Thursday, 27 August 2009


Today’s expedition discovers Fannie Isabelle Sherrick, and Thomas Bailey Aldrich, not “classics” by the usual standards but well worth a look.

First up:

A Mood

A blight, a gloom, I know not what, has crept upon my gladness--
Some vague, remote ancestral touch of sorrow, or of madness;
A fear that is not fear, a pain that has not pain's insistence;
A sense of longing, or of loss, in some foregone existence;
A subtle hurt that never pen has writ nor tongue has spoken--
Such hurt perchance as Nature feels when a blossomed bough is broken.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Two Pictures

A beautiful form and a beautiful face,
A winsome bride and a woman's grace,
So fair and sweet it were heaven indeed
For man to follow where she would lead.

A web of lace and a jeweled hand,
And life is changed by a golden band;
A dream of love and a wealth of gold--
The old new story once more is told.

A wealth of flowers and a robe of snow,
A beauteous woman with cheeks aglow;
A train of satin that sweeps the floor--
And life is altered forevermore.

A beautiful scene on this Christmas eve,
Where all could linger and none could grieve,
A dazzling vision of wealth and pride,
A royal feast and a happy bride.

But turn your steps to the lonely street,
Where fierce winds mutter and wild storms beat;
And come with me to the haunts of woe
Where life is a burden and hopes are low.

Look on this woman, so thin and white;
You close your eyes--'tis a dreadful sight;
But shudder not--she is cold and dead--
And died, oh men! for a CRUST OF BREAD.

So young and hopeless, oh! God above,
With none to comfort and none to love;
A tortured soul and a hungry cry
That rang unheard through the stormy sky.

While, oh! so near in the gloomy night
Lay rescue and love and warmth and light;
And oh! so near to the longing eyes,
There gleamed the bright depths of a paradise.

Oh! look on this picture, thou fair young bride,
For one poor morsel of bread she died;
One glittering gem from your breast or hair,
Could have saved this woman who lieth there.

One costly spray of your flowers bright
Could have bought the food that she craved this night;
One drop of love from your boundless store
Her soul could have saved forevermore.

Oh, sadd'ning picture, this Christmas eve,--
For thy sad story the angels grieve;
To think in this city of wealth and might
A woman perished for BREAD, this night.

Fannie Isabelle Sherrick

And just to lighten the mood.

A silly Poem

Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I'll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?

Philip Le Barr

Philip Le Barr, Was knock down by a car,
On the road to Mandalay.
He was knocked down again
By a dust cart in Spain
And again in Zanzibar.
So, He travled at nightIn the pale moon light
Away from the traffic growl
But terrible luck
He was hit by a duck
Driven by an owl.


Say Bazonka every day
That's what my grandma used to say
It keeps at bay the Asian Flu'
And both your elbows free from glue.
So say Bazonka every day(That's what my grandma used to say)

Don't say it if your socks are dry!
Or when the sun is in your eye!
Never say it in the dark(The word you see emits a spark)
Only say it in the day(That's what my grandma used to say)

Young Tiny Tim took her advice
He said it once, he said it twice he said it till the day he died
And even after that he tried
To say Bazonka! every dayJust like my grandma used to say.

Now folks around declare it's true
That every night at half past two
If you'll stand upon your head
And shout Bazonka! from your bed
You'll hear the word as clear as dayJust like my grandma used to say!

Spike Milligan

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The English language-easy peasy

In no way do I profess to be proficient in the “English” language because it isn’t; English that is, it is a hotch potch of Roman, German, French, Gaelic, Norse and any other spoken word you can think of.

It has a way of creeping up on you and biting you in the arse, just when you think you have mastered it, along comes another syntax and you are buggered.

Apparently it started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language.

But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

The Angles came from Engla land and their language was called Englisc - from which the words England and English are derived. (Old English)

So “English” isn’t even English, the invading Germanic tribes spoke similar languages to each other, which in Britain developed into what we now call Old English. Old English did not sound or look like English today. Native English speakers now would have great difficulty understanding Old English.

Nevertheless, about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots.

