Saturday, November 28, 2015

Emperor of Chickens by Jamie Wyeth


Yeah, what is it this time I asked, mindlessly dropping No. 8 spaghetti into a pot of rapidly boiling water just like it said on the box. DON’T BE SO COCKY. Okay. I’m sorry. What have you come to tell me? YOUR MOTHER IS SICK. Who doesn’t know that? THERE’S MORE. Shoot. INSIDE YOUR MOTHER THERE ARE TWENTY DIAMONDS. Right. AND INSIDE YOUR MOTHER THERE IS A SMALL BOY. Really? THE BOY IS CHAINED TO HER RIBCAGE. Of course! HE HAS A LITTLE FARM RIGHT NEXT TO HER APPENDIX. I should have known. AND ON THE FARM THE BOY RAISES RHODE ISLAND REDS. For egg money, I suppose. ARROGANCE IS NOT A VIRTUE. Okay. So what does he do with the eggs? SOME HE SWALLOWS, SHELLS AND ALL. Hmmm. And what about the others? THAT IS WHAT I’VE COME ABOUT. And? FORGET THE SPAGHETTI AND PAY ATTENTION. I’m all yours. THE OTHERS ARE ROTTING. SMELLING UP THE FARM. THE BOY CAN’T BREATHE. What am I supposed to do? TELL YOUR MOTHER TO UNCHAIN THE BOY. Oh sure. I can picture her reaction.

TELL YOUR MOTHER TO UNCHAIN THE BOY AND TAKE A PHYSIC. Egad! This is hilarious! THE BOY DOESN’T WANT TO BE A FARMER ANYMORE. Oh no? What does the boy want? THE BOY WANTS TO PLAY THE CELLO AND MOVE TO A LOFT N THE CITY. Swell. And what’s in it for me? ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF, AREN’T YOU? Look, I’ve got to have supper on the table in twenty minutes. Tell me what’s in it for me or get lost. I’M SURPRISED YOU CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELF. Yeah, well, I’m a little dumb, remember? HAVE YOU GOT A BEDPAN? So what if I do? AFTER YOUR MOTHER TAKES THE PHYSIC, TELL HER TO SIT ON THE BEDPAN. And? THE DIAMONDS ARE YOURS. Who wants diamonds? I’ll take the Rhode Island Reds. AH HONEY, I WAS HOPING YOU’D SEE THE LIGHT. WHO NEEDS TWENTY BEST FRIENDS WHEN YOU CAN SETTLE DOWN ON A NICE LITTLE FARM RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR MOTHER’S APPENDIX? RIGHT? I couldn’t have stated it better.


Leocadia / ctc

Saturday, November 21, 2015


The beginning: Oh! .......!
A sudden light on Marmion broke:–
"Ah! dastard fool, to reason lost!"
He muttered; "'T was nor fay nor ghost
I met upon the moonlight wold,
But living man of earthly mould.
O dotage blind and gross!
Had I but fought as wont, one thrust
Had laid De Wilton in the dust,
My path no more to cross.–
How stand we now?–he told his tale
To Douglas, and with some avail;
'T was therefore gloomed his rugged brow.–
Will Surrey dare to entertain
'Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain?
Small risk of that, I trow.
Yet Clare's sharp questions must I shun,
Must separate Constance from the nun–
Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
A Palmer too!–no wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye;
I might have known there was but one
Whose look could quell Lord Marmion."

IN SIX CANTOS by Sir Walter Scott

The setup:

When ‘Marmion’ was little more than begun Scott’s publishers offered him a thousand pounds for the copyright, and as this soon became known it naturally gave rise to varied comment. Lord Byron thought it sufficient to warrant a gratuitous attack on the author in his ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.’ This is a portion of the passage:--

‘And think’st thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
On public taste to foist thy stale romance.
Though Murray with his Miller may combine
To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line?
No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade.’

As a matter of fact, there was on Scott’s part no trade whatever in the case. If a publisher chose to secure in advance what he anticipated would be a profitable commodity, that was mainly the publisher’s affair, and the poet would have been a simpleton not to close with the offer if he liked it. Scott admirably disposes of Byron as follows in the 1830 Introduction:--

‘The publishers of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel,” emboldened by the success of that poem, willingly offered a thousand pounds for “Marmion.” The transaction being no secret, afforded Lord Byron, who was then at general war with all who blacked paper, an apology for including me in his satire, entitled “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.” I never could conceive how an arrangement between an author and his publishers, if satisfactory to the persons concerned, could afford matter of censure to any third party. I had taken no unusual or ungenerous means of enhancing the value of my merchandise--I had never higgled a moment about the bargain, but accepted at once what I considered the handsome offer of my publishers. These gentlemen, at least, were not of opinion that they had been taken advantage of in the transaction, which indeed was one of their own framing; on the contrary, the sale of the Poem was so far beyond their expectation, as to induce them to supply the author’s cellars with what is always an acceptable present to a young Scottish housekeeper, namely, a hogshead of excellent claret.’ 

