« June 2008 | Main | August 2008 »

July 27, 2008

Random Quotations for July 27th, 2008

Until the crickets sing it is not summer.
--Greek Proverb

It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it.
--Robert E. Lee [1862]

The customer is never wrong (Le client n'a jamais tort) - usually re-stated as "The customer is always right."
  --Cesar Ritz

When you're dancing with a bear, you have to make sure you don't get tired and sit down. You've got to wait till the bear is tired before you get a rest.
  -- Joycelyn Elders, essay in the New York Times, September 14th 1993

The well-traveled may lie with impunity.
-- French Proverb

It was not so very long ago that people thought that semiconductors were part-time orchestra leaders and microchips were very, very small snack foods.
  Geraldine Ferraro

When I go out there, I have no pity on my brother. I'm out there to win.
--Joe Frazier

The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstances, whether created by others or by one's own human failing.
--Ralph Ellison, 1953

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
--Helen Keller

I found out life's hard but it ain't impossible.
--August Wilson, Two Trains Running, 1992

When we cannot get what we love, we must love what is within our reach.
--French Proverb

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.
-- Gilda Radner

July 15, 2008

Poetry break for July 15th, 2008

Rain, Soup, and Time Standing (Briefly) Still

When I glanced back through Bob’s poetry break archives from this week in July, several things drew me to this poem by Thackeray. Today happens to be a rainy, dark, and dreary day here in the subtropics, so light verse seemed like a good idea. And with the rain, I decided to stay in for lunch, and had soup. Not Thackeray’s entertaining Bouillabaisse, but a ‘vegetarian chili’ concoction that merits no further description here. This also happens to be my oldest son’s last summer at home before going off to University, and he is spending his non-working hours dashing off to be with one friend or another, before they all go their separate ways in the annual educational diaspora. My wife and I would like to see more of him, but we can’t begrudge him his time with friends, knowing, as we do, that life accelerates from here, and we, and the places we know, and the people we remember, change – sometimes unrecognizably with time. While Thomas Wolfe may have said that “You Can’t Go Home Again”, Thackeray’s ballad takes a different tack, and suggests that, perhaps at least you might be able to find the same restaurant.

--Steve ( - ;


A lot of William Makepeace Thackeray's light verse is entertaining. A few pieces, like today's poem, The Ballad of Bouillabaisse, are also modern-sounding and affecting. I'm not sure why, but this account of a nostalgic return to long-remembered café makes me share the nostalgia. That result may have to be added to the list of characteristics of successful light verse.

July 18 is the day Thackeray was born in 1811. I have submitted several Thackeray poems to The Poets' Corner, so visit his alphabetic entry if you want to read more to celebrate.

--Bob Blair

The Ballad of Bouillabaisse
A STREET there is in Paris famous,
For which no rhyme our language yields,
Rue Neuve de petits Champs its name is --
The New Street of the Little Fields;
And there's an inn, not rich and splendid,
But still in comfortable case;
The which in youth I oft attended,
To eat a bowl of Bouillabaisse.

This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is --
A sort of soup, or broth, or brew,
Or hotchpotch of all sorts of fishes,
That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, muscles, saffern,
Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace;
All these you eat at Terré's tavern,
In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.

Indeed, a rich and savory stew 'tis;
And true philosophers, methinks,
Who love all sorts of natural beauties,
Should love good victuals and good drinks.
And Cordelier or Benedictine
Might gladly, sure, his lot embrace,
Nor find a fast-day too afflicting,
Which served him up a Bouillabaisse.

I wonder if the house still there is?
Yes, here the lamp is as before;
The smiling, red-cheek'd écaillère is
Still opening oysters at the door.
Is Terré still alive and able?
I recollect his droll grimace;
He'd come and smile before your table,
And hoped you like your Bouillabaisse.

