"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

29 June 2022


It's later on a Wednesday, the sun is going down
I'm standing naked by a swimming pool, there's no one around
My imagination wanders back, red dust is always there
We lay together in the jungle, and love was in the air

As I dive into the water, both time and motion freeze
I'm hanging there suspended like a feather in the breeze
Below is your reflection, like an image from the past
But I can't be sure if it's really you, because you're wearing a tribal mask ...

Roger Glover, from "The Mask"


Stop Making Sense, the Weymouth cut ...


An excellent album ...

Gabrieli, Suscipe, clementissime Deus (a 12), C70

The Ensemble Choir of King's College performs with His Majesty's Sagbutts & Cornetts ...


An excellent album ...


Done and done.


Firchau, Outbound, 1985

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that's gone!

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Thanks, Pop

Happy Birthday, Hay

Colin Hay was born on this day in 1953.

"Wichita Lineman" ...

I love it when a cover is better than the original.

27 June 2022


Wisdom from the Spud-oisie ...
There is no question about it
The spud boys are ready with
New songs, new films and new approaches
To survival, in a world filled with subhumans

Lies, lies, lies
That's all we get
From those who pretend to know but don't
But once again Devo attempts

To cut through the mental grease and grime
With techniques of positive mutation
Designed to protect you
From the ninnies and the twits 
From "Nu-tra Speaks (New Traditionalist Man)"

Steve Poltz, "Can o' Pop"

26 June 2022


Britten, Lullaby, for Violin and Piano, Op.6

Ariane Granjon performs with Laurent Cabasso ...


Take a tip. If you're daunted, go off by yourself ...
We stopped and had a drink.

"Certainly like to drink," Bill said. "You ought to try it some times, Jake."

"You're about a hundred and forty-four ahead of me."

"Ought not to daunt you. Never be daunted. Secret of my success. Never been daunted. Never been daunted in public."

"Where were you drinking?"

"Stopped at the Crillon. George made me a couple of Jack Roses. George's a great man. Know the secret of his success? Never been daunted."

"You'll be daunted after about three more Pernods."

"Not in public. If I begin to feel daunted I'll go off by myself. I'm like a cat that way."

Ernest Hemingway, from The Sun Also Rises



Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let's say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
'Keep Left,' 'M4,' 'Keep Out!'
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small 'amenity,'
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we'll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We'll know that we are dead.

John Betjemin


George Corner demonstrates the lost art of woggle-hopping ...


Through aesthetic reflection we endeavour to create a world in which we are at home with others and with ourselves: and home is not a home without the implication of community.  Home is not occupied only by us: it is inhabited by the ghosts of our ancestors, and by the premonition of children who are yet to be.  Its essence is continuity, and it provides the archetype of every experience of peace.

Sir Roger Scruton

24 June 2022

AC⚡DC, "Stiff Upper Lip"

Robert Plant, "In the Mood"


Jackson Browne released Hold Out on this day in 1980.

"Boulevard" ...


Coming September 13, 2022 ...
In The Search for the Genuine, a collection of new and previously published essays, the giant of letters muses on everything from grouse hunting fishing to Zen Buddhism and matters of the spirit, including reported pieces on Yellowstone and shark-tagging in the open ocean, commentary on writers from Bukowski to Neruda to Peter Matthiessen, and a heartbreaking essay on life — and, for those attempting to cross in the ever-more-dangerous gaps, death — on the US/Mexico border.



An excellent album ...


Wyeth, Spring Fed, 1967

In a kitchen where mushrooms were washed,
the mushroom scent lingers.

As the sea must keep for a long time the scent of the whale.

As a person who’s once loved completely,
a country once conquered,
does not release that stunned knowledge.

They must want to be found, those strange-shaped, rising morels,
clownish puffballs.

Lichens have served as a lamp-wick.
Clean-burning coconuts, olives.
Dried salmon, sheep fat, a carcass of petrel set blazing:
light that is fume and abradement.

Unburnable mushrooms are other.
They darken the air they come into.

Theirs the scent of having been traveled, been taken.

Jane Hirshfield


Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


An excellent album ...


An excellent book ...