The words be, strong and water, for example, derive from Old English. Old English was spoken until around 1100.

Then along came William the conqueror and the Normans, who brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and the ruling and business classes. For a period there was a kind of linguistic class division, where the lower classes spoke English and the upper classes spoke French.

In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again, but with many French words added. This language is called Middle English. It was the language of the great poet Chaucer (c1340-1400).

Modern English:- Towards the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinct change in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels being pronounced shorter and shorter. From the 16th century the British had contact with many peoples from around the world.

This, and the Renaissance of Classical learning, meant that many new words and phrases entered the language.

The invention of printing also meant that there was now a common language in print. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses were, became the standard. In 1604 the first English dictionary was published.

There’s nothing like having your vowels shift to make you concentrate.

And finally: Late modern English-The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.

Then there is American English-From around 1600, the English colonization of North America resulted in the creation of a distinct American variety of English. Some English pronunciations and words "froze" when they reached America. In some ways, American English is more like the English of Shakespeare than modern British English is.

Some expressions that the British call "Americanisms" are in fact original British expressions that were preserved in the colonies while lost for a time in Britain (for example trash for rubbish, loan as a verb instead of lend, and fall for autumn; another example, frame-up, was re-imported into Britain through Hollywood gangster movies).

Spanish also had an influence on American English (and subsequently British English), with words like canyon, ranch, stampede and vigilante being examples of Spanish words that entered English through the settlement of the American West.

French words (through Louisiana) and West African words (through the slave trade) also influenced American English (and so, to an extent, British English).

Today, American English is particularly influential, due to the USA's dominance of cinema, television, popular music, trade and technology (including the Internet).

But there are many other varieties of English around the world, including for example Australian English, New Zealand English, Canadian English, South African English, Indian English and Caribbean English.

Which is a real pain when trying to write, and using the spell checker, because it hops from “English” English to “American” English, like a rabbit on steroids.

So there we are, a potted history of “English”, but I haven’t even started on Antanaclasis (Repetition of a word in two different senses.)


If we don't hang together, we'll hang separately —Benjamin Franklin

Or Paranomasia- (Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).)

Don't let your metaphoric retch exceed your metaphoric gasp

Or even Syllepsis -Using a word differently in relation to two or more words that it modifies or governs (sometimes called zeugma).


There's a certain type of woman that would rather press grapes than clothes — Ad for Peck & Peck suits

Or of course the good old Onomatopoeia

Use of words whose sound correspond with their semantic value.

The buzzing of innumerable bees...


'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense, The sound must seem an echo of the sense:

Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;

but when loud surges lash the sounding shore,

The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar:

When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,The line too labors, and the words move slow;

Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.

(Alexander pope)

And not forgetting Phrasal verbs which consist of a verb and an adverb (particle). Phrasal verbs are a very important feature of everyday English language. They are used in spoken and informal English, and they are also in written and even formal English. Understanding and learning to use phrasal verbs, however, is often a problem and there are many reasons for this.

The meaning of the phrasal verb often has no relation to the meaning of either the verb or the particle which is used with it.

This means that phrasal verbs can be difficult both to understand and to remember. Also, many phrasal verbs have several different meanings.

Act out (object)


1. When you act something out, you perform it or make it into a play.

2. Express your feelings or ideas.


1. “The script itself is well written and well acted out by the cast”2. “He has become desperate and is acting out his frustration by behaving like an idiot.”

Add up (1. no object)

MEANING: Logically fit together.

EXAMPLE:"His theory is hard to believe, but his research adds up."Note: This phrasal verb is often negative."His theory seems, at first, to be plausible, but the facts in his research don't add up."

I could go on but I have a head ache, so I won’t (or should that be will not?).

Suffice it to say, I have found the best way to write “English” is just that write what comes into my head, and sort out the grammar, punctuation, spelling and tenses later, luckily I seem to be able to manage so far.

English-easy peasy No, but a wonderful conglomeration of bits and pieces from across the world, I like to think of it as “liquorice Allsorts” we all have our favourites, but when you see them together in the bag it is difficult to decide where to start.

