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November 28, 2008

Senlin, Bread and Roses

I’ve just completed updating all of the files in the Conrad Aiken collection.


These include Senlin, Discordants, Light and Snow, Turns and Movies, and Chiarascuro: Rose, among others.  Aiken wrote in a variety of forms, and wrote beautifully crafted rhymed as well as blank verse. A sampling:

Senlin is somewhat autobiographical, and the Morning Song of Senlin, an excerpt from the first section of the poem is a good example of how Aiken combines a sense of awe with a sense of the simple reality around him:

It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence,
Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep.
The walls are about me still as in the evening,
I am the same, and the same name still I keep.
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion,
The stars pale silently in a coral sky.
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror,
Unconcerned, I tie my tie.

A favorite poem of Aikens’s is one of the Discordants, subtitled ‘Bread and Music’ with its notes of longing and sadness:

MUSIC I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
Now that I am without you, all is desolate;
All that was once so beautiful is dead.

Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
These things do not remember you, belovèd,
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.

For it was in my heart you moved among them,
And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;
And in my heart they will remember always,--
They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

Aiken’s All Lovely Things is a beautiful but somewhat fatalist carpe diem poem:

ALL lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that's now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.

And from Light and Snow:

When I was a boy, and saw bright rows of icicles
In many lengths along a wall
I was disappointed to find
That I could not play music upon them:
I ran my hand lightly across them
And they fell, tinkling.
I tell you this, young man, so that your expectations of life
Will not be too great.

November 19, 2008

The Princess Returns

Alfred Tennyson's 'The Princess' has been re-done in Bookshelf II format, and most of the illustrations from the 1884 edition have been added in. The illustrations are clickable, to view larger format versions.

The full text is accessible at:


Tennyson sub-titled this 'A Medley' - the story is told spontaneously in seven parts by seven different speakers, mostly college friends returned home and picnicking together on a weekend. Most of the poem is in blank verse, with well known songs at the ends of several of the sections.


From The Princess:

         The splendour falls on castle walls
               And snowy summits old in story:
          The long light shakes across the lakes,
               And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

          O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
               And thinner, clearer, farther going!
          O sweet and far from cliff and scar
               The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
     Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
     Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

          O love, they die in yon rich sky,
               They faint on hill or field or river:
          Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
               And grow for ever and for ever.
     Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
     And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying

                            *     *     *     *    

     Home they brought her warrior dead:
          She nor swooned, nor uttered cry:
     All her maidens, watching, said,
          'She must weep or she will die.'

     Then they praised him, soft and low,
          Called him worthy to be loved,
     Truest friend and noblest foe;
          Yet she neither spoke nor moved.

     Stole a maiden from her place,
          Lightly to the warrior stept,
     Took the face-cloth from the face;
          Yet she neither moved nor wept.

     Rose a nurse of ninety years,
          Set his child upon her knee--
     Like summer tempest came her tears--
          'Sweet my child, I live for thee.'

November 16, 2008

More Morley

The online version of Christopher Morley's CHIMNEYSMOKE has been expanded, updated, and converted to the new Bookshelf II format. I have also added back in some of the illustrations by Thomas Fogarty that somehow were lost. Click on any illustration to see a larger image.


This is the first book to be converted to Bookshelf II. Let me know if you like it.


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