Unlike television, reading does not swallow the senses or dictate thought. Reading stimulates the ecology of the imagination. Can you remember the wonder you felt when first reading The Jungle Book or Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn? Kipling’s world within a world; Twain’s slow river, the feel of freedom and sand on the secret island, and in the depths of the cave?

Richard Louv, from Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder


Kugelgen, Portrait of Friedrich Schiller, 1809

Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in any truth that is taught in life.

Friedrich Schiller


O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen und freudenvollere!

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund.

Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott!

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Seid umschlungen, Millionen.
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder! Über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.


Oh friends, no more of these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More full of joy!

Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary!
Thy magic power reunites
All that custom has divided;
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise!
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.

All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,

A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.

You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your Creator?
Seek Him in the heavens!
Above the stars must He dwell.

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in D minor, op. 125, performed by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Monteverdi Choir, and conducted by John Eliot Gardiner ...

Sting, "Lazarus Heart"

Birds on the roof of my mother's house
I've no stones that chase them away
Birds on the roof of my mother's house
Will sit on my roof someday ...


Dharma lessons from Holden Caulfield...
As Saint Paul writes in Thessalonians, “Let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” Holden wouldn’t know to put it this way, but he’s on the trail of awakening. His hunting hat signifies his commitment to the search, and wearing it backward signifies his willingness to go against the grain, to separate himself from the others, the sleepers. 

But when he yells, “Sleep tight, ya morons!,” Holden crosses the line between separation and contempt—the kind of wise-ass contempt that teenagers are famous for. On the spiritual path, that’s a rookie mistake. The stubbornly immature keep doubling down, condemning the stupid world for failing to appreciate their suffering and their genius, for not showering them with attractive girlfriends or boyfriends who find their problems fascinating, for telling them to go clean their room. If they read The Catcher in the Rye, they mistake it for an invitation to indulge in Holden’s worst tendencies, to persist in their unwinnable war with the world. 

R.E.M., "Maps and Legends"

The map that you've painted doesn't seem real
He just sings whatever he's seen
Point to the legend, point to the east
Point to the yellow, red, and green ...


If he give me credit for being a plodder he will describe me justly. Anything beyond that will be too much. I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.

William Carey

Howells, Rhapsodic Quintet, Op. 31

Performed by One Found Sound String Quartet with clarinetist Brenden Guy.

'Tis Summer ...


Thanks, Mum.


Sir Philip Pullman: " Don't let anyone tell you what you should or should not be reading" ...
In recent years, storytellers have had a new sort of service offered to them. “It’s no good just telling your story these days—you need to attract attention to yourself. Pay me, and I can guarantee to get you talked about. I can’t buy your story a good report from the advisory service, but I can promise lots of interest in you. By the way, you need to get your hair cut—and wear something blue tomorrow.”

Now most of those other people who come between the storyteller and the audience do so for the best of reasons, and few of us in the real world would want to be without the services that publishers and booksellers and literary agents and critics provide. I’m glad they’re there. But among the other intermediaries in this imaginary marketplace are the security guards. They are another branch of the same service that watches the border. They’re interested in the audience more than the stories. They make it their business to say, “This story is only for women.” Or, “This story is intended especially for very clever people.” Or, “The only people who will enjoy this story are those under ten.”

They sort out the audience, and chivvy some this way, some that way, and if they could, they’d make them stand in lines and keep quiet. Some of them even want to give the audience a test on the story afterwards—but I shall say no more about our current educational system.

The result is that instead of that audience I described earlier, all mixed up together, old and young, men and women, educated and not educated, black and white, rich and poor, busy and leisured—instead of that democratic mix, we have segregation: segregation by sex, by sexual preference, by ethnicity, by education, by economic circumstances, and above all, segregation by age.

But, as I pointed out, the trouble is that no one can tell what is going on in a mind that’s reading or listening to a story; no one can know whether we’re reading for the right reasons or the wrong reasons, or what’s right and what’s wrong anyway; no one can tell who’s ready and who isn’t, who’s clever and who isn’t, who’ll like it and who won’t.

Not only that; do we really believe that men have nothing to learn from stories by and about women? That white people already know all they need to know about the experience of black people? Segregation always shuts out more than it lets in. When we say, “This book is for such-and-such a group,” what we seem to be saying, what we’re heard as saying, is: “This book is not for anyone else.” It would be nice to think that normal human curiosity would let us open our minds to experience from every quarter, to listen to every storyteller in the marketplace. It would be nice too, occasionally, to read a review of an adult book that said, “This book is so interesting, and so clearly and beautifully written, that children would enjoy it as well.”

