Alexander Pope

Friend, for your epitaphs I'm grieved,
Where still so much is said;
One half will never be believed,
The other never read.

Ornette Coleman

As is often said, 1959 was something of an Annus Mirablis for jazz.  It is said that there were four groundbreaking albums each of which in their own way pushed jazz in new directions.  (For the record they are:

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out
Ornette Coleman: The Shape of Jazz to Come
Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um

(Although a case can perhaps be made for John Coltrane's Giant Steps as well - and there were a number of other records that in any other year would themselves have seemed remarkable).

So when googling around I discovered that Ornette Coleman was going to be playing in London, I had to book tickets.

Last Sunday it happened, at the Royal Festival Hall.  Last act of the London Jazz Festival. 

A small, hunched 81-year-old man carefully shepherded across the stage by the other three members of his band.

And then, it was electrifying.  He still pushes boundaries, experiments, takes the audience, sometimes, into places that feel unccomfortable and challenging.  He freely adapts and changes the music he is famous for, testing and trying what is possible.

Wonderful stuff.  Severall standing ovations. 

The Guardian gave five stars while saying that while much of it was incredible, they didn't like all of it (as if it was about liking).

I feel very lucky.

... and a response

It did not last; the devil howling "Ho!
Let Einstein be!" restored the status quo.
J C Squire

Pope of the Day

Epitaph: Intended for Sir Isaac Newton, In Westminster-Abbey
Alexander Pope

Quem Immortalem,
Testantur, Tempus, Natura, Coelum:
Hoc Mamor fatetur.

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lem Google Doodle

Today's Lem Google Doodle was great fun.  See what the press says about it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Receipt to Make Soup
For the Use of Dean Swift
Alexander Pope

Take a knuckle of Veal
(You may buy it, or steal),
In a few peices cut it,
In a Stewing pan put it,
Salt, pepper and mace
Must season this knuckle,
Then what's join'd to a place,
With other Herbs muckle;
That which killed King Will,
And what never stands still,
Some sprigs of that bed
Where Children are bred,
Which much you will mend, if
Both Spinage and Endive,
And Lettuce and Beet,
With Marygold meet;
Put no water at all;
For it maketh things small;
Which, lest it should happen,
A close cover clap on;
Put this pot of Wood's mettle
In a hot boiling kettle,
And there let it be,
(Mark the Doctrine I teach)
About------------let me see,-------------
Thrice as long as you preach.
So skimming the fat off,
Say Grace, with your hat off
O then, with what rapture
Will it fill Dean and Chapter!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Lines on Swift's Ancestors
Alexander Pope

Jonathan Swift
Had the gift,
By fatherige, motherige,
And by brotherige
To come from Gotherige,
But now is spoil’d clean,
And an Irish dean;

In this church he has put
A stone of two foot,
With a cup and a can, sir,
In respect to his grandsire;
So, Ireland, change thy tone,
And cry, O hone! O hone!
For England hath its own.

Pope of the Day

On a certain Lady at Court
Alexander Pope

I know the thing that's most uncommon;
(Envy be silent and attend!)
I know a Reasonable Woman,
Handsome and witty, yet a Friend.

Not warp'd by Passion, aw'd by Rumour,
Not grave thro' Pride, or gay thro' Folly,
An equal Mixture of good Humour,
And sensible soft Melancholy.

`Has she no Faults then (Envy says) Sir?'
Yes she has one, I must aver:
When all the World comspires to praise her,
The Woman's deaf, and does not hear.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Epistle To Mrs Teresa Blount (On Her Leaving The Town After The Coronation)
Alexander Pope

As some fond virgin, whom her mother's care
Drags from the town to wholesome country air,
Just when she learns to roll a melting eye,
And hear a spark, yet think no danger nigh;
From the dear man unwilling she must sever,
Yet takes one kiss before she parts for ever:
Thus from the world fair Zephalinda flew,
Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew;
Not that their pleasures caused her discontent,
She sigh'd not that they staid, but that she went.

She went to plain-work, and to purling brooks,
Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks:
She went from opera, park, assembly, play,
To morning-walks, and prayers three hours a-day:
To part her time 'twixt reading and bohea,
To muse, and spill her solitary tea;
Or o'er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,
Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon;
Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire,
Hum half a tune, tell stories to the 'squire;
Up to her godly garret after seven,
There starve and pray, for that's the way to heaven.

