Thursday 26 April 2007

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats, (1865-1939)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Embankment

(The Fantasia of a Fallen Gentleman on a Cold, Bitter Night)

Once in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In a flash of gold heels on the pavement.
Now see I
That warmth's the very stuff of poesy.
Oh God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me, and in comfort lie.

T.E.Hulme (1883-1917)

Tuesday 24 April 2007

The Hiring Fair - Fairport Convention

Dragons....Yesterday 23rd April being St George's Day

St George is the patron saint of England..

"St. George was a knight and born in Cappadocia. On a time he came in to the province of Libya, to a city which is said Silene. And by this city was a stagne or a pond like a sea, wherein was a dragon which envenomed all the country. And on a time the people were assembled for to slay him, and when they saw him they fled. And when he came nigh the city he venomed the people with his breath, and therefore the people of the city gave to him every day two sheep for to feed him, because he should do no harm to the people, and when the sheep failed there was taken a man and a sheep. Then was an ordinance made in the town that there should be taken the children and young people of them of the town by lot, and every each one as it fell, were he gentle or poor, should be delivered when the lot fell on him or her. So it happed that many of them of the town were then delivered, insomuch that the lot fell upon the king's daughter, whereof the king was sorry, and said unto the people: For the love of the gods take gold and silver and all that I have, and let me have my daughter. They said: How sir! ye have made and ordained the law, and our children be now dead, and ye would do the contrary. Your daughter shall be given, or else we shall burn you and your house.

When the king saw he might no more do, he began to weep, and said to his daughter: Now shall I never see thine espousals. Then returned he to the people and demanded eight days' respite, and they granted it to him. And when the eight days were passed they came to him and said: Thou seest that the city perisheth: Then did the king do array his daughter like as she should be wedded, and embraced her, kissed her and gave her his benediction, and after, led her to the place where the dragon was.

When she was there S. George passed by, and when he saw the lady he demanded the lady what she made there and she said: Go ye your way fair young man, that ye perish not also. Then said he: Tell to me what have ye and why weep ye, and doubt ye of nothing. When she saw that he would know, she said to him how she was delivered to the dragon. Then said S. George: Fair daughter, doubt ye no thing hereof for I shall help thee in the name of Jesu Christ. She said: For God's sake, good knight, go your way, and abide not with me, for ye may not deliver me. Thus as they spake together the dragon appeared and came running to them, and S. George was upon his horse, and drew out his sword and garnished him with the sign of the cross, and rode hardily against the dragon which came towards him, and smote him with his spear and hurt him sore and threw him to the ground. And after said to the maid: Deliver to me your girdle, and bind it about the neck of the dragon and be not afeard. When she had done so the dragon followed her as it had been a meek beast and debonair. Then she led him into the city, and the people fled by mountains and valleys, and said: Alas! alas! we shall be all dead. Then S. George said to them: Ne doubt ye no thing, without more, believe ye in God, Jesu Christ, and do ye to be baptized and I shall slay the dragon. Then the king was baptized and all his people, and S. George slew the dragon and smote off his head, and commanded that he should be thrown in the fields, and they took four carts with oxen that drew him out of the city.

Then were there well fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children, and the king did do make a church there of our Lady and of S. George, in the which yet sourdeth a fountain of living water, which healeth sick people that drink thereof. After this the king offered to S. George as much money as there might be numbered, but he refused all and commanded that it should be given to poor people for God's sake; and enjoined the king four things, that is, that he should have charge of the churches, and that he should honour the priests and hear their service diligently, and that he should have pity on the poor people, and after, kissed the king and departed."

His main claim to fame was the slaying of a rather troublesome dragon.
But there are two sides to every story. As the following songs tell.

"Do Virgins Taste Better Than Those Who are Not?" to the tune of "Irish Washerwoman"

A dragon has come to our village today.
We've asked him to leave, but he won't go away.
Now he's talked to our king and they worked out a deal.
No homes will he burn and no crops will he steal.