But that doesn’t seem likely in the near future.

Can we ever have a state of things free from labeling and segregating, though? And if we can’t, what’s the use of imagining this democratic open-to-all marketplace which doesn’t really exist?

Well, my reason for thinking about it is strictly practical. Storytellers can do exactly what they like. Those who want to speak only to adults may do so with perfect freedom, and I shall be there in the audience. Those who want to speak only to children may do so too, and if what they say has nothing to interest me, I’ll pass on and leave them to it.

But as a storyteller myself, and one who depends on the contents of the hat to pay the mortgage and buy the groceries and save up for my old age, I don’t want my audience to be selected for me; I want it to be as large as possible. I want everyone to be able to listen. The larger the crowd, the more goes in the hat.

Besides, it’s more interesting. The work you do to keep a mixed audience listening is technically intriguing.



Yoshida, Four Seasons of an Oak Tree, Summer,  n/d


Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old Engerland to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak and Ash and Thorn.
Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs
(All of a Midsummer's morn)!
Surely we sing of no little thing,
In Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
Or ever Aeneas began;
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,
When Brut was an outlaw man;
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow;
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
Your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
To Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That anyway trusts her shade:
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He'll take no wrong when he lieth along
'Neath Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But—we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth—
Good news for cattle and corn—
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
With Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Sing Oak and Ash and Thorn, good Sirs
(All of a Midsummer's morn)!
England shall bide till Judgement Tide,
By Oak and Ash and Thorn!

Rudyard Kipling

23 June 2022

22 June 2022

Chopin, Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp minor, Op. posth

Wladyslaw Szpilman performs ...

... a talks about his memories of music during the Holocaust ...


Ed Offley on German U-Boats directly off the coast of Virginia Beach during World War Two ...
Earlier in the crossing, Degen, navigator Günter Kunert, and his two watch officers had spent hours studying a large nautical chart of the area. They concluded that the strict operational order that Dönitz and his staff had written would doom U-701 to failure and probable detection. “Our order directed us to go straight to the entrance of Chesapeake Bay; to dive there during the night and to observe during the day the exact ship traffic of incoming and outgoing ships,” Degen recalled. But the chart showed that this meant U-701 would have to hide in just 36 feet of water, leaving her conning tower just four feet below the surface.

Dismissing the order as “suicidal,” Degen opted to make a straight run-in to the channel after midnight. The lighthouses on Cape Henry and Cape Charles would make the move simple and relatively easy. U-701 slowly headed west toward the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

After an hour, Kunert called out that the two lighthouses were aligned, and Degen ordered a 90-degree turn to starboard, running just several hundred yards offshore. Five months earlier, U-boats in the first coastal attacks had been amazed to find shoreline streets on New York’s Long Island brightly lit; now, after hundreds of ships had gone down from U-boat torpedoes, Degen and his lookouts were seeing the same “breathtaking” sight along the Virginia shore. “We could see . . . even cars and people and lighted houses,” Degen would recall. “These Americans didn’t seem to know there was a war going on!”

As the Cape Henry lighthouse loomed up ahead to port, Degen gave the order to his torpedo compartment to prepare to drop the mines. The torpedo gang flooded the five torpedo tubes and released the locking bolt that anchored the foremost mine in each tube. Before he could order the first mine dropped, Degen and his lookouts stiffened as a small patrol boat appeared traveling right to left across the U-boat’s track just several hundred yards away. She reached the edge of the channel, then reversed course, unaware that she was practically on top of the U-boat.

Offley joins Proceedings Podcast host Eric Mills to discuss U-701 ...

Thanks, Buff.

Happy Birthday, Kristofferson

"Here Comes that Rainbow Again" with The Highwaymen ...


21 June 2022


Constable, Cloud Study, Hampstead Heath, 1819

Now swarthy Summer, by rude health embrowned,
Precedence takes of rosy fingered Spring;
And laughing Joy, with wild flowers prank'd, and crown'd,
      A wild and giddy thing,
And Health robust, from every care unbound,
      Come on the zephyr's wing,
      And cheer the toiling clown.