Some 'squire, perhaps, you take delight to rack;
Whose game is whist, whose treat, a toast in sack;
Who visits with a gun, presents you birds,
Then gives a smacking buss, and cries--No words!
Or with his hound comes hallooing from the stable,
Makes love with nods, and knees beneath a table;
Whose laughs are hearty, though his jests are coarse,
And loves you best of all things--but his horse.

In some fair evening, on your elbow laid,
You dream of triumphs in the rural shade;
In pensive thought recall the fancied scene,
See coronations rise on every green;
Before you pass the imaginary sights
Of lords, and earls, and dukes, and garter'd knights,
While the spread fan o'ershades your closing eyes;
Then give one flirt, and all the vision flies.
Thus vanish sceptres, coronets, and balls,
And leave you in lone woods, or empty walls!

So when your slave, at some dear idle time,
(Not plagued with headaches, or the want of rhyme)
Stands in the streets, abstracted from the crew,
And while he seems to study, thinks of you;
Just when his fancy paints your sprightly eyes,
Or sees the blush of soft Parthenia rise,
Gay pats my shoulder, and you vanish quite,
Streets, chairs, and coxcombs rush upon my sight;
Vex'd to be still in town, I knit my brow,
Look sour, and hum a tune, as you do now.

Pope of the Day

Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog Which I Gave to His Royal Highness
Alexander Pope

I am his Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Alexander Pope

Celia, we know, is sixty-five,
Yet Celia's face is seventeen;
Thus winter in her breast must live,
While summer in her face is seen.

How cruel Celia's fate, who hence
Our heart's devotion cannot try;
Too pretty for our reverence,
Too ancient for our gallantry!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Pope of the Day

Lines Written in Windsor Forest
Alexander Pope

All hail, once pleasing, once inspiring shade!
Scene of my youthful loves and happier hours!
Where the kind Muses met me as I stray'd,
And gently press'd my hand, and said 'Be ours!-
Take all thou e'er shalt have, a constant Muse:
At Court thou may'st be liked, but nothing gain:
Stock thou may'st buy and sell, but always lose,
And love the brightest eyes, but love in vain.'

Monday, 14 November 2011

Pope of the Day

On His Grotto at Twickenham
Alexander Pope

Thou who shalt stop, where Thames' translucent wave
Shines a broad Mirror thro' the shadowy Cave;
Where ling'ring drops from min'ral Roofs distill,
And pointed Crystals break the sparkling Rill,
Unpolish'd Gems no ray on Pride bestow,
And latent Metals innocently glow.
Approach! Great Nature studiously behold;
And eye the Mine without a wish for Gold.
Approach; but awful! Lo! th' Egerian Grot,
Where, nobly-pensive, St. John sate and thought;
Where British sighs from dying Wyndham stole,
And the bright flame was shot thro' Marchmont's Soul.
Let such, such only tread this sacred Floor,
Who dare to love their Country, and be poor.

Pope's Grotto

Alexander Pope's grotto in Twickenham really existed - built from a tunnel he had constructed between his house and gardens, which were otherwise separated by a busy (ish) road.  Still (just) visitable today...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Open Chaucer

I've just been listening to BBC R4 "Open Book" - which is having a comic writing series.  They began this week with John Mullan and Terry Jones discussing Chaucer, with Mariella Frostrup.

TJ described Chaucer's humour as 'like Jane Austen's' - it is often about the stuff he doesn't tell you.  So you need context and you have to work it out.  That feels about right, at least where the General Prologue is concerned.

And then they discussed the bawdier humour, including the Miller's and Reeve's Tales (briefly), before a reading from the Merchant's Tale (the bit where May defends herself for 'struggling with a man up in a tree').  Mostly, they read the middle english version, so far as I could recall.  Brilliant, and funny.

TJ denied any Chaucerian influences on Monty Python (although I think he admitted to some parallels by implication), and I enjoyed it all immensely. 

Hear it on the i-Player before the BBC hides it...

Poem of the Week

Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot
Alexander Pope

Neque sermonibus vulgi dederis te, nec in præmiis spem posueris rerum tuarum; suis te oportet illecebris ipsa virtus trahat ad verum decus. Quid de te alii loquantur, ipsi videant, sed loquentur tamen.
(Cicero, De Re Publica VI.23)

["... you will not any longer attend to the vulgar mob's gossip nor put your trust in human rewards for your deeds; virtue, through her own charms, should lead you to true glory. Let what others say about you be their concern; whatever it is, they will say it anyway."]

Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigu'd, I said,
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages! nay 'tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.

What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide;
By land, by water, they renew the charge;
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
No place is sacred, not the church is free;
Ev'n Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy! to catch me just at dinner-time.

Is there a parson, much bemus'd in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
Is there, who, lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls
With desp'rate charcoal round his darken'd walls?
All fly to Twit'nam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws,
Imputes to me and my damn'd works the cause:
Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.

Friend to my life! (which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song)
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma! either way I'm sped,
If foes, they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seiz'd and tied down to judge, how wretched I!
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie;
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace,
And to be grave, exceeds all pow'r of face.
I sit with sad civility, I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel, "Keep your piece nine years."

"Nine years!" cries he, who high in Drury-lane
Lull'd by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes ere he wakes, and prints before Term ends,
Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends:
"The piece, you think, is incorrect: why, take it,
I'm all submission, what you'd have it, make it."

Three things another's modest wishes bound,
My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: "You know his Grace,
I want a patron; ask him for a place."

Pitholeon libell'd me—"but here's a letter
Informs you, sir, 'twas when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him? Curll invites to dine,
He'll write a Journal, or he'll turn Divine."

Bless me! a packet—"'Tis a stranger sues,
A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse."
If I dislike it, "Furies, death and rage!"
If I approve, "Commend it to the stage."
There (thank my stars) my whole commission ends,
The play'rs and I are, luckily, no friends.
Fir'd that the house reject him, "'Sdeath I'll print it,
And shame the fools—your int'rest, sir, with Lintot!"
"Lintot, dull rogue! will think your price too much."
"Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch."
All my demurs but double his attacks;
At last he whispers, "Do; and we go snacks."
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door,
"Sir, let me see your works and you no more."

'Tis sung, when Midas' ears began to spring,
(Midas, a sacred person and a king)
His very minister who spied them first,
(Some say his queen) was forc'd to speak, or burst.
And is not mine, my friend, a sorer case,
When ev'ry coxcomb perks them in my face?

"Good friend, forbear! you deal in dang'rous things.
I'd never name queens, ministers, or kings;
Keep close to ears, and those let asses prick;
'Tis nothing"—Nothing? if they bite and kick?
Out with it, Dunciad! let the secret pass,
That secret to each fool, that he's an ass:
The truth once told (and wherefore should we lie?)
The queen of Midas slept, and so may I.

You think this cruel? take it for a rule,
No creature smarts so little as a fool.
Let peals of laughter, Codrus! round thee break,
Thou unconcern'd canst hear the mighty crack:
Pit, box, and gall'ry in convulsions hurl'd,
Thou stand'st unshook amidst a bursting world.
Who shames a scribbler? break one cobweb through,
He spins the slight, self-pleasing thread anew;
Destroy his fib or sophistry, in vain,
The creature's at his dirty work again;
Thron'd in the centre of his thin designs;
Proud of a vast extent of flimsy lines!
Whom have I hurt? has poet yet, or peer,
Lost the arch'd eye-brow, or Parnassian sneer?
And has not Colley still his lord, and whore?
His butchers Henley, his Free-masons Moore?
Does not one table Bavius still admit?
Still to one bishop Philips seem a wit?
Still Sappho— "Hold! for God-sake—you'll offend:
No names!—be calm!—learn prudence of a friend!
I too could write, and I am twice as tall;
But foes like these!" One flatt'rer's worse than all.
Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right,
It is the slaver kills, and not the bite.
A fool quite angry is quite innocent;
Alas! 'tis ten times worse when they repent.

One dedicates in high heroic prose,
And ridicules beyond a hundred foes;
One from all Grub Street will my fame defend,
And, more abusive, calls himself my friend.
This prints my Letters, that expects a bribe,
And others roar aloud, "Subscribe, subscribe."

There are, who to my person pay their court:
I cough like Horace, and, though lean, am short,
Ammon's great son one shoulder had too high,
Such Ovid's nose, and "Sir! you have an eye"—
Go on, obliging creatures, make me see
All that disgrac'd my betters, met in me:
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
"Just so immortal Maro held his head:"
And when I die, be sure you let me know
Great Homer died three thousand years ago.

Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipp'd me in ink, my parents', or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
I lisp'd in numbers, for the numbers came.
I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobey'd.
The Muse but serv'd to ease some friend, not wife,
To help me through this long disease, my life,
To second, Arbuthnot! thy art and care,
And teach the being you preserv'd, to bear.

But why then publish? Granville the polite,
And knowing Walsh, would tell me I could write;
Well-natur'd Garth inflamed with early praise,
And Congreve lov'd, and Swift endur'd my lays;
The courtly Talbot, Somers, Sheffield read,
Ev'n mitred Rochester would nod the head,
And St. John's self (great Dryden's friends before)
With open arms receiv'd one poet more.
Happy my studies, when by these approv'd!
Happier their author, when by these belov'd!
From these the world will judge of men and books,
Not from the Burnets, Oldmixons, and Cookes.

Soft were my numbers; who could take offence,
While pure description held the place of sense?
Like gentle Fanny's was my flow'ry theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling stream.
Yet then did Gildon draw his venal quill;
I wish'd the man a dinner, and sat still.
Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
I never answer'd, I was not in debt.
If want provok'd, or madness made them print,
I wag'd no war with Bedlam or the Mint.

Did some more sober critic come abroad?
If wrong, I smil'd; if right, I kiss'd the rod.
Pains, reading, study, are their just pretence,
And all they want is spirit, taste, and sense.
Commas and points they set exactly right,
And 'twere a sin to rob them of their mite.
Yet ne'er one sprig of laurel grac'd these ribalds,
From slashing Bentley down to pidling Tibbalds.
Each wight who reads not, and but scans and spells,
Each word-catcher that lives on syllables,
Ev'n such small critics some regard may claim,
Preserv'd in Milton's or in Shakespeare's name.
Pretty! in amber to observe the forms
Of hairs, or straws, or dirt, or grubs, or worms;
The things, we know, are neither rich nor rare,
But wonder how the devil they got there?

Were others angry? I excus'd them too;
Well might they rage; I gave them but their due.
A man's true merit 'tis not hard to find,
But each man's secret standard in his mind,
That casting weight pride adds to emptiness,
This, who can gratify? for who can guess?
The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown,
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains, from hard-bound brains, eight lines a year:
He, who still wanting, though he lives on theft,
Steals much, spends little, yet has nothing left:
And he, who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,
Means not, but blunders round about a meaning:
And he, whose fustian's so sublimely bad,
It is not poetry, but prose run mad:
All these, my modest satire bade translate,
And own'd, that nine such poets made a Tate.
How did they fume, and stamp, and roar, and chafe?
And swear, not Addison himself was safe.

Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
True genius kindles, and fair fame inspires,
Blest with each talent and each art to please,
And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caus'd himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserv'd to blame, or to commend,
A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading ev'n fools, by flatterers besieg'd,
And so obliging, that he ne'er oblig'd;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While wits and templars ev'ry sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise.
Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he?

What though my name stood rubric on the walls,
Or plaister'd posts, with claps, in capitals?
Or smoking forth, a hundred hawkers' load,
On wings of winds came flying all abroad?
I sought no homage from the race that write;
I kept, like Asian monarchs, from their sight:
Poems I heeded (now berhym'd so long)
No more than thou, great George! a birthday song.
I ne'er with wits or witlings pass'd my days,
To spread about the itch of verse and praise;
Nor like a puppy, daggled through the town,
To fetch and carry sing-song up and down;
Nor at rehearsals sweat, and mouth'd, and cried,
With handkerchief and orange at my side;
But sick of fops, and poetry, and prate,
To Bufo left the whole Castalian state.

Proud as Apollo on his forked hill,
Sat full-blown Bufo, puff'd by every quill;
Fed with soft dedication all day long,
Horace and he went hand in hand in song.
His library (where busts of poets dead
And a true Pindar stood without a head,)
Receiv'd of wits an undistinguish'd race,
Who first his judgment ask'd, and then a place:
Much they extoll'd his pictures, much his seat,
And flatter'd ev'ry day, and some days eat:
Till grown more frugal in his riper days,
He paid some bards with port, and some with praise,
To some a dry rehearsal was assign'd,
And others (harder still) he paid in kind.
Dryden alone (what wonder?) came not nigh,
Dryden alone escap'd this judging eye:
But still the great have kindness in reserve,
He help'd to bury whom he help'd to starve.

