The Bibliothecary
June 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Itsy bitsy novels (novels in 20 words or less) at Professor Barnhardt's Journal, including a gem from Duane Swierczynski.

The NY Times had a piece on Sunday about the efforts to renovate the Poe cottage in New York.  But what's really cool is
that the caretaker lives in the basement:

The caretaker's current quarters could hardly be more modest. Matthew Mercier, 31, a graduate student at Hunter College, has lived
in the basement of the cottage for the past four years, with the goal of deterring vandals.

Now that has to be a great, yet spooky, job, living in Poe's cellar.  Wonder if he gets grad credits for it?


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, and daughter, Una, have all been reunited in death:

After burying her husband at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery here in 1864, Sophia moved to Germany and then London, where she died in
1871. She and the couple's daughter Una, who died in 1877, were buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.
On Monday, the remains of Sophia and Una Hawthorne were reinterred in a plot next to their husband and father.

That's all very romantic, but later in this article:

Sophia Hawthorne wished to be a minister and placed education above most else, said Ms. Howe [Nathaniel and Sophia's great-great
granddaughter], who had a book of Wadsworth's poetry that Sophia gave Nathaniel during their courtship.

Wadsworth?  Is this a typo for Wordsworth? Or could it be Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?  Is there some mysterious poet,
surnamed Wadsworth, that I have never heard of?  Idiots.

A fascinating piece by Adam Gopnick on Victorian novelist/politician , Benjamin Disraeli:

One reason that Disraeli is such an appealing subject is that, unlike other romantic adventurers, he had a successful career and a
happy life. Things worked out pretty much as he had planned, even though the plan was one of the most improbable ever devised
by the mind of man: a debt-scarred, overdressed, effeminate, literary Jew set himself to become Prime Minister of England, and the
leader of its right-wing party, at the height of the British Empire. He is himself proof, in slightly comic form, of the principle of
heroic imagination that he fabulized so passionately in his fiction. Any responsible historian can see that Disraeli couldn’t have
happened. But he did.

And look out!  It's Hitler Cats, a blog dedicated to cats that look like Hitler.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Sunday, June 25, 2006
On the heals of a new scientific discovery about memory genes, Pagan Kennedy (How'd she get that first name?) writes
about the danger begat by a technology that could restore our past memories:

We tend to think of recreational drugs as the toys of the young, but a memory drug is of course an elixir for the regrets of middle
age. I imagined a professor stumbling into his 40s, a man whose marriage is breaking up, and who has fallen short of his ambitions.
He uses the drug to cheat on his wife-with a younger version of herself. He gorges himself on long-ago moments when he believed
he was on the verge of glory. He uses his past as pornography.
To my surprise, in the course of writing the novel, I saw just how dangerous this drug might be. The past is potently intoxicating,
and if we could ever taste it purely, undiluted by forgetfulness, we would, I came to believe, disappear into ourselves.

No idyllic madeleine here.  This is fascinating.  I've always regretted having a terrible long-term memory, but perhaps living in
the present isn't such a bad thing.  


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Saturday, June 24, 2006
Here's a curious Project Gutenberg find: Contemporary American Literature by John Matthews Manly (1922).  Curious
because of the questions that Lit Crit, circa 1922, asked of literary texts.  

On T.S. Eliot:
Is Mr. Eliot’s poetry derived from a keen sense of life experienced or from literature?
Does the adjective distinguished apply to his work?
What, if any, temperamental defect is likely to interfere with his development?

On Willa Cather:
What is the value of her material?

On Robert Frost:
What do you observe about the metrical forms, the beauty or lack of beauty in the rhythm? Do many of the poems sing?
What do you prophesy as to Mr. Frost’s future?

On Carl Sandburg:
Mr. Sandburg has a good voice and sings his poems to the accompaniment of the guitar.
Do you find elements of greatness in Mr. Sandburg’s work? Do you think they are likely to outweigh his obvious defects?

Eliot should have played guitar.  His wicked
guitar solos could have disguised some of his
temperamental defects.  Or perhaps Pound was
his temperamental defect?


