The urge of bees

The urge of bees

A charming way to convey the genesis of ideas or desires, likening them to the urge of bees to make honey. They are already buzzing about our garden, prodding nooks and crannies for suitable nests.   ‘It follows that the human intellect Can’t have the...
The sin of fence-sitting

The sin of fence-sitting

Clearly, sitting on the fence, hedging your bets, watching which way the wind blows, is a sin which leads to hell and a suitably inverted punishment. For having never run in one direction or another in your life (‘never-living sprinters’), you are...
Frayed by sin

Frayed by sin

A surprising one, this, as sin is often presented, nowadays, as socially acceptable, even desirable ‘vice’ – something naughty-but-nice, essentially pleasurable and barely tainted by guilt (or is guilt the only sin left?) Dante suggests instead that...
Light-stream interplay

Light-stream interplay

The dancing dust of a sunbeam also glimmering as a mirror hall for fireflies.  What a bright image.  ‘A light-stream interplay, a mirror hallFor fireflies…’ (Book III, Canto 22) Source: Dante, The Divine Comedy, trans. Clive James (New York:...
Well-ordered spirit

Well-ordered spirit

Three simple words perhaps summing up the pinnacle of much spiritual seeking, especially if once reached, it spills over with positive energy. Or call it love, Dante did, and George Herbert would have. ‘So sweetly the well-ordered spirit swellsWith...
New-grown green

New-grown green

At the precocious signal of spring, I see new-grown green peeping all about. And isn’t that a sweet scene, sitting on a tree root surrounded with ‘just’ the seven virtues. So understated, so immense.  ‘Look there beneath that new-grown...
The emptiness of exile

The emptiness of exile

Flay has spent his whole life – a long one – in the stiflingly familiar circuits and rituals of serving the Earl of Gormenghast, barely leaving the sprawling, mossy, solid walls of the castle. It is his home and as near as he has to a family, even with the...
Ever-narrowing gyres

Ever-narrowing gyres

Swelter, the button-popping portly chef and Flay, the all purpose butler, valet and loyal servant of the Earl of Gormenghast, circle in for the kill in their mortal combat.  No spoilers here, read the book!  ‘… so intense was their hatred … (they)...
Ballooning abdomen

Ballooning abdomen

Flay and Swelter, pitched in a life and death struggle, are at physically opposite extremes – Flay, wiry, knobbly, skinny, and Swelter, the all-tasting chef, round as a demijohn.  Their battle is desperate and all out. ‘… he brings his sharp,...

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