Now there is but one catch, we dislike it a bunch.
Twice a year he invites him a virgin to lunch.
Well, we've no other choice, so the deal we'll respect.
But we can't help but wonder and pause to reflect...

Do virgins taste better than those who are not?
Are they salty, or sweeter, more juicy or what?
Do you savor them slow? Gulp them down on the spot?
Do virgins taste better than those who are not?

Now we'd like to be shed of you, and many have tried.
But no one can get through your thick scaly hide.
We hope that some day, some brave knight will come by.
'Cause we can't wait around 'til you're too fat to fly.

Now you have such good taste in your women for sure,
They always are pretty, they always are pure.
But your notion of dining, it makes us all flinch,
For your favorite entree is barbequed wench!

Now we've found a solution, it works out so neat,
If you insist upon nothing but virgins to eat.
No more will our number ever grow small...
We'll simply make sure there's no virgins at all!!

A Dragon's Retort (To the tune of "Irish Washerwoman")
(C) 1985 by Claire Stephens

Well, now I am a dragon, please listen to me
For I'm misunderstood to a dreadful degree
This ecolog needs me, and I know my place
But I'm fighting extinction with all of my race.

But I came to this village to better my health
Which is shockingly poor despite all of my wealth
But I get no assistance and no sympathy,
Just impertinent questioning shouted at me

Yes, virgins taste better than those who are not
But my favorite snack food with peril is fraught
For my teeth will decay and my trim go to pot
Yes, virgins taste better than those who are not.

Now we worms are deep thinkers, at science we shine
And our world's complicated with every new line
We must quit all the things that we've done since the flood
Like lying on gold couches that poison our blood

Well I'm really quite good almost all of the year
Vegetarian ways are now mine out of fear
But a birthday needs sweets, I'm sure you'll agree
And barbecued wench tastes like candy to me...


As it happens our interests are almost the same
For I'm really quite skillful at managing game
If I messed with your men would your excess decline?
Of course not, the rest would just make better time!

But the number of babies a woman can bear
Has a limit and that's why my pruning's done there
Yes an orphan's a sad sight and so when I munch
I'm careful to take out only virgins for lunch!

Borrowed from: SCA songs. Can you spear a ditty? - Society for Creative Anachronism -

Monday 23 April 2007

"On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble..."

A.E Housman, 1859-1936

On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

'Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
'Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.

The Night Mail. By W H Auden.

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.

Thro' sparse counties she rampages,
Her driver's eye upon the gauges.
Panting up past lonely farms
Fed by the fireman's restless arms.
Striding forward along the rails
Thro' southern uplands with northern mails.
Winding up the valley to the watershed,
Thro' the heather and the weather and the dawn overhead.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
Sheepdogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

Dawn freshens, the climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends
Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes,
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs
Men long for news.

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

Thousands are still asleep
Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's:
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
And shall wake soon and long for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

Night Mail, 1936.

Auden wrote the poem for this short film made by the G.P.O. (Post Office), music was by Benjamin Britten, Auden read the poem himself.
I'm definitely not a fan of Britten!
The last TPO, or 'Travelling Post Office', ran in 2004. These trains snatched mailbags from trackside gantries as they thundered past, dropping new bags into catch nets at the same time, letters were sorted as they travelled through the night, whilst writers and recipients slept.

The Truth About Northern Lights by Christine Hume

I'm not right. I'm interfered with
and bent as light. I tried to use the spots,
for months I tried with rings.
Only now I'm thinking in cracks
that keep a modern light
lunged. I keep the porch light on
to burn you off in ghosted purls,
the licks of which filament me.
My Day-Glo tongue's cutthroat.
Though I'm not clear,
I'm a sight whose star stares back:
it's a new kind of dead;
it hides its death in my cinched
testicle. That bright burr makes me
unreal and itch. By the time
I'm something else, you're making weather
with so-and-so. Drama tenants you;
it wades in queasy waves,
mottled to the marrow.
My mean streak beams neon
so I won't be refracted
or led to reflections. My eyes
trick god's and kick the careless reversals
of radio cure-alls. Rays suffer
until they clench the damaged night in me:
where I go out, gone as done
in a mood of black moving through.
Darkness sits there, pleased.
An iridescent ire could not go unaired,
my limbs wicking at the window.
Look out the window.
I've outened the world
to show you real barrenness:
a void a light
warps into want and then wants
until it warps all it glances.