Happy as holiday-enjoying face,
Loud tongued, and "merry as a marriage bell,"
Thy lightsome step sheds joy in every place;
      And where the troubled dwell,
Thy witching charms wean them of half their cares;
      And from thy sunny spell,
      They greet joy unawares.

Then with thy sultry locks all loose and rude,
And mantle laced with gems of garish light,
Come as of wont; for I would fain intrude,
      And in the world's despite,
Share the rude wealth that thy own heart beguiles;
      If haply so I might
      Win pleasure from thy smiles.

Me not the noise of brawling pleasure cheers,
In nightly revels or in city streets;
But joys which soothe, and not distract the ears,
      That one at leisure meets
In the green woods, and meadows summer-shorn,
      Or fields, where bee-fly greets
      The ear with mellow horn.

The green-swathed grasshopper, on treble pipe,
Sings there, and dances, in mad-hearted pranks;
There bees go courting every flower that's ripe,
      On baulks and sunny banks;
And droning dragon-fly, on rude bassoon,
      Attempts to give God thanks
      In no discordant tune.

The speckled thrush, by self-delight embued,
There sings unto himself for joy's amends,
And drinks the honey dew of solitude.
      There Happiness attends
With inbred Joy until the heart o'erflow,
      Of which the world's rude friends,
      Nought heeding, nothing know.

There the gay river, laughing as it goes,
Plashes with easy wave its flaggy sides,
And to the calm of heart, in calmness shows
      What pleasure there abides,
To trace its sedgy banks, from trouble free:
      Spots Solitude provides
      To muse, and happy be.

There ruminating 'neath some pleasant bush,
On sweet silk grass I stretch me at mine ease,
Where I can pillow on the yielding rush;
      And, acting as I please,
Drop into pleasant dreams; or musing lie,
      Mark the wind-shaken trees,
      And cloud-betravelled sky.

There think me how some barter joy for care,
And waste life's summer-health in riot rude,
Of nature, nor of nature's sweets aware.
      When passions vain intrude,
These, by calm musings, softened are and still;
      And the heart's better mood
      Feels sick of doing ill.

There I can live, and at my leisure seek
Joys far from cold restraints—not fearing pride—
Free as the winds, that breathe upon my cheek
      Rude health, so long denied.
Here poor Integrity can sit at ease,
      And list self-satisfied
      The song of honey-bees.

The green lane now I traverse, where it goes
Nought guessing, till some sudden turn espies
Rude batter'd finger post, that stooping shows
      Where the snug mystery lies;
And then a mossy spire, with ivy crown,
      Cheers up the short surprise,
      And shows a peeping town.

I see the wild flowers, in their summer morn
Of beauty, feeding on joy's luscious hours;
The gay convolvulus, wreathing round the thorn,
      Agape for honey showers;
And slender kingcup, burnished with the dew
      Of morning's early hours,
      Like gold yminted new.

And mark by rustic bridge, o'er shallow stream,
Cow-tending boy, to toil unreconciled,
Absorbed as in some vagrant summer dream;
      Who now, in gestures wild,
Starts dancing to his shadow on the wall,
      Feeling self-gratified,
      Nor fearing human thrall.

Or thread the sunny valley laced with streams,
Or forests rude, and the o'ershadow'd brims
Of simple ponds, where idle shepherd dreams,
      Stretching his listless limbs;
Or trace hay-scented meadows, smooth and long,
      Where joy's wild impulse swims
      In one continued song.

I love at early morn, from new mown swath,
To see the startled frog his route pursue;
To mark while, leaping o'er the dripping path,
      His bright sides scatter dew,
The early lark that from its bustle flies,
      To hail his matin new;
      And watch him to the skies.

To note on hedgerow baulks, in moisture sprent,
The jetty snail creep from the mossy thorn,
With earnest heed, and tremulous intent,
      Frail brother of the morn,
That from the tiny bent's dew-misted leaves
      Withdraws his timid horn,
      And fearful vision weaves.

Or swallow heed on smoke-tanned chimney top,
Wont to be first unsealing Morning's eye,
Ere yet the bee hath gleaned one wayward drop
      Of honey on his thigh;
To see him seek morn's airy couch to sing,
      Until the golden sky
      Bepaint his russet wing.