But I am sure that you have a much better understanding than I do.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Obscure poetry or maybe not.

“Proper” poets today, well sort of:

The first is by Horatio Alger Jr.
Places Where Mortals Dine.
The case, too, was urgent, for there stood a sinner,
Whose fate hung on chance--a chance for his dinner;
A chance for all mortals, with truth I assert,
Who eat where his chance was, to counteract fate,
"To eat during life each a peck of pure dirt"
By eating at once the whole peck from one plate.
For true when I think of the places we eat at,
Or rather the places by hunger when driven
We rush in and swallow our bread and our meat at,
A bushel good measure in life will be given
To those who are living a "boarding-house life,"
Or those who are driven by fortune to journey,
And eat when we must with so dirty a knife,
I wish't could be done by the power of attorney;
Or where you must eat in a place called "saloon;"
Or "coffee-house" synonym of whisky and rum;
(I wish all the breed were sent off to the moon,
And earth was well clear of the coffee-house scum;)
Or where "Restauration" hangs out for sign,
At bar-room or cellar or dirty back room,
Where dishcloths for napkins are thought extra fine,
And table cloths look as though washed with a broom;
Where knives waiters spit on and wipe on their sleeves,
And plates needing polish, with coat tails are cleaned;
Where priests dine with harlots, and judges with thieves,
And mayors with villains his worship has screened.

I think I have eaten there.

The next one is by Rose Hawthorn Lathrop

Broken Waves.

The sun is lying on the garden-wall,
The full red rose is sweetening all the air,
The day is happier than a dream most fair;
The evening weaves afar a wide-spread pall,
And lo! sun, day, and rose, no longer there!
I have a lover now my life is young,
I have a love to keep this many a day;
My heart will hold it when my life is gray,
My love will last although my heart be wrung.
My life, my heart, my love shall fade away!
O lover loved, the day has only gone!
In death or life, our love can only go;
Never forgotten is the joy we know,
We follow memory when life is done:
No wave is lost in all the tides that flow.

I think it gives a nice description of life and love.

And finally:

By Louisa May Alcott

Little Drops Of Water

"Little drops of water,
Little drains of sand,
Mate a might okum (ocean),
And a peasant land.
"Little words of kindness,
Pokin evvy day,
Make a home a hebbin,
And hep us on a way."

Maybe more tomorrow, maybe not.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Book titles-the good, the bad and the other kind

As you may have noticed I don’t take much seriously, it comes from being kicked in the head so many times by life that my brain has ‘boxers nose’, so I have been rooting about the web and found some “interesting” titles for “literature”.
This first lot are real books.

Overworked and Under-laid, by Nigel Marsh

Help, I’m Married to Eyeore

Get Out of My Life, but First Can You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the new Teenager, by Anthony E. Wolf

When Your Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’ll be Me, by Cynthia Heimel

I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You: A New Understanding of Mother/Daughter Conflicts, by Roni Cohen-Sandler and Michelle Silver

How to Make a Baby with Tools You Probably Have Around the House

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, by Alan Alda

101 Super Uses for Tampon Applicators : A Helpful Guide for the Environmentally Conscious Consumer of Feminine Hygiene Products, by Barbara Meyer and Lori Katz

Help I Married An Idiot

Babies and Other Hazards of Sex, by Dave Barry

And this lot aren’t.

Will He Win ?
by Betty Wont

Return of the Prodigal
by Greta Sonne

A Call for Assistance
by Linda Hand

Pain and Sorry
by Anne Guish

Garden Water Features
by Lily Pond

Crossing Roads Safely
by Luke Bothways

Sunday Service
by Neil Downe

Covered Walkways by R. Kade

I Need Insurance by Justin Case

Whatchamacallit! by Thingum Bob

Let's Do it Now! by Igor Beaver

I'm Someone Else by Ima Nonymous

Animal Illnesses by Ann Thrax

He's Contagious! by Lucas Measles

The Great Escape by Freida Convict

Music of the Sea by Lawrence Whelk

Breaking the Law by Kermit A. Krime

Cooking Spaghetti by Al Dente

Smart Beer Making by Bud Wiser

Good Housekeeping by Lottie Dust

Mountain Climbing by Andover Hand

Theft and Robbery by Andy Tover

Ah, literature the backbone of the sceptic.