May some choice patron bless each grey goose quill!
May ev'ry Bavius have his Bufo still!
So, when a statesman wants a day's defence,
Or envy holds a whole week's war with sense,
Or simple pride for flatt'ry makes demands,
May dunce by dunce be whistled off my hands!
Blest be the great! for those they take away,
And those they left me—for they left me Gay;
Left me to see neglected genius bloom,
Neglected die! and tell it on his tomb;
Of all thy blameless life the sole return
My verse, and Queensb'ry weeping o'er thy urn!

Oh let me live my own! and die so too!
("To live and die is all I have to do:")
Maintain a poet's dignity and ease,
And see what friends, and read what books I please.
Above a patron, though I condescend
Sometimes to call a minister my friend:
I was not born for courts or great affairs;
I pay my debts, believe, and say my pray'rs;
Can sleep without a poem in my head,
Nor know, if Dennis be alive or dead.

Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light?
Heav'ns! was I born for nothing but to write?
Has life no joys for me? or (to be grave)
Have I no friend to serve, no soul to save?
"I found him close with Swift"—"Indeed? no doubt",
(Cries prating Balbus) "something will come out".
'Tis all in vain, deny it as I will.
"No, such a genius never can lie still,"
And then for mine obligingly mistakes
The first lampoon Sir Will. or Bubo makes.
Poor guiltless I! and can I choose but smile,
When ev'ry coxcomb knows me by my style?

Curs'd be the verse, how well soe'er it flow,
That tends to make one worthy man my foe,
Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,
Or from the soft-ey'd virgin steal a tear!
But he, who hurts a harmless neighbour's peace,
Insults fall'n worth, or beauty in distress,
Who loves a lie, lame slander helps about,
Who writes a libel, or who copies out:
That fop, whose pride affects a patron's name,
Yet absent, wounds an author's honest fame;
Who can your merit selfishly approve,
And show the sense of it without the love;
Who has the vanity to call you friend,
Yet wants the honour, injur'd, to defend;
Who tells what'er you think, whate'er you say,
And, if he lie not, must at least betray:
Who to the Dean, and silver bell can swear,
And sees at Cannons what was never there;
Who reads, but with a lust to misapply,
Make satire a lampoon, and fiction, lie.
A lash like mine no honest man shall dread,
But all such babbling blockheads in his stead.

Let Sporus tremble—"What? that thing of silk,
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass's milk?
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?"
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne'er tastes, and beauty ne'r enjoys,
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray,
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way.
Whether in florid impotence he speaks,
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks;
Or at the ear of Eve, familiar toad,
Half froth, half venom, spits himself abroad,
In puns, or politics, or tales, or lies,
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies.
His wit all see-saw, between that and this ,
Now high, now low, now Master up, now Miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart,
Fop at the toilet, flatt'rer at the board,
Now trips a lady, and now struts a lord.
Eve's tempter thus the rabbins have express'd,
A cherub's face, a reptile all the rest;
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.

Not fortune's worshipper, nor fashion's fool,
Not lucre's madman, nor ambition's tool,
Not proud, nor servile, be one poet's praise,
That, if he pleas'd, he pleas'd by manly ways;
That flatt'ry, even to kings, he held a shame,
And thought a lie in verse or prose the same:
That not in fancy's maze he wander'd long,
But stoop'd to truth, and moraliz'd his song:
That not for fame, but virtue's better end,
He stood the furious foe, the timid friend,
The damning critic, half-approving wit,
The coxcomb hit, or fearing to be hit;
Laugh'd at the loss of friends he never had,
The dull, the proud, the wicked, and the mad;
The distant threats of vengeance on his head,
The blow unfelt, the tear he never shed;
The tale reviv'd, the lie so oft o'erthrown;
Th' imputed trash, and dulness not his own;
The morals blacken'd when the writings 'scape;
The libell'd person, and the pictur'd shape;
Abuse, on all he lov'd, or lov'd him, spread,
A friend in exile, or a father, dead;
The whisper, that to greatness still too near,
Perhaps, yet vibrates on his sovereign's ear:—
Welcome for thee, fair Virtue! all the past:
For thee, fair Virtue! welcome ev'n the last!