Or sauntering boy by tanning corn to spy,
With clapping noise to startle birds away,
And hear him bawl to every passer by
      To know the hour of day;
While the uncradled breezes, fresh and strong,
      With waking blossoms play,
      And breathe Æolian song.

I love the south-west wind, or low or loud,
And not the less when sudden drops of rain
Moisten my glowing cheek from ebon cloud,
      Threatening soft showers again,
That over lands new ploughed and meadow grounds,
      Summer's sweet breath unchain,
      And wake harmonious sounds.

Rich music breathes in Summer's every sound;
And in her harmony of varied greens,
Woods, meadows, hedge-rows, corn-fields, all around
      Much beauty intervenes,
Filling with harmony the ear and eye;
      While o'er the mingling scenes
      Far spreads the laughing sky.

See, how the wind-enamoured aspen leaves
Turn up their silver lining to the sun!
And hark! the rustling noise, that oft deceives,
      And makes the sheep-boy run:
The sound so mimics fast-approaching showers,
      He thinks the rain's begun,
      And hastes to sheltering bowers.

But now the evening curdles dank and grey,
Changing her watchet hue for sombre weed;
And moping owls, to close the lids of day,
      On drowsy wing proceed;
While chickering crickets, tremulous and long,
      Light's farewell inly heed,
      And give it parting song.

The pranking bat its flighty circlet makes;
The glow-worm burnishes its lamp anew;
O'er meadows dew-besprent, the beetle wakes
      Inquiries ever new,
Teazing each passing ear with murmurs vain,
      As wanting to pursue
      His homeward path again.

Hark! 'tis the melody of distant bells
That on the wind with pleasing hum rebounds
By fitful starts, then musically swells
      O'er the dim stilly grounds;
While on the meadow-bridge the pausing boy
      Listens the mellow sounds,
      And hums in vacant joy.

Now homeward-bound, the hedger bundles round
His evening faggot, and with every stride
His leathern doublet leaves a rustling sound,
      Till silly sheep beside
His path start tremulous, and once again
      Look back dissatisfied,
      And scour the dewy plain.

How sweet the soothing calmness that distills
O'er the heart's every sense its opiate dews,
In meek-eyed moods and ever balmy trills!
      That softens and subdues,
With gentle Quiet's bland and sober train,
      Which dreamy eve renews
      In many a mellow strain!

I love to walk the fields, they are to me
A legacy no evil can destroy;
They, like a spell, set every rapture free
      That cheer'd me when a boy.
Play—pastime—all Time's blotting pen conceal'd,
      Comes like a new-born joy,
      To greet me in the field.

For Nature's objects ever harmonize
With emulous Taste, that vulgar deed annoys;
Which loves in pensive moods to sympathize,
      And meet vibrating joys
O'er Nature's pleasing things; nor slighting, deems
      Pastimes, the Muse employs,
      Vain and obtrusive themes. 

John Clare


The introduction to Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury


This book, like most of my books and stories, was a surprise. I began to learn the nature of such surprises, thank God, when I was fairly young as a writer. Before that, like every beginner, I thought you could beat, pummel, and thrash an idea into existence. Under such treatment, of course, any decent idea folds up its paws, turns on its back, fixes its eyes on eternity, and dies.

It was with great relief, then, that in my early twenties I floundered into a word-association process in which I simply got out of bed each morning, walked to my desk, and put down any word or series of words that happened along in my head.

I would then take arms against the word, or for it, and bring on an assortment of characters to weigh the word and show me its meaning in my own life. An hour or two hours later, to my amazement, a new story would be finished and done. The surprise was total and lovely. I soon found that I would have to work this way for the rest of my life.

First I rummaged my mind for words that could describe my personal nightmares, fears of night and time from my childhood, and shaped stories from these.

Then I took a long look at the green apple trees and the old house I was born in and the house next door where lived my grandparents, and all the lawns of the summers I grew up in, and I began to try words for all that.

What you have here in this book then is a gathering of dandelions from all those years. The wine metaphor which appears again and again in these pages is wonderfully apt. I was gathering images all of my life, storing them away, and forgetting them. Somehow I had to send myself back, with words as catalysts, to open the memories out and see what they had to offer.