The Bibliothecary always welcomes
temperamentally defective comments,
especially if accompanied by guitar.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The Story of Cooperstown by Ralph Birdsall (1925) on Project Gutenberg includes a chapter about the town gallows and
the condemnation of one of its residents, Stephen Arnold, who beat a little girl to death (because she refused to pronounce a
word to his liking), but was given a last minute stay of execution when a messenger galloped in from the Governor:

In the judgment of the sheriff it appeared that since the order for a respite had arrived too late to forestall the gathering of great
multitudes to witness the hanging, it was equally clear that it had come too early to be made public at once without causing
unnecessary disappointment to thousands who were still enjoying the ecstasies of anticipation. So he carried out the original
programme to the letter, going through with all the preliminaries and forms of the execution, stopping short only of the actual

However, perhaps he should have been a little more attentive to the "ecstasies" of the spectators:

Near by was a palsied crone, so eager to witness the hanging that she had been carried to the scene in her rocking-chair, which was
placed upon an improvised platform. Here she had rocked to and fro in her chair during the whole proceeding, until, when the
hangman made ready his noose, the old hag rocked with such nervous violence that she toppled over backward, chair and all, her
neck being broken by the fall.

I guess someone's neck was bound to be broken that day.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Julie Myerson's column in the Guardian about how she still gets a charge out of meeting writers brought back memories of
my younger days:

Once I would have killed our dog to meet a writer. I still feel like punching the air every time I see Andrew Motion

Published writers, especially poets, inspired a shuffle-footed, hand-wringing, aw-shucks embarrassment in my friends and I.  
Writers existed on a different plane, some Olympian place (hey, we were Lit Majors).  That is, until we noticed our university
poet intently chasing skirts and then one of us began making crank phone calls to Richard Wilbur's New England home.  


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' crank calls.

Sunday, June 18, 2006
I've got my children to spend time with today, but I still miss my Dad on Father's Day:


The Bibliothecary always welcomes fathers' comments.

Friday, June 16, 2006
Fascinating find on Project Gutenberg: Tintinnalogia: or the Art of Ringing (1671):

Wherein Is laid down plain and easie Rules for Ringing all sorts of Plain Changes.
Together with Directions for Pricking and Ringing all Cross Peals; with a full Discovery of the Mystery and Grounds of each Peal.
As Also Instructions for Hanging of Bells, with all things belonging thereunto.
by a Lover of that ART.

I'm just thrilled that someone coined the word tintinnalogia and I don't know how my life got along without this word.  Tin-tin-
nal-o-gi-a.  That's great.  It's like
a poem.  And the book does include a dedicatory poem, which begins:

What Musick is there that compar'd may be
To well-tun'd Bells enchanting melody!

I've grown up with the sound of recorded bells ringing from churches.  I forget that the sound of bells used to be an integral
part of the lives of most people in Europe and America.  The entire soundscape of everyday life, not just the tin-tinning of
bells, must have been so different than it is today.

And for Bloomsday today, there's a little video from WHYY you can watch.  It's a big day in Philadelphia, mainly because
Rosenbach Library and Museum (located in the Athens of America), owns Joyce's manuscript of Ulysses and has been
hosting an
all-day reading of the book for many years (psst, don't tell Stephen Joyce).


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Thursday, June 15, 2006
Another great Project Gutenberg find, How to Cook Fish by Olive Green, in which we learn 10 ways to serve anchovies,
45 ways to cook
eels, and 27 ways to cook frog legs. Why 27 ways?  'Cause 26 ways just ain't enough.  


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Frank Wilson of Books, Inq (a blog updated about a thousand times a day--  this is not a complaint, I love it, but, Frank,
when do find the time to work?-- and how about adding me to your blogroll?)
noticed my Walter de la Mare links in
Sunday's post and provided
a link to his own review of De la Mare's Memoirs of a Midget, a sort of romantic Victorian

In time for Bloomsday on Friday is this New Yorker piece on Stephen James Joyce, the guardian of his grandfather's estate,
who rather nastily "protects" it from "intrusive" scholars:

In 2003, Eloise Knowlton, a Joycean and a novelist, asked permission to publish a fictional version of “Sweets of Sin,” the risqué
novel that Bloom picks up for his wife, Molly. (“Ulysses” offers only a glimpse of its contents.) Stephen wrote back, “Neither I nor
the others who manage this Estate will touch your hare-brained scheme with a barge pole in any manner, shape or form.” When
turning down a request for permission from an academic whose work was going to be published by Purdue, he said that he
objected to the name for the university’s sports teams: the Boilermakers. (He considered it vulgar.) Michael Groden, a scholar at the
University of Western Ontario, spent seven years creating a multimedia version of “Ulysses,” only to have Stephen block the
project, in 2003, with a demand for a permissions fee of one and a half million dollars. (Before Stephen controlled the Joyce estate,
such fees were nominal.) Groden’s sin was to have praised Danis Rose’s edition of “Ulysses” as “confident and controversial,” in a
reader’s report for Rose’s publisher; he had also helped the National Library of Ireland to evaluate some Joyce drafts prior to
acquiring them. “You should consider a new career as a garbage collector in New York City, because you’ll never quote a Joyce
text again,” Stephen told Groden.

But it's all a losing battle anyway.  The copyright will eventually expire (or Stephen Joyce will expire-- he's 74 years old
now), then scholars can quote whatever they'd like, unless of course there's nothing to quote from:

Shortly afterward, at a Bloomsday symposium in Venice, Stephen announced that he had destroyed all the letters that his aunt Lucia
had written to him and his wife. He added that he had done the same with postcards and a telegram sent to Lucia by Samuel
Beckett, with whom she had pursued a relationship in the late nineteen-twenties.
“I have not destroyed any papers or letters in my grandfather’s hand, yet,” Stephen wrote at the time.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Monday, June 12, 2006
Matthew Pearl gave a great half-hour interview on Rattlebag's daily arts show a few weeks ago.  I've begun his Poe
, but haven't finished it yet.  Got sidetracked with a couple crime novels, Bust cowritten by Ken Bruen and Jason
Starr and
Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno, the latter more a thriller than a crime novel.  Both are well worth
checking out.  

I've also been listening to some great podcasts from the series Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir by two California
professors, Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards.  Duane Swierczynski tipped me off to these
a few weeks ago.  Great
discussions of some great films.  I've listened to about half of them and have discovered a few more films that I had not
known about, like "
Gun Crazy" and "Rififi."

Wow, I used great four times so far in today's little post.  Time to sign off.
But first, since I linked to a
great interview with Tom Stoppard last week (Jun 7), here's another profile of the writer from
the Telegraph, but this paragraph alone is all that really got me:

His whole family was Jewish. Most of his relatives had been murdered in the death camps. His father, once the house doctor at the
Bata shoe factory in Zlin, had been killed in a Japanese air raid. Some years ago, after a visit to Czechoslovakia, he wrote movingly
of meeting an elderly woman, a former Bata employee, whose gashed hand had been stitched by Dr Straussler. "I touch it. In that
moment, I am surprised by grief, a small catching up of all the grief I owe. I have nothing which came from my father, nothing he
owned or touched, but here is his trace, a small scar."


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Sunday, June 11, 2006
Walter de la Mare's poetry is featured this week on Poetry Please.  Along with readings of several poems, Roger McGough
talks to Matthew Sweeney, editor of a new edition of de la Mare's work, which is
reviewed in this week's Guardian Review:

The repeating elements of his work are the times of day and their domestic rituals, the seasons and their fruits, the symbolic death
and rebirth inherent in sleeping and waking, autumn and spring. A dozen poems employ "Winter" in the title; half-a-dozen more,
"Snow". He likes the things that children like, as well as those that children like to fear: scarecrows and shepherds, ghosts and
fairies, knights and huntsmen, "bumpity rides", a lost shoe which is sought from "Spain, and Africa, / Hindustan, / Java, China, /
And lamped Japan"; phrases like "Alas, alack", "do diddle di do" and "riddle-cum-ree"; sailors - mariners, rather - either coasting
"sweet o'er the rainbow foam" or fated to be "flotsam on the seas". Numerous De la Mare poems are simple and delightful nonsense:
"Three jolly farmers / Once bet a pound / Each dance the others would / Off the ground", but many are tinged with subtle
melancholy, the effect of a sensitivity attuned to high-pitched notes of grief even at times of contentment.
You can find much of de la Mare's verse in two volumes on
Project Gutenberg.  On the radio program, Sweeney reads the
spooky "John Mouldy" and I am tempted to read it to my children tonight, although I'm afraid it might be too scary for them:

I know I would have been scared out of my wits to think about his one while trying to go to sleep.  Not now, of course,
rational adult that I am.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Saturday, June 10, 2006
John Sutherland with a short piece on the vagaries of book dedications:

Decoding them is fun - with luck you can catch an illuminating flash as the authorial skirts are momentarily lifted. But, when love
turns sour, loving dedications can have a horrible, inexpungable irony. Novels have an unfortunate habit of surviving marriages.