We enter; nothing's changed or older.
"How's Monsieur Terré, waiter, pray?"
The waiter stares and shrugs his shoulder --
"Monsieur is dead this many a day."
"It is the lot of saint and sinner.
So honest Terré's run his race!"
"What will Monsieur require for dinner?"
"Say, do you still cook Bouillabaisse?"

"Oh, oui, Monsieur," 's the waiter's answer;
"Quel vin Monsieur désire-t-il ?"
"Tell me a good one." "That I can, sir;
The Chambertin with yellow seal."
"So Terré's gone," I say, and sink in
My old accustom'd corner-place;
"He's done with feasting and with drinking,
With Burgundy and Bouillabaisse."

My old accustom'd corner here is--
The table still is in the nook;
Ah! vanished many a busy year is,
This well-known chair since last I took.
When first I saw ye, cari luoghi,
I'd scarce a beard upon my face,
And now a grizzled, grim old fogy,
I sit and wait for Bouillabaisse.

Where are you, old companions trusty
Of early days, here met to dine?
Come, waiter! quick, a flagon crusty --
I'll pledge them in the good old wine.
The kind old voices and old faces
My memory can quick retrace;
Around the board they take their places,
And share the wine and Bouillabaisse.

There's Jack has made a wondrous marriage;
There's laughing Tom is laughing yet;
There's brave Augustus drives his carriage;
There's poor old Fred in the Gazette;
On James's head the grass is growing:
Good Lord! the world has wagged apace
Since here we sat the Claret flowing,
And drank, and ate the Bouillabaisse.

Ah me! how quick the days are flitting!
I mind me of a time that's gone,
When here I'd sit, as now I'm sitting,
In this same place--but not alone.
A fair young form was nestled near me,
A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to cheer me.
-- There's no one now to share my cup.

. . . . . . . .

I drink it as the Fates ordain it.
Come, fill it, and have done with rhymes;
Fill up the lonely glass, and drain it
In memory of dear old times.
Welcome the wine, whate'er the seal is;
And sit you down and say your grace
With thankful heart, whate'er the meal is.
Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse !

--William Makepeace Thackeray

July 08, 2008

Poetry Break for July 8th, 2008

We go back five years to this date in 2003 for Bob Blair’s comments on Cameron’s I Am Young. The viewpoint is a little unusual in that a youth is having a Carpe Diem moment. This is a device you see more often when the voice is one of old age, wistful with advice and regret. Here are Bob’s comments:

It was wise of George Frederick Cameron, a Nova Scotian born in 1854, to understand what he wrote in today's poem, I Am Young as if he were young when he wrote it. It is cynical if he were old. It's all of one piece to us today, because Cameron is long dead. What a lot to learn from 42 stressed syllables.
-- Bob Blair

I Am Young
I am young, and men
Who long ago have passed their prime
Would fain have what I have again, —
Youth, and it may be — time.

To gain these, and make
Life's end what it may not be now,
Monarchs of thought and song would shake
The laurels from their brow.

And each king of earth,
Whose life we deem a holiday,
For this would give his kingship's worth
Most joyously away!

-- George Frederick Cameron

July 02, 2008

Quotes for July 2nd, 2008

Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.
--Bruce Lee

A ship's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails - that's what a ship needs - but what a ship is, what the Black Pearl really is, is freedom.
--Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

The truth is more important than the facts.
--Frank Lloyd Wright

In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated is a refusal to be educated.
--Margaret Halsey

The earth is like a spaceship that didn’t come with an operating manual. We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.
--Buckminster Fuller

I like a book for my companion while dining out. A book does not make bad jokes, drink too much, or eat more than you can afford to pay for.
--Kenneth Turan

What do you mean he don't EAT no MEAT? Oh, that's okay. That's okay. I make lamb.
--Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our worst suspicions about them.
--Franklin P. Adams

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.
--John A. Wheeler

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
--Hubert H. Humphrey

I took a course in speed reading and was able to read War and Peace in 20 minutes. Its about Russia.
--Woody Allen

Hosting by Yahoo!