Le temple est en ruine au haut du promontoire.
Et la Mort a mêlé, dans ce fauve terrain,
Les Déesses de marbre et les Héros d’airain
Dont l’herbe solitaire ensevelit la gloire.
Seul, parfois, un bouvier menant ses buffles boire,
De sa conque où soupire un antique refrain
Emplissant le ciel calme et l’horizon marin,
Sur l’azur infini dresse sa forme noire.
La Terre maternelle et douce aux anciens Dieux
Fait à chaque printemps, vainement éloquente,
Au chapiteau brisé verdir une autre acanthe;
Mais l’Homme indifférent au rêve des aïeux
Écoute sans frémir, du fond des nuits sereines,
La Mer qui se lamente en pleurant les Sirènes.
~ José-Maria de Heredia
[an English translation]
High on the headland a ruined temple looms.
Death in red-brown earth has tumbled
Goddess marble, with bronze hero jumbled;
Only the grass their fame entombs.
Alone, dark against the sky’s infinity,
Sometimes a drover leads his cattle to the bourn.
Filling the calm heavens, sighs in his horn –
Searching the sea’s bounds – an ancient melody.
Earth’s a kindly mother to old gods; each spring
The fallen capitals with acanthus green
She crowns anew. In vain her gentle pleading.
Indiff’rent to his forebears’ dreams, Man hears
Unmoved in the dark depths of nights serene,
Her Sirens lost, the Sea lament with tears.
~ “The journal of Babur” (book review)Very nice to have a new edition of the Babur Namah at a reasonable price – reasonable for these wicked times. Always liked this Mogul; even better (dare one confess it?) than Akbar, his grandson. As “thought is free”, so is liking, & it bloweth where it listeth.
In the family library there’s a collection of prints; plates from the original manuscript. For this be thanked the policy of the now defunct USSR to subsidise the arts, & to make their beautifully printed posters & books widely available at absurdly low prices. Ah well, pull up the darnel & lose some of the wheat, too.
~ “Zweig: A writer’s writer” (book review)
Most interesting to learn something of the life of a notable biographer. His life of Joseph Fouché was a prize plucked out of a hole-in-the-wall second-hand bookshop of yesteryear. Odd that this Austrian Jew should have a toothbrush moustache like that of the man who sought his life & burned his books…..
~ “The last of the pharaonic sculptors” (feature)
Now that is remarkable & sad. Only two men left who carve nearly perfect copies of the surviving sculptures of Ancient Egypt. They get no help from their rulers & have found no one willing to be apprenticed. When they die, so does their art. Recall a film titled “Sphinx”, a ‘thriller’ lifted out of the ordinary by some memorable footage of pharaonic tombs & treasures.
~ “The Great Fen Project in the UK mirrors another venture undertaken in the 17th century”
How historical novels can stick in the memory where history lessons tend to fade & disappear! There was a fine & rather sad one for older children, “Many Waters” by Violet Bibby, which was about that very project.
Fen country – most evocative name. Dorothy Sayers set “Nine Tailors”, one of her best Wimsey novels, there; & Andrew Garve his “A Very Quiet Place”. Above all the haunting music of Vaughan Williams – “In the Fen Country” & “Norfolk Rhapsody #1” – recreates the mystery of that countryside.
Sometimes, one could almost be there, listening to the silence, gazing at the clouds or the clear blue skies that make a parallel zone to that flat land, feeling the salt spray from a restless sea. The imagination sparked into action by words & by music is a better travel agent than Thomas Cook, & very much less expensive, too!
~ “Is it the chicken or the egg first?”
Apparently some scholar has dug up a convincing argument from Ancient Greece, that the egg came first. Now was this important question being discussed by learned men in their lunch break? No, indeed. They were forgathered in all seriousness as a panel to debate the matter. Isn’t it far too early for the silly season?
~ “Those who appreciate the quaint & the old-world (sic) will visit Wellington”
If only one could revisit it! although it is unwise, in general, to revisit the glimpses of the moon. May the military connections of that lovely Club ensure that it keeps its name & all else that is its special charm…..
quirks & quarks
[verbatim from a newspaper that shall be nameless]: “On the Business DD brings the 1990, col, 122 mins, English film DRIVING MISS DAISY winnerof four Oscars and which centres round an old Jewish lady and his relationship with a black driver who she is forced to have following her smashing of her new Packard by the family.” [Phew!]