And here's a Susan Johnson piece on the same subject:

If you are Graham Greene, you change the dedication. His 1936 Journey Without Maps was dedicated thus: "To my wife: 'I carry
you like a passport everywhere.' " Later editions came out with a terse, "To my cousin Barbara Strachwitz."  

I've always liked the ones that are very short, "For my wife" or "For Mom" (I've long promised my mother that my first
published book would be dedicated to her and "For Mom" will be perfect.).  But my favorite book dedication is a long one
by Jerome K. Jerome from his
Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, (which I mentioned in a post on Feb 28,) lovingly inscribed

A tear nearly falls from my eye.  The hell with "To Mom."  That's devotion I can understand.  And finally, here's a
McSweeney's take on dedications:
Random Book Dedications Read from the Bargain Bin.  My favorite:

Buying and Restoring Vintage Arcade Games
"This book is dedicated to Ricky Schroeder. You had it all on Silver Spoons, but could you beat Tempest without using the super-
zapper? I think not. Too much time on that little train, it seems. Ride your little train, Ricky. Ride that little train to hell."


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Friday, June 9, 2006
The ever wonderful BibliOdyssey has posted a great spread of images (in two posts, one and two) from a 1565 edition of
Gargantua and Pantagruel.  At the end of the second post, there are some weblinks to Rabelasian info, but it is
the woodcuts that I find so arresting.

And while we're on the subject of grotesqueries, here's a non-literary link to some delicious Japanese ice cream, featuring
such mouth-watering flavors as
octopus, eel, and the ever-yummy ox tongue.  Sarcasm aside, I do want to try cactus ice
cream.  Happy eating.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Thursday, June 8, 2006
I had to check out a book on Project Gutenberg entitled, Police!!! by Robert W. Chambers.  I mean, three exclamation
points.  And the coppers.  What lurid tales of crime would I find therein.  Imagine my surprise to find a dedicatory poem of
this ilk:

Pretty things and twice as gay?  What about Police!!!  And then the first illustration:

Do these dainty-nosed women cry,
Police!!!?  This doesn't even say police with one exclamation point.  Although a quick
check of the
preface reveals this sentence:

Even the quackitudinous recognition spontaneously offered by the Metropolitan Museum had not been sufficient to decoy me to my

With prose like this, how can I resist!!!


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Just one link today because it is such a great interview:  Tom Stoppard talking about Czechoslovakia, utopian faith, freedom,
dissidence and Syd Barrett.  Man, what a time it would be to just sit and talk to Stoppard.  And an added bonus, he's still

A big rumpled man, Stoppard looked tired until he began to speak. His dark eyes sparkled. He pulled out a gadgety pocket ashtray,
and contentedly lit up.

You know a guy is a dedicated smoker when he has a "gadgety pocket ashtray" ready to whip out at a moment's notice.  I
need to get one of those.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006
If you're inclined to ignore the 0 in today's date, 6-6-06, then you may find this site sent to me by Scott, devoted to the
number of the Beast, amusing.  I especially liked:

660  Approximate Number of the Beast
25.8069758... Square Root of the Beast
$665.95  Retail Price of the Beast

and this tidbit at the end of the page:

In the ancient practice of gematria (assigning numerical values to letters),
the Hebrew letter "waw" is equivalent to the number "six."
So  WWW  is also equivalent to  666  !!!

Ian Jack on a great drinker of Glasgow, Will Fyffe.

And Dan comments on some previous posts:
Ed, I'm not so sure how those Swedes sounded in the Seventies, but I do know how they looked thanks to you. Even if their
music was horrible, you know you could go bowling with these guys; and what a great bowling league it would be!
I tried to trace over some old posts today that held special meaning to me, but I think writing on the screen isn't the same as
Housman. Maybe that's why we still read books and write letters.
Last, Smiley's review is great. I love that she touches on one of the things I think White brings out so wonderfully:

White seems to know all there is to know about boys. Arthur and the knights of the Round Table are so many boys grown into
manhood, seething with ambitions, conflicting desires, strong emotions and barely recognised motives. At one point he writes of the
Orkney brothers: "The idea which the children had was to hurt the donkeys. Nobody had told them it was cruel to hurt them, but
then, nobody had told the donkeys, either . . . So the small circus was a unity - the beast reluctant to move and the children
vigorous to move them, the two parties bound together by a link of pain to which they had both agreed without question. The pain
itself was so much a matter of course that it had vanished out of the picture, as if by a process of cancellation."

Great stuff!

Thanks, Dan.

The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Sunday, June 4, 2006
Some good pieces from The Guardian Review, for your reading pleasure:

Tom Stoppard on A.E. Housman's
letters to his friends Alfred Pollard and Moses Jackson:

Jackson's last letter - that is the one which Housman had just received when he wrote to Pollard - was written faintly in pencil and
Housman had carefully inked it in. Laurence wrote to Pollard, "Do you think that touching fact is too intimate to tell?" Pollard
encouraged Laurence to tell it.

Of course, it was practical to trace over the lines of a letter that one would keep and reread for years to come.  But the act
itself, of writing the same words in the very same style, is kind of like Housman subsuming his friend's very identity.  And the
end product is a letter written by two hands with each writer's words occupying the same space on the page.  Touching,

Colm Tóibín on Henry James' perfect ghost story,  The Turn of the Screw:

Ainlee's Magazine, however, warned its readers in December 1898 that Henry James "is by no means a safe author to give for a
Christmas gift"

Jane Smiley on TH White's Arthurian cycle, The Once and Future King, "it is one of the few English novels that are utterly
frank about the power of love and sex."

And for your listening pleasure, there's a very good one-hour dramatization on BBC Radio 4:

The Third Soldier Holds His Thighs
By Mark Lawson.

Twenty-five years ago, the morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse brought a prosecution against Michael Bogdanov, Director of the
National Theatre production of Howard Brenton's The Romans in Britain, which included a simulated male rape.
Based on interviews, transcripts and diaries, this drama-documentary reconstructs the events of this famous freedom-of-speech
case from rehearsals to the sensational trial at the Old Bailey. Peter Sproule and Greg Hicks, the actors who played the original
controversial scene, appear as themselves, with Eleanor Bron as Mary Whitehouse.

Back on Feb 11, I linked to this piece in the Guardian by Brenton about a revival of his Romans in Britain.  Also, there's
another piece from a year ago by the author of the radio play about the legal and theatrical significance of the court case,
featuring a nice double-rump shot of two naked male actors, which exactly illustrates Brenton's fear of his play's future

So, although The Romans in Britain is doomed to be remembered as a play about the buggering of a druid, Hall and Brenton were
much more interested in a later metaphor for colonial invasion: a coup de théâtre in which, after a long section set in 54BC during
Caesar's second invasion of Britain, a modern tank rolls across the stage, triggering a sequence set in modern Ulster.

The Gert Jonnys never had to worry about this stuff.


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Saturday, June 3, 2006
The Not-So Book Campaign at features Whoops. I Was Wrong by G.W. Bush.  Some other books I'd like
to see:  
Peaceful Sleep by Edgar Allan Poe, Getting in Touch with Your Feminine Side by Ernest Hemingway,   
Paradise Might Not Be All It's Cracked Up to Be
by John Milton, and Living Drug Free. . . and Lovin' It by William S.

A couple of lit-inspired lists from McSweeney's:
Roller-Derby Pseudonyms for Literature Majors (my favorite: The Brothers Tearhisarmsoff) and Unpublished Sequels to
Famous Science-Fiction Novels (my favorite: Celsius 232.7778).

And finally, not to be missed, Swedish Rock Bands of the 1970s defined not only sexiness, but the epitome of cool.

If the Gert Jonnys were the only funny picture of the bunch, then okay, but I'm not even sure they are the funniest.  The
Tommy Bergs and the Ivan Henrys really give them a run for the money in the style department.  