Tuesday 17 April 2007

Humps, and Lady Lumps...

To fully appreciate this parody by Alanis Morrisette, you would have to be familiar with the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps".
Now, to me, listening to the Black Eyed Peas is something I would need to be forced to do, And, sadly, I was, because I was working in a building with other worky sort of blokes, and unfortunately the sparkies had got there first. An unfortunate, unwritten rule of construction site etiquette is that the first team to get there in the morning get their choice of radio..............
These sparkies were single-celled animals. They started well.... by 9 a.m., they'd shorted out a 600 volt supply, because they thought it was switched off... The guy who was supposed to have isolated the live supply had gone to get the bacon sandwiches, and forgotten the switching....
Luckily, Sparky no.1 only flew backwards and suffered bruises and ridicule.
His hacksaw, however, became instantly molten in places, and glowed nicely for a while after the main fuse blew.
Where was I? Oh yes, stuck in a half built office block with a group of cable-muppets. And they were listening to some rhythmic moronic chant, that I am told is The Black Eyed Peas... And that they're supposedly quite popular... At this, I looked up... "Popular? As in people... Um... pay? to see them? to hear this stuff?"
Yes, apparently they do. All over the globe.
If you must, go HERE briefly.... But I warn you, it's not a life enhancing experience... Don't linger, you'll be permanently scarred. Although over a million people have watched the clip...
If you enjoy it, there is no hope for you.

Having watched, listened, to the Peas' example of bad things that afflict the planet, then click on Ms Morrissette's version.. Same words, about a third of the speed.

If you arrived here via a search engine, looking for peas with black eyes, then I apologise. I could not bring myself to put them on this page...
I loathe what they do.

Monday 16 April 2007

It All Started Next Week........

(Probably makes more sense if you read this first!(link))
It all started next week. I was feeling guilty that Red Dirt Girl's internet birthday party had sparked off so much fun and originality, and.... I'd only sent her a picture or two.
What, I thought, could I have done to bring a big smile to her face?
What might she want and not get?
Well, she keeps coming back to her fascination with the Aurora, the Northern Lights.
Could I by some cunning internet trickery, take her to see them. Or OH WOW! -Could I bring them to her, and light up the party?.....last week....Oh Dear.
Once I get a crazy idea, I'm a demon... So, next week I started on a long trek, of learning, travelling, making and doing.
First I had to learn how the Aurora works. Then I had to get myself up to speed on physics, theoretical stuff, mathematics, all those funny symbols...
It took ages.
Until 2012 in fact, by which time RDG had partied through five more birthdays.
The breakthrough came after the banning, totally, of all chemical additives to food and water in 2010.
My IQ surged to almost normal.
Some damage had been done, but I managed the first clumsy draft concept of the clockwork-heart-anti-matter-enfrictionator. By 2012, I had a rough prototype up and running, discovering, by the way, that rust is a potentiator for space/time warping.
Having learned by then to make a, though I say it myself, rather good aurora, in any place of my choosing, the next task was to control the space/time warpingnipraw emit\ecaps eht lortnoc............
Time slippage.
Hold on whilst I rosin the drive belts.
There. That should hold it.
I watched all the versions of back to the future, to see if I could find any clues.
It all seems so complex. Speed, Clocks, Flux Capacitors etcetera.
So I turned to Jules Verne, H.G.Wells and their ilk.
Ha! burnished ivory, gutta percha, and brass?
no thank you.
By chance
I found the clockwork heart antimatter enfrictionator, when close-linked to an embiggener, and fuelled with dark matter, or, in a pinch, molasses, seemed to do timeshifting quite well.
Calibration was tricky at first. I burned out several calendars.
But I discovered that pulling the handle as far as the knot on the wood of the side-frame, took me into Elizabethan England.
Wherever I travel, I take a few books and time travel takes a surprising amount of time. So I'd taken my mother's old edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Spotting an opportunity, I sought out the struggling bard, cursing and swearing, writers block... And an opening night but days away.
I copied a few verses in longhand, quill-penned scrawl.
slipped them under his door.
Offered him Henry the fourth, part one, act by act, scene by scene....
For cash. Soul not required... Told him my name was Marlowe, Christopher Marlowe...
Oh what a jolly jape.
Meanwhile, I was investing his coins in some new fangled ideas. With the aid of my history book, I was able to pick the winners, my investments bore fruit, and I purchased gold leaf, this being far better at auroreal regeneration than the cooking foil I had hitherto used.
Then... Forward again into last month. Because I really needed antimatter......
Hence the trip to the Cyclotron, and all that fuss at CERN.
I left a few more plays for Shakespeare, including The Tempest.
I think it will set him on the right track again, having Shakespeare to learn from.
From Cern
Antimatter powered, in backwards time.
To the Party
And to set up the Aurora Generator. -I overpowered it by accident.
2000 miles wide.... I only meant for about twenty.
Still, it gave Mexico a party too.
Backtiming, again, I arrived at the party just before, five miles to the north, I set the aurora off.
Dylan was singing "To dance beneath a diamond sky, with one hand waving free" as overhead, a coruscating curtain of ruby red light burst across the star-sprinkled night sky.
I remember drinking margaritas... someone fell off an elephant onto my cake, and giggled uncontrollably...
The morning after, my head hurt terribly, as I woke here in my own little bit of England.
To the sound of hammering on the door.
"Police! Open the door!"
Yes. Chief Inspector T.Runcheon had sent the boys round to arrest me for breaking into Cern, and the theft of antimatter.
I pointed out, that the television cameras in Texas showed me, quite clearly, stepping out of the limo at Red Dirt Girls party bash, five minutes before they claim to have surrounded the lab at Cern.
Ergo, they'd got the wrong guy....
And besides? Theft of what, exactly?
Theft refers to stealing... Things. But antimatter is not just the absence of a thing, it's an antithing. How could I steal something which has a negative existence?
Argue that, Copper.
Eventually they let me go.
I'm so tired. But I might just nip back to the party....
And arrive a moment before myself on those cameras... Just for fun.

Having trouble with the drains...

Sunday 15 April 2007

Soubriquet Missing!

14th April 2007
Punk Poet and sometime blogger Ersatz Soubriquet was yesterday reported missing. Police searches, and exhaustive investigation of his recent computer records indicate that in recent weeks he has been concerning himself deeply with the mechanisms of the Aurora Borealis.

In his kitchen, beneath vegetable peelings and bread crusts, was found a notebook filled with jottings, most of which were so mathematically advanced that Doctor Steven Hawking was called upon to interpret them.
"My God!" he cried, "This is incredible! Soubriquet is positing an 'n' dimension fractal warp of space/time, to be driven by an antimatter-energised clockwork motor- yes, I think this could work...." Chief Inspector T. Runcheon, of the British Blogger Police, then asked Doctor Hawking, what the point of such an activity might be.

"It seems that a friend of his has never seen the Aurora Borealis, nor for that matter, the Aurora Australis, and it is her birthday today.
Soubriquet indicates in his notes that he is seeking to build a machine, so small it could be posted anywhere in the world. Running from a tiny clockwork motor he calls 'the heart', it would enfrictionate antimatter particles, setting up a highly charged magnetic flux, similar to the field at the planet's poles. This would be directed, by reflective foil mirrors, made using origami techniques, into the sky, and would extend thousands of miles above the earth."
"If he can do this, if it can be achieved, it would attract the solar wind, causing molecules of gases in the most outer reaches of the atmosphere to glow, oh, like a glowstick, over hundreds of miles across the sky, centred above his device."
"There is only one place he can be, only one place in the world where antimatter is being generated by science, Inspector, You must follow him to Cern, the vast Cyclotron beneath the Alps"

The hunt moved rapidly to CERN, where Interpol and Swiss special forces sealed off the vast physics complex.
This newspaper's reporter, on site, CERN, Switzerland, has been told that no person could possibly survive venturing into the antimatter chamber with a small glass jar, as Soubriquet appears to have done.
The immense forces and magnetic fields involved would rip a human body apart, into a mist of whirling molecules, accelerating almost to the speed of light.
Although a strong combined force of police and soldiers surrounds the control complex, it seems there is little chance of Soubriquet ever being seen again.


