Tag Archives: reading

Delight (Priestly)

delightOne of my great delights is good writing-essays especially. I aspire to be a clear and succinct writer myself. A fine example is Delight as small collection of by pieces J.B. Priestly, in which he tells of things that delight him, as if to contradict what he supposes to be his reputation for grumpiness. One of his delights is clear well crafted writing, of which he writes in chapter Twenty Six of the book. I also like the presentation and typography of British books from the 40s and 50s. They’re more compact and economical that what we often have today, with interesting fonts.

At the end of a long talk with a youngish critic, a sincere fellow whose personality (though not his values) I respect, he stared at me and then said slowly: ‘I don’t understand you. Your talk is so much more complicated-subtle-than your writing. Your writing always seems to me too simple.’ And I replied: ‘But I’ve spent years and years trying to make my writing simple. What you see as a fault, I regard as a virtue.’

There was now revealed to us the gulf between his generation and mine. He and his lot, who matured in the early ‘thirties, wanted literature to be difficult.

Read the whole chapter …

Quiet or …

It is a small relief to discover that “A Charm”, no. 4 from A Charm of Lullabies Op. 41, by Benjamin Britten, was indeed intended as comical by the poet Thomas Randolph (1605-1635).

cerberusPicture: William Blake. Cerberus. National Gallery of Victoria.

Quiet!
Sleep! or I will make
Erinnys whip thee with a snake,
And cruel Rhadamanthus take
Thy body to the boiling lake,
Where fire and brimstones never slake;
Thy heart shall burn, thy head shall ache,
And ev’ry joint about thee quake;
And therefor dare not yet to wake!
Quiet, sleep!
Quiet, sleep!
Quiet!

Quiet!
Sleep! or thou shalt see
The horrid hags of Tartary,
Whose tresses ugly serpants be,
And Cerberus shall bark at thee,
And all the Furies that are three
The worst is called Tisiphone,
Shall lash thee to eternity;
And therefor sleep thou peacefully
Quiet, sleep!
Quiet, sleep!
Quiet!

Then there’s always this:

go_the_fuck_to_sleep

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the fuck to sleep.

Read Macy Halford’s comments in New Yorker 2011.