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Friday,  June 2, 2006
Ah, to live in London!  Sounds like the new production of Titus Andronicus is worth seeing:

Douglas Hodge is magnificent at every stage of Titus's journey. He begins as the punch-drunk, battered vet, out of touch and in
denial of his own appalling errors. Then he's the man who pitched past tears of grief into a terrible, beyond-it-all tittering at the
hideous black joke of unspeakable suffering. And then he's released into the antic vaudeville of feigned madness and revenge. Hodge
is diabolically and winningly funny. When they shoot arrows with messages to the gods, he milks all the farce out of trying to
manipulate a bow with one hand and a stump.

I've always loved Titus.  And what are the odds I'm ever going to get to see a production of it around here?

And to keep today's post Shakespearean, here's Matt Haig's Top Ten Novels Influenced by Shakespeare.  I've long wanted
to read Burgess'
Nothing Like the Sun.  I would have picked Moby-Dick for the list.  It's not an adaptation of a particular
play, but it is completely infused with Shakespearean themes and characters, especially the mythically tragic Ahab.  


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.

Thursday, June 1, 2006
Double shot of Seamus Heaney: A great profile/interview in the Guardian in which Heaney talks of Hugh MacDiarmid:

"I always said that when I met MacDiarmid, I had met a great poet who said 'Och'. I felt confirmed. You can draw a line from
maybe Dundalk across England, north of which you say 'Och', south of which you say 'Well, dearie me'. In that monosyllable,
there's a world view, nearly."

and his poetry:

"I was thinking specifically of the book The Haw Lantern, which came out in 1987 . . . . My favourite poem in this area is a two-
line dedicatory verse at the front of it: 'The riverbed, dried-up, half-full of leaves. / Us, listening to a river in the trees.' That settles
it. You know? Obligation, earnest attention, documentary responsibility - fine. But what about the river in the trees, boy? Poetry has
to be that, and it's very hard to get there."

And another piece in The Age in which the interviewer is greeted by Heaney's wife, Marie:

"Come through. Sorry. We had a late night." She removes a bottle of Absolut from the mantelpiece.

(Good to know that Nobel laureates still stay up late drinking.) and the poet relates writing poetry to "excavation":

"I think of it as something found, all right. But you also have to make it." He chuckles. "Fundamentally, I think - I'm with
Michelangelo in there, if you can find it. If you have an art. Dig it out!" The excavation begins with some sort of a donnee, a gift
from the unconscious. "Otherwise I can't do it, to tell you the truth. It doesn't need to be much. The donnee can be made to work
harder. It used to be I'd touch on the donnee and let it flare, you know - it was over quickly. What I like to do now is use it as an
energy source, it moving a little bit further."


The Bibliothecary always welcomes readers' comments.
The Omnigatherum

The Bibliothecary

Pipe and Book
All the pretty things you say,
All the pretty things you do
In your own delightful way
Make me fall in love with you,
Turning Autumn into May.

Every day is twice as gay
Just because of you, Louise!
Which is going some, you say?
In my dull, pedantic way
I am fashioning my lay
Just because I want to please.

Just because the things you say,
Just because the things you do
In your clever, charming way
Make me fall in love with you.
That is all, my dear, to-day.
the very dear and well-beloved
of my prosperous and evil days—

To the friend
who, though in the early stages of our acquaintanceship
did ofttimes disagree with me, has since become
to be my very warmest comrade—

To the friend
who, however often I may put him out, never (now)
upsets me in revenge—

To the friend
who, marked with coolness by all the female
members of my household, and regarded with suspicion
by my very dog, nevertheless seems day by day
to be more drawn by me, and in return to
more and more impregnate me with the
odor of his friendship—

To the friend
who never tells me of my faults, never wants to borrow
money, and never talks about himself—

To the companion of my idle hours,
the soother of my sorrows,
the confidant of my joys and hopes—

My oldest and strongest
this little volume
gratefully and affectionately
John Mouldy

I spied John Mouldy in his cellar,
Deep down twenty steps of stone;
In the dusk he sat a-smiling,
Smiling there alone.

He read no book, he snuffed no candle;
The rats ran in, the rats ran out;
And far and near, the drip of water
Went whispering about.

The dusk was still, with dew a-falling,
I saw the Dog Star bleak and grim,
I saw a slim brown rat of Norway
Creep over him.

I spied John Mouldy in his cellar,
Deep down twenty steps of stone;
In the dusk he sat a-smiling,
Smiling there alone.
My Papa's Waltz by Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.