So from the age of twenty-four to thirty-six hardly a day passed when I didn’t stroll myself across a recollection of my grandparents’ northern Illinois grass, hoping to come across some old half-burnt firecracker, a rusted toy, or a fragment of letter written to myself in some young year hoping to contact the older person I became to remind him of his past, his life, his people, his joys, and his drenching sorrows.

It became a game that I took to with immense gusto: to see how much I could remember about dandelions themselves, or picking wild grapes with my father and brother, rediscovering the mosquito-breeding ground rain barrel by the side bay window, or searching out the smell of the gold-fuzzed bees that hung around our back porch grape arbor. Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.

An then I wanted to call back what the ravine was like, especially on those nights when walking home late across town, after seeing Lon Chaney’s delicious fright The Phantom of the Opera, my brother Skip would run ahead and hide under the ravine-creek bridge like the Lonely One and leap out and grab me, shrieking, so I ran, fell, and ran again, gibbering all the way home. That was great stuff.

Along the way I came upon and collided, through word-association, with old and true friendships. I borrowed my friend John Huff from my childhood in Arizona and shipped him East to Green Town so that I could say good-bye to him properly.

Along the way I sat me down to breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with the long dead and much loved. For I was a boy who did indeed love his parents and grandparents and his brother, even when that brother “ditched” him.

Along the way, I found myself in the basement working the wine-press for my father, or on the front porch Independence night helping my Uncle Bion load and fire his home-made brass cannon.

Thus I fell into surprise. No one told me to surprise myself, I might add. I came on the old and best ways of writing through ignorance and experiment and was startled when truths leaped out of bushes like quail before gunshot. I blunwas somehow true.

So I turned myself into a boy running to bring a dipper of clear rainwater out of that barrel by the side of the house. And, of course, the more water you dip out the more flows in. The flow has never ceased. Once I learned to keep going back and back again to those times, I had plenty of memories and sense impressions to play with, not work with, no, play with. Dandelion Wine is nothing if it is not the boy-hid-in-the-man playing in the fields of the Lord on the green grass of other Augusts in the midst of starting to grow up, grow old, and sense darkness waiting under the trees to seed the blood.

I was amused and somewhat astonished at a critic a few years back who wrote an article analyzing Dandelion Wine plus the more realistic work of Sinclair Lewis, wondering how I could have been born and raised in Waukegan, which I renamed Green Town for my novel, and not noticed how ugly the harbor was and how depressing the coal docks and railyards down below the town.

But, of course, I had noticed them and, genetic enchanter that I was, was fascinated by their beauty. Trains and boxcars and the smell of coal and fire are not ugly to children. Ugliness is a concept that we happen on later and become self-conscious about. Counting boxcars is a prime activity of boys. Their elders fret and fume and jeer at the train that holds them up, but boys happily count and cry the names of the cars as they pass from far places.

And again, that supposedly ugly railyard was where carnivals and circuses arrived with elephants who washed the brick pavements with mighty streaming acid waters at five in the dark morning.

As for the coal from the docks, I went down in my basement every autumn to await the arrival of the truck and its metal chute, which clanged down and released a ton of beauteous meteors that fell out of far space into my cellar and threatened to bury me beneath dark treasures.

In other words, if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about.

Perhaps a new poem of mine will explain more than this introduction about the germination of all the summers of my life into one book.

