This set of verse stories by Longfellow has an undeservedly bad reputation for being naff. There are some painful passages of tortured verse, but also some wonderful, descriptive, uplifting verses. The Song of Hiawatha is a good read, the tales are based on indian legend and while they are romanticised pastoral of Indian life, written by a westerner, they also introduce the culture and fable in an easy to access way. I still have in my mind whenever I read them of the *fabulous* Incantations (Mike Oldfield) with Maddy Prior: see 6 min,8 secs onwards in this video for a taster:
This is one of my favourite plays and Bawds did a good job of the production. They brought a good level of action onto stage, and dramatised the dialogue well. The lead cast were great: Mrs Pugh—Rosemary Eason, Waldo—Guy Holmes, Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard—Meg Dixon, Mrs Beynon—Christine Easterfield, Nogood boyo—Tim Gifford and Polly Garter—Lindsey McAuley. It was also good to see a colleague, Fran Bourgoyne, on stage as Gossamer Beynon, with one if the more poetic lines: “Call me Delores, like they do in the stories” (with a Welsh accent). The stage production was notably bawdier in production since the famous 1950’s radio play—no surprise really, times have changed.
From the ADC Web Site:
‘Come closer now …’
Join us for a spring day in Llareggub. Dylan Thomas’s much-loved play invites us into the village where the shop sells everything—custard, buckets, henna, rat-traps—where Mr Waldo sleeps in his little pink-eyed cottage with a milk stout and a slice of cold bread pudding under his pillow, and where a cast of colourful but instantly recognisable characters is waiting to meet us—Captain Cat, lovely Polly Garter, Organ Morgan, the formidable Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, Mrs Dai Bread Two, lolling gaudy at the doorway…
The Sunday Times called Under Milk Wood ‘beautiful, bawdy, affectionate, reckless and deeply original’. The Reverend Eli Jenkins calls it ‘a greenleaved sermon on the innocence of men’. It is, by turns, funny, touching, fanciful and true.
Really enjoyed this collection of Scottish Fairy Tales, that David gave me for my Christmas. Each story on its own is good, but the combined collection made a bigger impact. We’ve lost so much of our oral tradition—I knew almost none of these stories as they were told (although the basis for many was familiar from better known Grimm or Anderson tales). The biographies at the back of the book were just as interesting: two of the authors had owned Skye and Canna, and one was a shepherd, another a gypsy. The last, Betsy Whyte (1919–1988) was a traveller around Perthshire where I grew up, and wrote two biographies of her childhood, which will make good christmas presents for my mum and dad.
I almost passed over a lovely poem by Violet Jacob because the dialect was pretty strong, but it was one of the highlights of the book. (Rowan Trees were planted by the front door of houses to ward off evil).
The Rowan, Violet Jacob
It’s taken me about five months, but I’ve finally reached the end of Fiona MacCarthy’s excellent biography of Byron. There were some times when I thought I couldn’t read on, but always came back to his fascinating character and story. I was reading this in preparation for reading Don Juan, but I may have a go at Childe Harold instead. But first, I need a byron-break, there are stacks of books piled up over the last five months that I want to read next.
Another great book by James Fenton. This collects together some of his Oxford lectures, where he discusses a range of issues, based around a collection of interesting poets. I’m finding it pretty hard to summarise the book. The clarity of writing is excellent, the discussions complex and engaging, but awfully difficult to do justice to in summary form.
The book inspired me to read more of Elizabeth Bishop, which is great. I also really enjoyed the chapter about Auden on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, as these sonnets are fascinating and beautiful. Drawing attention to the influence of Blake in Auden’s work was insightful, and the other inspiration for Auden was Henry James (more new reading for me here). The chapter on Wilfred Owen’s Juvenalia really brought the poet to life. I think this is a book I’ll need to reread in a few months!
This is an anthology of poetic forms. It appeals to the analytical side of me to understand the structure, forms and rules of poems. The book ha sections on verse forms (villanelle, sestina, pantoum, sonnet, ballad, blank verse, heroic couplet and the stanza) meter and shape forms (ode, elegy and and pastoral). The book has a US focus and charts the development of each form from inception to contemporary usage).
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers –
Untouched by Morning –
And untouched by Noon –
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection –
Rafter of Satin – and Roof of Stone!
Grand go the Years – in the Crescent – above them –
Worlds scoop their Arcs –
And Firmaments – row –
Diadems – drop – and Doges – surrender –
Soundless as dots – on a Disc of Snow –
Emily Dickinson, 1861
Some analysis at this web site http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/alabaster.html