"But why insult the poor? affront the great?"
A knave's a knave, to me, in ev'ry state:
Alike my scorn, if he succeed or fail,
Sporus at court, or Japhet in a jail,
A hireling scribbler, or a hireling peer,
Knight of the post corrupt, or of the shire;
If on a pillory, or near a throne,
He gain his prince's ear, or lose his own.

Yet soft by nature, more a dupe than wit,
Sappho can tell you how this man was bit:
This dreaded sat'rist Dennis will confess
Foe to his pride, but friend to his distress:
So humble, he has knock'd at Tibbald's door,
Has drunk with Cibber, nay, has rhym'd for Moore.
Full ten years slander'd, did he once reply?
Three thousand suns went down on Welsted's lie.
To please a mistress one aspers'd his life;
He lash'd him not, but let her be his wife.
Let Budgell charge low Grub Street on his quill,
And write whate'er he pleas'd, except his will;
Let the two Curlls of town and court, abuse
His father, mother, body, soul, and muse.
Yet why? that father held it for a rule,
It was a sin to call our neighbour fool:
That harmless mother thought no wife a whore,—
Hear this! and spare his family, James Moore!
Unspotted names! and memorable long,
If there be force in virtue, or in song.

Of gentle blood (part shed in honour's cause,
While yet in Britain honour had applause)
Each parent sprung—"What fortune, pray?"—Their own,
And better got, than Bestia's from the throne.
Born to no pride, inheriting no strife,
Nor marrying discord in a noble wife,
Stranger to civil and religious rage,
The good man walk'd innoxious through his age.
No courts he saw, no suits would ever try,
Nor dar'd an oath, nor hazarded a lie:
Un-learn'd, he knew no schoolman's subtle art,
No language, but the language of the heart.
By nature honest, by experience wise,
Healthy by temp'rance and by exercise;
His life, though long, to sickness past unknown;
His death was instant, and without a groan.
O grant me, thus to live, and thus to die!
Who sprung from kings shall know less joy than I.

O friend! may each domestic bliss be thine!
Be no unpleasing melancholy mine:
Me, let the tender office long engage
To rock the cradle of reposing age,
With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
Make langour smile, and smooth the bed of death,
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
And keep a while one parent from the sky!
On cares like these if length of days attend,
May Heav'n, to bless those days, preserve my friend,
Preserve him social, cheerful, and serene,
And just as rich as when he serv'd a queen.
Whether that blessing be denied or giv'n,
Thus far was right, the rest belongs to Heav'n.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"New" 12

I've just seen one of the new No. 12s put on by that oik Boris Johnson.  The man is a clown. 

The bendy buses weren't to everyone's tastes (drivers and cyclists said they hated them, although I didn't mind them), but they were popular with the people they wee aimed at - the passengers. 

Now the fool has gone and replaced them, as he said he would, with a new-variant, second-rate double decker.  I've just watched a couple on Rye Lane.  They take forever to load and unload, the gangways look narrow and constricting, and they carry (it seems) far fewer people. 


Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Pubs Around Nunhead 18: Nuns

It has to be said that with the closureof the Rye Hotel (albeit for just a while), the Nun's Head is buzzing....


Had a very pleasant wander in Oxleas Wood this morning.  Unsurprisingly autumnal. Beech and Oak and Holly.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Poem of the Day

James Dyrenforth and Kenneth Leslie-Smith

A mighty maze of mystic, magic rays
Is all about us in the blue,
And in sight and sound they trace
Living pictures out of space
To bring a new wonder to you

The busy world before you is unfurled -
Its songs, its tears and laughter, too.
One by one they play their parts
In this latest of the Arts
To bring new enchantment to you.

As by your fireside you sit,
The news will flit,
As on the silver screen.
And just for entertaining you
With something new
The stars will then be seen. So...

There's joy in store
The world is at your door -
It's here for everyone to view
Conjured up in sound and sight
By the magic rays of light
That bring Television to you.


In the science fiction TV show Red Dwarf, the cat is slick and one step ahead of the rest of his crew mates.
This is typical of the errors and misreadings that occur throughout Craig Cabell's "Terry Pratchett: The Spirit of Fantasy" (2011).  A truly awful book - don't buy it.

Manchester Tram

I was out and about this week - which meant I spent half a day in Manchester and had a ride on the trams.  Ladywell to Piccadilly.  A little slow, and too yellow for my tastes, but really rather sweet...