Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Titus is seven. His confines, Gormenghast. Suckled on shadows; weaned, as it were, on webs of ritual: for his ears, echoes, for his eyes, a labyrinth of stone: and yet within his body something other--other than this umbrageous legacy. For first and foremost he is child.

is the second book in the same-titled trilogy. It is a fantasy of manners published in 1950, written by Mervyn Peake. Ah, Mervyn Peake. His work is like nothing else I've ever read, simply incomparable. His prose is florid but beautiful. His characters are so unique and exaggerated that they are more caricatures. My favorite is Dr. Prunesquallor, "with his hyena laugh, his bizarre and elegant body, his celluloid face...His cardinal virtue? An undamaged brain."
Sometimes Peake's purple prose and long-windedness get in the way of the story, and his punctuation is atrocious, but sometimes words like "genius" come to mind while reading. This second book contains a soiree that shows Peake at the height of his comic powers, as well as a flood of epic proportions that turns Gormenghast Castle into an intricate and eerie aqueous playground. Or should I say battleground?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


For my own pleasure, I write reviews of books and I've started making notes on literary journals I come across. I tend to put things of that nature in my journal, but why not share it here? Thus I am expanding this blog beyond poetry alone.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stella Maris

Stella Maris
Arthur Symons

Why is it I remember yet
You, of all women one has met
In random wayfare, as one meets
The chance romances of the streets,
The Juliet of a night? I know
Your heart holds many a Romeo.
And I, who call to mind your face
In so serene a pausing-place,
Where the bright pure expanse of sea,
The shadowy shore's austerity,
Seems a reproach to you and me,
I too have sought on many a breast
The ecstasy of love's unrest,
I too have had my dreams, and met
(Ah me!) how many a Juliet.
Why is it, then, that I recall
You, neither first nor last of all?
For, surely as I see tonight
The glancing of the lighthouse light,
Against the sky, across the bay,
As turn by turn it falls my way,
So surely do I see your eyes
Out of the empty night arise,
Child, you arise and smile to me
Out of the night, out of the sea,
The Nereid of a moment there,
And is it seaweed in your hair?

O lost and wrecked, how long ago,
Out of the drown├Ęd past, I know,
You come to call me, come to claim
My share of your delicious shame.
Child, I remember, and can tell,
One night we loved each other well;
And one night's love, at least or most,
Is not so small a thing to boast.
You were adorable, and I
Adored you to infinity,
That nuptial night too briefly borne
To the oblivion of morn.
Oh, no oblivion! for I feel
Your lips deliriously steal
Along my neck and fasten there;
I feel the perfume of your hair,
And your soft breast that heaves and dips,
Desiring my desirous lips,
And that ineffable delight
When souls turn bodies, and unite
In the intolerable, the whole
Rapture of the embodied soul.

That joy was ours, we passed it by;
You have forgotten me, and I
Remember you thus strangely, won
An instant from oblivion.
And I, remembering, would declare
That joy, not shame, is ours to share,
Joy that we had the will and power,
In spite of fate, to snatch one hour,
Out of vague nights, and days at strife,
So infinitely full of life.
And 'tis for this I see you rise,
A wraith, with starlight in your eyes,
Here, where the drowsy-minded mood
Is one with Nature's solitude;
For this, for this, you come to me
Out of the night, out of the sea.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009


From Housekeeping
Marilynne Robinson

Cain murdered Abel, and blood cried out from the earth; the house fell on Job's children, and a voice was induced or provoked into speaking from a whirlwind; and Rachel mourned her children; and King David for Absalom. The force behind the movement of time is a mourning that will not be comforted. That is why the first event is known to be an expulsion, and the last is hoped to be reconciliation and return. So memory pulls us forward, so prophecy is only brilliant memory--there will be a garden where all of us as one child will sleep in our mother Eve, hooped in her ribs and staved by her spine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009