Here’s the start of the poem:
Byzantium, I come not from,
But from another time and place
Whose race was simple, tried and true;
As boy
I dropped me forth in Illinois.
A name with neither love nor grace
Was Waukegan, there I came from
And not, good friends, Byzantium.
The poem continues, describing my lifelong relationship to my birthplace:
And yet in looking back I see
From topmost part of farthest tree
A land as bright, beloved and blue
As any Yeats found to be true.
Waukegan, visited by me often since, is neither homelier nor more beautiful than any other small Midwestern town. Much of it is green. The trees do touch in the middle of streets. The street in front of my old home is still paved with red bricks. In what way then was the town special? Why, I was born there. It was my life. I had to write of it as I saw fit:
So we grew up with mythic dead
To spoon upon midwestern bread
And spread old gods’ bright marmalade
To slake in peanut-butter shade,
Pretending there beneath our sky
That it was Aphrodite’s thigh…
While by the porch-rail calm and bold
His words pure wisdom, stare pure gold
My grandfather, a myth indeed,
Did all of Plato supercede
While Grandmama in rockingchair
Sewed up the raveled sleeve of care
Crocheted cool snowflakes rare and bright
To winter us on summer night.
And uncles, gathered with their smokes
Emitted wisdoms masked as jokes,
And aunts as wise as Delphic maids
Dispensed prophetic lemonades
To boys knelt there as acolytes
To Grecian porch on summer nights;
Then went to bed, there to repent
The evils of the innocent;
The gnat-sins sizzling in their ears
Said, through the nights and through the years
Not Illinois nor Waukegan
But blither sky and blither sun.
Though mediocre all our Fates
And Mayor not as bright as Yeats
Yet still we knew ourselves. The sum?
Waukegan/ Green Town/ Byzantium.
Green Town did exist, then?
Yes, and again, yes.

Was there a real boy named John Huff? There was. And that was truly his name. But he didn’t go away from me, I went away from him. But, happy ending, he is still alive, forty-two years later, and remembers our love.

Was there a Lonely One? There was, and that was his name. And he moved around at night in my home town when I was six years old and he frightened everyone and was never captured.

Most importantly, did the big house itself, with Grandpa and Grandma and the boarders and uncles and aunts in it exist? I have answered that.

Is the ravine real and deep and dark at night? It was, it is. I took my daughters there a few years back, fearful that the ravine might have gone shallow with time. I am relieved and happy to report that the ravine is deeper, darker, and more mysterious than ever. I would not, even now, go home through there after seeing The Phantom of the Opera.

So there you have it. Waukegan was Green Town was Byzantium, with all the happiness that that means, with all the sadness that these names imply. The people there were gods and midgets and knew themselves mortal and so the midgets walked tall so as not to embarrass the gods and the gods crouched so as to make the small ones feel at home. And, after all, isn’t that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people’s heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say: oh, so that’s how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that.

Here is my celebration, then, of death as well as life, dark as well as light, old as well as young, smart and dumb combined, sheer joy as well as complete terror written by a boy who once hung upside down in trees, dressed in his bat costume with candy fangs in his mouth, who finally fell out of the trees when he was twelve and went and found a toy-dial typewriter and wrote his first “novel.”

A final memory.

Fire balloons.

You rarely see them these days, though in some countries, I hear, they are still filled with warm breath from a small straw fire hung beneath.

But in 1925 Illinois, we still had them, and one of the last memories I have of my grandfather is the last hour of a Fourth of July night forty-eight years ago when Grandpa and I walked out on the lawn and lit a small fire and filled the pear-shaped red-white-and-blue-striped paper balloon with hot air, and held the flickering bright-angel presence in our hands a final moment in front of a porch lined with uncles and aunts and cousins and mothers and fathers, and then, very softly, let the
thing that was life and light and mystery go out of our fingers up on the summer night air and away over the beginning-to-sleep houses, among the stars, as fragile, as wondrous, as vulnerable, as lovely as life itself.

I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange drifting light, thinking his own still thoughts. I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this.

No one said anything. We all just looked up at the sky and we breathed out and in and we all thought the same things, but nobody said. Someone finally had to say, though, didn’t they? And that one is me.

The wine still waits in the cellars below.

My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark.

The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer.

Why and how?

Because I say it is so.

Ray Bradbury
Summer, 1974

Your hymnal is here.

Fire ballons afloft in Thailand.

Basic fire balloon how-to is here.

Gordon Lightfoot, "Summertime Dream"

Birds in all creation will be twittering in the trees
And down below's a pond I know
You can swim in it if you please ...

The solstice is now.


18 June 2022

Grieg, Five Lyric Pieces

Michala Petri performs with Lars Hannibal ...


Brother David Steindl-Rast on "A Good Day"...
You think this is just another day in your life. It's not just another day; it's the one day that is given to you today. It's given to you. It's a gift. It's the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life, and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well ...


A good morning window looks out on some kind of constant object or growing thing, which reflects the changes of season and the weather, and allows a person to establish the mood of the day as soon as he wakes up.