 In a nut shell:

Marmion is a long romantic poem which tells the story of Lord Marmion of Fontenaye. The second such poem Scott offered to the public, it achieved considerable popularity but was somewhat less successful than its predecessor, The Lay of the Last Minstrel. The background of the poem is the battle at Flodden in Northumberland in 1513, in which James IV of Scotland was defeated by the Earl of Surrey. Lord Marmion pays a visit to Castle Norham and learns that his host's wife, the Lady Heron, is across the Scottish border, visiting at the court of King James. He lets it be known that he is going that way and obtains a palmer for companion and guide. Marmion is aware that there are stories about Lady Heron, and women are his weakness. His host jokes about Marmion's former page, who had resembled a girl; Marmion replies angrily that the page is at Lindisfarne. The scene shifts to St. Catherine's abbey, where a novice, the Lady Clare, is being received. In the abbey's dungeon, church officials prepare to execute Marmion's former page, actually Constance de Beverley, who had broken her vows and gone to live with Marmion. Before she is walled up alive, she reveals that Lady Clare, for whom Marmion had thrown her over, has fled to the abbey for protection. Marmion had framed Clare's suitor, Wilton, with forged papers, speared him, and left him for dead. During his journey, Marmion is beset with doubts, fears, and what he considers ill omens; he regrets betraying Constance to the church in order to be rid of her. Arriving at James' court, he is well received; but he and the Lady Heron eye each other, and James is not pleased. She is his mistress, and he has Marmion housed at Tantallon, the castle of Lord Douglas. Meanwhile, Clare and the Abbess have been captured by the Scots and are also being brought to Tantallon. The battle, when it begins, brings Marmion forth to join in the fight. In the midst of battle he sees the palmer, now clad in armor, and recognizes him. He is Wilton, still alive and bent on vengeance.

 The relevant verses - (say what? how so? i don't know. yet.)


Excerpted here below (XV – XVII)


The Captain mark’d his alter’d look,
And gave a squire the sign;
A mighty wassell-bowl he took,
And crown’d it high with wine.
‘Now pledge me here, Lord Marmion:
But first I pray thee fair,
Where hast thou left that page of thine,
That used to serve thy cup of wine,
Whose beauty was so rare?
When last in Raby towers we met,
The boy I closely eyed,
And often mark’d his cheeks were wet,
With tears he fain would hide:
His was no rugged horse-boy’s hand,
To burnish shield or sharpen brand,
Or saddle battle-steed;
But meeter seem’d for lady fair,
To fan her cheek, or curl her hair,
Or through embroidery, rich and rare,
The slender silk to lead:
His skin was fair, his ringlets gold,
His bosom-when he sigh’d,
The russet doublet’s rugged fold
Could scarce repel its pride!
Say, hast thou given that lovely youth
To serve in lady’s bower?
Or was the gentle page, in sooth,
A gentle paramour?’


Lord Marmion ill could brook such jest;
He roll’d his kindling eye,
With pain his rising wrath suppress’d,
Yet made a calm reply:
‘That boy thou thought’st so goodly fair,
He might not brook the northern air.
More of his fate if thou wouldst learn,
I left him sick in Lindisfarn:
Enough of him.-But, Heron, say,
Why does thy lovely lady gay
Disdain to grace the hall to-day?
Or has that dame, so fair and sage,
Gone on some pious pilgrimage?’-
He spoke in covert scorn, for fame
Whisper’d light tales of Heron’s dame.


Unmark’d, at least unreck’d, the taunt,
Careless the Knight replied,
‘No bird, whose feathers gaily flaunt,
Delights in cage to bide:
Norham is grim and grated close,
Hemm’d in by battlement and fosse,
And many a darksome tower;
And better loves my lady bright
To sit in liberty and light,
In fair Queen Margaret’s bower.
We hold our greyhound in our hand,
Our falcon on our glove;
But where shall we find leash or band,
For dame that loves to rove?
Let the wild falcon soar her swing,
She’ll stoop when she has tired her wing.’--