Saturday 14 April 2007

"Icarus Ascending on Beautiful Foolish Arms"

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia it was just a false alarm

From the song "Amelia", by Joni Mitchell.

Icarus was the son of the inventor Daedalus and a slave named Naucrate. King Minos of Crete imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus in the Labyrinth to punish Daedalus for helping the hero Theseus to kill the monster called the Minotaur and to escape with Minos' daughter, Ariadne. Daedalus knew that Minos controlled any escape routes by land or sea, but Minos could not prevent an escape by flight. So Daedalus used his skills to build wings for himself and Icarus. He used wax and string to fasten feathers to reeds of varying lengths to imitate the curves of birds' wings .

When their wings were ready, Daedalus warned Icarus to fly at medium altitude. If he flew too high, the sun could melt the wax of his wings, and the sea could dampen the feathers if he flew too low.

Once they had escaped Crete, Icarus became exhilarated by flight. Ignoring his father's warning, he flew higher and higher. The sun melted the wax holding his wings together, and the boy fell into the water and drowned. Daedalus looked down to see feathers floating in the waves, and realized what had happened. He buried his son on an island which would be called Icaria, and the sea into which Icarus had fallen would ever after be called the Icarian Sea (between the Cyclades and Asia Minor).

Sunday 1 April 2007

The Blog Archipelago Revisited

Artwork by Roger Dean.

Back in January, I wrote of The Blog Archipelago , a concept that struck me at the time to cover my concept of bloggers and their works, and how we interact. That we are travellers on a sea dotted with myriad islands, the Blogs.
Since then I've travelled far, made new friends, alienated one or two also.
We drop into a blog from all sorts of directions, sometimes through a link off another page, sometimes via a search for a phrase. And sometimes we very quickly decide that the content and style of a page is not for us, and move on, or the converse, we feel quite at home and stay, until we see the clock out of the corner of our eye, and gasp, wondering how so much time could have slipped by whilst we browsed.
As a Blogger (or Bluffer), I always hope for feedback.
Does anybody like what I do? Did what I said garner a positive or a negative response? How will I know if you don't stop to leave a comment?
Today, there are extra visitors, because I got a much appreciated mention on Draw Conclusions on the Wall a blog which leads me into much thought and philosophising. If anyone out there was taught to spell 'Dilemna' as it appears here, and not as 'Dilemma', David at Conclusions would like to hear from you.
There's much more there besides, and of course, the bloggers treasure map.... links to other islands.
Also, I got linked by Hanan, at Growabrain.
Hanan's following is huge... Some seven million page hits in the last three years. I've accounted for several hundreds of those, over the years. His energy and dedication to daily content shames me, and I can recommend, if you're ever bored, at a loose end, stuck at home with a broken leg or the flu, a visit to Hanan's archives will soon give your brain a new lease of curiousity. I tend to visit every day. But I confess I never get to follow every link trail he sets.
What amazes me is that for every topic he blogs, he must search over several more that he deems not to quite make the grade.
Here, though, is the link twixt Hanan and me.
A couple of weeks back he was wondering why he does this, whether anyone cares. Despite the seven million page hits he was having doubts. Just like me with my handful of hits.
And that, largely, is down to the paucity of feedback from visitors.
I know we won't comment on every blog we visit. And if there's a big heap of comment, our voices may be superfluous anyway, but please, every few blogs, leave a few words. Positive or negative, it all helps the blogger in future decisions.
If you've tarried a while here, and have thoughts good or bad, please spare a moment to comment. And thank you for dropping by.