Christopher Alexander, from A Pattern Language, “Sleeping to the East”

Mozart, Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370

Miho Tomiyasu, violin, Anna Lewis, viola, Christian Giger, cello, and Henrik Wahlgren, oboe, perform ...

17 June 2022


Happy Birthday, Rollie

Gregg Rollie was born on this day in 1947.

"Feelin' That Way" with Journey, including Ainsley Dunbar, before Jonathan Caine took over and musically neutered the band (just like he did with The Babys) .  

Yes, I'm still bitter ...


Eagles released their debut album on this day in 1972.

You know I like to lay in bed
And sleep out in the sun
Reading books and playing crazy music
Just for fun

You know it makes me feel so fine
And puts my mind at ease to
Know that I don't harm a soul
In doing what I please ...


Ruskin, North Porch of the West Front of the Cathedral of Amiens, 1871

The Gothic architecture arose in massy and mountainous strength, axe-hewn and iron-bound, block heaved upon block by the monk’s enthusiasm and the soldier’s force; and cramped and stanchioned into such weight of grisly wall, as might bury the anchoret in darkness, and beat back the utmost storm of battle, suffering but by the same narrow crosslet the passing of the sunbeam, or of the arrow. Gradually, as that monkish enthusiasm grew more thoughtful, and as the sound of war became more & more intermittent beyond the convent or keep, the stony pillar grew slender and the vaulted roof grew light, till they wreathed themselves into the semblance of the summer woods at their fairest.

For the very first requirement of Gothic architecture being that it shall admit the aid, and appeal to the admiration, of the rudest as well as the most refined minds, the richness of the work is a part of its humility.  That humility, the very life of the Gothic school, is shown not only in the imperfection, but in the accumulation, of ornament. The inferior rank of the workman is often shown as much in the richness, as the roughness, of his work; and if the co-operation of every hand, and the sympathy of every heart, are to be received, we must be content to allow the redundance which disguises the failure of the feeble, and wins the regard of the inattentive. There are, however, far nobler interests mingling, in the Gothic heart, with the rude love of decorative accumulation : a magnificent enthusiasm, which feels as if it never could do enough to reach the fullness of its ideal; an unselfishness of sacrifice, which would rather cast fruitless labour before the altar than stand idle in the market; and, finally, a profound sympathy with the fullness & wealth of the material universe.

John Ruskin, from The Stones of Venice

16 June 2022


I should think that the worst moment for the atheist comes when he is really thankful—and yet has nobody to thank. Every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things.

It is a very common phrase of modern intellectualism to say that the morality of one age can be entirely different to the morality of another. And like a great many other phrases of modern intellectualism, it means literally nothing at all.

The decline of the strong middle class has left the other extremes of society further from each other than they were. When people begin to ignore human dignity, it will not be long before they begin to ignore human rights.

The essence of medical cure is that a man is a patient. But the essence of moral cure is that the patient must be impatient. Nothing can be done unless he hates his own sin more that he loves his own pleasure.

The fact that a chaotic and ill-educated time cannot clearly grasp that truth does not alter the fact that it always will be the truth. Our generation, in a dirty, pessimistic period, has blasphemously underrated the beauty of life and cravenly overrated its dangers. As for our own society, if it proceeds at its present rate of progress and improvement, no trace or memory of it will be left at all.

G.K. Chesterton


At 6:18 p.m. on June 15 the Dalman family of Tawas City drove the 200 millionth vehicle across the Mackinac Bridge since its opening on Nov. 1, 1957.

Handel, Trio Sonata in G Major, Op. 5 No.4

The Passacallia, performed by Nadja Zwiener, violin, Tuomo Suni, violin, Joe Crouch, cello, and Trevor Pinnock, enthusiastic clanger ...


The Smiths released The Queen is Dead on this day in 1986.


Mountbatten-Windsor/Krier, The Royal Pavilion at Poundbury, 2016

Social traditions, Burke pointed out, are forms of knowledge. They contain the residues of many trials and errors, and the inherited solutions to problems that we all encounter. Like those cognitive abilities that pre-date civilization they are adaptations, but adaptations of the community rather than of the individual organism. Social traditions exist because they enable a society to reproduce itself. Destroy them heedlessly and you remove the guarantee offered by one generation to the next.

Sir Roger Scruton, from Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition