Monday, 27 February 2017

Poetry Revisited: With a Bunch of Spring Flowers by Kate Seymour MacLean

With a Bunch of Spring Flowers

(from The Coming of the Princess and Other Poems: 1881)

In the spring-time, out of the dew,
     From my garden, sweet friend, I gather,
     A garland of verses, or rather
A poem of blossoms for you.

There are pansies, purple and white,
     That hold in their velvet splendour,
     Sweet thoughts as fragrant and tender,
And rarer than poets can write.

The Iris her pennon unfurls,
     My unspoken message to carry,
     A flower-poem writ by a fairy,
And Buttercups rounder than pearls.

And Snowdrops starry and sweet,
     Turn toward thee their pale pure faces
     And Crocus, and Cowslips, and Daisies
The song of the spring-time repeat.

So merry and full of cheer,
     With the warble of birds overflowing,
     The wind through the fresh grass blowing
And the blackbirds whistle so dear.

These songs without words are true,
     All sung in the April weather—
     Music and blossoms together—
I gather and weave them for you.

Kate Seymour MacLean (1829-1916)
Canadian poet and teacher

Friday, 24 February 2017

Book Review: A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16247321-a-meeting-by-the-riverIt isn’t always easy to understand and even less to wholeheartedly accept and support the choices of others. Of course, we all want family, friends, everybody in the whole world to be happy and contented, but our definition of what is good and right is largely determined by personal as well as society’s standards. It’s true that in our modern western world social conventions are no longer as narrow as they used to be, and yet, there are still limits that we sometimes protect fiercely as if the future of men depended on it. In Christopher Isherwood’s novel from 1967 titled A Meeting by the River, the Englishman Patrick visits his younger brother Oliver in a monastery near Calcutta to dissuade him from becoming a Hindu monk because he thinks that it’s only a whim and ends up confessing a side of himself to which he doesn’t dare to stand publicly.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What's In A Name 2017: My List of Twice Six Books

http://wormhole.carnelianvalley.com/whats-in-a-name-2017-sign-up-page/
click on the image to go to the
challenge on The Worm Hole

A List of Twice Six Books

- completed and forthcoming reviews -
+ suggested Nobel reads that didn’t fit into my 2017 planning

  • A number in numbers:
    Paul Auster: 4 3 2 1 (2017)
    + Nobel Prize in Literature 1938 – Pearl S. Buck: 14 Stories (1961) in the Pocket Books edition of 1963, but if you have a better suggestion...
  • A building:
    Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
    + Nobel Prize in Literature 1949 – William Faulkner: The Mansion (1959)
  • A title which has an ‘X’ somewhere in it:
    Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929), original German title: Berlin Alexanderplatz
    + Nobel Prize in Literature 1991 – Nadine Gordimer: Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black (2007)
  • A compass direction:
    Ana María Matute: Celebration in the Northwest (1952), original Spanish title: Fiesta al noroeste
    + Nobel Prize in Literature 1962 – John Steinbeck: East of Eden (1952)
  • An item/items of cutlery:
    Katie Flynn: No Silver Spoon (1999)
    + Nobel Prize in Literature 1932 – John Galsworthy: The Silver Spoon (1926), second book of A Modern Comedy, the sequel of The Forsyte Saga
  • A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration!
    Amos Oz: Black Box (1986), original Hebrew title: קופסה שחורה
    + Nobel Prize in Literature 1993 – Toni Morrison: Song of Solomon (1977)

Monday, 20 February 2017

Poetry Revisited: Venice. The Carnival by Lord Byron

Venice
The Carnival

(from Beppo: A Venetian Story: 1818)

Of all the places where the Carnival
   Was most facetious in the days of yore,
For dance, and song, and serenade, and ball,
   And masque, and mime, and mystery, and more
Than I have time to tell now, or at all,
   Venice the bell from every city bore;
And at the moment when I fix my story
That sea-born city was in all her glory.

They ’ve pretty faces yet, those same Venetians,
   Black eyes, arched brows, and sweet expressions still;
Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,
   In ancient arts by moderns mimicked ill;
And like so many Venuses of Titian’s
   (The best ’s at Florence,—see it, if ye will),
They look when leaning over the balcony,
Or stepped from out a picture by Giorgione,

Whose tints are truth and beauty at their best;
   And when you to Manfrini’s palace go,
That picture (howsoever fine the rest)
   Is loveliest to my mind of all the show:
It may perhaps be also to your zest,
   And that ’s the cause I rhyme upon it so:
’T is but a portrait of his son, and wife,
And self; but such a woman! love in life!

Lord Byron (1788-1824)
British poet, politician, and a leading figure in the Romantic movement

Friday, 17 February 2017

Book Review: Letters to Felician by Ingeborg Bachmann

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/360184.Letters_to_FelicianThere is a reason why love letters have never entirely gone out of fashion. For some they are the epitome of romance because unlike the spoken word they are lasting and can be re-read at any time. Moreover, it’s often easier to express feelings in a letter. Everybody knows that to write one takes more time than to burst out some clumsy words, time to think about the right expression and tone. And then it has the advantage that the recipient doesn’t need to be at hand. The lyrical Letters to Felician by the late Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann show a passionate young woman in love who is full of longing for her absent beloved. But she also strives to find her way in life without knowing where it can lead her and if she will ever be able to achieve anything with the ghosts of the Nazi past haunting her.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Back Reviews Reel: February 2014

Three years ago my bookish travels took me to four most enchanting and enjoyable reading destinations in Europe, East Asia and the Carribean. My first stop was in Paris, France, where I visited The Cat whom the famous writer Colette made part of an unexpected love triangle and the wedge between a young couple. Then I moved on to Lisbon, Portugal, with the en-NOBEL-ed author José Saramago to see what the proofreader Raimundo Benvindo Silva makes of The History of the Siege of Lisbon and the entry of the supervisor Maria Sara into his life. Right from Lisbon I embarked for Tōkyo, Japan, to plunge into the fascinating world of numbers that The Housekeeper and the Professor and her little son discover under the deft guidance of author Ogawa Yōko. And finally I made my way from Japan across the Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal to pre-Castro Havana, Cuba, to meet Our Man in Havana and to be drawn into Graham Greene’s satirical representation of spying in the early years of the Cold War.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Poetry Revisited: Valentines by Virna Sheard

Valentines

(from Candle Flame: 1926)

Now little maid—with a Valentine;
     Most blythesome be and gay;
For Valentines come not—come not—
     On every working day;
And though they may, perchance on some
     Like cherry-blossoms fall.
Believe me, Sweet—there oft are those
     Who don't get one at all!

So if you got a lacy one
     With a swinging paper door,
And a precious verse behind it—
     (That's what Valentines are for),
If a darling little cupid
     With roses on his head,
Was aiming at a lonely heart,
     Most violently red—

Burn joss sticks! Oh, burn joss sticks—
     To the god of Happy Fate,
For the postman does not enter
     At everybody's gate;
And though on some, the Valentines
     Like cherry-blossoms fall—
Believe me, there are often those
     Who don't get one at all!

Virna Sheard (1865-1943)
Canadian poet and novelist