For weeks now, due to some obscure malgorithm, I’ve been pursued by this advertisement:
I begin to feel haunted – just like that fellow in Dr Seuss’ Pale Green pants…
I was walking in the night
And I saw nothing scary.
For I have never been afraid
Of anything. Not very.
Then I was deep within the woods
When, suddenly, I spied them.
I saw a pair of pale green pants
With nobody inside them!
I wasn’t scared. But, yet, I stopped
What could those pants be there for?
What could a pair of pants at night
Be standing in the air for?
And then they moved? Those empty pants!
They kind of started jumping.
And then my heart, I must admit,
It kind of started thumping.
So I got out. I got out fast
As fast as I could go, sir.
I wasn’t scared. But pants like that
I did not care for. No, sir.
I’m looking for a Bickle Bush as I write…
You can see the whole book on YouTube here
I came across this lovely thread a while ago. It began with Robert Macfarlane again, choosing as his word of the day, ‘Helm Wind’ – the UKs only named wind that blows from the North East and pours down off Cross Fell in Cumbria.
In medieval Ireland, the winds were each said to have a particular colour (see Saltair na Rann, a collection of 162 Early Middle Irish poems)
So the north wind is black and the south, white, while a wind from the SSE is greyish-green.
Fascinating enough – then @iandhig adds this from Flann O’Brien – scholar and poet that he was:
‘People in the old days had the power of perceiving these colours…a better occupation than gazing at newspapers’ (From the Third Policeman)
I feel guilty about passing on these conversations – albeit they are public ones but, as John Aubrey says:
How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellowes as I put them down.
There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.
There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,
committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things
than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.
It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in
and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse
From Selected Poems (Oxford University Press)
copyright Fleur Adcock
Just read Auden’s poem, Moon Landing. It opens:
It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for
so huge a phallic triumph, an adventure
it would not have occurred to women
to think worth while, made possible only
because we like huddling in gangs and knowing
the exact time…
I’m sure I heard that dogs can smell cancer in us – they just don’t know that the information might be useful to us.
There is a tradition, though, when disaster looms, of warnings given by animals – who will even speak at times. C S Lewis drew on it in That Hideous Strength when, before an impending earthquake he writes:
One had heard his donkey, another her cat, say “as clear as clear”: “Go away. ”
Paul Farley speculates that the disappearance of sparrows – once so familiar, ubiquitous, companionable – is a conscious withdrawal, as these old friends leave us to rattle off to hell in our handcarts all by ourselves. Of course, if we were still woken by dawn choruses, the unwonted quiet in the mornings, outside our bedroom windows, would be as clear an alarm as you could imagine.
The poem is, For the House Sparrow, in Decline:
Your numbers fall and it’s tempting to think
you’re deserting our suburbs and estates
like your cousins at Pompeii; that when you return
to bathe in dust and build your nests again
in a roofless world where no one hears your cheeps,
only a starling’s modem mimicry
will remind you of how you once supplied
the incidental music of our lives.
These debates about the Irish border in Northern Ireland reminded me of this poem from Seamus Heaney, written during the Troubles about the possession and repossession of his land by the rapist across the water.
What are these latest debates, but new inexpert fumblings from the old disabled debauchee.
OCEAN’S LOVE TO IRELAND
SPEAKING broad Devonshire,
Ralegh has backed the maid to a tree
As Ireland is backed to England
And drives inland
Till all her strands are breathless:
‘ Sweesir, Swatter! Sweesir, Swatter! ‘
He is water, he is ocean, lifting
Her farthingale like a scarf of weed lifting
In the front of a wave.
Yet his superb crest inclines to Cyntia
Even while it runs its bent
In the rivers of Lee and Blackwater.
Those are the splashy spots where he would lay
His cape before her. In London, his name
Will rise on water and on these dark seepings:
Smerwick sowed with the mouthing corpses
Of six hundred papists, ‘as gallant and good
Personages as ever where beheld’.
The ruined maid complains in Irish,
Ocean has scattered her dream of fleets,
The Spanish prince has spilled his gold
And failed her. Iambic drums
Of English beat the woods where her poets
Sink like Onan. Rush-light, mushroom-flesh,
She fades from their somnolent clasp
Into ringlet-breath and dew,
The ground possessed and repossessed.