Friday, April 25, 2008

Poetry Friday - 8

To celebrate Shakespeare's birthday again (because I can if I want to), I offer you

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April pérfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is over at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

In order to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, I give you one of my favourite speeches from the first Shakespeare play I saw live:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son,
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!

(Richard II Act II, scene 1, Lines 40-68)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Poetry Friday - 7

Canadian poet Mark Strand said, "Poetry is about slowing down. You sit and you read something, you read it again, and it reveals a little bit more, and things come to light you never could have predicted." This poem by Sarah Williams had that effect on me this week - not only slowing me down, but stopping me dead in my tracks, to read and re-read it:

The Old Astronomer to his Pupil

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, 'tis original and true,
And the obliquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You "have none but me," you murmur, and I "leave you quite alone"?

Well then, kiss me, -- since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;
I can dimly comprehend it, -- that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.

I "have never failed in kindness"? No, we lived too high for strife, --
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!

There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, "Patience, Patience," is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.

I have sworn, like Tycho Brahe, that a greater man may reap;
But if none should do my reaping, 'twill disturb me in my sleep.
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.

I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars, --
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.

You can hear the first four verses of the poem read aloud here.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at A Wrung Sponge.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire - Derek Landy

(Don't everyone die of shock at the fact I'm posting a second time today, OK?)

I've just seen that the new Skulduggery Pleasant book (about the eponymous walking and talking skeleton) by Derek Landy: Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire is now out - and I'm a happy camper ! I loved the first book (Skulduggery Pleasant), which I first read last summer and then re-read for this year's Cybils (review here) - as it was full of humour, wit and a good plot.

Here's the synopsis for the second book:

Just when you think you've saved the world! "You will kill her?" the Torment asked. Skulduggery sagged. "Yes." He hesitated, then took his gun from his jacket. "I'm sorry, Valkyrie," he said softly. "Don't talk to me," Valkyrie said. "Just do what you have to do." Valkyrie parted her tunic, and Skulduggery pointed the gun at the vest beneath. "Please forgive me," Skulduggery said, then aimed the gun at the girl and pulled the trigger. With Serpine dead, the world is safe once more. At least, that's what Valkyrie and Skulduggery think, until the notorious Baron Vengeous makes a bloody escape from prison, and dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. With Baron Vengeous after the deadly armour of Lord Vile, and pretty much everyone out to kill Valkyrie, the daring detective duo face their biggest challenge yet. But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home!?

That's another new book on my Amazon wishlist then !

Poetry Friday - 6

I'm in a bit of a melancholy mood today (not sure why) and this poem by Christina Rossetti seems to fit my mood.


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

This week's Poetry Friday round up is over at Becky's Book Reviews.