Angus Dei politico

Friday, 21 August 2009

But is it literature?

Something a bit deeper today, I think we all know the definition of literature, and just to nudge the memory the Webster definition is below.

Literature Lit"er*a*ture, n. F. litt'erature, L. litteratura,
literatura, learning, grammar, writing, fr. littera, litera, letter. See Letter.

Learning; acquaintance with letters or books.

The collective body of literary productions, embracing the entire
results of knowledge and fancy preserved in writing; also, the whole body of
literary productions or writings upon a given subject, or in reference to a
particular science or branch of knowledge, or of a given country or period; as,
the literature of Biblical criticism; the literature of chemistry.

The class of writings distinguished for beauty of style or
expression, as poetry, essays, or history, in distinction from scientific
treatises and works which contain positive knowledge; belles-lettres.

The occupation, profession, or business of doing literary work.

Literature, in its widest sense, embraces all compositions in
writing or print which preserve the results of observation, thought, or fancy;
but those upon the positive sciences (mathematics, etc.) are usually excluded.

It is often confined, however, to belles-lettres, or works of taste and
sentiment, as poetry, eloquence, history, etc., excluding abstract discussions
and mere erudition.

A man of literature (in this narrowest sense) is one who is versed in
belles-lettres; a man of learning excels in what is taught in the schools, and
has a wide extent of knowledge, especially, in respect to the past; a man of
erudition is one who is skilled in the more recondite branches of learned

This got me thinking, are song lyrics literature? They have to be written down, they “preserve the results of observation, thought, or fancy” and meet the “The class of writings distinguished for beauty of style or expression, as poetry, essays, or history” definition, they only become songs when added to music.

Just a few examples, from my past, as being an old fart I don’t quite understand today’s “music”, ten minutes of noise about Um-ber-ellas doesn’t really do it for me, although the visual aspect is quite appealing.

The first two are Simon and Garfunkel, and the last two Bob Dylan, some in full and some extracts, personally I think they stand alone as “poetry” and therefore literature, below each “poem” is the musical version, just click on the link.


What a dream I had
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline Of smoky burgundy
Softer than the rain
I wandered empty streets
down Past the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
Tripping down the alleyways
As I walked on
And when you ran to me,
your Cheeks flushed with the night
We walked on frosted fields Of juniper and lamplight
I held your hand
And when I awoke
And felt you warm and near
I kissed your honey hair
With my grateful tears
Oh, I love you girl Oh, I love you

Kathy’s song

All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you
And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I

Times they are a changin

Come mothers and fathersThroughout the land
And don't criticizeWhat you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road isRapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Hard rain

Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin',
Heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin',
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin',
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter,
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley,
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.
Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony,
I met a white man who walked a black dog,
I met a young woman whose body was burning,
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow,
I met one man who was wounded in love,
I met another man who was wounded with hatred,
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (1976)

But could it be done with the “classic” poems?

"Daffodils" (1804)

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thoughtWhat wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,And dances with the daffodils.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ordinary people

Post two, the verses below are not penned by the greats, Shelly, Keats etc, but by the “person” in the street (well we must be P.C).

I thought they were interesting, and as it’s my blog that is what you will get, maybe, just maybe I will acquiesce and put up some so called “proper” literature, and then again maybe not.

I will eventually get round to books, and things, but all in good time.

Anyway, the first poem is:

Once I'm in my bubble bath

Once I'm in my bubble bathI like to stir up more.
Half the suds go in my eyes
And half go on the floor.
The fun is in the bubbles 'cause
They giggle on my skin,
And when I stick them on my face
They dangle from my chin.
And when I splash them hard enough
They pop and disappear,
And then my bath time's over
'causeI've made the water clear.

Memories of childhood, or second childhood?

