No One Hears

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591 – 1666),
best known as Guercino (Squinter)

 

Angels

They have little use. They are best as objects of torment.
No government cares what you do with them.

Like birds, and yet so human . . .
They mate by briefly looking at the other.
Their eggs are like white jellybeans.

Sometimes they have been said to inspire a man to do more with his life than he might have.
But what is there for a man to do with his life?

. . . They burn beautifully with a blue flame.

When they cry out it is like the screech of a tiny hinge; the cry of a bat. No one hears it . . .

 

Russell Edson (1935 – 2014)

 

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Published in: on January 23, 2018 at 5:47 pm  Comments (3)  
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Weather


Joseph and Mary on the Way to Bethlehem,
Hugo van der Goes (1430 – 1482)

 

Account from the 1540s of weather between Christmas and the new year:

25th: ‘Christynmas was fayre & drye without anye sune shynyng’

26th: ‘St Steven’s daye fayre & drye without any sune shynyng: toward nyght the wynd dyd.’

27th: ‘St John’s daye was verye drye & sone shynyng.’

28th: ‘Innocente daye in the mornyng was a fayre whore froste, a fayre bryght sone shynyng, and drye daye.’

29th: ‘Saynt Thomas’s was dark, drye and after noon verye great wynde; about VI of the clocke it dyd for space of two owres and then the wynde dyd synke. It was drye.’

30th: ‘the 5 daye werys fayre and the sune dyd shyne very bryghtly.’

31st: ‘the 6 daye was dark, and rayne lyke, but at evenyng yt dyd rayne a little and was very wyndy – the nyght was much rayne’

 

Manuscript 62122 from The British Library, twelfth century book.

Thanks to Amy Jeffs, medievalist, Cambridge University

 

Year’s End

walter-tandy-murch-urnUrn
Walter Tandy Murch (1907 – 1967)

 

 

Year’s End

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

 

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

 

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

 

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

 

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.

 

Richard Wilbur

 

 

 

Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 2:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Astronomical Clock

Astronomical_clock,_design_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerHans Holbein the Younger (c. 1497 – between 7 October and 29 November 1543)

Hans Holbein designed this clocksalt—a combination of a clock, hourglass, sundial, and compass—for Sir Anthony Denny, whose portrait he had drawn two years earlier.
A note on the drawing shows that Denny presented a clock made from this design to King Henry, who owned a number of clocks and clocksalts, as a New year’s gift. It would have been an expensive item, made of precious metals. Holbein had often designed for goldsmiths since his training in Augsburg, a centre of the goldsmiths’ trade.
Two of the notes on the sketch are in the hand of Holbein’s friend the royal astronomer Nicholas Kratzer, who probably assisted in the technical design of the piece.
Susan Foister, Holbein in England

Anthony Denny was the most prominent member of the Privy chamber in the last years of Henry VIII.
He was educated at St Paul’s School and St John’s College, Cambridge, was a member of the reformist circle that offset the conservative religious influence of Bishop Gardiner, and helped finalise Henry‘s will upon his deathbed, specifically arguing to him against the removal of Gardiner from the will.
Denny was himself the man to tell Henry of his coming death, advising the old King “to prepare for his final agony”.
Robert Hutchinson, (2006)

The Number of Fools is Infinite

Oronce Finé (20 December 1494 – 8 August 1555)The World In The Head Of A Fool
Oronce Finé (20 December 1494 – 8 August 1555)

“The Guardian” writers make new year wishes.
:   

Nature is uplifting and exhilarating, and yet writing about it is often a gloomy business of confronting the ways in which we are consuming and despoiling it. Each year brings small spits in the wind – a clean energy advance here, a new nature reserve there – but these gobbets of good news are blown away by the logic of global capitalism: nature is a finite public resource to be annexed by private individuals for short-term profit.

After a 2013 of  species loss and ever-rising exploitation, a realist might wish for 2014 to be a bit less bad. But I would love to see just one glorious occasion where people choose nature over profit – a piece of ground not fracked, a runway not built, a badger not culled. A few such exercises of gentle restraint and voices in mainstream politics and the media may belatedly begin questioning our society’s crazy fixation on economic growth as the source of all wellbeing and happiness. Reframing this miserable, myopic vision is too much to ask for 2014. It’s probably too much to ask for 2041. But it’s never too early to start trying.

Patrick Barkham is a natural history writer for the Guardian and former feature writer. He has also worked for The Times. He is the author of The Butterfly Isles – A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals and Badgerlands.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/31/whats-your-wish-for-2014