Next up is:

The perfect man

The perfect man is gentle
Never cruel or mean
He has a beautiful smile
And keeps his face so clean.
The perfect man likes children
And will raise them by your side
He will be a good father
As well as a good husband to his bride.
The perfect man loves cooking
Cleaning and vacuuming too
He'll do anything in his power
To convey his feelings of love for you.
Win a Mustang GT Convertible or $50,000!
The perfect man is sweet
Writing poetry from your name
He's a best friend to your mother
And kisses away your pain.
He has never made you cry
Or hurt you In any way
Oh, screw this stupid poem
The perfect man is gay

Issues to be addressed there.

Advice in Abundance

Unsolicited advice free and abundant:
So much of it there it’s often redundant.
When I was a lad and easily impressed:
I listened and nodded at the experts' behest.
Opinions they flaunted on a scale universal:
Expounding at length without forethought or rehearsal.
With style and emotion, each made a case:
Of factual content there was rarely a trace.
Middle age found me as the consummate cynic:
Quick to retort and given to mimic.
With the passage of time I relaxed my position:
Improvised wisdom doesn't require a logician.
In the twilight of life there is time for a chat:
I now render advice at the drop of a hat.

Sage advice for bloggers.

And to finish up a limerick or two by Edward Lear (OK so I gave in).

There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a Bee;
When they said, 'Does it buzz?
'He replied, 'Yes, it does!'
'It's a regular brute of a Bee!'

There was a Young Person of Crete,
Whose toilette was far from complete;
She dressed in a sack,
Spickle-speckled with black,
That ombliferous person of Crete

And one from my past:

There was a young lady from Ealing
Who had a peculiar feeling
So she lay...........

Well maybe not.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Two sides of Spike

My first foray into “literature”, I have long been a fan of Spike Milligan, from the Goons which I listened to on the radio as a boy to The Reason Why (1957) and The Humdrum History of the Helmet (1992), as well as the “Q” series, Spike was a troubled man, huge bouts of depression followed by massive highs (Bi-Polar).
But whether he was up or down he wrote, and here are a few of his timeless “scribbles”.


Through every nook and every cranny

The wind blew in on poor old Granny

Around her knees, into each ear(And up nose as well, I fear)

All through the night the wind grew worse

It nearly made the vicar curse

The top had fallen off the steepleJust missing him (and other people)

It blew on man, it blew on beastIt blew on nun, it blew on priest

It blew the wig off Auntie Fanny-But most of all, it blew on Granny!


"What is a Bongaloo, Daddy?"

"A Bongaloo, Son," said I, "Is a tall bag of cheesePlus a Chinaman's knees

And the leg of a nanny goat's eye."

"How strange is a Bongaloo, Daddy?"

"As strange as strange," I replied.

"When the sun's in the West It appears in a vest Sailing out with the noonday tide."

"What shape is a Bongaloo, Daddy?"

"The shape, my Son, I'll explain:It's tall round the nose Which continually grows In the general direction of Spain."

'Are you sure there's a Bongaloo, Daddy?'

"Am I sure, my Son?" said I.

"Why, I've seen it, not quite On a dark sunny night

Do you think that I'd tell you a lie?


Born screaming small into this world-Living I am.

Occupational therapy twixt birth and death-What was I before?

What will I be next?

What am I now?

Cruel answer carried in the jesting mind of a careless God

I will not bend and grovel

When I die. If He says my sins are myriad

I will ask why He made me so imperfect

And he will say 'My chisels were blunt'

I will safy 'Then why did you make so
many o me'.

Values '67

Pass by citizen don't look left or right

Keep those drip dry eyes straight ahead

A tree? Chop it down- it's a danger
to lightning!

Pansies calling for water,
Let 'em die- queer bastards-

Seek comfort in the scarlet, labour
saving plastic rose

Fresh with the frangrance of Daz!

Sunday! Pray citizen;

Pray no rain will fall On your newly polished

Four wheeled God


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Get it out with Optrex

I have left the spelling mistakes etc in because we are all human, but some of us are more human than others.


Angus Dei on all and sundry